You turned your life inside out and upside down. You ignored the voice in your head that was shouting, “I can’t do this! I am too old for this! I don’t want to do this!” You didn’t have enough room, but you made room. You didn’t have enough money, but you stretched and made do. You let your own goals and plans fall by the wayside, in order to care for these children, who needed you.
At the same time, you had to face the heartbreak that your child, parent, sibling, friend, was in deep trouble and could not safely care for their children. Maybe there were substance issues, incarceration or mental health challenges that led to this separation from their children. You had to comfort these children who were experiencing their own heartbreak and hurt. You had to bear the brunt of their anger, everyone’s anger, at your stepping up and loving these children.
It’s not that you really expected to get support. But somehow you never thought you would be blamed or vilified for doing the right thing. You never thought the parents might work against you or try getting the children to see you as the enemy, and them as the victims. You never foresaw all the divisions or splits that this situation can cause in the wider family or community.
There is something very important for you to know. YOU ARE DOING THE RIGHT THING. If your world does not offer you that validation, I am here to tell you that I respect you and I honor you. I value and admire your ability to sacrifice to meet the needs of these children and their parents. I firmly believe there is nothing more important than what you are doing. You are a mother/father, a healer, a miracle worker. You are impacting generations to come. You are saving the world.
Believe me, I know it doesn’t always feel that way.
Take heart and take hope. While there is no end to the responsibility, there are many moments of joy and love that come along on this journey. The gratitude that might not be there now, is coming. The milestones of healing will be there to celebrate. The bonds of love and closeness persist to enrich your life.
You are far from alone. This world would be a sorrowful place without you and all the other kinship caregivers out there. With love and respect, THANK YOU.