Tuesday, April 23, 2013

The Problems of Being a "Foster" Mom

I'm sort of a foster mom, and sort of not. Either way, a lot of the training we receive around here is the same as foster parents receive. We are currently studying something called The Connected Child. The primary author is a woman called Karyn Purvis. This isn't the first training I've received based on her work, and frankly, she is fantastic. If you are or know someone with an adopted or foster child, this is a great practical, scientific, Christian resource: The Institute of Child Development.

Any ways, I digress from my point. The problem with being in a position like this is that your parenting is constantly on show. To a large degree, the success of the children in our care is based on our success. Take your normal mom fears about whether or not you're doing a good job raising your children, etc, and blow it up. Add in there the fact that not only is your spouse and probably friends and family are watching how you parent, but your boss and co-workers are as well!

Reading through this current resource, I've been both encouraged as a parent and discouraged.

Discouraged because I see some of the things I should be doing and don't always take the time to do or naturally turn towards doing. However, a lot of these things are just ideas that I can practice putting into place. Habits to form, per say.

The encouragement side is the research on the stages of development and how appropriate early connections make such a difference. I find it fascinating how science has proven that not only can obvious things like early neglect, hunger, drugs, alcohol, or abuse affect the development of children, but the very stress levels of a pregnant mother can have a huge impact on the future neurological development of an unborn child. The cortisol levels of a newborn can be measured as much higher than normal when the mother's stress levels have been high prior to birth.

Makes you wonder if this might be the unstated connection to colic in babies, since doctors can't seem to find a reason for it in many cases? Just a random thought of mine.

How is this all encouraging? Because as I type this (well, at this point--not when I started), I sit with a healthy, generally happy little 2-month old boy in my lap. He just spoke to me for a good ten minutes about the state of life--demanding and receiving my full attention to his punch lines and observations. I have a two year old little girl, happily munching on chips and avocado, who is secure in knowing that if she needs a cuddle, all she needs to do is ask and she shall receive. She also knows boundaries and manners and other important, interpersonal skills.

My home may not be in perfect shape (definitely needs a good sweep--dog hairs), but the two children who I have been blessed to grow within me and raise from the very beginning, are doing okay. So therefore, I can't be doing that bad as a parent. I hope.

Now to translate that into my other current five daughters who definitely all have some of those poor beginnings that now make life so difficult for them.

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