Thursday, February 5, 2015

When Adoption isn't Wonderful

Growing up, I wanted to be a mother. I did not desire to do anything else but be a wife and mom. I got married at age 21 and one year later my husband and I were told children would not be a part of our future unless we tried some expensive things, and even then it was not a guarantee. I grieved that. I grieved the loss of my fertility, the loss of my childhood dream, the loss of all the children I wanted and would not have. People asked us, "Why don't you just adopt?" Don't say that, by the way, to someone who is infertile. It is rude, unkind, and only demonstrates a lack of knowledge and empathy for their heartache.

Why did we not "just adopt". It sounded so simple, find a kid who needs a home, fill out a few forms, and voila! Instant family. There are so many children available and waiting for a family. Sure they may have some issues, but all kids have issues. With enough love and stability and consistency, everything will work out and be fine. You will all be grateful for one another.

After my husband and I were married 7 years, we decided to pursue foster parenting. We were placed with over 23 children in the 4 years we were foster parents. It was an amazing time that really taught me a lot. Two of those children we would eventually adopt. They were 5 and 10 months when we got them. You would think, well I thought, that if you got a child young like they were, then everything would be okay and eventually adjustments would be made and everything would be awesome.

You know that lady in the news that sent her kid back to Russia with a note pinned to him? I am not saying that was the right thing to do, but I know how she got to that point.

I know how it is to raise a child that refuses to do a thing that she is told, unless she can clearly see how it will benefit her, and even then it is questionable.

I know how it is to have a child yell at you because you expect them to do something as silly as their homework or clean up after themselves.

I know how it is to be slightly afraid to go to sleep at night because you really don't know what is going to happen when you are sleeping.

I know how it is to wake up mad before the day even starts. It is an anger that pervades your entire being and you can't talk yourself out of it and it doesn't wear off and fade away with time.

I know how it is to be tired. I am not talking about physical tiredness, although that is a part of it, I am talking about a mental and emotional tiredness that rivals the tiredness of someone who hasn't slept in three days. There is an exhaustion that can not be contained and it bleeds into every part of your life.

I know how it is to live with someone who makes you question your sanity.

I know how it is to live with a child that doesn't just lie, but is incapable of telling the truth.

I know how it is question and wonder at motives behind every good deed because you know you are being manipulated in some way or are being set up to be manipulated.

I know how it is to have more therapy appointments than you know how to juggle and then be told that those therapy appointments are going to happen *daily*.

I know how it is to question how you can give another dollar, another second of your time, another ounce of energy and more of your heart towards a cause that seems to be lost.

I know how it is to know that no matter how desperately you want to fix someone, that there is nothing you can do, because that child doesn't see the problem in themselves, only their circumstances, and therefore they only choose to try to control their circumstances rather than themselves.

I know how it is to have guilt nearly eat you up because, somehow or another, this has got to be your fault. I am the mom, the fixer of dinner, boo boos and life in general. I should be able to fix this. Why can I not fix this?

I wish I knew what to say to those parents that are engaged in this same struggle. I only know to say that I am praying for myself, my family and my fellow adoptive parents. I am regularly crying out to God on our behalfs for mercy and for peace.

I am praying for healing for my child, who has been hurt with severe hurts by the birth family that was supposed to love her and protect her.

When adoption is good, it is very good. When it is hard, it is very hard. For some people, it is always hard and everyday is a trial. It is hard to be reminded *everyday* that you are not enough. For some people it is a reminder that no matter how much you want to love and help and show God's mercy and grace, that you are not God.

Thankfully, I know who God is. I know that He is capable of healing my broken, hurting child. I know that He is the restorer of relationships and righteousness and the healer of all hurts. I know that He authors forgiveness and He alone digs up roots of bitterness. Even though I want Him to do all this now, I know He will do this in His time for willing souls. I pray for that willingness for me and my child.

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Luke Holzmann said...

