Who would have thought me a parent of an 11 year old with a style, attitude, mind, and personality all of her own very own. It’s amazing as I reflect on just how wonderfully unexpected it was for my husband and I to adopt an older child from foster care. I myself had joined every forum, read every book, and researched every webpage I could on adopting from foster care and after that was dead set on adopting a child between the ages of five no older than seven. We thought if we adopt too old of a child they wouldn’t be as teachable. We thought they wouldn’t want to be walked to class or hold our hands in public. They surely would be out of the hugging and kissing phase. Well mostly if not all of our premonitions were happily proven wrong. My budding 5th grader loves all the attention and affection that she can get from us.
She came to us a broken child that was severely mislabeled. She believed that she wasn’t loved and at times wasn’t even liked so pleasing everyone despite herself was her coping mechanism. She believed that she was in the situation that she was in because she had done something wrong. She the child, the victim had done nothing wrong yet that is what she made herself believe. By the time we met our daughter at the age of 9 she had been in foster care for five years, lived in four different homes, two different states, and five different schools. What a life for a person let alone a child. My husband and I were given a file the size of an encyclopedia to read about her life and how she got into foster care. It was believed by all of those who were around her that she was unbalanced, emotional, and was unwilling to learn.
The unfocused child who couldn’t manage to follow along in a conversation or rather didn’t care was just simply beat down by labels. Once she was allowed to become part of a family who accepted her for who she was and encouraged what she could become the labels and even our perception of an older child changed. She is old enough to understand where she came from and where she is now. No longer bogged down by what people want her to be but instead becoming into her own while learning and growing each day. Now of course I cannot say that we don’t have a few challenges and hiccups along the way however; most families do and we are no exception.
As her dad and I walk down 5th grade hall she grabs our hand. As we approach her classroom we tell her that we won’t walk in with her so that we don’t embarrass her in front of her classmates and friends. She then looks at us with a smile on her face and says to us, you and dad don’t embarrass me. She then gives us a big hug each and tells us she loves us and then walks into class. She has a family and is very proud of it! I know that for some adopting an older child from foster care is not an option but for those who have thought about it, I encourage you to do so. So all the labels have all but deteriorated and faded but only one remains and that is “Our Precious Daughter”!