So, we’ve been going to “parenting classes” as my husband likes to call them. :) Actually, in order to foster/adopt through DCFS, a couple must attend 27 hours worth of training as part of the preliminary process. We just finished session 4 of 9 last night. All the other stuff was basically review of info that we already had or things that we just knew. Last night was brutal. It was about loss. Our instructor, Laura – who I really like – went over the various stages of loss and grief and we talked about what some of the kids that come into our home might feel. I have an idea of what we’ll be dealing with, but I’ll freely admit, I don’t fully get it. It’s hard to imagine where these kids come from because I have NEVER been in any kind of situations like these kids come from. It will just tear your heart right out!
One of the first things she did was she had all of us get three sticky notes and on one we wrote a person we loved. On another, we wrote our most prized possession. On the third, we wrote an aspect of our health that we were thankful for. At first, I thought it was a little silly, but being the rule follower that I am, I did exactly as she said. Then, she came around to each one of us and began pulling a post-it from the table in front of us. She took one person’s loved one post-it. Another one she took was their prized possession. And so on. She then asked how that made us feel that she just came and took our stuff. Of course they were just post-its but still. Then she came around for the second round and some people had both their other post-its taken and some people just had one. Some people didn’t have any. She asked if that was fair. Was everyone treated the same? Did everyone end up with the same stuff? And THEN, she came around and gave us a post-it back, but it was someone else’s post-it. Not ours.
Some of these kids going into foster care have everything taken away from them in one fell swoop. They are taken away from their loved ones. Even if mom and dad have treated them like absolute crap, they are still THEIR mom and dad and the kids still love them. They may have been taken with just the clothes on their back. They may have had to leave their favorite stuffed animal or their pet – their most prized possession. Laura reminded us that as she gave us the sticky notes back, we might have gotten a pet or someone’s PS3 or a loved one….but it wasn’t OUR stuff. Put yourself in the place of these kids. They might be coming into our home and having a ton more stuff than what they had back at mom and dad’s, but it’s our stuff – not THEIRS. It’s not what makes them comfortable. WE are not mom and dad to them. We can love them with all that’s in us, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t going to experience the stages of grief over the loss of what they have left.
Then. Oh then. At the end of class, she played a video for us. All it was was words scrolling across the screen and occasionally we would hear a kid reading these words. It was taken from a psychiatrists observations from things kids have said and things he’s witnessed kids experience. Oh. My. Gosh. I was literally crying. It was so heartbreaking. I mean, I had an idea, but some of the things shocked me. And most of it is bringing me to my knees. It makes my heart break. It makes Mike really angry. HOW can parents treat kids this way?! HOW?!?! How can ANYONE treat a kid that way?!
We found out last night that the newest statistic shows that the number one reason a child in NWA is taken out of his/her home and put into foster care is neglect. NEGLECT!! I would have guessed drugs in a minute. But no. It’s neglect. Drugs was second, but still. Overpowered by neglect. I could just shake some people for that.
And to make matters even worse, I watched a DVR’d episode of Oprah today about child molesters. I hesitated for weeks about watching it, but especially last night after some of the stuff we heard, I knew I needed to watch it. I was crying by the end of it. Because there are kids even around here having to deal with stuff like that. It makes me SICK!! I’m nearly to tears even now as I write this. One of the guys on there put it perfectly when he said by what he was doing, he was killing who that little girl could have been. I just want to bury my head and pretend that stuff doesn’t happen, but I can’t anymore. And it breaks my heart for those kids.
I just know, more than ever, we have GOT to help some of these kids. Mike and I are so passionate about this. Whatever kind of abuse these kids have come from, we may not be totally equipped, but we have willing arms to hold these babies that need someone to love them. And open hearts, which may be the most important thing of all.