All too often, the holiday season can feel like nothing more than making it through a long list of places to be and things to do.  In the process, we can miss out on the joy of the unique moments that we have right in front of us.  This year, try to find some time to stop and savor the miracle that we experience from having other people’s children in our lives.

I know firsthand that being a stepparent or foster parent can be very challenging.  Our kids feel instinctively that we are not supposed to be in their lives, at least not as their parents, and they may reject us along with the entire situation.  Children who have suffered trauma often don’t have any way of communicating other than lashing out.  Hurting people hurt other people, and we can be the most convenient target (or at least the only target in sight). In the midst of all of those problems, we need to hang on to the fact that, without the challenges, we would not have the joys of having these children in our lives.

I realized many years ago that the most important relationships in my life, my husband and my kids, came about because they had suffered loss.  Of course, we all would have preferred that they hadn’t had to go through any of that loss and trauma.  My stepsons and husband would prefer that my husband’s first marriage had stayed together.  My foster children would have preferred to have never been in the system.  Yet, through all of the loss and angst and challenges, we have forged wonderful and special relationships.

Of course, there is no guarantee that we will be able to forge those relationships with each of our children.  Many of them will find their way out of the hole that they find themselves in, and we are privileged to be part of, or at least watch, that process.  Other children just decide to dig deeper into the hole, ignoring the rope ladders that we keep throwing down and the advice that we keep shouting. Those are the kids who break our hearts.  Much of my blog and book are about finding the stamina to keep going and not give up, even with kids who reject us.

What is certain is that, no matter what our children decide, we will be transformed ourselves.  We will discover depths of patience, love, and knowledge that we never knew we had.  We certainly will discover joy and strength that we never would have found otherwise, and love for each unique child in our lives.  Even if we can’t see a happy ending for our children, we will become stronger and better people through having had them in our lives.

This holiday season, let’s stop for a moment and enjoy the gift that we have.  Maybe we’ll be able to see a miracle in a child’s life, or maybe we’ll only see transformation in ourselves.  Either way, our lives are richer for having spent time caring for other people’s children.


Debbie Ausburn

Helping foster parents and stepparents learn how to be the person who is not supposed to be there.