Isolated & Different

Dear Dena,

I know that there are a lot of foster families out there going through the same things we are, but I struggle with feeling lonely and out of place. My kids are the “different” ones and because of their unpredictable behavior, I dread taking them anywhere and feel like people judge us without even knowing our story. How can I get connected to a better support system?


Isolated and Different


Dear Isolated and Different,

Let me begin by saying, you are NOT alone!  And while I know that isn’t enough to make the day to day better, I want you to know you are surrounded by a great host of foster/adoptive parents who feel the same way.  

Which leads me to this:  We feel so isolated and alone, but there are many of us all experiencing the same thing...alone!

I have struggled over the years to not feel like a failure as a parent because my kids just cannot handle as much “fun” and activities and social interactions as other kids. I’ve ramped up my efforts and joined the teams, bought the package, signed up for the lessons….only to once again realize how unfair it is to my children who struggle with transition, with the unknown, with social settings and peers, and with mastery of what some may consider “easy” tasks.  

It’s not a failure to limit their activities when the activities over-stimulate and wreak havoc and wear us all down. However, it does mean we need to find others who get it so that we do not do this alone!

Let’s encourage one another! Let’s bring meals for sensory avoidant eaters and make low sensory play-dates for kids who get dysregulated too easily and let’s do this messy together! Let’s NOT plan sleepovers together and let’s NOT do intricate crafts or museum trips.  Let’s make our own “normal” with our kiddos and create community based on mutual acceptance and appropriate interactions with our often inappropriate kiddos. Because although our children are the “different” ones, there are a lot of us out there. Which leads me to believe we are not as different as we think.  There is a broad continuum of “normal” and perhaps we are just on one end of that continuum.

If you know other foster/adoptive families or know of them...start the ball rolling by reaching out and expressing your needs and desires.  Offer a coffee date without kids to break the ice then get creative about how you can support one another. Often what we need the most is a non-judgmental response and someone who doesn’t need the entire backstory (again) to get us or our kids.

I know it feels like a lot to be the one to reach out.  But your soul desperately needs it and it will be worth the effort!