Idealizing the past

I visited ivy’s foster mom this week. I promised to stay in touch and I’m a woman of my word. This year has been busy with the new house, with medical appointments and with school, online and in person. I don’t know when and how much time flew by. Ivy even forgot to ask to call them. Though they are still present in our conversations and in her memory. They are becoming more of a third person topic. 

So. At some point she was idealizing her past. Don’t we all!

As an adoptive parent, the fear of competition for their heart is real. 

I recently heard comments from a social worker who said that some kids had a better life with their foster family than in their adoptive family. At least for now. 

Im glad I didn’t hear such comment when I was new in the adoption field. I worried if I am doing right by my daughters by uprooting them, and changing the course of their lives. Who can guarantee that we are going to be good parents? If not for our faith in a God who can move mountains, I’d be lost at sea. 

I buckled down and took one step at a time. We learned and grew together. 

Ivy had her own room. She was surrounded by adults who adored her. She had a yard and all kind of farm animals. Not long ago she told me she had the most beautiful stairs at her foster family. And she had access to a phone and she could watch cartoons. She went to bed after 10pm, when the grownups in the house went to bed. She ate Nutella every day. 

In exchange, Our house had rules. And early bedtime. Also our house was small.

Understandably I dreaded comparisons with the recent past.  

Jackie used to idealize her past. But she soon realized how much more adventurous and exciting life with us is. Traveling abroad, swimming regularly, life in the city, cousins and grandparents and a fun kindergarten. 

But ivy joined us in a pandemic. 

What she got in exchange for the old life was not as exciting. She didn’t seem to mind though, because she longed to join us. Join her sister. 

So I purposely take them back to visit their foster families, to help them see for themselves the truth of this transition. 

Whatever that might be. Unaltered. Unfiltered. 

My biggest fear becoming an adoptive mom was the spoken and unspoken outside limitations in parenting them. 

Foster families tend to be softer on the rules, boundaries and consequences. They know their role is temporary and focused on healing. Parents parent for a lifetime. The bond is stronger. The commitment is forever. The tension is real. 

Strangely though, our kids never said that we are more strict than their foster parents. They only idealized the unlimited cartoon watching, or the chocolate intake and bedtime flexibility. But even that was soon forgotten.

Do you idealize your past? I know I tend to remember the good parts. But places, jobs, relationships… they are rarely how we remember them. It is a dangerous business to live in the present with the heart in the past, or try to relieve it. One needs to accept the reality that we are all prone to change, that we may not fit well in the same old shoes, and that we may not remember perfectly. 

I’ve been happier accepting that I don’t know it all, that I may be wrong, and thus be more nimble to adapt. 

I do my best to help the girls face their past. So it would not hunt them unnecessarily. I stop with them, and go back if necessary. And for now, we visit the foster families, and they come home with me with a reassured heart, a content countenance, a grateful attitude. Not a bad trade.