Longing For Normacy

In February of 2012, we became foster parents to two sisters, age one and two. Then, in May, their biological brother was born. We’ve had him since he was released from the hospital. At that point, we didn’t even think about adopting them, as parental rights to their biological family hadn’t yet been terminated. Because they were technically still someone else’s children, we weren’t even going to entertain the thought.

But about a year later, parental rights were terminated. And because of how the system works, we had about two weeks to decide if we wanted to pursue adoption. There’s nothing like making a life-changing decision in two weeks, especially one that we hadn’t even been willing to discuss before!

The decision to adopt these three siblings wasn’t an easy one to make. They all came to us with special needs, both psychological and emotional. The oldest one has officially been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, and both of the girls came into our care with an extreme fear of men. I literally could not leave them alone with my husband for about three months. He had to do all the grocery shopping, and I couldn’t go anywhere without them. It was an extremely isolating time for me, which in turn caused me to get quite depressed.

I think about the fact that I chose this life. I could have made a different choice, and it would have been a lot easier.

But I realized that if we didn’t adopt, the oldest sister was going to struggle with attachment issues for the rest of her life. And I wasn’t willing for her to go through that. So my husband and I decided to adopt them into our family.

Our lives revolve around appointments. At one time or another, all three have been in occupational therapy. The oldest two are in counseling, and our youngest is in the process of being referred. He also sees a sleep specialist, along with an ear, nose, and throat specialist. And because he’s only four, he doesn’t have an official diagnosis yet, but we’re fairly sure he has Sensory Processing Disorder. He will often wrench on my arm. Many times I have to restrain him because he starts throwing things and hitting and kicking siblings. Both the oldest and youngest have had surgery on their ears. Not to mention allergies and asthma... I could go on for a while.

It’s a lot to manage.

When we first started fostering them, it was during the same period when my oldest son Scott was depressed and doing drugs. And I had no idea what was going on with him. He was constantly hanging out with his friends, and I didn’t blame him for wanting to get out of the house. I wanted to leave a lot of the time, myself. And even though he’s gotten a lot better at dealing with his new younger siblings, he’s still figuring it out.

Our second daughter has adjusted fairly well. Being the bossy big sister, she gets right in there in the trenches. But she does tell me every once in a while that she needs some time alone with me.

Because there’s no such thing as a “normal” day, it’s quite difficult to do really simple activities. But my husband and I have come up with some strategies along the way, like tag teaming our errands, and only going to grocery stores with samples so that the kids are occupied for a few brief moments.

Even in the fun times, we’ve had to figure out how to accommodate everyone. We’ll do karaoke nights, and after a while, the oldest of the three will start to rock back and forth. I can tell that she’s starting to lose it. So we’ll get her noise-cancelling headphones out so she doesn’t have to deal with the loud music.

I try not to get down. But there are days when I have a pity party for myself, when I mourn because I can’t have just one normal day. During these times, I think about the fact that I chose this life. I could have made a different choice, and it would have been a lot easier. When you’re struggling day in and day out, when one child is having a meltdown because the other one is having a meltdown, it’s hard to not let your mind go there.

Regardless of how hard it is right now, I do have hope. I’ve seen so much progress in all of them. I’ve seen how they’ve blossomed. And I can’t imagine what their lives would be like today if they were still with their biological family. I know there’s purpose behind what we’re doing, even when I get overwhelmed and cry and long for normalcy.

Maybe you can relate. Maybe you’re a parent of a child with special needs and are feeling lost in the chaos. Know this: you’re not alone. I encourage you to reach out and talk with someone who can listen and support you through this. If you leave your contact information below, someone on our team will connect with you soon.

Photo Credit: Rene Adamos