By the time I was ten, I was doing my own laundry, caring for an aged and ill grandmother who lived with us, and did my homework without assistance or even prompting.

She’s not going to be that way.

By the time I was my daughter’s age, I was an avid reader who was grade level ahead of where she is now and enrolled in the honors courses.

She’s not going to be that way.

As I grew I continued to shine academically, received accolades for my abilities as a writer, and was easily mistaken for being older than my age based on how mature I was.

She’s not going to be that way either. And that’s just fine with me.

Growing up as a child of trauma has given my daughter a different set of skills. She’s not super responsible, but she is resilient. She’s not always cooperative, but she is creative. She’s forgetful and not often forgiving, but she is fanatical about life.

She’s not sure what she wants to be when she grows up, but she knows she does have to grow up, eventually.

And she’s a dreamer.

As the parent of a 12-year-old who came to us through older child foster care adoption, I have realistic expectations for my daughter. But I also have lofty aspirations for her. Each day, she surprises me with what she’s capable of doing. Each day, she encourages me with her spirit of humility. Each day, she challenges me to be a better parent.

I know she has to heal before she will feel safe enough to dream the big dreams. As an adoptive parent we are charged with creating that safe environment so our children can dream. We teach them to be responsible. We show them cooperation. We model forgiveness.

And we dream big for them when they cannot.