There are days that it’s difficult.
Meltdowns. Rage. Rejection. Arguments. Hurt.
We’ve all heard the phrase, “Hurting people hurt people.” It rolls off the tongue. It’s easy to say, much harder to live out.
I can’t tell you how many times people say, “Your family is so amazing, you and your husband are _______ (insert ‘angels’, ‘saints’, ‘incredible’, etc..)” or, “I wish my adopted/foster child would adjust as well as yours have.” or, “Boy, all of yours must not have big issues….”
I’ve found over the years that most people enter this journey into foster care and adoption the same way I did – with a set of expectations. Some good, some not so good. Here are just a few:
I expected that it was going to be easy.
I had read James 1:27 and because caring for the orphan is at the “center” of God’s heart I expected that He would bless our journey and that healing and redemption would be beautiful, peaceful things. I was right…and, I was wrong. Beauty for ashes requires digging through dirt. The painful process of digging through the ashes of a broken past is time-consuming, crying/sweaty work. It requires me to put aside my idea of a “perfect” family and understanding that our normal must be redefined daily. There is nothing easy about the grief process, nothing peaceful about trauma and beauty can only be found in brokenness if you’ve understood that when you pull a rose up close to examine its beauty – you’re likely to face a few thorns.
I expected it to be hard for a little while.
We would sound crazy if we said, “Oh, it’s not going to be hard at all.” We know that, so we concede to the fact that it’s going to be hard for a little while. But, really, at some point it will get easy, right? Um… well… kinda. Does it get easier? Yes. Is it ever easy? No. Our first adoption happened a nearly seven years ago, we’ve adopted five more since then. Issues of abandonment, rejection, self-hatred, rage, etc… don’t go away overnight. Some may never go away. It’s hard to be adopted. It’s hard to bond with perfect strangers and accept them as family. It’s hard to be “normal” when nothing in your life has ever been. I’ve come to realize that this is going to be hard for the long haul. That’s okay.
I expected my story to be like “theirs”
I tease my kids all the time because they come home with big stories or incorrect facts and say, “Well, they said….” I always say, “Well, they need to quit telling you things because they are wrong, who are they anyway? We listen to them way too much!” But, I often have my own they – you know who they are…. the person who writes a beautiful adoption blog about overcoming attachment, the mom who posts pictures all the time with their “perfect” adopted child, the perfect park photos, the perfect loving sentiments…. you know what I’m talking about…. they help define how I think my journey should be. The problem is, the they we see online isn’t always the truth – well, the full truth, at least. I know, because I am “they.” Because I write a blog and am active on social media, people very often think that we have it all together and never have issues. The truth of that sets in every time someone says any of those opening lines that I listed above.
We aren’t perfect. I’m far from perfect. My husband is nearly perfect, but still not quite. My kids aren’t perfect. We mess up, we yell, we shut down, we reject, we hurt one another and we go to bed angry (gasp!). Early on, I compared myself to other families and became really critical of my children and myself. Somewhere along the way, when I began to see others compare themselves to me (whoa!), I realized that their reality, like mine, is a little deeper than what I seen on Facebook. I have A LOT of dirty laundry that I don’t air publicly… then I realized it… they have dirty laundry too!!!
It’s not fair to my children to publicly expose their faults; and I understand that they are telling the good things to protect their children too. I can publicly expose my issues, but not theirs. I try to stay more positive because it’s hope that keeps us all moving. But, that doesn’t change the fact that sometimes it’s hard. It just is.
Sometimes I cry. Sometimes I doubt. Sometimes I need encouragement. Sometimes (many times) I don’t have the answer.
Please don’t make me your “they” – I’m not nearly good enough for that. I simply realize that every day I have to tell myself, “Keep going. You CAN do this.”
Feel free to have a bad day, we all do. Just don’t camp there. Keep going.