Your story sounds familiar and is similar. We got married and expected to have kids. When we didn't, we wondered what to do. We looked into adoption, got matched with kids, and then that feel through in a spectacular way. we did a nine-month pseudo-foster thingy with two little girls; those were the hardest months of my life.

May the grace of God and His redemptive power be at work; may the joy of the Lord be your strength as you follow Him down this difficult path.

Thank you for sharing. This is an important message.


Jessica said...

Thanks for your comment. Being a foster parent was as equally hard as it was rewarding. Some of those kids I had made their way back here, all grown up. It does my heart good!

Infertility bites. It is an awful weight to carry. Even after I had my surprise baby, I still grieve it. But like the song says "out of the ashes, beauty will rise" and that had been so true for us!

Jessica said...

Thanks for your comment. Being a foster parent was as equally hard as it was rewarding. Some of those kids I had made their way back here, all grown up. It does my heart good!

Infertility bites. It is an awful weight to carry. Even after I had my surprise baby, I still grieve it. But like the song says "out of the ashes, beauty will rise" and that had been so true for us!

Pam said...

I was reading through your article and all the things you describe sound so familiar -- not because I dealt with similar problems, but because I WAS a similar problem. I was so trapped in depression/anxiety that my mother for the life of her did not know what to do with me. I know what is it to be rejected by a birth parent, before I was at an age where I could talk, and have that hidden monster affect me and the things I do and say (that I wished I could stop) for almost 30 years. And I know what it's like to be told I have a chronic "condition" -- something that no one can help, that no one knows what to do about, and that results in abandonment again. And again. And again.

And then, through the grace of an extremely wise spiritual director, I was offered a ray of hope. And I'd like to share that hope with you. I know you don't know me from Adam, but I felt compelled to write this anyway, and I hope and pray that you can hear it.

Once upon a time I told my whole life story in an hour to a priest (so obviously the condensed version), and he told me in five minutes exactly what I struggled with (letting myself be loved), why I struggled with it, and how to get help. And he sent me here:

I looked at him like he was crazy. I'd been to therapy -- for a variety of conditions and situations -- and it never worked. Why on earth would this work? And then I remembered the story of Namaan the Leper (2 Kings 5) and thought that maybe this was my Jordan. So I watched Margaret's videos and learned a little more about trauma and about her method of therapy, and then I called her. And then I spent a week in intensive treatment. And my life has changed radically.

I can't say that the transformation was absolutely instantaneous -- though parts of it were. I was immediately able to remember conversations, word for word, when I had lost that ability years ago. I could pay attention to what I was reading again. I could fold a piece of paper in half (something I couldn't previously have thought of, I was so OCD) and tuck it in my purse and not worry about it, because I didn't have to control my surroundings to the nth degree anymore in order to feel even a tiny bit of safety and comfort.

Please check out Margaret's website. She may have something that can help your kiddos, too.

In the Peace of Christ,

Anonymous said...

I enjoyed reading your post on adoption. We also have a son whom we adopted from foster care. There are so many wonderful and beautiful aspects of adoption. But I appreciated your reality of adoption as well. Foster care and adoption is not for the faint of heart. I would not trade in all the pain we experienced and stress and hurt we experienced in the process of adopting my son - because it brought him to us and we learned so much. But I definitely do tell others who are interested in adoption just how rewarding it is but also just how hard it can be.

I am amazed when I remember the behaviors he displayed when he came to us at 2 years old. I didn't know a two year old could do some of those things!! And yes, I often felt manipulated and controlled. I myself had already been a parent, had taught multiple parenting classes even, and even then I felt at a complete loss as to how to properly and patiently parent him. But I look back and see how far he has come in his healing, how far we all have come in general - and how we are a family who loves each other immensely, even in our craziness and humanness - and I feel nothing but blessed.

Thanks for the information and perspective you share with others who come across your website. Good luck to you and your beautiful family!! Your children are darling! =)