These three blog posts rocked my world last week and I wanted to pass them on to you.
Look at Me When You’re Talking to Me!
You want me to look at you, even when you are very angry and I don’t want to look at you. And you want me to wait my turn for talking, even when I have something very important to say. So why don’t you look at me when I’m doing my very important things before you tell me to stop? And why do you get to interrupt what I am doing without waiting until I’m done?
Written from the perspective to the child, this totally humbled me as a mama. It brought tears to my eyes as I realized how often I fail Ali by not giving her the attention and respect she deserves. The day before I read this, I had scolded Ali for demanding “Cacka! Cacka! Cacka!” from the other room. I told her she needed to say “Cracker please” in a nice tone. Then a few minutes later, I caught myself toning out her voice as I was preparing dinner. “Pease. Pease. Pease.” she was saying in the sweetest little voice as she pointed to the package of crackers. She wasn’t rude, loud or demanding…and she totally did not get my attention. Sigh.
For the Foster/Adoptive Dad
My friend and mentor says there are only 2 emotions; fear and love. They are intricately and inversely related. Foster or adoptive children live out of fear, they are afraid that at the drop of a dime they will be picked up and put out of the home they are currently in. It does not matter how old they are or how long they have been there, fear is often the primary emotion that is shaping everything and anything about these children. … God says He is love, and thus far I believe Him. No matter how many moments we want to respond in fear, fathers must ferociously pursue the presence of God…the presence of love.
I don’t come across a lot blogs written by foster/adoptive dads so I thought this one was pretty cool. This father discusses 3 things that he feels very foster/adoptive dad must force himself to lean into daily.
3 Things We Forget
In most cases lying, stealing, selfishness, and the inability to empathize will surface again and again. Get ready, because they all come with the territory. All of these are symptoms of a human being who has been forced into survival mode early on in their little lives.
From the same father as the previous post, here he addresses 3 things to keep in mind when parenting “hurt” kids—behaviors that result from fighting to survive, not to expect gratitude from a child who didn’t choose this life and the long term investment beyond a kid’s 18th birthday.
1 Comment | Family, Family: Adoption, Family: Foster Parenting | Tagged: adoption, child, father, fatherhood, foster care, kids, mother, motherhood, parenting | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt
Both of our little girls so far have adored Jason and vice versa. “Is she a daddy’s girl?” people always ask. I’ve dearly loved our girls too and they’ve loved me back, but there is just something about that father daughter relationship that’s hard to explain.
I used to come home from work and scoop Ladybug up into a big hug. More often then not, I could smell Jason’s cologne on her. I’d suck in the fragrance as I hugged our first daughter and my heart was full of joy that she had a daddy who loved her so much. I could always tell when she’d been spending time with her father because she had picked up his scent. (Picture above, from here.)
Precious is too little to give hugs but she has gigantic kissable cheeks. At her first doctor’s appointment, the pediatrician gave us a prescription for a rash on her face. We had never noticed the rash before. I actually didn’t even realize I was filling the prescription for a rash cream until the pharmacist explained what it was for. I looked back at Precious in the back seat. She didn’t have a rash on her cheeks. Later that day we realized when Jason’s scratchy beard brushes against her cheeks she gets a red dotted rash. It doesn’t last long but he must have been kissing on her cheeks right before the doctor walked into the exam room. Now, I always smile when I see a dotted patch on her cheek. She has a daddy who adores her.
We’re part of a system (as foster parents) where good dads are rare…in birth families and in foster homes. A friend just loaned Jason the book, Strong Fathers, Strong Daughters: 10 Secrets Every Father Should Know by Meg Meeker. He’s not much of a book reader but he dove into it immediately. I noticed as I was falling asleep that his eyes were full of tears as he read. I wasn’t sure if he was going to end up brokenhearted or fired up, ready to fight for his daughter.
As far as policies go, the department of chilren’s services doesn’t prefer a mother/father household over a single parent household. Jason feels such a heavy burden for Precious (and he also did for Ladybug) knowing that he will probably be the only daddy she ever has. There are a lot of wonderful single parents out there who are doing a great job raising their children and fostering children and I admire them for all they do on their own. But statistically, there is no question that it’s better for children to grow up with a mother AND a father. The statistics for girls who grow up without strong fathers in Meeker’s book are…repulsive.
It’s just one more thing that burdens our hearts to think of Precious being taken from our home.
Oh sweet girl, we are doing everything we can to fight for you.
5 Comments | Family, Family: Foster Parenting, Family: Jason, Family: Ladybug, Family: Precious/Ali | Tagged: daughters, father daughter, fatherhood, foster parenting, Ladybug, parenting, precious | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt
Jason is home. THANK GOD. He travels a lot for his career as a musician and I’m totally fine with that. I love that he gets to travel. However, becoming a foster parent and a parent for the first time while he was 4,000 miles away was not easy. After 3 days of carrying around a 25 lb. sweetie who loves to snuggle and needs lots of extra hugs these days, along with the up and down getting into and out of the crib, the high chair, the car seat, etc. my arms were killing me. I am so happy that Jason is home with his strong, sexy, man arms.
This is a strange way to become a parent, no doubt about that. We’re learning so much, having a lot of fun, and we’re pretty exhausted, too. Oh, and we’re still supposed to be earning a living too, right? My brother-in-law who just became a daddy in February promises that we’ll fall into a nice rhythm soon and be able to balance it all. I hope he’s right.
Regardless of the unusual circumstances, witnessing your spouse become a parent has got to be one of the coolest things ever. I could see his love and interest and excitement through their Skype interactions the first couple days but actually getting to see Jason scoop up this little girl and give her hugs and kisses was the sweetest thing. And to see her reach up to him, asking to be picked up and held in his secure arms was precious.
We don’t know a whole lot about little L’s family situation but the only relatives we’ve heard about are female, which leads us to assume she has never really experienced the love of a daddy. Another clue is that she keeps calling Jason “mama,” (which she is also calling me and my mom.) We keep saying, no that’s “papa.” And she says, “Papa.” But then if he walks out of the room, she calls out for him, “Mama!”
I’m so happy that Jason has been not just willing to fill in this gap for however long she’s ours, but that he is truly excited to be her dad. He’s excited to take her out to ice cream and to the park and to hold her hand while she’s toddling around. He’s happy to feed her and hold her as she’s falling asleep and to let her bury her face against his chest when she’s scared of a new situation. His desire to protect her stirs up a righteous anger, usually directed toward “the system” that would allow her to get bounced around from home to home.
Jason is doing an awesome job being a papa. I’m so proud of him for doing this, for agreeing to give himself so fully and to love someone so completely, knowing that she may be ripped away from us. And I say ripped away because even if we agree that her moving back with her original family is the best thing for her (and if we don’t agree, there isn’t much we can do about it…) it’s still going to be the most awful heart ripping pain we’ve ever experienced. We selfishly hope that she can stay with us longer… forever? We just don’t know right now. But more than anything, we want the best for her. We want her to have a hope and a future, a great life. We want her to always know that she is loved, precious, and wanted.
6 Comments | Family, Family: Foster Parenting, Family: Jason, Family: Ladybug, Family: Me | Tagged: Family, fatherhood, foster parenting, love, new dad | Permalink
Posted by mahlbrandt