adoption, family life

Foster Adoption: Challenges for the New Family

Sometimes it’s hard having a new family,” said the five-year-old, as Ken pushed her on the swing.

Yes, it is. For all of us.

I’ve talked about how crazy and difficult things must be from the perspective of our new 4- and 5-year-old. But this post is about how foster adoption affects the rest of the family; in fact, that’s one of the most common questions I get from readers considering non-infant adoption.

Kathryn’s perspective:

During the time the kids were visiting with us but had not moved in yet, Kathryn woke up frantic one morning, asking where they were. She had dreamed that their birth mom showed up at our house, intent on taking them. In this dream, although Kathryn tried to hide them, the mom had found and taken Scout. Kathryn understands that however improbable, there is still a chance the kids will not stay with us.

On the flip side of those emotions, there have been times Kathryn has been in tears because she is so angry and frustrated with the kids. Some days, she’s not so sure this was the best idea. It’s hard on her, and that’s hard on me. She knows, as Ken and I do, that this is a mission field right here in our house, but that doesn’t make it easy.


I have to brag on her, though. She is only 12, but her big heart and empathetic nature have enabled her to do so much already to bless these little ones. She plays with them, reads with them, entertains them, finds ways to affirm them. She shares her room, her mom, her home. She has sacrificed alone time, time for hobbies and crafts. And yes, sometimes she gets really grumpy with them — but so do I, and I’m not 12 years old, so I have much less excuse.

Clearly, Ken has the short end of the deal.

Ken deals with all the things I’m dealing with, plus he has to deal with me: the wife with a fuse that has been dangerously short lately. He has picked up the slack when I’m about to lose my mind, and I’ve really not been able to give much back in return.

Oh, and of course, Ken still has his job to deal with, too. Providing for our family and all that. He is a good man. One of these days, I’ll be a good wife again.


I am thankful our marriage is strong because this has been a challenging time. In the past six weeks, we have had only ONE time out of the house together with no kids, and that was for our anniversary. This is a huge change for us, as we are accustomed to spending a great deal of time alone together, whether at home, on a date night, or just running errands. It’s not all adoption-related, of course; grief and exhaustion have played a big part, too.

WonderDog is a wonderful dog:

I must say: I did a darn good job of choosing our dog from the rescue. If I was her, I’d have eaten the children’s faces off by now. Seriously. They have pulled her tail, put their hands in her mouth, yanked her ears, grabbed her face and squealed at her, fallen on her, crawled under her, played with her paws, hugged/tackled her, “pet” her with a stick in the yard, and I even caught one of them growling and clawing at her like a dog trying to fight. We have tried to supervise them with her at all times, but it only takes a second, and they cannot seem to get into their heads WHY they should not act this way with her.

Thankfully, WonderDog is a MUCH better dog than I would be.


She does like having little people to run around the yard with her — and she sure does seem to sleep well at night.

The rest of the gang:

Brandon and Diane babysat for us to go out that one night; a HUGE help. The kids adore them, and the feeling seems to be mutual. Of course, they don’t live here, so the impact on their lives has been minimal.

The same goes for Lindsey; although she does live under our roof, she is rarely here. She has worked 40+ hours the past few weeks to pay for her mission trip on top of her other expenses, and when she’s here, she is often doing schoolwork in her room. But she, too, has had dreams of the kids’ birth mom showing up.

And then there’s me…

You know that sleep-deprived introvert with no alone time? With no time to exercise? Who is hit or miss in making time for Bible study? And who’s still trying to wrap her mind around living in a world without her dad?

Yeah, that’s me.

So last week on twitter I said,

Some folks thought I was kidding, so I instagrammed this pic to prove it:

I’ll admit this probably isn’t my most flattering hairstyle ever, but I like it. It feels free. Every time I pass a mirror, I feel oddly just a teeny bit less stressed.
{After all, it’s just hair! ;)}

Of course, there are other things compounding my stress this week — like a husband out of the country, and preparing for my own trip this weekend (and not even thinking yet about the flying part, which I’m not fond of!)!

I must point out again that I do my best to give a realistic picture of what this foster-adoption ride is like. I believe romanticized expectations are often what cause disrupted adoptions — so you won’t get all rainbows and butterflies here, even though I’m an enthusiastic adoption advocate. As always, please feel free to contact me!

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Love the hair! <3

Great blog… God Bless!


