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The Dream – and the Hard Reality

When we dream our dreams - and they come true - we can sometimes be surprised by the realities that also come true. Shelly Radic shares her thoughts. 

Elisa



The Dream – and the Hard Reality

By Shelly Radic

  

I was introduced to my first foster daughter when the director at my three-year-old’s preschool pointed out a curly-headed cutie wearing crooked glasses taking her turn on the tricycle speedway. While not the typical foster introduction, which happens through a social worker, my heart jumped right into dreaming about Miss Curlyhead joining our family.

 

Being a foster mom, an adoptive mom and a biological mom was all I ever dreamed it would be and so much more … hard.

 

The most worthwhile parts of life typically are the hardest and most painful. For me, foster parenting took that to a whole new level.

 

As a foster mom, I was constantly caught between seemingly incompatible goals.

 

Create a safe place for a vulnerable child and keep my biological kids safe.

Form a deep bond with a child and avoid the heartbreak of saying goodbye.

Long to become my foster son’s forever mom and for his mom to be his only mom.

Love kids with big trauma-related behaviors and live a calm, crazy-free life.  

 

After 18 months, Miss Curlyhead was successfully reunified with her mom, and we still hear from her occasionally. She’s doing great. Bonding with her was worth the heartbreak. My husband and I continued fostering, eventually adopting two of the children we fostered.

 

Being a foster mom was all I dreamed it would be and so much harder. I constantly failed.

When a child needed emotional regulation, I escalated (aka, yelled at her).

When a child’s mom needed encouragement, I judged.

When a child’s mental health problems deepened, I froze.


I couldn’t always keep my kids, any of them, emotionally safe.

 

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,For my soul takes refuge in You.

 

I began memorizing those words from Psalm 57 during one of life’s hardest seasons. My teenage, adopted child was drowning in emotional health and substance abuse challenges; truant officers and police were knocking on the front door. Everyone in my family was an emotional mess. My husband and I made the difficult decision to place our child in a residential care facility five hours from home. During the round-trip visits we made weekly for nine months, God planted Psalm 57 deep in my heart.

 

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,For my soul takes refuge in You;And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refugeUntil destruction passes by.

 I will cry to God Most High,To God who accomplishes all things for me.He will send from heaven and save me.

 

At the end of those nine long months of separation and healing, my teen was able to return home and a year later, graduated from high school. I still remember crying at graduation, thanking God for accomplishing what seemed impossible two years earlier.

 

For the last decade, I’ve been working with kinship, foster and adoptive parents and one of my favorite things is sharing the dual, contrasting truths that fostering is a dream come true and so much harder than they could ever imagine. Then, sharing this story and others of God’s faithfulness in the hard, I recite Psalm 57, so others on the foster journey can know that in the hardest seasons:

 

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.

 

Whatever dream you’re living – whether related to parenting, your relationships, your work, or your ministry - you’ve likely discovered it is all you ever dreamed and so much more … hard. I pray Psalm 57 will be your refuge and hope during those hard times.

 

Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me,For my soul takes refuge in You;And in the shadow of Your wings I will take refugeUntil destruction passes by.

 I will cry to God Most High,To God who accomplishes all things for me.He will send from heaven and save me.

God will send forth His lovingkindness and His truth.



Shelly Radic equips and supports kinship, foster and adoptive families as president of Project 1.27 in Denver, Colorado. Project 1.27 serves as a bridge between the church and government child welfare, with a vision to see every child in a nurturing, well-supported family. Project 1.27 leads a national network of 18 ministries connecting the church with child welfare across the United States. Today Shelly and her husband Bruce are empty nesters. With four adult children living in three states, one of Shelly’s favorite things is having all four kids in the same place at the same time. It’s a dream and can also be…hard. For more information about foster care, Project 1.27, the 1.27 National Network, or to reach Shelly, contact info@project127.org.

 

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