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© Gail Underwood Parker

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Caring Heart: Translation Needed

As hard as it is for me to believe it is nearly 45 years since  my first foster child arrived.  In the years then and since I have heard many foster parents complain about overly optimistic descriptions of children waiting for placements.  Those of you who share that frustration may relate to this meditation.

Translation Needed
"Bright and engaging"  Where did the social worker get that idea?  Probably the same place that described my swweet little girl with severe mental retardation as "a little behind academically."  I swear there must be a spcial thesaurus for missrepresenting these kiddos.  "Eager and energetic" often means will ask thirty questions a minute, won't sit still for more than fifteen seconds, and rarely sleeps. "Would benefit from being an only child" sometimes means aggressive or predatory in ways that may place other children at risk. "Will need time to adapt to new home" should warn you that this child may reject affection, have difficulty learning to care about you and isn't used to normal expectations within a family. "Does well with structure" warns you to get out your best behavioral plans and checklists, your reward tokens and consequence systems, because you are going to need them all. I would probably still have taken each and everyone of those children in, but I would have been more prepared and more able to help them if I had not been misled.  If I had not wasted time while figuring out the real translation of the optimistic-speak.  Help the people who bear this responsibility to trust us and gift us with their best, most honest appraisal when they bring us each lonely hurting child.  We are all just trying to help them find their way to peace.

Excerpted from "The Caring Heart Speaks: Meditations for foster, kinship, and adoptive parents" by Gail Underwood Parker   Artwork by Anna Parker David from the book cover.

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