Most of us enjoy knowing the inside story, the behind the scenes reality. That’s why shows about how things are made are still popular. Have you ever watched the show “Undercover Boss?” Same concept—will the boss come to know what the employees are really like?
It’s compelling to know the real story, including the story behind adoption and fostering. So we asked a group of foster and adopted youth what they thought you should know about adoption and fostering kids. Here are the 4 things they want to tell you.
When the adopted child was asked, “Prepared for what?” her reply was, “Problems. Any kid is going to have problems. And it’s not their fault.” (adoptee, female, age 15)
“Don’t baby them.”
“Don’t baby them [foster kids]. You don’t teach them anything that way.” (foster care, male, age 11)
“Be honest. It’s their life.” (adoptee, female, age 15)
“Tell them where their siblings are. That’s important.” (foster care, male, age 11)
Compelling behind the scenes statements to be sure. What are the two dominating themes from what they shared? They want to be both known and loved.
Preparation speaks to a desire, even before meeting a child, to know them. The adoptee who shared the thought about being prepared wasn’t speaking of just having appropriate clothing, toys, or toiletries ready before a child is placed in your home. She was sharing that we should be prepared for the problems.
We refer to those ‘problems’ as trauma, which comes from each of those children’s unique stories. The best way to prepare for the problems is to receive training on how to parent a traumatized child before they are placed in your home and be open to ongoing training once a child is placed in the home. This proactive preparation is just one way to show a foster or adoptive child that you know his or her real needs and are prepared to meet them.
When we truly love others, we are honest with them. Foster and adoptive children offer a wonderful opportunity to exhibit loving honesty even when it may be difficult. Honesty in the most difficult conversations, even about their past and personal story?
Yes, but these conversations must be age-appropriate and could require a licensed clinician to support the discussion. Honest discussions should always come from a place of love and respect for the child. Because in reality, foster and adopted children are just like you and me—they want to be both known and loved.
Sound off: What quote impacted you the most?
(Thank you to The Sylvia Thomas Center https://sylviathomascenter.org/ for your assistance and to the amazing children you serve who shared their valuable insights.)