Since becoming an adoptive parent I have gotten to know several families. In fact, I know many, many famlies who have more than ten children. And since I have begun reading blogs, I have noticed just how differently we all do what we do.
I know famlies with stay at home dads, or two stay at home parents who both work from home. I know single parent families and same sex couple families. We share the same passion, but we all carry out our parenting of tough kids in different ways. And each of us seem to have one other passion -- whether it be my obsession with computers, Cindy's gardening, Kari's unending pursuit to educate the world about FASD, or something else (I could go on and on).
So my post, which I was planning to write before I read hers, just backs up Cindy's post that anyone can do this . We might not agree with others styles of parenting and our families may look very different, but we are able to make a commitment and stick to it.
And if you can do that, you can parent these kids.
And the bottom line is that no matter how many mistakes we make, no matter how fat or ugly we are, no matter how much we embarrass our teenagers, no matter how they perceive their living conditions (you should have seen the police officer trying not to laugh outloud when Salinda referred to our 3000 sq foot house in a very nice neighborhood a dump) ... the bottom line is that we're better than no parents at all.
I can't imagine how hard it must be to be a teenager in foster care. It's no wonder that most of them just give up and prefer residential living.... (wow, this is the first time I've thought about this and now I have to on about that for a minute).
Picture yourself as a teenager and your number one goal is to fit in and you basically have two choices. If you are in foster care you can go to school and everyone will know that you dont' have a mom or a dad. Or you can go to a group home where nobody has a mom and dad. If you want to fit in, why not make sure you end up in a group home?
I know there are many exceptions where teens have foster parents who treat them well and who they call mom and dad. There are courageous survivors who can ignore their peers and make the best of less than perfect situations. But too often fitting in when you don't have a parent is just too difficult.
So we are all weird in our own ways. We all parent differently. And navigating the pre-teen teenage years with these kids is emotionally exhausting at best. But teens need parents more than ever and even if we aren't the greatest ones in the world, we're better than the system.
I don't think there is a single kid in the system who would rather have their social worker show up at their high school graduation than to have me there as their mother, claiming them, proud of them, and promising to stick with them as they navigate young adulthood.
Of course many adopted kids might say they'd prefer the caseworker there, but they've forgotten what it's like not to have a parent.