I longed for the easier days of parenting children I had raised from infancy. I wondered if we had caused them harm by taking on older children that were so scared and demanded so much of my time and energy. I wondered what life would have been like if we hadn't adopted them...but I don't think I ever regretted our decision. I grieved for the past, but knew I loved these kids and that any other decision on my part would only make THEIR lives harder and their futures more bleak. No, giving up was clearly not an option.
I do have one regret though. One boy...I guess you could call him the one that got away. Just a few months after K4's adoption was finalized, we were contacted by the agency to provide 2 weeks of respite care for a boy. I can't remember exactly how old he was..but he must have been around age 8 at the time. He was in a temporary "intake" home while social workers looked for a more permanent placement for him. The intake family was going on a family vacation and since he wasn't really family...well, they just didn't want to take him. I know that sounds harsh, but it is the truth. I understand why, the point of a vacation is a BREAK from your job, but that is hard to do when your job is taking on older, traumatized children from foster care. Thus, respite care is the answer, temporary foster care for foster parents. Anyway, this young man stayed with us for 2 full weeks. I was so bothered by him not being allowed to go on vacation, that my husband and I made a point of making his 2 week stay with us as "vacation like" as possible. We hit the pool nearly everyday and made a point of going camping in the mountains that weekend. We made frozen orange juice pops, and went to the movies. At bedtime, I read him stories and tickled him. I smoothed the hair on his forehead and kissed his cheek. He wrapped his arms around me and told me about his biological family. He told me about the drugs he watched them use. He talked about being afraid to go back to the "intake family" because of how mad the foster mom would become when he made a mistake. He talked about not understanding their rules and how he wasn't trying to be bad, but just couldn't figure out how to be good in her home. I reported everything to his social worker. After the two weeks, his social worker came to collect him and return him to the "intake" family. She not so subtly dropped hints that they were still looking for a long term home placement. She didn't know if he would ever be available for adoption. My husband and I loved this little boy, but knew that we couldn't offer a temporary family life for him. We commit to a child, and the idea of loving him and helping him return to a drug addict family was not something we could do. I admire the families that can help reunite children with rehabilitated biological families...it just isn't something WE could do. In the end, we said it was just too soon after K4's adoption and we were still trying to figure out how to be HER family and it just didn't feel right taking in this precious kiddo when we would not be able to focus all our attention on him. I regret that. Everyday. I know now that we COULD have provided the love and support he needed-we were just afraid to try. I heard later that he stayed with a friend of mine on another "respite" break and was eventually adopted by a man and his life partner. From what I hear, it has worked out very well. I am very happy that he found a family to love him and maybe that was God's plan all along.
But, what if we had said yes? What if he stayed with us as a long term placement that ultimately led him to be available for adoption? What if WE had adopted him? That was 6 years ago, and to this day, I regret saying no.