Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Together


When we were waiting to adopt, I remember sitting in adoption training and workshops as speakers attempted to paint a realistic picture of adoption.  Although I'm convinced no one can fully prepare someone to adopt, we're thankful we were not sold the lie that adoption is glamorous and easy.  Beautiful, yes.  Necessary, sometimes.  Easy-breezy?  Never.  The adoption community around us helped our family understand that we were volunteering to walk into a life-long situation built on loss, hurt, pain, and the unknown.  There would be varying degrees of loss, pain, and the unknown for every adoptive household, but we knew...those elements would exist in our story moving forward.  Most painfully, they would exist in our child's story.

No matter what labels or adjectives we assign to the conversation of adoption, here's one thing I know with certainty; adoption is miraculously brave.  When families have been well-educated about what real-life adoption looks like and sign up to take on an innocent child's grief, loss, rage, and insecurities, I'm not sure if there is anything that requires more faith and courage.  Not courage in the "Pass me the cape, I'm heroic, I'll save you" sort of way.  Courage in the "we're already imperfect in this house, feel like fat parenting failures most days while raising kids without a lot of emotional scars, and yet we're willing to rearrange our own dysfunction to make space for another life filled with hurt and fear."

What I did not know at the time I was sitting in adoption training and conferences was what a mess I was as an individual.  I think I ignorantly thought that we could offer a stable home, hold a hurting child, and make it a little better for them.  When I imagined life as an adoptive, therapeutic parent, it was mostly the child needing the therapy...the support...the love.  We would be there for them.  We would do what it took to help them.


Simply stated, our child would need help.  We would be the ones helping.  The healthy, helping the unhealthy. The strong parenting the weak.  The whole raising the broken.

Nothing could have been further from the truth.

If there is one prevailing message we have been learning as a family over the past five years, it's this one...

You can't be near the broken without coming face to ugly face with your own brokenness.

Fear, shame, pain, anger, and  insecurity cause my child to break down and lose it.  My own fear, shame, pain, anger, and insecurity fuel my embarrassing responses to his behavior.  To say this isn't how I imagined these scenarios playing out pre-adoption would be laughable.  

Before adopting I thought I'd be here for my child, the instrument of help and healing to my child.  The real truth is, I'm simply here with my child.  Walking through our hurt and dysfunction together.  Holding my child after an episode that leaves us sweaty and breathless admitting that we're both a wreck in need of healing.  In need of a miracle.

Me, needing to be parented by God while I attempt to parent.

Me, a child of this fallen world and thus a child of trauma to some extent, attempting to parent a child of trauma.

On paper this seems like such a bad idea, and I guess it would be if we fail to admit that we need healing just as much as our kids do.

We're neck deep right now in evaluations for our son, counseling, and adoption support groups.  We're learning tactics, modifying diets, getting much-needed support, education, love, and understanding.  These resources are extremely valuable.  Most valuable is finding ourselves in a safe community where we feel free and encouraged to fully acknowledge our own shortcomings that keep us from responding to brokenness and pain with love, empathy, and patience.  Prior to adopting, I thought adoption meant inviting loss, insecurity, and hurt into our story.  Instead, adoption has been just as much about realizing to what extent those elements were already a very real part of our story and what it looks like to parent a hurting child out of our own rich bank of emotional deficits.

As painful and exhausting as this part of our life is in the moment, it's surprising how hopeful and thankful I feel.

Adoption is the gift that you never quit opening, isn't it?

I remember sitting in adoption training and conferences while we waited to adopt.  I was scared but eager to be a small part of redemption in our future child's life.  I foolishly thought our family would be used (even if it was only in a minuscule way) to bring healing and health to a child who was coming from a place of loss and pain.  Instead, our son is forever the reason why God is bringing healing and health to us.  Oh, the irony.

We are learning that we rarely walk before our kids through pain, loss, insecurity, and fear.  We walk with them. It's less about healing them, and more about healing together.

31 comments:

Krulls in Haiti said...

