Three Lessons Learned From Adopting Older Children from Foster Care
By Sue Badeau
1. Everyone can heal and grow. Healing and growth may look different for each individual and we may never see the wholeness we are hoping for, but we can continue to work towards it. I learned this lesson at an early age from my grandfather as he showed me how he cared differently for the various plants in his vegetable garden so that each would have the best chance of growing and bearing fruit. I have come to understand that this analogy also applies to children and teens – they are not all easy to grow – like zucchini – but then, what a boring garden it would be if we grew nothing but zucchini!
2. There is as much value in the journey as in the destination. I know, I know, it sounds like a worn cliché, but we have found it to be true. Years ago, we went on a family hike and this message came home to me in a powerful way as I saw my son who had been diagnosed with cerebral palsy and predicted that he would never walk, clambering along the hiking trail with his brothers and sisters. Years later as we experienced everything from teen pregnancy to a son in prison, I have had to remind myself again and again of this important lesson.
3. God makes all things new. While God does not “fix” everything in the sense of removing all obstacles, curing all diseases or unlocking all disabling conditions, He does, indeed, make all things new. I learned this after experiencing a car wreck – I still have some scars and there are things I cannot do, yet I was changed by the experience and “made new” in important ways. And as I think about some of my children viewed as most “damaged” by the world – whether physically or emotionally “damaged” by all kinds of brutal early life experiences – turning to drugs, early pregnancies or other outlets for their pain– I know that some people look at them and only see the wreck – but I like to look at them and see them as survivors. And I am always amazed how – in spite of the “damage” they have sustained they – through God’s grace and healing power – are able to find amazing new ways to do old things that many of us take for granted – communication, relationships, eating, moving, getting through the day.