Thank you so much for sharing your journey. I really appreciate the honesty. We finished our adoption classes this past weekend and how to get our homestudy scheduled very soon. I am thankful for blogs like yours like can gently prepare me for what’s coming!


Sometimes – in stressful situations – it’s all about owning the one thing we have control over. Way to own the hair! Praying for the rest of life to feel normal and manageable again!


Thank you for being “real” with us and sharing your struggles. We are waiting for a placement now and it is really easy to romanticise at this point.

Erin - The Usual Mayhem

Your hair looks great! I’m pretty sure that mine would be falling out in clumps by this point.

Ellen, the Bluestocking Belle

You know, Jamie, I look forward to meeting you in person one day! I like that you are full of surprises — like your new ‘do. I enjoy multi-faceted people, people who are hard to peg, people who seem to be exactly one “type” but then surprise folks with unexpected sassiness.

I enjoyed this post. I adore your transparency, honesty, and huge heart.

Delana Stewart

Yes…it is better to take it out on the hair…as the hair will grow out and you can always change the color! 🙂 I don’t know if I would have been able to apply what I’ve learned recently during the first year or two with our daughter, but it is certainly helping now. I just read the book “Have a New Kid by Friday” and I am amazed at how some of the principles of that book and of a previous book I read (Parenting with Love and Logic) have really helped. Over the past week I have seen a… Read more »

Zephyr Hill

Wow! Thank you for being so real! It’s amazing that you have enough “whatever” left in you to share your heart in this post! We feel you–and isn’t that part of bearing one another’s burdens? Thanks for the privilege of sharing yours.

As for the hair, Melinda’s comment was SO on-target! I got a pretty radical haircut once, only I didn’t like mine. When a friend criticized it, I told him, “You know, I didn’t like it at first, but every day when I look at it in the mirror, it grows on me.” 🙂

Your refreshing honesty makes me want to hug your neck. I think I will on Friday – burgundy hair and all. 😉


Oh Jamie, I do hope to meet you one day. I admire your honesty about this journey. Even though you have these fears and reservations, you are proceeding with God’s call, and I am in awe of your family for that.

I think your hair looks cute – and you’re right – it’s JUST HAIR – such a minor thing in the grand scheme of what you have been through these past few months.

Hugs to you.


Thank you for sharing the good and the bad. My husband and I really feel called in this direction, and we’re currently reading and gathering all the information we can. It’s really helpful 🙂 As I read your blog, I think that what’s happening in your family is wonderful!


I started to cry at the “Some day I will be a good wife again line”. I’ve been telling myself that for three years (since we adopted) now and while we’ve gone through some smoother times than others I feel I spend most of my time trying desperately to be the “good wife”, “good mother”, “good sister”, “good friend”. It’s exhausting even with my life pared down to the basics. It’s very refreshing to read another honest blog about the challenges of children from hard places. I hope that you find the rest and balance that you need!


You dyed it?!! I was *just* thinking about getting my hair dyed last week when I remembered you still haven’t dyed your hair! Hmmmm….

Lemme know when you need a playdate at the park. My kids would love to run around with yours. 🙂



I’ve been thinking about you lots lately. I know those days well…the days when everyone is adjusting and testy and expecting you to know how to handle it and you are adjusting and feeling testy yourself! It sounds like everyone is reacting very normally given the circumstances. Couldn’t agree more about the importance of going into something like this with your marriage as strong as possible. I will continue to pray when you come to mind…


Love your hair!!! It’s been almost 8 months with our bro/sis foster to adopt kiddos, ages 5 &6. I just now feel like I’m not going to have an emotional break-down and our 9 y.o. bio-son hasn’t come to me crying in a while. Praise the Lord! What God calls us to do isn’t always easy, but our obedience is what is important. My attitude sucks sometimes, and my temper even more so sometimes. But He is faithful always, His mercies are new every morning. 🙂 These two scriptures are ones that greatly encourage me in our tough times with… Read more »


Bless you for being honest!! I can only imagine how exhausted you are. I know this only a drop in an ocean, but it gives me a teeny tiny idea- I had my two of my grand-babies for the weekend (3 and 1yo). They are adorable and I loved every minute, but going from a mom with no child under the age of 9 in the house, to having to little ones- oh my goodness! So exhausting!! Anyway, I know the situations are totally different. Just saying that I can imagine the exhaustion. I have tried to follow your story… Read more »