December 8, 2012 by greenhouse04
When we were preparing to become foster parents, we were told about the possibility of a “disruption” occuring with a foster child in the future – where for whatever reasons we would need the child to be removed from our home. We were told about the conflicting emotions that would surround a disruption: stress, doubt, relief, guilt, grief; but I never understood until I experienced it. I haven’t wanted to write much about the circumstances surrounding Mari’s disruption, but I’m going to now. The following is from my journal.
Here I sit in a tree-lit living room, listening to Christmas music. The dog is stretching on the couch. The children are asleep down the hall. Two children, my two children. Unlike when I last wrote, I have been very happy lately – contented in my role as mom and homemaker, eagerly anticipating the approaching Christmas season.
But part of me feels guilty for this happiness, because I know it was restored when Mari moved on to a new home. Two weeks ago tomorrow she moved to the S–‘s home in H—. Basically, the reason for her move was because we realized that Emma was just not doing well with the new child. Even after two months she was being aggressive toward Mari, not sleeping well (screaming when we put her down, wanting us to stay with her), and acting generally more impulsively and disobedient. She would hit, pinch, or bite Mari to try to control her. Twice she left bruises where she bit her. We told the caseworkers, of course, and they weren’t concerned, but it really concerned me! The two bites occured in the same week, and when the second happened on Saturday I was about at the end of my rope. Its been a long time since I’ve felt so depressed and ready to quit. Emma was challenging me all day, Mari didn’t nap well, and I didn’t feel like I had the stamina and self-control to deal with Emma’s impulsiveness and aggression. They just seemed to be getting worse.
So, M. and I talked about what we could do. He was also feeling the strain. He didn’t enjoy coming home anymore because of the stress and me pulling at him, and he was so tired he felt his ministry was suffering. We sought advice from the lady who taught our foster classes, from Mr.’s mom (who has fostered), and others from our church. I also did some reading on impulsivity and aggression in young children.
That was the clincher. I read in “Welcome to Your Child’s Brain” that ADHD and anti-social disorders are genetic, but proper parenting at a young age can lower the risk of behavoral problems when the child is a teenager. However, if parents are stressed they tend to respond more harshly, causing a downward spiral of behavior/harsh parenting. I was definitely becoming more harsh with Emma – disciplining her more from frustration and with less control on my emotions. And with her genetic predispositions, we really want to parent well and give her a good foundation for self-control.
I was also getting more frustrated with Mari. We never got an uninterrupted night’s sleep, plus naptimes were hit-and-miss. I would find myself so angry at her for cyring when she was supposed to be sleeping.
It was not an easy decision to ask her to be moved, though. I knew after several days that it was what we had to do, but I really had to rely on my husband’s conviction and the advice of everyone around us (which was the same). I still feel like a failure. I could’ve denied self more, relied on God more, had more patience and self-control…
I did come to realize through this that I’ve made family an idol. I obsess over the “perfect” family, imagining how many children I’ll eventually have and what their names will be. When a child came along whose name lent itself to my current favorite nickname, “Mari,” my mind was made up before I really asked the Lord or others for counsel. I also ignored my own misgivings that Emma’s aggression toward Eddie might become a bigger problem with a foster child.
So, I’ve learned a lot through this… but in the midst of all these lessons I’ve learned, my heart goes out to a little girl who has a strange new home to adjust to yet again, who has had a trusted caregiver step out of her life yet again. Our “mistakes” – in reality, my sin – affect the innocent often as much as it does us. My idolatrous pride, my impatience, my foolish lack of counsel, my lack of reliance on God has caused little Mari to suffer all over again.
So, I pray for God’s redeeming grace on her life – that this new home would in fact be the best home for her; that wherever she grows up she would feel completely loved and secure and wanted.
As a footnote, we couldn’t be happier with Mari’s new home. We know her new foster parents from a training we attended together, and she has a 4-year-old sister who is very excited to have a baby in the house. They are also open to adopt Mari if they can. They weren’t open to taking a new child until a couple of weeks before Mari moved in, so I’m trusting that this is the home God wants for Mari right now!
Emma has settled down quite a bit since Mari left. She no longer screams at naptime or bedtime, nor does she want us to stay with her, and she rarely wakes up in the night. She’s still sometimes aggressive toward Eddie and impulsive, but its much more manageable (and just typical 2-year-old behavior). I’m much more consistent, calm, and controlled in my discipline. Our household has alot less stress and chaos, and we’ve gone back to focussing on one another, loving and enjoying each other!