When we first became foster parents we were fairly confident. We had no reason not to be. At the time, we had two children who seemed to be doing just fine. We had a lot of support with family from both sides near and active in our lives. We thought all we needed to do was give a child a safe place to land and a lot of love and everything would be just fine. Then, we were in it.
It was nothing like we expected. Everything was challenging. Eating- our placement wouldn’t eat anything we made. Sleeping- he would not sleep by himself and would run back and forth in a panic anytime I was out of site. To make things even more challenging, he was up 6-7 times a night starting the whole process of getting him back to sleep over again. Communicating- he didn’t have the words to communicate so it came out through hitting or melting down. Everything we thought we knew was little help as we maneuvered through the effects of PTSD, loss, fear of abandonment, and lack of trust. When we would talk with others about what we were experiencing, we were met with doubt. Time and again our experience was minimized and only understood on the occasions we were able to capture something on video.
What changed this for us? We found a second tribe. This tribe was made up of others who were parenting children with trauma and loss. These parents heard our stories and connected with us through similar experiences. It didn’t change the challenges we faced but, it did normalize the challenges as well as encourage us through hearing successes of those who had gone before us. This tribe helped us find resources, gave us respite, and continues to walk with us through the joys and challenges of this journey in parenting. They did not replace our first tribe. They became the missing pieces of support we needed.
We have been able to be better parents because of both sides of our tribe; those that love us and walk with us whether or not they fully understand as well as those who can predict the end of my hard day story because they have been there themselves. We are all capable of doing hard things and loving beyond our limits but, I don’t know that it is possible to do it alone. I am thankful for each person who has joined us in this journey and has left their fingerprints on our family. We are always better together.
Founder/CEO Foster Arizona