One of the incredible things about becoming involved in Stable Moments is the amazing community you become a part of. The program is of course built for participants, but also for parents of foster and adopted children. Often, parents and volunteers benefit from the program in ways we could have never imagined. A dear friend of Stable Moments has chosen to share the story of her journey through foster care to becoming a mother to adopted and biological children. She would like to remain unidentified, so we have removed names from the post itself. We hope that the story of her own journey through trauma will inspire each and every one of our parents, volunteers, supporters and friends, and remind you that you are not alone.
A personal story of how one woman overcame her own trauma in foster care to become an adoptive parent herself.
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Each time I hear that question, my mind follows it with this question: Which came first, my mom’s mental illness or her alcoholism? Regardless, both contributed to her mental and physical abusing me and subsequently, me being placed into foster care as a teen and staying there until I aged out at 18. My time in foster care was split between two homes. One home consisted of a foster mom and dad with no other children. That home ended when the foster mom stared at me, for no particular reason, and said, “Now I know why your mom beat you.” The next day I went to the next foster home. I was welcomed by a foster mom and dad and two sisters, one of whom I displaced as the oldest. That sister didn’t appreciate that, which contributed to my time there being less than peaceful. Fast forward over twenty years and you will find me now as an average mom to biological and adopted children. As with every woman who chooses to mother children, there are times of joy and frustration. Adopted children can be even more challenging to parent. Many adopted children have the added struggle of dealing with their feelings of intense shame and abandonment. Often, they don’t even know that they have this struggle. They just know they don’t feel worthy of happiness or love, so they sometimes intentionally and other times unintentionally sabotage the family’s attempt to connect with them, give love to them, or just get through the day with no tears, from the child or the parent. That can be a tall order for a child who feels that their emotions control them, whose behaviors are unpredictable and are often harmful to themselves and others. This is the story of my own adopted child. Now what? Having been rejected as a child and now feeling rejected by my own adopted child, what is a woman to do? You do what you would do for any child God has given you. You go into mother- bear mode and you find every occupational therapist, speech therapist, physical therapist, and even a family therapist that will benefit your child. But, what about the money for all of these programs? Yes, the money often runs out, but then you do what mother- bears do; you fight, you search for another place. Stable Moments is that place. Stable Moments is a free program that partners foster or adopted children with hurts from their past with horses to offer them a stable relationship. The child comes to the stable once a week, every week, to spend time with their special animal friend. This time provides not only my child with a moment of rest but it also provides a moment of respite for me, too. Growing up, due to my mother’s illness, she wouldn’t allow my siblings to play with me. She wouldn’t allow me to play with neighborhood children. She singled me out from my siblings for emotional and physical abuse. How is it that I am not in a mental institution? God. He provided animals, mostly cats and dogs that were my friends. I told them my secrets and found companionship there. I have been happily married for over twenty years and graduated from college. Now I have a typical middle class family and have no drug addictions. I believe it was because God gave me “stable moments” as a child. I had no person trained in trauma to oversee my time with the animals, but the animals did a great thing for me. Now, my child through Stable Moments benefits from time with her horse. Time to tell secrets, to tell struggles, or just to fully relax into who she is. I am so thankful for the free program that is worth millions to my family. I know first-hand it seriously helps the entire family.