To begin, these are my thoughts on Fostering and my my life experiences:
Yes, I grew up in fundamentalist cult. Yes, I was abused. Yes, I have been through the system, forgotten among a myriad of children needing help. And yes, I am applying to be a foster parent.
I was asked to explain this decision, this obvious inconsistency. And the answer is simple. I want to give a child a better life: even if it is only for a day, a week, a month, a year, or several. I want to give the children that enter my and my partner’s life a chance, a tiny bit of hope, which, yes, was denied to me by the system.
I think that my experience with the system has made me more realistic. It’s made me aware that life isn’t perfect and that not every child has a perfect chance. But in saying all that, I still want to do this. I want to give hope: even just a little bit, because it makes all the difference.
But what of my background? How will it help me on this long and winding road, full of bumps and brokenness?
I grew up in a fundamentalist cult, yes. Fundamentalist cults are very interesting: like parts of society, they glorify the male species and subjugate women. However, they do it to a point where women can’t think for themselves and are expected to be submissive wives and baby-makers for the rest of their lives. The cult my family was involved with was like many other conservative cults. “It’s a worldly world we live in” was the catchcry, followed closely by “Let God plan your family”, “Spare the rod and spoil the child” and “The school system is too worldly for OUR children”. Separation from the world was advocated, and any interaction with the outside world was encouraged to have a Biblical slant to it (“Share God’s word and message”). Yoga, Harry Potter, meditation, evolution and abortion were all banned, and in many cases were never discussed except in a negative way. Nearly all the children my age I know growing up were home schooled, and grew up in similar restricted households, with many of these households using the Ezzo’s children training guide: “Growing Kids God’s Way” ~(Google "Ezzo" for more)~. In fact, my family was considered slightly abnormal because my mother had only three children versus the usual 6 or more. And yes, there was a culture of abuse in this cult. In fact, 90% of the families I knew growing up in this cult, have since had their families destroyed because of abusive fathers. Sadly, this includes my own family, which has been difficult.
Luckily, however, I have survived with my sanity intact: battered by harsh winds sure, but I am here. So how can I help these children, who have been hurt, like me? Well, I think it would help me relate, and understand them. And maybe, just maybe, give them that hope that they will need to survive. I know for certain that my partner and I will give them as much love and care as they need and deserve. I know that there is room in my heart for these kids. I know it will be challenging and I know there will be bad days and good days, but I will always be there for them. I know that they deserve the best and I am going to try to give them the best. The best of me, the best of my life, and the best of the lessons I have learnt along the way.
I hope that begins to create understanding for you, Amy (Even though I am sure you relate to a point!). Fundamentalism still deeply impacts me to this day: it was very deeply ingrained for many years, and there are times it haunts me (particularly my old critical views and blatant Bible bashing! How could I have been so narrow minded and critical without analyzing anything!)....Things like dressing modestly/long hair still bother me, particularly when I see it in other people: I can pick a fundie out from a crowd when no one else can! I always feel so sorry for them, knowing where they come from and what they could be experiencing...Things like female/wifely submission still impact too: I know this is hard to believe (outside appearances can be deceiving), I struggle sometimes to keep my decision making separate from Justin's. Often I will rely on him to make choices about what I eat etc: basic choices I should be quite capable making on my own, but because of my background I do struggle with. I give full credit to Justin because often he will give me a "loving jolt" and make me aware of what I am doing.
I truly hope, that if we do end up with a child or children from a similar background as mine, that I will be able to be their bridge to "normal" society...Encourage them to start questioning things and exploring the world around them...It is going to be very interesting to see how things go....
And foster training begins tomorrow night: wish us luck!