I am adopted, and hearing people, sometimes adoptive parents, so flippantly talk about adoption, it just makes me cringe. Your realness, and empathy, and willingness to dive in deeper to the issues that are unique to your child is inspiring. I pray that all adoptive parents will be willing to learn more how to support their child, and educate others not in the adoptive triad, about how to approach this subject.

Hendrick Family said...

The voice you have is very valuable to me. Your words brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for being brave and speaking up for kids who don't know how to put words to their emotions yet. I'm grateful for adopted adults who are willing to encourage and teach adoptive families.

Heather

Adrian Waller said...

I shared this on Facebook - it's beautiful. Thank you for sharing our experience with us - we're looking to start and built our family through adoption in the near future.

Sarah R. said...

thank you for this honest yet encouraging post. we are currently being approved to foster to adopt through the State system. my husband and i are both former social workers so we feel like we have a pretty good perspective on the "real" challenges that will come. some days we are scared to death, but we believe we are called and we too believe that this isn't about us "rescuing" a child but about us humbly doing our best to walk with our kids (biological and adopted) through brokenness. like you said, to "heal together."

Ashley Gibson said...

Yep, I'm right there with ya. It's dang hard. But so, so good. How can something be so much of both? I suppose that's what makes it miraculous. Supernatural. Really, it's an incredible journey - isn't it? Beautiful and ugly and raw, every step of the way.

Keep typin' it, girl. Love what I read here.

Laura R said...

THANK YOU for your honesty. The truth isn't always pretty but your words made it easier to understand for those of us who haven't walked the same path. We are foster parents and have found out the hard way that often when we get a little therapy as a couple we are much more successful at managing behaviors (the kids and ours!)Thanks again for sharing!

Margie said...

Oh, you spoke my heart on this one. Sooo true! I felt the same way during our adoption classes. Me, the almighty rescuer saves the orphan ... and all live happily every after. Several foster children and five adopted kids later, I have been supremely humbled. I didn't realize how much work I needed done on me. We are in this together. And God will bring us through together. Praise His name!

And thank you for posting this.

Kaci Jo said...

Thanks for being so open and honest.

Molly said...

I love this post!

Holly Rehmann said...

Wow. I just kept reading grace. Grace. Grace.

How we need it.

Just beautiful, Heather. So beautiful it hurts.

Peace,
Holly

natalie said...

I just soak up the wisdom of those of you who have already adopted... and I'm realizing more and more that no matter how much time I spend learning and preparing my heart before my husband and I star the process, it will NEVER be the end of the learning!

Naomi said...

Heather, thank you so much for posting this. It brought tears to my eyes. Your words are so true. We're just about ready to begin our journey and I feel like our eyes are wide open to the struggles we will face, thanks to open hearts like yours. I'm sharing this with my adoption group.

Sara said...

Such a good post! I am right there with ya! God is doing so much moe in me than I ever expected and it's been ugly, but so good

Stephanie said...

This is powerful and truthful. And you can see by the comments you've received already how it resonates with many adoptive parents. Would you be willing to let us feature this post on "We Are Grafted In"?
We'd just need a brief bio and picture to use when it is featured so we can direct our readers back to your blog.
Let me know or contact me with questions. And, thanks for sharing your heart on this. It is so very true.
Stephanie
co-administrator of WAGI
smurphy 28 @ juno dot com

Jenny said...

yes. this is where I have been this week, you said it better than I could of course but I'm right here with you. thank you for the encouragement of remembering we are not alone in this struggle.

Kris said...

To show how clearly you mirrored our experience, I showed your post to my husband and he asked, "Did you write this?"

kristen said...

Awesome post! I identified with so much of what you said. This adoption road has been beautiful and hard, awe inspiring and humbling. The step down from my pre-adoption high horse was a doozie for sure. Face to face with my own brokenness....yes. Thank you for being so honest!

matt said...

Heather,
I have never posted before. I started reading your blog when you were in Haiti, having been connected through the Livesay blog. I want to thank you for your beautiful and honest writing. I have kept up with you, because I truly was blessed by your writing and your ability to invite your readers to see God at work in your lives, in very confusing and messy ways....just life for the rest of us! I have an adopted niece and nephew and the journey has not been easy for that side of my family. I shared your blog tonight because your writing was unbelievably insightful and profound. You have a gift. I am thankful for you!
Sincerely, Elizabeth Schultz

David Leventhal said...

