Of recent I have simultaneously found myself smiling and crying. Tears of joy alongside sorrow-filled weeping. Lost in that feeling of when you have so much to say but struggle to say it. I can’t say for fear it might be true or fear it might not come true. I can’t say it because we’re not allowed to or because I’m scared to. Can’t say it, won’t say it, don’t want to say it! ...But I need to say it!
Can’t say it, or won’t say it? Honestly, ask my wife, I’m pretty good at saying what needs to be said, sometimes too much so. I could lie and say I’ve had writers block but the reality is sitting down and writing or talking just felt too hard, felt like it would make it all, all the more real.
Where do you fall on that spectrum?
Do you hold in what needs to be said?
Do you just let it all out?
When last we shared, it was the beginning of sharing our experience of Trauma-Informed Parenting (TIP). 8 months ago we invited two children back into our home. About 2 months ago now 1 of them had to move out/transition to another home. The processing of that transition continues. Feelings of loss, of failure, of inability, of 'did we try hard enough' swirl alongside hope and relief. In many ways our home is more calm and in just as many ways, our minds, bodies, and spirits are still adjusting.
As Dakota discussed in the last post, the emotional grind we experience trying to make the best decisions for these children is nothing like the trauma that so many children in the foster care system will unfortunately experience and the grind takes its toll on us too. (The world asks so much of these children, so much more than it feels like should be asked of them!)
Where does all of this leave us? Even in and through all of the transition we are family.
So let’s start to break it down: What is family? Or who is family? Another day maybe we’ll brave discussing ‘why is family?’!
Who do you consider to be your family?
Do they look like you?
Do they think like you?
Do they like you or maybe even do they love you?
Have you had to think about defining who your family is? If so, how old were you when you first had to do that?
Family according to a Google Search:
“a group of one or more parents and their children living together as a unit.”
“A group of people related to one another by blood or marriage.”
“All the descendants of a common ancestor.”
Merriam-Webster adds this:
Nice of them to add that “also” section. I was beginning to think that our household really didn’t fit into any of the ‘top results.’
I do sometimes feel like we’re an “also” - category though.
"Children don’t deserve to be 'also-ed.' No-one deserves to be 'also-ed.'"
From our vantage point Foster Care is mostly hidden from the mainstream. There is a news story here and there that makes it through the algorithms keeping us informed about what is going on in the Foster Care world. These can be stories of “success” (which in the mainstream normally means adoption or a young adult just out of foster care who has done something very successful) and stories of failure (which normally means hearing about the worst cases where children are taken away from extremely abusive situations.)
Have you seen any news stories celebrating biological parents who have done the hard work (sobriety, abstinence, achieved financial stability, acquired permanent housing, completed a prison sentence) to have their children reunite with them?
Have you seen any news stories about how the drug epidemic continues to divide parents and children often due to deaths caused by drug overdoses? (Dare I mention this epidemic is greater among the white , non-hispanic demographic?)
And to follow that thought I feel like I'd be amiss if I didn’t mention the radical racial disparity that is BIPOC families being targeted by Social Services nationwide. (Anyone want to read "Torn Apart" by Dorothy Roberts together with us?)
I cannot attest myself or ourselves to be anywhere near experts on these subjects but we want to learn and better understand alongside our desired want to be accountable. We want to build community and bring awareness. I would also remind us that we want respectful dialogue even on subjects where we may ‘agree to disagree.’
Anyways, what's my point?
To bring awareness to these questions children shouldn't have to answer.
Both in the workplace and in our family recently a lot of my brain space has been taken up by trying to define these words:
And how they intersect…
If you are a parent or if you are preparing to be a parent, in what ways do you treat or plan to treat your children with dignity? How do you or plan to teach them about humility while also being respectfully proud of their accomplishments?
This year as parents hopefully we will be better at listening, sharing, teaching, loving, and understanding.
Families are broken. Families are being broken.
Families can heal. Families are healing.
We are broken and we are healing…
How do you define family?
In trying to define family, I had to start with some personal honesty:
I have been depressed and yet I am motivated.
I have been beyond frustrated and yet I have hope.
I am unsure of what is next and yet I trust and have faith that together our family will make it work and hopefully be stronger for it.
Family meets us there. Family is understanding and forgiving.
Family is worth working for. Family is us and family is...
Thank you for sharing in our journey. In its brokenness and its healing.
And most importantly please know that you are loved.
P.S. This entry was a bit of an exploration in breaking and healing as it took me 2 months to write and share. It'll get better too.