I get asked this question a lot. Whether it's how we take care of twelve kids, or how I manage two jobs, or how we get all our laundry done, people are always asking me how I do it. But one of the most difficult questions is when people ask me that in regards to how I manage to continue to recruit families for children when I know that the parents lives might be "ruined" by the experience.
Well, basically it comes down to three reasons.
1) I try to focus on the needs of the children. Our society has huge problems because nobody is taking care of these children who are then aging out without a family. I think about the kids and what they need and I try to think of ways to help them as they transition to adulthood. I think of how much better they will be, regardless of their issues, if they have advocates on their side for life. I push aside all of the horror stories I know, the ones from my life and others, and I simply focus on the children. And for as many horror stories there are out there, there are also success stories -- they just don't get the same attention. There are children who come out of foster care and, because of the consistency of their adoptive parents and the longevity of their commitment to the kids, end up fairly healthy and whole, able to break the generational cycle of dysfunction, become good parents, and in many cases, contributing members of society. And I still firmly believe that every child deserves to have that choice and that chance.
2) When the parents and their potential pain does come to mind, I am reminded of the character that is built through suffering. I have become a much better person because of my painful experiences. I have become stronger, more resilient, more dependent on God, and of more use to the friends around me. We as Americans avoid suffering, but without it, we are becoming a society with less and less character all the time.
3) I look back at all the reasons why I would do it again and try to remember that. The friends I've made, the things I've learned, the way I can help others, the people I"ve met.
I know that there are many of you at varying parts of your journey who are angry, frustrated, hurt, and downright pissed off. But it is at the SYSTEM that we are angry, not the children.
My biggest question, and the one that most plagues me is this: IF we aren't going to place children in adoptive homes, what are we going to do with them? What is an acceptable plan B for troubled kids in foster care? Institutionalization for a lifetime? Euthanasia? Foster homes with nobody to advocate after 18? It's the fact that I don't have a better answer that keeps me doing it. And up to this point, it's been enough.