As things get more real in this journey towards foster care adoption, we decided it was time to get around to naming this little blog of ours. So why “Gentle Wild?” It goes back to a training we had last week…
Our agency offered a training for Concurrent Resource Families. Those who elect to be open to concurrent placements essentially commit to honoring two paths simultaneously: first, supporting reunification efforts of the child with their birth family; second, committing to adopt that child if reunification is not successful. We decided to attend the training to learn more about it and to keep our options open if we decide this path is something we are open to down the road.
Our favorite part of the training was the panel with concurrent parents, which was the last event of the day. During the panel, I (Laura) was struck by the honesty, selflessness, and above all, gentle spirits of the parents on the panel. The love and patience with which they approached their children and the compassion they expressed towards their childrens’ birth parents was astounding and humbling.
On the drive home, I turned to Nate with some anxiety and said, “I am not gentle of spirit.”
The foster care saying goes, You don’t have to be perfect to be a perfect parent. But beyond being imperfect, I am boisterous, theatrical, and outspoken. I picture the feelings of a little one who has experienced trauma being hurled at me in the form of nasty words or physical outbursts, and try to imagine myself not taking it personally, keeping my feelings separate from the love I have for that child and responding, over and over, with gentleness. I know I can do it…I also know it will be a challenge.
Then, I picture our home on a daily basis, even now. I walk in the door after work and there is music playing, food sizzling, plans being made for game nights, jokes being cracked, toys being thrown for Dory. I know we want our child to experience this energy that buzzes in our home, and embrace being 100% part of this family. “I am wild of spirit,” I tell him.
Nate’s reply: “Well, what we’re doing is pretty wild.” It clicked. It’s okay to admit that this is wild. Crazy, even. Unpredictable. This path we have chosen is hard, emotional, heartbreaking, but also amazing, beautiful, worth it. And you need a lot of both gentle AND wild to make it work.
We know what our children will need: equanimity, grace, steadfastness.
We know what our home will be like: loud, silly, messy.
We know we will look beyond behaviors and see the child who needs us.
We know there will be days those behaviors are like a jungle to see through.
We know our patience will be tested.
We know we’re just determined enough.