Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Neurodiversity Awareness/Appreciation

Monday, November 11, 2013

The Family I Will Build

Here's me being a Mama. 
One of my first posts on this blog was called I Wanna Be A Mama. I wrote about how I always expected that I would become a parent, most likely through foster care and/or adoption. It was strange how I sort of grew up knowing I would adopt children. But to me, it was equally strange that, although I helped to raise many of the children of my wayward friends and acquaintances, I never obtained the stability (a house, and an income, for starters) to become a mama.

As of late I've been really giving a lot of thought to moving forward in my life. I had a traumatizing few years and I became really stagnant. And you know what happens when water is stagnant, right? It starts to stink, and leeches make their homes there!

A big part of moving forward for me will be moving out to the Oregon/California area. I have been working hard at it by saving up money, and researching how to transfer my teaching degree there.

Once I get there and get a place to live, I have every intention of going forward with my plans to adopt children!

This means I have to turn an absolutely cold ear to the people in my life ::cough cough Mom and Bro and even sometimes my Dad cough cough ahem:: who think that I don't have it "together" enough to care for children. I have been caring for children most of my life, without the benefit of actually having a real say in the decision making process! If I get to actually make decisions about the child... important decisions like, "I am not going to allow my child around people who are abusive or who smoke crack and stuff," or "If my children seem to have special educational needs, I am actually going to pursue that and get them what they need instead of just ignoring it," or "I want my children to have some basic rules and routines and stability in their lives..." Then that has to be a lot easier than the kind of caregiving I've done in the past, which has mostly been trying to run ongoing damage control for what other people were doing to their children!

One time when I was visiting Bro and Sunny and I was mentioning becoming a foster parent, my brother said, "Wait a minute, how can you be a foster parent?" When I asked what he meant, he said "nevermind" and changed the subject, probably because he didn't want to argue, but it has continued to haunt me that he thinks it is absolutely ridiculous for me to entertain such thoughts of caring for children.

Anyways... I'm always randomly going off on tangents, aren't I?

I have been giving a lot of thought to starting to create my own family in the near future. And I have always thought I would want to become a foster parent to small children. But then I started thinking that I really wanted to start out with adopting, because when you foster, the children are often going to go back to their birth parents or to another placement, and while I would like to be part of that process, I would also like to be a forever family.

Then I started getting interested in adopting a child with Down syndrome. I read a lot of blogs by parents of children with special needs, and some of them have adopted children with Down syndrome from other countries. The reason they often adopt from other countries is, first of all, that infants with Down syndrome are actually pretty quickly adopted in the USA, and second of all, children in certain European countries who have Down syndrome are left to be raised in adult mental institutions and may never get to experience having a family.

I have worked with children with Down syndrome in two different jobs now. So I am completely aware, kids with Down syndrome are not perfect little angels, any more than other children are. The kids I've worked with can be extremely stubborn. They know what they want, but they don't always have the verbal skills to express themselves, so instead they might melt their legs and scream in your face! The kids I work with will often do things that are very typical of toddler behavior... except they are 7 or 8 years old and therefore a lot louder and stronger. But the thing I love about the kids I work with is their spirit, and the fierce love they do have for people in their lives, their sense of determination to do things once they set their minds on it, and their pride in the accomplishments they manage. And if I could take a child with Down syndrome, remove them from a place where they are really not going to have a chance, and give them the opportunity to thrive and shine like the kids I work with and the kids I read about in blogs... then I totally want to!

I always thought that one thing I would probably not do, at least for a while, is adopt a teenager. I was bullied a lot in middle school and high school, and so even now I don't feel like I relate well to teenagers. But then I started thinking about some of the teenagers and older kids I have known and been close to, and I realized, not all teenagers are complete brats, and in fact many teenagers are awesome people. The kids who bullied me were just a few kids out of the whole school, really, with the others mostly just following along. I thought about what it might feel like to be a kid in foster care, and you're getting older and older, and realizing that you don't have much of a chance of finding a family before you "age out." That would suck. 

Then I was looking at this website, AdoptUsKids, and there are actually a lot of older kids who have autism or ADHD and who are more shy and introverted... like me! There are kids who love animals and love to read and write and draw and be outdoors. I could be a parent to a kid like that.

The only thing I am really worried about is taking in any children who hurt or kill animals. I could deal with any other misbehavior such as screaming, tantrums, whatever, but not with putting my pets in danger. 

So my plan, once I have a place to live, is to start the process of getting a home study and all that, and start the process of adopting a child with Down syndrome, then an older child. And after that, if all is going well, maybe I could start foster parenting as well.

Hey, look, there are some Naysayers! Let's hear what they have to say!

Naysayers: "You won't be able to do this because you'd be a single parent, and you'll have to work, and  where will your children be while you're working?"

Me: "Thought of that. But there are single parents. I know of single parents raising 6 kids and doing a good job of it! Plus, as a teacher, I'm going to work in a school. And my children will go to school. This means I will always have weekends, school vacations, and school holidays, to spend with my children 24/7. I will also almost always be with them during the evenings. The only times I wouldn't be able to be home in the evenings would be if there were parent-teacher conferences. At those times, I would do what other single parents do, and either bring my kids with me or get someone to watch them!"

Naysayers: "What will you do if your kids get sick and can't go to school?"

Me: "I will either find someone to stay with them, or call in from work and stay home with them. Just like other single parents do."

Naysayers: "Being a single parent isn't easy, you know!"

Me: "Nothing worthwhile is really easy, is it?"

Naysayers: "You can barely take care of yourself!"

Me: "Oh, go blow your nose in Cheerios and show it to the Navy!"

Naysayers: "What?"

Me: "Exactly!"

I think I'd have a lot to offer as a parent. I know I am really patient with kids. I am not the kind of person who will demand perfection. But I am also not the kind of person who will be like, "Oh, Timmy, can you please stop jumping on the table? Get down, sweetheart. No? You don't want to get down? Okay. But then you can't have a cookie. You want a cookie? Fine. Here. Okay, have two." Not a lot bothers me, and I definitely pick my battles with kids. But for the things I find important... such as being safe, being kind, and being respectful... I can be plenty firm. I can also offer them a lot of time and attention, and traditions, and listening, and advocating for their needs. And maybe I'll even learn how to cook! 


  1. You have such an open, generous, and compassionate heart! For a young lady, you own wisdom beyond your years! Your list of rules for raising your child(ren) had me nodding in enthusiastic agreement. Even with 10 years of teaching (high school) experience I learned each one of these step by step with my own daughters as I brought them up. You have it all in order BEFORE you even begin! I think you must pursue your dream. I think you will be richly rewarded!
    I loved your previous post too. Our dog, Roxie, was adopted from a rescue that uses PetSmart too. She was one of 85 dogs taken from a hoarder. God bless rescue groups!

  2. It will be wonderful to see what comes of this fantastic desire!

  3. There will always be naysayers. Only you know what's in your heart and what you're truly capable of. You clearly have a lot of love to give. :-)
    Walk your path. Tune the others out. I'm pulling for you.


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