Well, Saturday’s MAPP class should have been the hard part. We discussed some of the traumas that potential foster children could experience; we specifically spoke in great lengths about emotional trauma and sexual trauma. Now to think about and discuss these horrific experiences being perpetrated on a child is sickening, but its easier to handle when one, you’ve done some research and know ahead of time this is a reality for many children in the care of DCF, and two, because generalities and theoretical are always easier to stomach than the real thing.
In reality – if we are placed with a child that has experienced anything like what we discussed in class it will be a grisly truth to face. We can’t say for sure how any child will act after living through such traumas or how we as foster parents/adoptive parents will fare in helping the child to cope and live in a safe home. But, we imagine at least dealing with the generalized and theoretical in class will leave us better prepared.
Of course, we won’t have all the knowledge needed to handle the hurt and damage of a child who has suffered through the unthinkable, but part of the foundation we are trying to lay through taking part in these MAPP classes is learning more about where we can turn to for help. We have great support systems in our family and friends but for these particular situations we’ll have to go beyond our normal reinforcements (although we are fortunate to have an experienced social worker in our group of friend).
While we did find our last class to be challenging, the truth is we’re finding our homework to be a bit more difficult. The assignment seems simple enough – complete a packet (about an inch thick) answering questions about yourself, your family, your home and your expectations of fostering/adopting. Simple, right? Not so much.
What years of your childhood were your favorite? How about your least favorite? Not sure? Neither are we! We were both lucky enough to have pretty happy childhoods. We are fortunate to have loving and caring families. We even both have happily married parents who have been together for decades.
So, we racked our brains, took a stroll down memory lane, and answered these questions plus a myriad of others. We chronicled our work experiences and our relationship.
Next it was onto questions about parenting…. what childhood age do you imagine you will enjoy parenting the most? The least? What do you think is an effective discipline tactic? When do you think it’s OK to spank or physically discipline a child? Really, is that a trick question? What person in their right mind would think of raising a hand to a child who has already gone through so much?
We’re not really sure how many questions we’ve answered or how many hours we’ve collectively put into this homework assignment but we’re certainly going to be glad once we hand it in! We’ve joked that if all parents had to complete this kind of survey before starting a family, we would have a lot fewer pregnancies. In all seriousness though, this survey (as we’re sure it was intended) has made us think a bit more about what our childhoods were really like and what changes we’ll have to make when we bring a child/children into our home.
But if we’re being really honest, this process is probably only going to get harder… but anything worth having in life isn’t going to be easy.