You go to all the classes. You learn about trauma and the impact it has on the brain. You try to channel your inner Karyn Purvis. But still, the isolation creeps in. At first, you are just keeping your child’s world small. You are working on connecting as a family. But slowly you find yourself pulling away from friends, family, and activities that bring you joy.
At first, you feel supported by those around you. There might be a meal or a phone call to check on you. But then you begin to feel exhaustion, overwhelm, guilt, shame, and feelings of inadequacy cover you. You stop sharing the struggles and hurts. You wonder why things aren’t going the way you thought.
How do you know you’re isolating yourself?
You can meet your kids’ physical needs without emotional connection
You can have conversations without sharing anything about yourself
You find yourself being combative with others when things don’t go your way
Your fuse is short with those you love the most
You avoid overwhelming situations
You pretend like everything is fine (when it is clearly not)
Isolation may lead foster and adoptive parents to avoid connection at all costs because of fear. You fear rejection, correction, or even facing your children’s challenging behaviors in public. While avoiding connection may be the natural inclination in periods of isolation and difficulty, connection with others is exactly what is needed. Connection is the antidote to fear.
Here are five simple steps you can take to seek the connection and support that you need.
Find a close friend or family member you can talk to regularly. Carve out time to talk to someone each week, whether on the phone or in person.
Take routine days of rest and respite. Recruit a babysitter or do a kid swap with a trusted friend, and take a regular break (such as once or twice a month). It is vital for foster and adoptive parents to get breaks, especially when facing challenging behaviors, learning delays, and other special needs.
Ask for help. Write down a list of specific ways that people can help your family and ask for it. Oftentimes friends and family want to help, but don’t know what to do. Would a meal be helpful? What about a listening ear?
Join a support group. Support groups, especially those with a specific goal in mind, can help you build connections with other foster/adoptive/kinship families. Tapestry currently offers two support groups for moms, Connected Moms, and all parents, Community Gathering. Both are available via Zoom and will meet in person again when it is safe to do so.
Remember that you are never alone. You can cling to the promise that you are not alone. The Creator of the Universe, the One who holds the world in His hands, the One who sacrificed His own Son, the Merciful Savior of the World, the Beginning and the End, the Almighty One – He lives in you and He will never leave you.
Matthew 28:18-20Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Teach these new disciples to obey all the commands I have given you. And be sure of this: I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”