Children Are Not Hyphenated Humans
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This month I'm reflecting on a meeting we had with a foster family where we reflected on the stigma that our culture applies to children in foster care. Especially in the ‘foster care world’ of mentoring relationships and foster care support networks, there are a lot of diagnoses - legitimate concerns about children that have been neglected or abused or have been at risk at any point - and it often is the topic of conversation when foster care comes up. Sarah and my approach has always been that the children in foster care are children first.
During our meeting with this foster family, they let us know that it was a great comfort to them to remember our perspective as a family. It's easy to get worked up emotionally about the injustices in foster care and how they affect real people. There are so many, and they are at every turn, and it's incredibly difficult for any human being to take care of a child in foster care. Couple that with the stigma and paranoia of the emotional issues that a child is experiencing, and you have a recipe for and overwhelmed foster parent almost every time. At least that is our experience. Instead of diving headfirst into all the different diagnoses, Sarah and I have maintained that all children need a caring family first. Instead of constantly reading books about foster-children, we find that reading parenting and Child-raising books that also talk about foster/adopted children and parents and healthy relationships, and appreciate authors which acknowledge that not all children are birth children.
We have helped many families sidestep unneeded drama of “diagnosis-anxiety” and maintain focus on the most important part of foster care – a safe and loving home, and a child who finds their forever family. Thanks to you, God has used us like tranquilizers to ease the worries of fathers and mothers who want to advocate, love and adopt orphaned children.