That Question “Are they all yours?”

This questions and I have a tedious and confusing relationship. I always enjoy taking claim of all my children…that’s right all eight of them even on their worst days.  The negative of this question is where it tends to be asked.  This question presents itself always in public while trying to wrangle my kids on their worst days.

I have two step-children 9 & 10 years old, four adopted ages 4,5,8, & 9, and of course my two foster children who are 6 & 8.  So as a group it looks like a lot of kids all about the same age even more so since a few are small of their age. We look like any family just much larger and louder.

Now consider walking through your local big box store trying to pick up a few essential items; not that difficult right?  Now add on four children with ADHD, three with PTSD, and well a strong-willed 4 year old who likes to run.  Sounds super fun right?!?  Actually we have a system which works pretty well.  We use our favorite three child cart.  The two I will call my ADHD twins hold onto said cart.  Our trip around the store always includes the phrases “Stop touching that”, “Didn’t I already say what we were buying”, “You already went pee”, “Sit back down” and so on typical stuff.  This of course is always extra since it is times 8. 

I want to inform the public unless the parent of a lot of children looks amazingly calm a trip to the store is never the time to ask “Are they all yours”.  I can say about 90% of the time the children are only behaving because that parent has complete focus on those children and is killing it as it parent.  Also it is unusually perfect for that kinda calm, don’t ruin it for that parent, because once the attention has moved from parenting to answering questions….oh those kids are gonna show their true wild colors.

Now I would like to address to public of the common questions/statements that are asked during these trips.

1. You must be so busy, how do you do it?

Yes, I am busy.  I also have encouraged my children to be independent and continue to do so.  They all dress themselves, help each other or teach each other how to tie their shoes.  They are made to clean up after themselves at all times (play, meals, appointments, ect).  My husband and I have a shared schedule that we place every appointment and need into.  This helps us know where the other is at (well were I’m at since I’m the chauffeur). 

2. You must not work?

I hate this statement/question.  Now we have willing taken in children with high needs.  This means I spend half my week at therapies, medication appointments, the neurologist, on the phone with the school, or making an appearance at the school.  I do work. My work just doesn’t pay in funds and I also can’t ever leave it….that’s right as a foster parent you only have a few chances to take time away from them and only with those few people who are approved.  Then of course I have to consider how much work I will have when I come back from my time away (trauma response, the mess my house is in, homework, and so on).

3. That must be so hard.

I always respond with *blank stare*.  You have no idea how hard it is.  My home is willing to take in “those kids”; the ones who cannot keep placement due to aggressive behaviors.  I’ll talk more on that later.  I will always cry though when I think back to how far they have come and show progress, because I am always so amazed by them.

So overall yes if you see a parent out with many children try to resist the urge to ask “Are they all yours?”.  I can speak for myself I do want to discuss and educate on the foster care system and how adoption works.  I love what our family has gained and learned from this and I want others to feel the same.  Just beware if you do ask that question, that parent will not be able to give you a full sentence or complete a statement easily.

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