Healing The Hurt

Healing The Hurt

When you grow up knowing the sting of parental rejection, a crater sized hole is left in your heart. The reality of childhood sexual abuse and other traumas add to the depth and diameter of that wound. There are many ways to fill that hole, some healthier than others. You can turn to drugs and alcohol. You can turn to relationships. You can turn to self-harm. I tried all of those at one point or another but they didn’t minimize the size of the hole or the pain it caused. Eventually, through years of counseling and finding a strong connection to God, the hole diminished and a scar formed instead. Once that healing began to take place, a desire to provide a safe place for kids like me blossomed deep in my soul.


Thankfully, I have a husband that supported that desire {eventually} and we became licensed foster parents when our youngest son graduated from high school. Since I had raised three boys and thoroughly enjoyed being a boy mom AND we had adopted a teenage daughter {who was pregnant at the time with a baby girl} that fulfilled my longing for a girl in my life, I assumed that God would send us adolescent boys to foster. We got licensed for kids 10 and up. I entered the foster care system in middle school and knew that there are less foster homes willing to take older children and teenagers. So, that’s all we decided to take.


Our first placement ended up being a ten year old girl and we only got girls after that. We joke that God brought kids exactly like me: Big chips on their shoulders, big hurts, but also big hearts and big potential.

Having been in foster care has proven useful in situations I’ve faced as a foster parent. One placement was known to be a “runner” and I could tell when she got out of the car that she was casing our neighborhood for the easiest escape route. Her case worker was surprised when I called the next morning to schedule her visit saying she had fully expected a voicemail that morning saying she had run during the night. We were the first place she had stayed at overnight in several months! All I had done was share a bit of my story {including my penchant for running away} and how I understood what she was feeling inside.


Our foster care license was only active for two years because we ended up making three of our
placements a permanent part of our family. Our first placement’s case moved to TPR after a failed reunification and she became a Smallwood several months later. One of our girls came to us just before her 17th birthday with a goal of being adopted before she turned eighteen. Because TPR had not occurred, we knew this was a dream that may not come true. But God moved mountains in her case and we adopted her 67 days before her eighteenth birthday. While we haven’t legally adopted the third {yet}, she has been a forever part of our family since the day we picked her up from the program she was being discharged from a few months before her eighteenth birthday.


While I may not have chosen to write the story of my life to include foster care and I certainly wish I could’ve written the story of my girls lives to be void of so much of the pain they endured before they came to us, I’m thankful for the journey that led them to our family. I was meant to be their mama and they were meant to be my girls. It has been an honor and a privilege to help them move towards their own healing of the wounds in their hearts.

 

What is one small reform you think would most benefit the foster care community?

I would like to see a national database so that ICPC would be a quicker process and so that biological parents couldn't move from state to state to dodge the system.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

I'm Melissa, a wife, mom to 7, Mimi, counselor, writer and friend. I love coffee, Jesus, HGTV and mangoes, not in that order. My favorite thing to do is spend time with my family and friends. 

I am a former foster child, a former foster mom, an adoptive mom and a current CASA volunteer. Once our home and family became full through foster care and adoption, I became a CASA to still be able to advocate for foster kids in some meaningful way. I also lead an online Bible study group for foster/adoptive moms as a source of support and encouragement. 

 

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