June 21, 2013

What is Wrong with Me?

Hello, Doctor.  Thank you so much for seeing me on such short notice.  I don’t think it’s really an emergency, necessarily, but honestly, I think something may be seriously wrong with me, and I desperately hope you can help me.  You see, a long time ago, I used to be normal – and by that I mean that I was able to have intelligent conversations, or at least finish my sentences.  I had the ability to concentrate on tasks and formulate coherent thoughts.  But it seems that over time, all of that has drastically changed.

Well, ok.  Actually, um, I guess I should just come out and say it:  I think I might be a Foster Parent.

There, I admitted it.  Isn’t that the first step?  It’s not like I’ve been denying it or anything.  I mean, it’s pretty obvious that none of my children look like me, and that the little faces periodically change, and that I’ve always got tiny feet following me and whiny (I mean, sweet) voices calling me Mama.  I guess I just never realized how serious my condition is.  My symptoms didn’t come on all of a sudden, of course.  I’ve been noticing them for a while.  But over time they have become more and more pronounced, and I really need to stop pretending that my life is ordinary.

What symptoms have I noticed?  Well, for one thing, I’m pretty sure that I have ADD.  You know, Attention Deficit Disorder?  Other families have one or two or three children to focus on, and they can actually give their full attention to their kids for a really long time:  18 years or more!  Not me.  I pour my heart and soul into one child at a time, addressing his needs and challenges, giving him the very best of my time and energy and affection.  But then, inevitably, he leaves, and I have to start all over again, focusing my attention on the next child that temporarily joins my family.  It’s not that I have a deficit of attention, exactly.  It’s just that my focus is constantly being diverted from one child to the next.  How wacky is that?

I have more evidence that something is wrong with me.  I think I also might be Hyperactive.  My mornings begin early, and from the moment I wake up, it’s go, go, go at full speed through my day.  Drawing up necessary medications for the medically fragile ones, changing diapers and soiled clothing and sheets for the ones with terrible reflux, redirecting and training curious and mischievous toddlers, trying to avoid teenage drama, updating county social workers, driving kids to various medical appointments, working with physical therapists and speech therapists, doing my best to make quick-but-nutritious-but-inexpensive meals for incessantly hungry tummies, washing and folding mountains of laundry. 

If I do get a few minutes to sit down, I still find it impossible to relax.  Sitting with my feet up means struggling to feed failure-to-thrive babies; calming the withdrawals of squirmy, screaming, back-arching drug-addicted babies; reading stories to the little ones; helping the older ones with their homework or teaching them how to read; filling out documents and paperwork; and occasionally writing as an outlet for my racing thoughts.  And then the next day, the activities commence at hyper-speed all over again.  Surely, you must think I am nuts!

And another thing. . . Are you familiar with RAD, Reactive Attachment Disorder?  I actually think I have the opposite of that.  As you know, kids with RAD have trouble bonding with the adults who love them, finding it extremely difficult to trust.  Even when those caregivers consistently love and nurture and protect, the children never quite allow themselves to fully believe that their heart is safe.  They are unable to attach. 

Me?  I am unable to NOT attach?  I have experienced pain and rejection and loss and grief again and again and again.  You would think that my heart would have learned by now how to protect itself against pain.  But what do I do?  The next child comes into my life, and despite the knowledge that I will eventually get hurt, I willingly open my heart to that child, and love without restraint.  Do you think I might be crazy?

What about Bipolar Disorder?  Do you think I might have that also?   I mean, my emotions are literally all over the globe!  

I just got a call from our social worker; a new child is coming!  I’m so excited!  Oh, my gosh, I haven’t slept a full night in over a month.  This is insane!  What on earth have I gotten myself into?! 

This damaged child has made so much progress and is becoming physically, emotionally, and socially healthy!  I am so thankful for the privilege of being a part of that!  Ugh, after months and months, we are back at square one with this behavior/issue/medical condition.  What’s the point?  Why am I doing this?

Her parents have been doing very well, and are really getting their lives together.  That’s wonderful!  Wait, that means she might be leaving me soon to go live with them.  That’s not wonderful at all!

I know for sure that this life of ministering to “the least of these” is exactly what God has planned for my family and me.  God, are You sure You know what You are doing?  I am so unqualified for this impossible task before me!   

How can one person have so many different thoughts and emotions, convictions and doubts, often within a few minutes?  Am I insane?

So you see, Doctor.  I’ve got all of the symptoms of a mad, completely cracked Foster Parent.  Do you think it’s serious?  Should I be worried?  Is it permanent?

Actually, now that I think about it, I realize that I don’t think I need to be afraid of this thing that has happened to me.  Sure, it may not be normal, but I just remembered what God’s Word says . . . “God has not given me the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.(2 Timothy 1:7)  He has given me a sound mind!  Maybe I’m not so crazy after all!

Well, I think I’ve taken up enough of your time, Doctor.  Thank you so much for seeing me today, and for helping me figure out this diagnosis. 

Hmm, I wonder if it’s contagious?


  1. Mrs. Hogstrom. I'm familiar with your (amazing) work by route of your husband, whom I consider a dear friend. My wife and I are (until now) silently in awe and inspired by your selflessness. Or - better put by my wife: "Belinda & Matt have restored my faith in humanity". The world would be a far better place if it were contagious.

    - Your Canadian Fans.

    1. Thank you for your kind words. Most days, I am very honored that God would choose such imperfect people like my husband and me to care for these precious children.