We just got home from our third MAPP class today. It consists of four Saturdays from 9-4, and we have one final one next week. We are getting up at 5:45 to take our showers and get completely ready except for putting on our nice clothes, wake Jonah up at 6:45 for bath and bandage changes, and then Matt and I hit the road for Greensboro by 8:20. We're pretty worn out by the time we get home, but Jonah has been awesome for my mom and Kathryn for three Saturdays in a row now, and has taken long naps each day. We are so thankful he isn't holding it against us. :) He did have a rough time for bandage change last week since we had to drag him out of bed, but I prayed and prayed and this week went much better. He was peaceful and playful and only whimpered a tiny bit when we left. When we came in this afternoon, he chased us with his pet dinosaur and growled at us. I take that as a sign of forgiveness.
I really got a lot from our class again today. We talked during the morning part about the 15 behavior management strategies, and did "case studies" to say what strategies would apply to different children. I really like stuff like this because I don't do well with vague generalizations and do well to really practice... or at least as much as you can practice something like this. We also talked about children who had been sexually abused and they said they estimate that up to 90% of the children they place have been sexually abused at some point, although most cases go unreported and the resulting sexual behaviors are displayed once they get in foster families. It's such a sad statistic and heart wrenching to hear of real cases where these kids have just been forced to do such horrible things - to get fed, to get to go out with their friends, to not be abused.
We watched this video that I thought was especially powerful. (It's pretty straight forward and in-your-face, so you may not want your kids to watch it.)
The head coordinator for adoptions (I don't know her real title) was there today and was actually the one doing the sexual abuse portion. I got a chance to talk with her after lunch about the fact that Jonah is so young and how likely a placement of school age children is for us. I explained our reasons for desiring older children and Jonah's special needs but also expressed my concerns about protecting Jonah. (I want to make it clear here that I'm not trying to judge any child for those kinds of actions or say that all abused children exhibit certain behaviors, but am recognizing that there is always a possibility.) She said that when the approval board met about us, that she had brought up concern about Jonah's age and that she and our social worker had already discussed how selective they would have to be for our family, but that she wouldn't have let us take MAPP and get to this point if she wasn't going to place kids with us. I told her how much I appreciated their being so selective for our family and that that is what we want as well and told her that we know God will show us who our kids are. She said that we would just have to understand and be patient if it takes longer for them to find a child or children that would be a good placement for us, and I said that we totally understood that and were content to wait, pray, and educate ourselves as much as possible in the meantime.
I will tell you that these classes are not easy. Sometimes I feel like they're just trying to scare the living you-know-what out of you to test you to see if you really know what you're getting into. And maybe that is part of it, but at the same time I'm so thankful for the knowledge and training and how well they try to equip you for your journey. So far I have been very impressed with our agency, our MAPP training, our social worker, and the whole process. I'll be happy to have this step over though and will be ready to move on to the licensure process (which is long and grueling). But I am super thankful for this step and it just makes me eager to educate myself and prepare even more.
I have never been a very compassionate person in many ways (just ask my former high school students) but between this training, discovering where our sweet boys (read: baby girl and a goat) come from, the death of Gabe, and seeing what Jonah lives with every day, I will tell you - God is doing a work on my heart. It's important to remember: "Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle."
It's been a good day. I'm tired and thinking a lot. But God is providing every step of the way, and Matt and I have had a couple of really great conversations the last couple of days too. If one of the byproducts of all of this is a more intimate relationship with my husband and a greater dependence on and intimacy with my Abba, I'll take it.
Apprehensive but excited about what God is going to do through the journey.