This month, we will feature nine adoptive moms who prove that love transcends a biological connection. Read their stories and become inspired to make a difference in the lives of foster kids.
Christina Dettman, mother to Francisca, Prisca, Jay, Kai, and Mia
What is your fondest memory of being a foster (and now adoptive) mom to your boys?
Wow! It is impossible to choose just one moment or memory! Our sweet boys were our first (and only) foster placement. We were trained, open, and waiting for about a year, and we started to wonder if anyone would be placed with us. We wanted to feel properly equipped, and confident that we were doing what was best for the children needing care and for us as a family.
We were also in the middle of pursuing international adoption at the time (for our two daughters) but once that phone call came about two little boys, ages 1 and 2, we felt ready to take the leap. We got the call on a Friday, and the boys arrived at our house on Monday. I will never forget those first few moments with them. Our whole world changed – for the better – and we never looked back.
How has this experience changed you?
This is huge. How has it not changed me would be a simpler question. Because of my experience with Kentucky’s child welfare system, I see the world in an entirely different way. I no longer only have my own (admittedly mostly privileged) experiences to pull from, but I now have a wider, broader, and deeper understanding of the racial, economic, and social disparities that plague our country. And while I may not have firsthand experience with the pervasive racism that spreads through our communities, I owe it to my four oldest children to acknowledge the inequities, to honor their cultures, and to be their constant champion, protector, and ally.
What has motherhood taught you about yourself?
My husband and I became parents in an unusual way. Over the years, with my boys, my girls, and now our baby – I’ve learned that – well, I have a lot of learning to do. I recently read that so much of parenting is about changing our own behaviors, not our children’s. I agree. I’m learning how to be a better parent by changing the way I react and respond to situations. I think we can all evolve and improve as parents and as humans. My kids have taught me that I have plenty of room for improvement!
What would you like for new foster/adoptive moms to know? Is there any advice you would like to give?
I feel like I could write a book with advice I would pass on to other foster parents. But here are a few of my initial thoughts for anyone thinking about fostering.
- Make sure you’re getting into this world for the right reasons. I admit that when my husband and I became foster parents, I was very naive and knew nothing about trauma-informed care. I thought (and perhaps was coaxed into believing that) we could simply foster to adopt, and tie everything up in a nice bow. But nothing about any of this system is ever simple or easy. It’s hard, and takes way too long, and there are ugly parts. You have to be okay with a child going home to their biological family, if that’s what is deemed appropriate, because reunification is always the first goal. Basically, this is about the child – not you.
- Take teenagers. Easy for me to say, right? But trust me, teens in care are the hardest to place, and they need it! I interview them all the time for work, and these kids are desperate for a family. It will be hard work, but imagine what the kids have been through, and imagine all the ways you could improve their lives if you’re willing to stick it out. I am always so impressed with foster families that welcome teenagers. Many of them are heroes.
- Understand and acknowledge that this will be hard. Many of these kids have been through unspeakable trauma. Educate yourself on how trauma impacts them for the rest of their lives. There’s a good chance they will have ‘stuff’ to work through (who doesn’t). Do the therapy. Get the help. Ask professionals.
- And finally – the most helpful strategy for me was making connections and forming relationships with other foster and adoptive parents. We understand each other in a way that is different. It’s huge to have that support. You will need a village, but it is worth it. What a beautiful way to help the world.
Thanks for sharing your story Christina!
P.S. Ready to change a child’s life? Consider becoming a foster parent or respite provider.
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