Part 1 of this series is located HERE
It’s pretty incredible to read back over something you wrote five years ago and see those truths ringing loud and clear in my heart even today. Yet, there is so much more to share.
It has been a long five years. It has been full of changes for our family. We now have 14 adopted children and 3 more who will be adopted this year. Of the 17 total children, ranging in ages from 35 down to 3 years old, 15 are (or will be) adopted from foster care (5 of them grandchildren placed with us in kinship care and now adoption), one of them legally adopted at 27 years of age, and one of them is still “informally adopted.” There are many twists and turns and details from the story that I cannot share here, but, suffice it to say, these five years have been quite the roller coaster ride. Of course, I should say the same of our whole 18 year journey in foster care and adoption.
My thoughts on being an adoptive mom have evolved some since the list I wrote in 2011 which I shared with you in “On Being an Adoptive Mom–Part 1.” It’s quite likely that it is not necessarily the list of thoughts that has changed, it is my perception of my role in life as an adoptive mom that has changed. That said, I will share a few more tips with you here, and we will just see how it all lines up.
- Traditional parenting methods of discipline and training just really don’t work well with a child from a hard place. It is clearer to me than ever that I need help learning to focus in on the relationship with my child in the moment versus the worry I can have over their final result. When we only worry about whether our child will be a successful or productive member of society as an adult and we discipline them for that future place in life, we forget that what they really need is connection and a closer relationship with us in the moment. When we see this deeper connection with our child as the foundation for their success in life, it tends to change how we view discipline and methods of child training that are commonly accepted even in Christian circles.
- It is okay to not feel normal, look normal, be whatever normal is supposed to be. I share a quote from a Lysa TerKeurst study over the book What Happens When Women Say ‘Yes’ to God as I train foster and adoptive families. She said that “God doesn’t make us normal, He makes us different so that we can make a difference” (my paraphrase). If I am feeling “abnormal” or “different” and yet I am in a position in my life where God has clearly led me to be, then I should be confident in this. The “abnormal” and “different” place is my new normal, and it is the best place in the whole world to be as long as it is where God has called me to be.
- When speaking in front of a group of women recently, I had been asked to prepare a couple of statements for them to introduce me. One of the questions presented to me was “What is the best advice you have ever been given?” My answer to that directly relates to being an adoptive mom, especially an adoptive mom with children from hard places. I shared with the women about a wise woman who spoke to me during a time when our family was enduring a crisis situation. She looked me straight in the eyes and said, “You have to let go of guilt. You are not the reason bad things happen in the lives of your kids. You have to let it go.” Her point was that holding on to “Mommy guilt” could possibly hold us back from loving our child fully and from letting them continue to grow and mature. Whatever happens in our kids’ lives, we are not ever going to be able to protect them from every possible hurt in this life. When they get hurt, we might feel guilty and believe that it is somehow our fault. We have to let go of that guilt. Being an adoptive mom of children from a hard place, I can often feel guilty about the hurt my children experience in life because I know they already went through so much. I do them and myself a disservice when I do not let go of guilt, repent, seek forgiveness if I am somehow at fault, and move forward in my relationship with them. Let go of the guilt, moms.
- Moms, we have to take care of ourselves. It’s okay to take a break. It’s okay to get counseling. It’s okay to have a support group. Join a gym, get healthy, kick that sugar habit, get more fresh air and sunshine in your life. You need to be healthy in order to take care of your children. When stress begins to take a toll on your health, it will also take a toll on the well-being of your child. Take care of you!
- Even when our child from a hard place grows up, you may face some rebellion or your child may disconnect from you in some ways in their newfound adulthood “freedom.” There will always be chances to try to connect with them, to love on them, to practice forgiveness with them, and maybe even their biological families. A family holiday, weddings, funerals, birthdays, or caring for grandchildren will bring unique opportunities to still work on making connections stronger with your child. If you go through seasons of estrangement or rebellious stages with your older adopted children, don’t give up hope. Pray for them, love on them whenever and however you can, and trust that God sees the bigger picture. They still need you as their Mom, no matter how much time goes by, and maybe, just maybe, someday they will actually admit that! Never give up.
- I will often hear resounding fear in the questioning of the new families I am training when we discuss connections with biological families. I remind them that this is part of adopted child’s identity. We will never remove or replace those genetics and early connections with their biological families, so we need to focus on how we can add to our child’s life through making our own connections. Our children feel loved and accepted when we show love and acceptance for their biological families. That may sound impossible. It really does matter to our children, those biological connections are permanent. We have to do our best to show God’s love as we talk about them, pray for them, and ultimately as our paths cross at some point in life. We have to be kind and show God’s love to them.
These lists serve as a great springboard for topics that we can focus on in future posts. What are the hot topics for you? What thoughts do you have about being an adoptive mom? Let’s talk.