Wednesday, April 21, 2010

wifersize wednesday: margot tenenbaum, a case study

I have a friend, Angela, who writes much better and wittier than I do and who recently became a mother. Long before Gabe (or "behbeh", as she fondly refers to him in her blog) appeared on the scene however, she and her husband were parents of the fostering sort.

I vaguely recall them giving updates on their application process (I was a young, wild, single 20-something at the time and like way more interested in cute shoes than I was in their life-altering decisions) and, then, what seemed like a few weeks later (I think it was years), they were attending our wedding with a child in tow. A foster child. He was adorable and, somehow, Angela and her husband looked more adorable with him. The girl I had attended university with, had perfected my writing craft with, and had made lewd jokes with, had turned into a foster mom.

Before we were married, Andrew mentioned that he had been inspired by a youth leader and his wife who adopted. At the time (and, to be honest, sometimes even now) the idea intimidated me. I had always dreamed of being a mother but via the regular, grow-an-embryo-in-my-uterus kind of way. Mothering someone else's child? Calling it my own? What if I didn't bond to him/her? Or, worse yet (especially in the case of fostering), what if I did?

I am still in awe of and inspired by couples such as Angela and her husband, that influential couple in Andrew's life, and Carlos and Catherine who in the process of adopting a boy. It makes me wonder: would I have it in me? I'm not sure what the "it" even is. Love? Endurance? Goodness?

I'd be worried that I'd duplicate the scene from The Royal Tenenbaums of Royal stating, "This is my adopted daughter, Margot Tenenbaum."

It's not a question we have to address any time soon, but it's a question that lingers. What are your thoughts, stories, and opinions on adoption/foster care?

"I would like to thank what this film is about for me which are the moms that take care of the babies and the children no matter where they come from."
- Sandra Bullock, 2010 Oscar acceptance speech for The Blind Side


yuan y. barnes said...

Hi Sarah!

don't think you know me. I'm friends with Jarred Dunn and Jared Krause.

but I grew up in foster care. So, I guess I have a first-hand experience. I went into it at the age of 9 and now I'm 20, in my third year of university, studying music education at Western in London.

Man. Clearly, there's many a story I could share. But... I moved into my 2nd foster home at the age of 14. The parents were, at the time, youth group leaders at Orangeville Christian Fellowship (a church plant of TACF, as you may know!) and it's been such an immense blessing.

I was nuts! I was a teenage girl who needed love. And they loved me. And I am so glad that God loved me, through them. It's been life-altering, to have Christian foster parents, after everything I had experienced before - parents who made promises that invariably and unintentionally became empty, due to their lack of personal wholeness. I wasn't able to be fully loved by people who needed so much healing themselves.

All that to say, foster care, especially in Canada, has been a great thing for my brother and myself and many other children.

Especially with God as the explicit source of all love, renewal and forgiveness.

anne-margaret said...

Hey Sarah,

I don't know if I ever told you this but my family did foster care for a year (june 2008-june 2009). Let me tell you it was the longest and hardest year of our lives. My family had always talking about adopting. My dad is a special education teacher who teaches kids who are in family and children services and most of them are in group homes. There was a boy in his class my parents really seemed to connect with. This boy Bryan was 10 years old and his mom was in the midst of giving up her parental rights. Our family talked about it and of course we all felt for him so we decided to take him as a foster child of hopes of adopting him. We rushed the process very fast. We didn't really know Bryan and what he was like. In the year he lived with us our family and the way we lived was torn apart. Bryan stole from us (forcing us to put locks on our bedroom doors), threw temper tantrums, threatened us, got in fights and ruined a lot of our family time. I won't go into all of it but eventually bryan moved out and into another group home. My mom still talks to him and he occassionally goes to their youth group. He is slowely getting reacquainted with his mom.
This experience for my family was not good. We brought a very angry and hurt child into our home without knowing him really well. I know a lot families who have real success with foster care and good for them. I personally not do foster care with older children but i might with babies and I would maybe adopt someday. If you want the whole story I can tell you. Maybe we could get together sometime and I can tell you my experience.

love ya lots

Sarah Aubrey said...

Loving these comments! Getting first-hand accounts is something that will help me, and others like me. Thanks for being so honest and getting the conversation started.

beth said...

Oh Sarah this is a lovely, honest post (as usual). Something dear to my heart...
Mark and I have been working as care givers/support workers for children with special needs and their families for some time now (Mark much longer).
One night, a boy I look after had to sleep over. We have been pondering fostering a child with special needs for some time now, we have spoken with an intake worker and have decided to take the first step of the 6-12month process to qualify as foster-carers in the fall.
So this is a very timely post!
Anyway, when Mr.NiceGuy, as I like to call him, slept over it was such a real taste of loving on someone else's child. Rocking him (although he is 47lbs) through the night and making him comfortable in our home took lots of effort yet felt so natural. I remember thinking, "could we really do this one day?". God, would you provide all the grace and love and time we would need?

Having studied social work and seen first-hand the amount of children who are going through the system, from home to home...for us it makes sense to create a family and environment where even if just for a while we could love them.

Anonymous said...

Hey sarah,

great blog. I dont have any first hand experience when it comes to foster care or adoption, but it is a deep philosophical, spiritual conviction that Sam & I have in our hearts. We can talk till we're blue in the face about broken people, extreme poverty and how abortion is the 2nd Holocaust, but if we as Christ-lovers and emanators are unwilling to do anything about it, we are no different from the religious in Jesus' day whom he called, "white-washed tombs full of dead mans bones." I know, pretty graphic and morbid, but i really believe Jesus was making a powerful statement here. We can say all the right things to look like we are doing all the right things, but when we are not, the heart of God must be broken and we are essentially full of hypocracy. I would rather be someone who has a dirty but empty tomb - as in, someone who may not do the talkin, but does the doing - if you know what i mean... :).

So I (and Sam) truly believe that just as much as "be fruitful and multiply" is a direct command and blessing from God - so is adoption and caring for the broken and children whom Jesus loved so very much. Before Sam & I got married, he was the first one to broach this subject with me, almost as a "i-need-to-know-if-you're-up-for-this" thing, lol. He told me how he's always dreamed about and has made it a life goal to adopt and what i felt about it. Well, needless to say, i melted. Adoption has also been one of my non-negotiable. So as of right now, we hope to adopt at least two children one day, and have four of our own (well, i'm still working on Sam with that one - he want's 2 1/2 of our That's our prayer and hope.

You and Andrew can do it too, with His grace. In saying that - and after all I've said - i also believe it is a calling that requires supernatural grace and love from the source of all grace and love. So definitely do what you are doing and pray about it, think about it and see where Holy Spirit leads you!

<3 Linda

Genevieve Epp said...

Sarah! :)

I just wanted to tell you that we are in the process of adopting! We are waiting for our training, and hope to foster-to-adopt a child! :)

We have had the same conviction about being Jesus followers and making our lives (however difficult it might be) a place where the Kingdom of Heaven is touchable and real. It is hard work parenting. But so is being a Child of the King. :)

Anyhow, it takes so long to get a child (in the Waterloo region from 2-5 years) that if you are even THINKING about it, you should call CAS and get started. It doesn't mean you'll have a baby in your asap, but it does mean that you've done the legwork for when you are ready. (if the day comes--but I think the fact that you are pondering this question means that you might be in this place someday. )

Love you,