Monday, May 13, 2013

"Too Hurt to Stay": Book Review

"Too Hurt to Stay" by Casey Watson

For a couple years now I've been researching foster care as an option for our family in the future.

I believe in the work that needs to be done. I see the need in a world where families are crumbling and children aren't always parented, disciplined, loved, and shown attention like they should be. They don't ask to be here and are sometimes dragged through the mess that is their parents' lives just because they were unlucky enough to be born into a less than desirable situation.

Looking forward, I think it will be quite awhile before we are in a position to become foster parents, but in the meantime I'm glad that it's a seed planted in our hearts for later on. It's something we will come back to when the time is right - when we own a home with sufficient space, when we're done with school and traveling, when we've had more parenting experience under our belts, etc.

I've read everything I can get my hands on about adoption and foster care. Recently I was given a copy of the book "Too Hurt to Stay" by Casey Watson, a novel based on the author and her husband's experiences as specialist foster care givers (they provide a home for extreme cases and guide the children through a behavioral program to get them back on the right course). It. was. heartbreaking. My "mother heart" is much more sensitive when it comes to children nowadays, and this true story touched on some really scary subjects when it comes to the neglect and abuse of children. I cried.

First, I want to note that stories like these could really turn someone off to fostering. Horror stories are the ones people hear about and why many people would never even consider fostering children. Because foster kids are troubled, bad, terrible, disturbed, evil, or whatever, right? Not exactly. This book is about extreme cases that the couple specifically signed up for. And although horror stories happen, in general the problem is not the children - the problem is the grown-ups the children are being raised by. The bad choices of adults get children put in foster care, not the other way around - not the bad choices of children. Children only know what they're taught.

That being said, the book did a great job of touching on many topics that would come up while fostering a child. It gave an insider's perspective - all the ins and outs of social workers and psychologists and so on. It takes an army of people to give these kids what they need, because they don't come from adequate families. Family is so important!

I loved how excited and nervous Casey and her husband Mike were for little Spencer to come into their home - how they were planning to take a little break from fostering, but couldn't turn down a placement when they got the call. Even with what they'd seen so far in fostering, they had it in their heart to love these little ones. It takes a special kind of love to foster, I think. And you have to have a resilience and a patience that is beyond me right now.

Eight-year-old Spencer's case was quite interesting, to say the least. He's really what gave the book its suspense. There was an underlying debate in the story about whether or not a child could be born unstable. Nature vs Nurture. I was on edge the whole time, nervous for this poor child who had no idea what it was like to be loved or cared for, and whose future looked grim.

It was interesting to realize that you can't know what goes on behind closed doors a lot of the time. And kids really do learn from what they see you do. They don't just copy you, they learn things that get rooted deep in them based on how you behave. For example, if you lie or hide things from people, they could learn that manipulative behavior gives them control over their surroundings. In foster care, you don't know where this child is coming from and what they've already learned - good and bad. You just have to love them and know that you may never know what was actually going on at home. I loved that even the worst of Casey and Mike's foster care placements still "got under their skin" in a good way. You can't help but love a child when you know all they've felt is hurt up to that point. And when they inevitably leave your home, it's going to be bittersweet.

The book has a little foul language in it. A few outbursts that punctuated the intensity of the situation. Plus it's written in "British English," so some of the expressions I had to use context clues to figure out what they meant. I actually had a Mrs. Doubtfire voice going in my head as I read it at first (ha ha), but after the first chapter or so it kind of melted away and I got accustomed to it.

When I got to the end, I realized Casey Watson (who writes under a pseudonym, I'm sure to protect the identities of the people she writes about) had also written a few books prior to "Too Hurt to Stay," all about previous placements that she actually mentions in this book. And she's still writing more. Now I have to go back and read those too! Foster care stories are full of drama, so it only makes sense that these make great books. I'm glad she has taken the time to write her experiences as stories that we can learn from.

You can visit the author's website here:

Or follow along on her Facebook or Twitter pages.

Disclaimer: I was given a free copy of the book "Too Hurt To Stay" to review. All opinions are my own. :)

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