Really solid post. Thank you for leading out with your honestly. We have experienced many of the same realities in our two adoptions. Grace...oh how we need grace!

Anonymous said...

You touched my heart in a powerful way.

romans12:2 said...

I was brought her by another blog I read daily. Thank You for your honesty. I also remember sitting in the classes and thinking some of the same things. I do wish we were more educated on the greif and loss. Because we are 3 years out of placement and didnt get any help until almost a year later.
It helps to read someone else's daily challenges as I have amazing support system, but they havent adopted so they can't truely understand. Thanks for typing about your life.

Lyndsay said...

You said it PERFECTLY! Thank you!
Broken, healing, and wanting more!

Stacey said...

At first I thought I might copy and paste a part of this that made the most impact. But truly, THANKYOU, for this. Each time I think about this, I'm confronted with what you have said here and you have no idea how it helps to see this coming from you. Honest and full of grace.

Melanie said...

Beautifully articulated. Thank you for your transparency.

fearlesswarriors said...

Thank you Heather, for sharing this intimate perspective on adoption. It does not seem to be a popular view, as the rest of the world sees it, but it is soo true. I have experienced this in some ways through raising our 1st 3 kids, that as I raise them, Christ continues to raise me...and as I teach them, Christ continues to teach me and use these situations to teach me. It SEEMS that we should have it all together, if we are going to reach out to accept the responsibility to fully care for another little soul, but that is a lie from the depths. He has called us, He will continue to walk with us and mentor us, as we mentor. Tonight as I read Romans 8 to my girls, 13 yr old bio and 13 yr old adopted, I read this passage with fresh eyes. As we have JUST recently completed our adoption, and have only been home 2 weeks today, I realized how special this relationship is. We are ALL adopted! I have never read those words more clearly! "But if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering." Romans 8:17b.
We do share their suffering, and while we do, God help us heal ours.
Blessings to you!
Tamara

Chasity Cole said...

Heather~ Lady I couldn't have explained it better myself! I've only been on this side of a finalized adoption for a few months, but believe me I know {some} of the pain, the healing, the UGLY that you write of! WHY do we not talk more openly about reality? WHY do all us writers/bloggers/mothers/whatever constantly spiel the highlight reel? Well, about a month ago 3 other adoptive moms and I were at a breaking point and banded together to start a blog designed to highlight and spread TRUTH, REALITY, HONESTY about all the UGLINESS. It is called A Safe Place To Share. It can be found at www.sharingadoptiontruth.blogspot.com. You, as well as ALL adoption moms willing to share truth, have an open invite to submit stories/truths any time by name or anonymously. Would love to feature this post and any other truths you feel led to share.

Ayana Knox-Potts said...

Well said, we have biological, foster and adoptive birth children in our home, there is no difference. They are the children we are the parents. They need guidance we need love. Everyone has flaws. I am so proud of you for posting this. Always good to share the truth, keep up the good work. I also have a blog at dontkillthekids.com if you would like to keep in touch. I will definitely keep reading. God bless!

Me said...

I am a "once removed" reader. My sister knows you and sends me your posts every once in a while. This one hit home perfectly. We began fostering a toddler and his baby sister in January along with our three 5 and under children. I feel like I am being flayed alive. As bad as it desperately hurts, I understand the necessity of it. As much as I hate it day to day, I see that what is coming off is ugly and sinful and that anything that I've gone through in my life has never penetrated my sinfulness so deeply. Knowing that God asked us to do this, knowing full well what would become of us, I can only trust that what will result is something beautiful. Thank you for putting into words the stuff that I've been stuffing thinking that maybe I was too inadequate to foster. I am inadequate and always will be. But for Jesus.

Anonymous said...

Thank you.
Amani Baby Cottage

Danielle Jones said...

Thank you for this perspective from a single who plans to adopt!

John said...

We are just starting the whole process to adopt. Thanks for your post.