Are You Happy When You Smile? (Blog #32)

Author:  Julie H., Foster Mom

When Miss D came to our home, she brought pictures of her past 5 years of being in foster care. She has no pictures of herself growing up but does have pictures of her journey through foster care. Last year, when she was showing me her family pictures, with her siblings through the years, she made the comment “I’m smiling in these pictures but I’m sad…I’m not happy”.

Miss D has gotten good at showing a brave face. She smiles when I know she’s upset. She laughs when she’s sad. She smiles while she cries. She apologizes for her tears. She says she’s “fine” when I know she’s struggling. She says she’s “used to disappointment” and then talks about something else to lighten the mood. She says some kids hate her, but then shrugs her shoulders and says “but I don’t care”.

From an outsider’s perspective, it’s self-defense, right? It’s her way to cope with the chaos around her. It’s her way to gain some control in a situation where she has little. She’s learned to outwardly show that she’s happy, because if she shows she’s not, then the people who take care of her might make her life “worse”. I’d like to think that’s not my husband or me, but how do we know?

I have tons of pictures of Miss D smiling. But is her smile “real”? Is she happy? She says she is, but in five years, will she look back at our pictures and say “I was just faking.”? She has a beautiful smile. It brightens a room, everyone says that, but I want it to be “real”. I want her to be just as happy inside as she shows everyone on the outside. That will be my goal for the rest of my life. Bring her joy and help her see that she is enough. She is amazing. She is loved.

 

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