Support System

Baby_Shower_boy_frontI remember my niece announcing to the family that she was pregnant and the craziness that ensued in the later months. During that time, she had not one but three baby showers. Friends and family from all over the country came to the parties with gifts for both mom and baby. I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, that newborn baby will have a very large, and loving support system.

Six months later my wife and I decided to adopt our thirteen and fifteen-year-old sons out of a residential facility. For some reason, I was hoping to receive the same amount of love and attention for my two boys from the friends and family that showered my niece with it just months before.

I couldn’t help but think, “Where is my baby shower? I want one too!”We knew the traditional ways of supporting your family is different with adoptions versus newborn. Nonetheless, we were still welcoming new children into our home and, in an attempt to address the elephants in the room… eeerrrr I mean to celebrate the occasion, we had a party and invited everyone. To my amazement, not everyone came.

adoption_child

As time went on, I also noticed that my circle of friends was changing. Family members that had once been mainstays in our house started creating space. Friends were leaving more and more time between their visits. What happened? Do they not like us as much?

I believe that in some ways, it was a two-way street. Our friends and family didn’t understand all that my wife and I were doing. They couldn’t comprehend the challenges that our teenage boys faced. Because they didn’t understand, it became hard for us to confide in them about our day-to-day issues.

So my wife and I sat down and made a very intentional list of who our support system would be. By the time our list shook out, we noticed that many of the people on it were foster and adoptive parents themselves. Those that weren’t, the friends and family who had stayed around, had really stepped up and even started coming to trauma informed training classes or foster and adoptive kid panels to get a better understanding of how our family worked.

My wife and I had to decipher the difference between our support groups. We didn’t lose friends, our circumstances just changed. When we get dinner with certain people, we don’t talk about the nuances of parenting a child that has experienced trauma because they wouldn’t understand and it is not fair to them for us to try to make them “get it.” We reserve that conversation for our friends and family that do “get it.”

They say that it “takes a village to raise a child,” and  I believe this to be true. We just worked to make sure that our village, compiled of people like our Grandma, Aunt, Sister, BFF, school social worker, and coach,  are individuals who understand the barriers our kids have overcome and have an understanding of what we need them to support us through.

We didn’t lose our support system; if anything, we fostered and gained a new community of friends.

Advertisements

2 thoughts on “Support System

  1. Thanks much for your blog. So true. We so made the mistake of talking to some of our family/friends about our challenges when they really did not understand. I am sure they probably thought, why should they (us) complain, we brought it on ourselves by bringing these kids into our home. We also made the “mistake” of wanting to bring a now grown up foster child who is a wonderful wife/mom to our family reunion (because she expected & wanted to go). It caused WW3 in our extended bio family some of whom still have not forgiven us. So hard to understand why she would not be welcomed. I have come to the conclusion that not everyone defines family as we do, nor sees the world and feels the burden as we do. And, to just let it go.
    Live & Learn. Like you said, determine who your supports are (which are primarily other FP’s). We have made some truly wonderful friends in the FP community. The other big mistake we made in the early years was thinking the caseworkers, licensors, agency was part of our support system. They advertised themselves as such. When really, they are not. The broken system almost makes that impossible. And, the vast majority of our CW’s had never even been parents.

    Like

    1. I agree. Learning who to confide in has been a slow process but a necessary one. It is discouraging when your definition of family is different from those that are in your family. You expect them to conform and support and it ends up being the opposite. Not cutting them off has been the hardest part. The silver-lining then becomes, leaning on the one that become your new support group, friends and family.

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s