The why behind it all…
The other evening while my wife and I were standing in the kitchen, surrounded by our kiddos, we were joking about the days before kids when our biggest decision on a Saturday morning was, “What do we want to do today?”. The kids didn’t quite understand why we found that so funny, but the wear and tear of the everyday grind can get you thinking about those days and wishing that just maybe you can capture a glimpse of that again, if only for a day. Do you ever feel that way? I will admit that sometimes my mind wanders in that direction but it’s not because I don’t love my kids…in fact, it’s because my love for them is so deep.
The DNA of our family includes birth children and children that we adopted out of the Arizona foster care system and while I would love for the picture of our family to reflect the constant happiness that you find in the picture frames at the store, the reality of our picture is that every day is not like that. In fact, the trauma, behaviors and navigating big emotions with young kids can leave us feeling exhausted and like a failure often, but I know that at the end of the day each and every one of my kids goes to bed loved, in a safe home and with parents who fight for them and support them every step of the way. The same is not true for the thousands of kids who go to bed every night without anyone to call them son or daughter.
I have been given a unique opportunity. I get to personally experience walking my kids through these challenging waters every day and at the same time Foster Arizona and Foster Arizona Housing Project have allowed me the opportunity to be able to see what life looks like for these kids who are one their own in one way or another. The struggles are real, the hurt is deep, the needs are desperate, and our opportunity is great but our time to make a difference is so short.
During a recent team retreat we were challenged with this question…What’s your Why? For some reason this was uncomfortable for me, but on my little piece of paper I wrote my why. It’s because I’ve seen the hurt of the kids and families and I want to be a part of the healing and a better future. I see how hard it is for my kids who have opportunity and I cannot imagine what it would be like to face those challenges every day without a family to be supported by. I have seen birth parents struggle and try yet still go through the heartache of loss. I have seen aged-out foster youth want a sense of independence and freedom but not have the understanding of what life looks like not being told what to do or how to live. But I have also seen the joy of a kid telling their story to a potential forever family, the happiness of a family who has reunified, the feeling of accomplishment from an aged-out youth who is redefining their future and the smile on a kid’s face who has made a connection with someone who truly cares.
It’s not easy. If you’re on this journey you know that and if you’re considering this journey you need to know that, but it is worth it. Your exhaustion, your tears, your frustration…they’re all worth it because these kids are worth it, and they will change your life. Will my wife and I ever wake up on a Saturday and ask ourselves the question, “What do you want to do today?”, probably not, but that’s okay, because life is so much bigger than us and our opportunity is here and now.
So, let me ask you…What’s your Why?
Adoptive Dad and Foster Arizona Lead Team