It’s Okay to Reach Out for Help

You don't have to go along your journey of foster care, relative caregiving, or adoption alone.

“We went to the zoo and it was a family outing. And, as the time started to progress, I could see my son completely start to fall apart. We knew it was time to leave, but we had already waited too long. So, being in and out of the buildings and the noise and the no noise and the light in the dark . . . we didn’t know enough about our son’s condition to really fully help him and realize that that was not going to be a good setting for him. So he starts to meltdown and tantrum and I say to my husband, ‘Take the other kids, get them to the van, I’ll hold him like we were told, and, when he calms down. I’ll come.’

“There is no holding him. He was thrashing so severely. He was screaming and hitting and biting and trying to hurt himself. I had to put him in the wagon and I had to let him be. And so I take this walk through the zoo that I’ll never forget; and all of these people staring at me like, ‘Can’t take care of you kid can you?’ And this pain and this anguish and the sadness and all this stuff just rushing through me because I don’t know if I can take care of my kid. I don’t know who this is. I don’t know how to handle these behaviors and I’m lost.

“My husband had to work that night. I put all the kids to bed. And I come to the living room floor and I fall on the ground and I just break down because I ruined my family. A perfect little family and I introduced chaos. So, that first year was more traumatizing than we realized it would be. And it was a shocker because . . . I grew up in foster care and my parents fostered all these children and I, I knew what it was like to have kids come in and out of your home and I was gonna be really amazing at this. I was gonna be a rock star. There was no doubt in my mind that I was going to nail this like nobody else could. And then these kids came in my life and we broke. And you just don’t know what you’re going to do at that point.

“I got myself back up and I said. ‘We have to do something.’ And so that’s when I started advocating for my son, getting more information on what being on the spectrum really meant and what we could do to help him in the meantime. We ended up finding a new clinic who could take him relatively immediately after all his testing and state approval. And that was May. He began therapy in August 40 hours a week.

“So reaching out to the people in your life, whether they completely understand what you’re going through or don’t, and saying, ‘I’m feeling broken,’ or, ‘I’m feeling like I messed up,’ or, ‘I’m feeling like today is just not gonna be my day,’ that’s how I survived my first year and the second year. Admitting that it was OK for me to not feel perfectly OK. And it was OK for me to feel a little bit broken. And it was OK to know that my struggle hadn’t ended. But that I had a huge support system. And that I was OK just the way that I was.”





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