Wow it's been a long time since I've been here! Work has been keeping me busy. There's soooo much I've been wanting to write but haven't had the time or energy. For those that don't know, my new job is at a residential treatment facility for kids with emotional and behavioral issues, most due to trauma. As you may imagine, it's an intense place for me to be!
One of the biggest things I've been noticing is the tendency of everyone to find another group to blame. I'm in a weird spot. Because of my life experiences, I relate to a lot of different groups...probably all of them in one way or another. On one of my first days of work, I was surprised to hear my supervisor make a comment about how many foster parents do it for the money. Some of my best friends are foster parents, so I know this isn't true. I see the effort, compassion, and funds they put towards their foster and adopted children every day. I see that same effort at work, so I would've expected them to have a better attitude towards and relationship with foster parents. But I get it. A lot of the kids are there because they had crappy foster parents. One boy was adopted by a pedophile who wanted a little boy to live with him. One girl had a placement all set up and then last minute the foster parents decided nevermind, they weren't interested. Many of the kids have had failed adoptions. Many were abused or neglected in their foster homes. A lot of the issues the kids have come from being in many different foster placements over a short period of time. So yeah, I get where they might have a warped view of foster parents. I don't agree with it, but I get it. Nevermind the fact that I'm sure none of them would want to take one of the kids home 24/7 and deal with them without all the extra support, structure, and and safety measures. Nor the fact that most of the foster parents are either uninformed or unsupported, or both. But I've spent a lot of my time around foster parents, and lived with incredible foster parents who probably saved my life, so I can't look negatively towards foster parents as a whole. (Of course the abusive ones deserve all the negativity they get, but they're a rarity).
Also because of my experiences, I understand a lot of stuff the kids do that my co-workers don't get. It's funny, because in my world it's common sense so it catches me by surprise that others would be confused by it. For example, I was planning an outing with a co-worker and she was talking about how strange it was that the kids get so obsessed with food when we go places. Makes perfect sense to me...the one who feels like everything is off if I don't have at least one snack in my backpack! If I'm going somewhere unfamiliar I pack a ton of food because who knows what the food situation there will be and I hate the feeling of being hungry. Just recently during a training we were doing these activities that were supposed to give us a better sense of how the kids feel and react to situations. I sorta messed it up because I unintentionally kept skipping over the adult part and going straight to kid. One of the big ones was about how hard it is for the kids to make eye contact and feel on the spot to answer a question...so a lot of times they listen better if they're fidgeting or doing something else at the same time. Well that is 100% me, and I started wondering if I'd been offending the ppl doing the training by my constant fidgeting and lack of eye contact! lol But during the ones where we were supposed to be making good eye contact I was so worried about whether or not I was doing it right that I missed everything that was said...putting me squarely in with the kids. I joked about it during the training, but it got a little awkward since no one there knows my history. The point is, I could probably do without a lot of the training since it's what I live every day!
Of course everyone wants to blame the bio parents. That's the easy target, right? Wellll....not for me. I relate to them too. For one thing, a lot of their issues come from poverty, which I've lived. The other issues come from addiction, which I've also lived. I understand how a parent can neglect their child while focusing on their drug. I don't condone it, but I get it. I'm lucky I was never able to have kids. It really just comes down to luck for me...it wasn't from good quality planning ahead. I've seen first hand how hard it is to get sober...I can't imagine doing it along with the responsibilities of taking care of a child...often a very difficult child with minimal support around you. I don't understand the sexual abuse stuff, except that often those parents were themselves abused as children. I can tell you that sexual abuse when you're a kid fucks with your mind more than just about anything out there. It leaves you with no idea how to relate to people, and no real concept of what love is. I have no doubt that the parents who have hurt these kids love their children. They just have no idea how to parent. I also have no doubt the kids love their parents...even the ones with no desire to be with them.
I guess it goes back to what I said before...I'm grateful for my life experiences because they've given me the perspective to see where so many different people are coming from. I can't, nor do I want to, hold a whole group of people hostage to a single idea. Yes, there's bad ones in every bunch...but generally there's a reason why. There's some kind of pain that's brought a person to where they are. Judging and blaming isn't going to help them. I just hope we can find the right path to healing so we can change the course of things rather than continue with the same cycles.
I'm so so grateful for my job, because I love it and I love getting to be a part of truly making a difference for kids who experienced what I did. I love being a part of (hopefully) making real change for the future.