I am beaten, broken, scared. I have wounds that may never heal. I am terrified of tomorrow and yet, rejoice in today. I am a mother, an adoptive mother, a foster mother. I am real, though appear fake. The war I fight is not seen by many and my battle wounds are mostly invisible. I fight for my children, literally fight for their lives, on a daily basis. I am tired.
I am writing from one of the darkest places I have yet had to visit inside myself. If I did not have the light of Jesus, I would not believe that there was life left inside of me. Daily, I feel like I am forced to breathe under water and expected to do it with grace for those pushing me under and with a joy filled attitude.
I parent children that come from trauma, abuse, brokenness. It is my job to help restore their belief in themselves. Show them they are worthy of love, peace, joy. Lead them to Jesus. Through the punches thrown at me, broken walls, broken hearts I must lead on. There is little rest when you are fighting for a child, a child so loved by Jesus that He has already died so that they can be forgiven. I refuse to give up on or give in to these children. They are some of the strongest people I have ever met both physically and mentally.
I am fighting a system that is also throwing punches at me. When a child does not show behavior fast enough in a new environment, the behavior at home must be my fault. I fight for my reputation as the children make false accusations. I must make sure I am always walking a straight line so that there is never a reason to doubt what I say vs what they say. I spend hours daily- yes daily- on the phone fighting insurance companies, therapy centers, hospitals, case managers attempting to get help for my broken children. Each time a new service is started, we have to show them that we are following all suggestions and yet nothing is changing. This fight is for eternity but I fail daily.
I praise Jesus for my village. Without my support system this path would not be bearable, would not be possible. They are the safety that my family can literally fall into. When an emergency arises I can count on any of them to drop what they are doing to rush to our side. When one child becomes too violent to be maintained in the home I know that with one call my children will be cared for, the house cleaned and the food covered for as long as it takes. My husband’s employer is part of this village with giving him the flexibility to pause everything and be here in eight minutes flat if my strength for the day has failed. A village is so very important I would caution anyone from fostering or adopting until you have functioned as someone else’s village and helped them fight this battle. I would also strongly suggest that if you do not have a village or support system ready, you work hard at building one. I traveled this path alone for almost six years and my body literally burned out. Jesus spoke loudly and clearly through a pulmonary embolism that almost took my life that I needed to actively search out this village and not wait for them to find me.
I am full of hope. I am full of peace that can only be found in Jesus. I am able to see the joy through the pain. My family is beauty made from ashes in every sense of the meaning. We were all completely broken and, through Jesus, we are made whole. We have seen children healed and hearts made new. I am in awe each and every time I hear one of my children pray. My children as a whole are some of the most secure people in their faith that I have ever met. Their complete and total belief in the power of prayer blows me away. They are not in awe of answered prayers because they fully expected an answer and are willing to accept a “no.”
We were cautioned not to “corrupt” our “own” children with “those” children. Though I would be lying if I said there was not damage caused to any of our children who do not struggle like others; I have to say that the positive affects so far outweigh the negative. I have extremely compassionate children who are willing to put the needs of others ahead of their own. They will stop and pray for a sibling when they are struggling and are able to look past all the pain that is inflicted and see the hurt behind it. My children are some of the most giving, loving, caring children I have ever met. I am privileged to be able to watch then grow in ways that would not be possible in a “typical” family.
My name is Danielle and I can smile. I am 29 years old, am the proud mother to nine children, and soon-to-be proud Mimi to my first grandchild. I am saved, I am loved, I am valuable, I am tough. I am able to do all things through Christ (Philippians 4:13). This journey to family has looked so much more beautiful than anything I ever pictured. There is so much pain, hurt, struggle- though without it the joy, love, redemption would not be as bright. When a doctor tells you a child will “never walk, talk, or function” and you watch that child dance all day, singing at the top of their lungs, how do you not rejoice? When you have a child on a feeding tube and the doctor says, “just enjoy her while you can,” but three years later, they are tube free and growing how do I not stare in awe? When a child is labeled “the worst case of RAD we have ever seen in a three year old,” but six years later they now have “anxiety” and no therapy is needed, how do I not feel empowered? I am God’s child, asked to do mighty things for His kingdom; I am able, I am willing, I am ready for what God has next.
To read more from Danielle head over to her blog, Fasnacht Gang.