WPFP10: Heart Opener: Deborah Sweet on Raising Multiple Kids with Complex Needs


In this episode

Deborah Sweet is the biological, adoptive and foster mama of (at last count) six kids. In our conversation she shares insights into her journey - raising multiple kiddos who have complex needs ranging from Autism to Reactive Attachment Disorder and a whole alphabet of diagnoses and differences in between. We talk about how Deb ended up having so many children in her family - and why. Deb speaks openly about what it’s like to live in her home, how she makes each day feel more manageable, and how she chooses to open her heart even in the face of fear and extreme challenges. Her positivity and practical advice will cause you to think about a new normal in a new light.

About Deborah

Deborah Sweet is a biological, adoptive and foster mama who believes parenting is best played as a team sport. She works hard as a foster parent ambassador and harder at raising community awareness for kids who come from difficult places. Deborah is a teacher by trade but now spends her time advocating for school districts to become trauma sensitive and provide wrap-around services for children who are challenged by developmental trauma and attachment disorders. She lives in the Boston area with her husband and six(ish) kids, plus a couple of amazing animals that add to the calm of the house, not the chaos. You can read more of Deborah’s writing at Because I Stay.

What You’ll Learn

  • Why Deb and her husband open their home to foster children with complex needs when they already have 5 ‘forever’ children with needs of their own

  • What it looks like in Deb’s home

  • How Deb’s perception of what is stressful has evolved as she has grown and learned with each child

  • How Deb felt after learning “the first” diagnosis and what helped her recognize that as grief

  • How adjusting her expectations and letting go of trying to control big outcomes helped her cope – and helped her kids too

  • The first time Deb felt like she could stand up and advocate with confidence

  • What Deb does to take care of herself each day and what kind of a support system she’s built for herself

  • What Deb thinks about the term resilience and what it looks like in kids and in herself

  • Her best advice for other parents on this path

Kendra Wilde