If you could have any super power, what would it be?
Me, I’ve always wished I could fly. Then I’d truly experience freedom. I could defy gravity and not feel so tethered to this world. I would soar above everything, and all below would fall into perspective.
Until this week, I’d always wanted my fantasy superpower to be the ability to fly. Now I’m wishing for a new super power: wherever I am – truth would be revealed. I don’t necessarily mean the kind of truth when someone tells me that I, in fact, do look kind of chubby in those pants or that it’s time to wash that grey right outta my hair.
No, I mean the deeper truth
that needs to be uncovered, so that hearts can be mended and people can feel safe and loved. If you’ve been at all remotely involved with foster kids, then you know that one of their defense mechanisms is to lie. They will lie in the face of evidence clearly proving they are lying. They will die on that mountain, waving the flag, defending their lies. It pretty much drives all foster parents crazy. We know they learned this tactic to survive, but it still makes it difficult to live with.
Because honesty and integrity are two of our family values, this has been one of the biggest struggles for us. Building trust with these kids from hard places is already difficult and then all the lies compound the issue. In response to the lying, we’ve tried to develop communication skills that don’t highlight the lies or force kids into lying in order to protect themselves. It seems to help to a certain degree.
If all we had to deal with was lying from foster children, life with them would be challenging, but manageable. The real issue lies with the truth not being told by those involved with the whole case, and in particular, during the court hearings.
When we ask foster parents for prayer requests, we repeatedly hear the same prayer need, “Please let truth be revealed in court.” In my last three court experiences, I have yet to hear the real truth told. Lies and accusations have flown, especially toward the DFCS case worker and the foster parents. The judge then tries to assess who is actually telling the truth, all the while trying to protect the birth parents’ rights and give them the benefit of the doubt. After all, the idea of permanently terminating parental rights is a huge and irrevocable step once it’s taken.
But it is painful to watch. The leniency and tendency toward believing their lies ignites a justified anger in me. I understand we need to give the parents a chance, and I am all for reunification when it’s the best option for the children. Reunification is always my heart’s desire whenever possible.
But what about the kids?
What about the trauma they’ve experienced? Is anyone listening to their stories of abuse and neglect? I know. I’ve said foster kids lie. But, these kinds of lies they tell are lies that fall short or are lies of omission, not of exaggeration. They often don’t tell the whole truth about their abuse because they are trying to protect their parents or they are afraid of what might happen to them if they eventually have to return home. After all, many have heard their parents whisper, “Don’t tell our secret. Don’t tell what really happened or else…”
So this is the tension where all foster parents live. We all want the truth to be revealed, so our kids can safely go back home to parents who truly love them, but need some additional support and training to properly care for them. Or, so kids will NOT be allowed to go back home where the neglect and abuse can continue.
I wish I wore an invisible truth cape that forced people to reveal the truth. We all know how freeing it is once the truth is finally out there. Because … just like the freedom that comes with flying, once the truth is revealed, everything falls into perspective. So, next time you think of a foster family or foster child you know, pray that truth would be revealed in their lives.