Last week, we talked to adoptive mom Tara Hutton about how she got started in foster care, a look into their family’s everyday life, and her best pieces of advice for those considering. This week, we continue our conversation- now discussing some unexpected struggles, fears, and obstacles that their family has experienced in their foster to adoption journey, how they get through it, and how they regain their strength when things get tough. Take a look at what Tara had to say!
For you, what’s been your experience with foster parenting vs. parenting your biological children?
I can’t answer this question without first admitting my greatest fear prior to ever becoming a foster/ adoptive parent, and that is the fear I would not be able to love another’s child the way I loved my own biological children.
Any parent, if honest, will admit there are times we struggle to feel love for our children. This is a normal response in all relationships when we feel fear or inadequacy. We want to run away, shut down or protect ourselves. If we believe love is something that “just happens” we will constantly be questioning if we love people or if they love us for that matter. I am learning to use the “feelings” as indicators, much like a light on my car dash. When I am struggling to feel love, my light in the dash is dim, and I need to begin asking myself some questions. Usually, these questions are about fear and how it may be popping up in the situation. While the answers to these types of questions may not be easy to find and they may take time to uncover or support to fully understand I usually find a deeper love and connection when I have been intentional about asking them.
That being said, parenting children who have experienced trauma of any kind is rough. Children who have been moved from a parent or have been moved multiple times, who have experienced abuse or neglect are going to be lacking attachment. This makes giving and receiving love very difficult. Caring for these children takes a relentless kind of love and it can be exhausting and support will be needed. Giving myself permission to need and ask for this support is often challenging for me, but I am learning it is essential. I have also found that while this has been one of the most challenging things I have ever done, the process is leading me into a much deeper understanding of myself and others.
At the end of a hard day, what is it that keeps you going?
My husband, who is generally quick to notice the wear and tear on my face or in my voice when we talk over the phone is definitely my greatest source of support. He is not only quick to offer empathy and encouraging words, but he will take action to provide help when needed. I remember a time recently when he was out of town and scheduled to be there a few nights, but realized my tank was empty and I was in need, and he made arrangements for others to cover his responsibilities and drove home to offer his presence and support.