Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What Foster Care Did To My Sex Life

This blog is supposed to be a real representation of our fostering experience. So lets get real.

In the fertility treatment/ trying to conceive world- you have lots of sex. It's required. Going from that world to foster care was a huge change of pace. At first, there was the whole newborn in our room thing. Very normal parenting speed bump. No time, no sleep, no pressure- so we got a little lazy. 

Then we parented a child who had experienced sexual abuse. At first we didn't know what had happened, but there was sexual acting out in our home.  Some of the terms that used to be playful and exciting coming from my husband quickly became horrifying on the lips of a young child.

I spent a lot of time saying, "That's not how we touch others.", "Hug with your shoulders, not with your penis.", "Kids don't kiss grown ups with their tongues.". We read book after book about "Red Flag Touches" and "Green Flag Touches". We practiced saying no, and made lists of adults we should tell if anyone makes you uncomfortable. After a full day of that, I just didn't feel very sexy.

Once you have been humped by a baby- your world changes. I saw sex as deviant and criminal. My innocence had been lost with my child's. While I loved and wanted intimacy with my husband, I couldn't rally the strength to separate the foster Mom and young wife in me.

I spent so much time healing the disaster that sexual abuse left in someone I loved, that I lost sight of the real purpose and joy of sex between committed adults.

Foster Care killed my sex life for as long as I let it.

Even once I made the conscious effort to get it together, sex wasn't playful or adventurous anymore. I wanted more relationship building closeness and less "What new thing can we google?"

Honestly, years later, I still don't look at sex the same. I don't plan on talking to my kids the same way I thought I would about sex. I see pedophiles everywhere. I view gender roles in sex very differently. Empowering my kids to take charge of their bodies made me more aware of the control I want to have over my own.

No one told me to protect my sex life in foster care, until one day someone did. Incidentally, I was asked to share our story of parenting a child who had been sexually abused at a training. One of the other foster Moms shared her story as well and mentioned that intimacy with her husband was difficult to adjust to after one of her children had been sexually abused. It was like a lightning bolt went through my brain straight through my heart. I wasn't a freak. This is something that other foster parents are going through as well. It made a huge impact on me to be able to talk about it with another person instead of struggling behind the bedroom door.

I don't have any tips to get back that lovin' feeling- or I would absolutely share them with you. My only advice would be to be creative with finding intimacy with your partner if sex has been tainted by foster care. For us that, has meant that I ask for (am I seriously about to say foreplay on my blog? whew.. here we go) foreplay to slow way down and for the intercourse to be gentle with lots of talking. I still want to be close to my husband, and when the focus stays on that part- I'm OK.

My husband has been great at understanding why sex has changed in our marriage. He felt a lot of the repulsion at the "dirty talk" that used to be cute but now makes us dry heave. He still would be fine with a quicky (oh Lord, I just said quicky. I have to end this now) in the bathroom while the kids watch Doc McStuffins, and that isn't where I am right this moment.

Well, I'm embarrassed enough for one day. Please come back and read the next post. I promise I won't say foreplay.


  1. I amloving the honesty and humor in your recent posts! Our biggest hurdles haven't been directly related to our daughter's case; as far as we know there was no abuse, just neglect (ugh, "just" neglect of a four-week-old baby. you know you're a foster parent when that's good news) but we are very firm about letting our daughters say no to hugs and kisses. We want them to know they have autonomy over their bodies, even if relatives get bent out of shape about it.

  2. Phew, reality check!
    THANK YOU for speaking out. Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for saying this! We have not yet fostered a sexually abused child - but I can see this happening when and if we do. Just knowing it's coming will be a big help.

  4. Hearing stories about children who become victims of sexual abuse gives me so much heartache. Children must be trained on how to be brave and say no to any kind of threats. To avoid such incidents, we should be forced to kill the innocence of our children by educating them about the matter. I love your post, Teresa! Thanks for sharing that! Kudos and all the best to you!

    Sabrina Craig @ Medical Attorney NY