Support For Foster/Adoptive Families

Reading Between Your Child’s Mess & Seeing the Message

Reading Between Your Child’s Mess & Seeing the Message

“Clean your room,” I said.  “I did,” my son retorts. A sense of déjà vu hit me. I looked around his room and pointed out his display shelf covered in books. “Sweetie, you have a bookshelf. Put those away.” 

“But, I’m reading those!” He whined. Was he? All of them?

And then I remembered. Two years ago we had the same conversation. And I was reminded in this moment that God remains good and that even in the messes of our life, he continues to remind us of His messages. And His promises. And my own.

The very first time I met my son, I asked him what he hoped a mommy and daddy could help him with. And then I made him a promise. I would do exactly what he asked.


*Original Post: 2016*

“Clean your room.”

“I did,” comes his reply (He’s kind of a brat these days…). So I look and see a pile of books laid out all over the floor, tucked under his nightstand, in his nightstand drawers, under the bed…

“Look at this MESS!” I cried. Then I proceed to micromanage his room cleaning technique. I was mad at him.

But what dawned on me later was that A) My own nightstand has a stack of books on it, and on the floor next to it and B) He’s READING BOOKS!

What’s a little stack here and there when the big take-away is so precious?

On our very first meeting… like at the CPS office… my son asked us for some very, very specific parenting talents to make good on. My spouse had to fix his bike (his was broken down for a long time and no one would fix it for him).

And me? He asked if I could teach him to read. Yes, of course!

I was overjoyed with the request. 

Homeschooling has given us a chance to really get our son caught up to speed (and then some) in his education.

When we first met, he was in “first grade.” He’d been through Kindergarten twice and kicked out of a school at one point. He could not count to 100, could not write much more than his name, and could not recognize all 26 letters of the alphabet.

My son doesn’t recall ever having help with homework, nor does he have any clear memories of being read to. …Never?

It was heartbreaking. His biological family failed him. His prior foster families did not invest in him. They did nothing.

We now read to him everyday.

Every. Single. Day. We read everything – signs, billboards, magazines, menus, comic books, food labels and books, of course. We read an impressive amount of library books. 20 a week or more!

Thankfully, as homeschooler, the library honored my status as an “educator” and gave me a special card that extends all our borrowing privileges. (P.S. This is a super tip. Take your proof of homeschooling to the library and get this feature added to your account!)

After 7 months of this, he was now able to read at a low/average-first grade level and is attempting Level 2 Readers. He can sound out simple words and sight read almost any Level 1 book we can pull off a library shelf with a high level of accuracy.

He can remember story plots and tell me how characters are related, what genre the book is, and even tell me what might happen if the book continued for 5 more pages. We were approaching the end of the school year and we were ALMOST at the first-grade reading level. 

This is what it’s all about.

Seeing those connections forming. Hearing him in his room after bedtime/lights out… sneaking in an extra hour of stories he’s either attempting to read on his own or repeating from memory. It was magical!

We actually bought him a little head lamp just so he could do this even “sneakier.” I love it. 

I suppose I could still be bummed that he was SUPPOSED to have been in 2nd grade this year and SHOULD be getting ready for 3rd, but I simply can’t get caught up in that failure mentality when we’ve seen so much success.

The long days, the fighting over dropped pencils and ripped worksheets, the “You can’t make me do homework!” days and “Daddy, look what I made today!” days… are all worth it.

He’s worth it.

My son is worth the investment And the mess? Perhaps it’s just more proof that we’re doing something right.  

If I just take a beat, I can find joy. Even in the mess. 


The author writes from an unabashed, had-it-up-to-here, daily defeated and re-strengthened by grace and hope… kind of place. An adoptive mother of a curious kiddo, full of spirit and sass, tells her tales of homeschooling, fostering, and raising children with special needs. Thanks for joining us on this adventure from adoption to life!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *