Foster care and adoption advocate and author Pam Parish, who is the mother of seven young adult women and has navigated the road to adoption six times, joins us today to answer this question:
“What are three things you wish you knew before entering the foster care and adoption journey?” Read on for Pam’s insightful, compassionate response:
- Don’t miss your biological children in your foster care and adoption journey. Our daughter Kristen was 11 when we started our journey. Six adoptions later, she’s now 20,and she can articulate that she felt lost along the way. In the middle of dealing with the big issues that come along with this journey, the little interactions matter. Slow down. When your biological child comes to you, even with the smallest thing, take a minute, slow down, look them in the eye and tell them that their problem matters.
- Relationship is more important than behavior. We want good behaviors out of our kids. We want them to behave at church, at school, at home, and to not hit their sister. But those things, even though they’re important, don’t trump relationship. So no matter what you’re doing, whether you’re correcting them for a behavior, whether you’re sending them off to bed at night or sending them off at school, remember that your relationship is important and invest in that. Make sure your kids feel that they are important to you and that their feeling of being okay, even in conflict, is important to you.
- We can’t fix them. I’m a fixer. When I see a problem, I see a solution, and I want to fix it. What happens when we do that is our kids feel like projects and not people. Remember that you can’t fix the hurt. You can’t make up for the loss. All you can do is love them and be with them as they walk through the pain, whatever that looks like. If you can remember those things and if you can invest in those relationships, I promise you beauty for ashes, all those things that the Bible promises, will be a part of your story, too.
Pam Parish is mother of seven young adults and a passionate foster parent mentor, trainer, and advocate. She is also the author of Ready or Not: A 30-Day Discovery for Families Growing through Foster Care and Adoption and the founder and president of Connections Homes in Georgia, a nonprofit dedicated to building a network of families to help youth aging out of foster care.