When I started this blog, I named it "Eyes Opened Wider" because I wanted to document all of the things my eyes have been opened to since becoming a social worker. I never expected that blogging would open my eyes even wider! I follow a ridiculous amount of blogs! I try to cut them back... only to add them back within weeks because I miss them! But its more than just being interested in their stories - its really about learning about how other experience the world. And because so much of my world involved foster care and adoption - I follow a lot of blogs written by foster and adoptive parents. Reading about their experiences has opened my eyes to so many things that I really never knew.
For example - not until Lisa blogged about waiting for Special K did I realize that many adoptive parents truly consider a child they have never even met to be their daughter (or son). I am sure that shocks some adoptive parents - but I just didn't know it. Working on this side of foster care and adoption, where placements disrupt on a daily basis, we don't consider a child's place in a family permanent until the final papers are signed by a judge. Not that I didn't think that foster/adoptive parents didn't care about the children who live with them - but I certainly didn't know how deep those feeling ran even before the child was placed!
Before I found Erin's Blog, I didn't know that there were children with HIV available for international adoption. In fact, when I first started reading her blog I couldn't really wrap my mind around it. Most stories that I had heard about people adopting internationally had been babies - generally healthy babies. Occasionally I had heard about some "special needs" adoptions - but even those children had issues that seemed much more treatable or curable. To think that there were people out there who were willing to adopt children with a disease that carries so much stigma... WOW.
Before I read Karen's blog - I admit that I was guilty of having negative thoughts about foster parents that chose not to adopt when the children in their homes needed forever families. It made me frustrated and angry that I had to move that child again - and even more frustrated when they thought they had a say about where that child went. But in reading her blog, I know that she loves her "Lil Man" deeply, even as she firmly believes that they are not his forever parents.
I have read many books about Open Adoption - enough that I am very familiar with the concept and potential challenges. But in reading Heather and her Husband's blogs - I have an even greater understanding of what it really feels like for adoptive parents to open their hearts and minds to not just a baby - but a completely different idea about family. I am especially grateful for their posts about a recent visit from one of her son's first dad, sorting out their own emotions and helping Puppy deal with his feelings about it all.
Sometimes I read things that I wish I hadn't - I read A LOT about how unhelpful (and sometimes downright awful) social workers can be in the lives of children, foster and adoptive families. Sometimes I side with the social worker - we are not perfect, we do not know everything, and we come at a situation with completely different perspectives and goals for children and their families.
But other times there is just no excuse for what happens to some children. I am grateful that OnceLost blogs about her experiences because, although she is anonymous, her experiences put a very "real" person in place of the statistics I hear about how often children get bounced around in foster care.
And it is sometimes very hard to hear anger and frustration directed at birth parents. I am sad every time I read, "If she really loved her kids..." or "They don't deserve this child...". Not because I have never been angry or frustrated with them though! I have had those exact same feelings! But as the social worker, I have the advantage of being able to really pull myself back and see the whole situation. I know what happened to the parents as children, I've seen birth parents overcome their past, I know that their "bad behavior" is often a coping mechanism just like the tantrums their children throw because they don't know how else to express themselves. I wish I could find some blogs written by birth parents who could tell their experiences.
Today I was very moved when I read Hope's blog - she has truly been on a very wild (though sadly, not uncommon) ride through foster care. She and her husband went into foster care to adopt but now it looks like Simmy will be returning home. Hope is honest about her feelings about "Momma Kay", her foster son's birth mother. Everything from trying to find the middle ground between "The Wicked Witch and Cinderella", seeing her through God's Eyes, getting way more than she bargained for, and now the tricky task of building a relationship with Momma Kay for sake of the child they both love.
There are so many, many other things I have learned from reading all of those blogs listed on the left side of my own, so please check them ALL out! I am so grateful to each and every one of you for allowing me to see things from your perspective. I promise to take these lessons and use them in my daily work - so feel free to consider yourselves social workers too! ;)
It is my prayer that my eyes will see more and more clearly every day.