Posted by: husbandandfatheroffour | September 18, 2014

The Struggles and Triumphs of Becoming My Son’s Father

In 2009 my wife and I fostered and then adopted a sibling group of three, 2 boys and a girl.  In our eyes this completed our wishes of having four children as we already had a biological daughter.  We were happy and excited and everything was amazing.  During our adoption classes we were warned that there is a honeymoon phase where everything will seem perfect and then after a few weeks the bottom falls out.  They told us that is where you will wonder if adopting was the correct thing to do.  They said times would get tough and there would be a lot of stress.  In our class they told us that these tough times would seem like they wouldn’t end and at times you might even look at it being your fault.  “Stick with it and your love for them will win out.” They told us. 

When the kids first moved in everything seemed to go perfectly.  Not much seemed different than if they would have been our own biological children.  Life was sweet and there was no way the honeymoon period was ever ending in this situation.  Boy how naïve was I?  It was really just one of the children that started to give us problems.  He was acting out, causing trouble, saying some disturbing things, and even getting into little fights at the age of 10.  It seemed every day some sort of small incident was taking place and every week a big occurrence would happen.  Our life seemed to be revolving only around him due to school, doctor, arguments, and therapy visits.  The honeymoon period seem to last a short couple of months but this destructive behavior period seemed to go on forever.  It was taxing on us and sure enough those thoughts of whether we did the right thing crept into our head.  It seemed no matter how much we told him we loved him and that we were never going to get rid of him or let anyone take him away, he didn’t want to believe us. I understood where he was coming from. 

One day he was just a kid at home, yes not a very good home but to him it was all he knew and it was home, and the next the police were at their door and a lady was loading him and his siblings into a car.  So to him he was being taken away from parents because he knew no better.  He had been taken from parents who didn’t care about them, who hurt them, and didn’t even try and fight to keep their rights as parents.  From there things were suppose to get better but instead they didn’t.  Their first foster home was suppose to be a safe haven from what had happen before but instead he and his siblings went through much of the same, if not worse, of what they had in their birth home.  Once again DCS comes and takes them away but now he is older and he understands to a certain point it was because they were mean.  I wouldn’t blame him at this point if he thought this was how the whole world was.

After that the 3 were placed in another foster home.  This time the people were better but issues still arose.  All three of them started to act out and do things that normal kids know better than to do.  The family tried but they saw the youngest boy as the leader and aggressor of the group.  They didn’t want to take the time to deal with him and get him the help he needed because they had no interest in adopting these children.  In fact they had a fourth child they were fostering, a baby, that they were adopting and quite frankly I believe they felt the other three or at least he was getting in their way.  So at one point they tried to see if DCS would take him away.  He knew what was going on and so did his siblings so of course they were going to start acting out as if they weren’t wanted because in reality they weren’t.  This is not the foster family’s fault it is just what he and his brother and sister saw and felt.  They couldn’t possible understand the reason why they wanted the baby and not them.  They were too young to understand that, so all they knew was that they were not wanted. 

So now we fast forward back to my wife and I at our wits end.  We didn’t know what more we could do but to take him to therapy and to continue to tell him that we love him and we were here to stay.  I am not going to say we handled every thing perfectly and if we could go back in time we would change some of the ways we handled situations.  The stunts he was pulling and our stress levels got the best of us at times.  Finally we had to sit down with each other and form a new plan and a new way of how to deal with him. 

One thing we was just to deal with any troubles as they arose and to deal with that problem only not bringing up any past problems he had caused.  Another was not to yell or immediately give him a punishment but to sit down and actually discuss with him about why he was in trouble and to find out why he would do this or that.   This was so he would understand fully why he got in trouble and why that punishment would fit the crime.  We would end with telling him that we love and believe in him so it would end in a positive note. 

What is funny about it all is that when you are going through this all and you get to a point where you are getting used to dealing with everything you don’t notice the change that slowly starts to take place.  You don’t realize you aren’t punishing him as much and he isn’t getting in trouble as much.  In fact the first time I realized was when he came up to me to ask if he could play the Wii.  I told him no because I just assumed he was grounded but he looked at me disappointed.  So I told him it was because he was grounded and he just looked at me and told me he hadn’t been grounded for a couple of weeks.  Of course I checked with my wife to make sure that was true and it was.  This caught my attention and from there on I started to notice other things started to change.  His grades started to get better, he started taking responsibility when he did get caught doing something wrong, and he started to be a leader.  He is the first to volunteer for a chore or a request we have, he holds doors open for others, prays unselfish prayers, donates his own money to charity at times, and will be the first to help someone when they need it.  He wasn’t bringing home discipline tickets from school and his teachers weren’t emailing or calling us anymore.  He started to smile a lot more and for the first time started to really be a kid.  He was realizing he didn’t have to defend his brother and sister by causing trouble and taking any negative attention away from them and putting it onto himself.  He started to realize that this “forever family” thing was real, that he could let his wall down and let us start to love him while he started to love us.  Something we were told once by his therapist was that once he started to realize he was safe, loved, and that we truly weren’t going anywhere things would start to change.  This change was coming to fruition right in front of our eyes, and it was amazing! 

I am so very proud of the young man he is becoming and the person he wants to become.  When we were going through all of the hardest of these situations I would wonder to myself if he would ever have any real aspirations in life.  I know that might sound a little funny when you are talking about a child who is 10/11 years of age but to be honest when we would ask him what he wanted to be he really never had an answer, not even saying he wanted to be a super hero or firefighter.  It was as if he thought he couldn’t be anything because he didn’t deserve it or like everything else his dreams would be taken away.  But now when you ask him he will tell you that he wants to be a Marine and after that he wants to be an architect who designs bridges and cool buildings.  He has goals, he has dreams, and he has a heart of gold.  He is becoming the young, responsible, funny, and joyous young man that I believed he could be.  His smile and goofiness is infectious.  His eyes used to be protective and suspicious of everything but now they are full of life, happiness, and wonder. 

We are starting to really bond now, something I had hoped for but wondered if it would happen.  In fact about a month ago he said something to me that melted my heart and made me smile.  He was out with me watching me change the oil in the car.  He would ask questions and I would show him how and why we would have to do something.  I told him maybe next time he would get to even get hands on with helping me.  After we were done and cleaned up he looked at me and said, “Dad I really like doing these kinds of things together with you.  It is fun.”  As he was saying that he had a huge smile across his face and so much love in his voice.  It is special when any of your children say something like that but for him to say it the way he did made it just a little bit more special.  Yes we had some very tough times but with those words and seeing who he is becoming now, every bit of it was worth it. 

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Responses

  1. I am so proud of my son-in-law and my grandson. My heart is full.


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