We were so unprepared for the hit that foster career would dish out to our marriage. We already weren't seeing eye to eye, I mean, we are human.
My husband wanted the children to comply without question, and I was more willing to offer grace and vice versa. This was until we knew what the real battle was.
I saw his point of view and wanted to be a supportive and an obedient wife, but I also knew that these children were not always in line with what we were thinking.
It's easy to say, "This is how my parents did it", but truly with our foster child it was about how the child's parents did it and how to unlearn and relearn the difference between parenting types.
My parents were wonderful parents, but I didn't agree with everything that they had done. There were many things I thought should be done differently, but my parents were doing the best they could considering their own emotional trauma. In their eyes, they thought their approach was correct and made sense.
I like to always say, "ask a fifteen-year-old because they will tell you in black and white." In most cases, at that age, they are not at all bogged down with life, so they are able to discern something that maybe we are reading too much into.
I actually love the advice of mature teens. Their insight is intriguing and gives a fresh view that maybe I can't always see. I encourage you to give it a try.
In addition to how the children responded to us, we were at a loss when the children didn't respond as well as we hoped they would. This was especially difficult when we had worked hard on our responses, but it still wasn't the right one.
Most of the kids that came in the door came in hating us at first. They didn't know us, and it was very easy for them to be critical of us and judge us without even really knowing their words hurt.
This caused the trust between the children and us to be under attack and instead of teaming up, we (my husband and I) fought over it. Many times, I was mad, and I would take it out on those around me instead of getting to the root of the issue and tackling it there.
I specifically remember once we were helping out another foster family with a young girl, about sixteen or so. We gave a lot of grace and basically let her do her own thing. From smoking to going to buy makeup, which I don't think she was supposed to do, we were just allowing her the freedoms that she otherwise didn't have. My mistake.
She once asked if she could use my phone. I quickly learned that she used the ideology of suicide to gain attention and so she wanted to call her therapist. I walked in the room without her realizing and heard her on my phone throwing me under the bus saying all these situations that just were not true.
Well, momma bird flew into action. I grabbed that phone from her hands and told her foster mom and therapist that they had better come get her. I was not going to deal with someone who was not appreciating me and disrespecting me with all these lies after everything I had done for her.
The social worker called and talked to her, and we ultimately allowed her to stay the night. It was late and I understood that the worker couldn't find a place for her that quickly, but I sure did drop her off at the door in the morning right in front of the center. I let her have it all along the drive over.
I later found out that some of the workers had wanted to take her shopping and treat her to some girl time, but her worker knew better. She was made to stay at the office and stuff envelopes all day. Karma!!! I was so appreciative that the worker stood up to her and held her accountable.
That lesson taught me that it only takes a minute for the children to become a wedge between me and anyone. I was so angry and affected by that one child, I couldn't let that happen again. I also learned that instead of teaching these kids responsibility and who is really responsible for their situations, they are taught to blame the system. But in fact, the system did not do anything except put them in a safe environment.
When our daughter came, I made it a point to always point the responsibility in the right direction. While this caused conflict in the beginning, after a few years she started to realize who was at fault and is now holding the right people accountable.
This is rare in the foster care world, but I believe fully in truth. No matter how ugly or hard to swallow, the truth is always the best approach.
So, with any situation, not just foster care, remember that there is an enemy who would like that wedge to be there. An enemy wants to make sure that you are not successful, but aware at all times of the dangers that the wedge can do.