Monday, July 20, 2015

the Superficial Struggle

I've decided to start at the top of the list because not only is it the first thing mentioned in the video, but also because it's a crucial part of the "dysfunction" we live in as adoptive parents of older children.

#1 Superficially engaging and charming

This is actually the reason some of you who know us are questioning what could be so "hard" about parenting the girls you know to be so poised, polite, and sweet. It's like two different children inside of one body; the girl at home and the girl in public.

(Most days) The girl at home stays in her room all day, only coming out for necessities, avoiding all parental contact. (Some days this behavior is only directed at me, but other days Blaine is included)

The girl in public welcomes the conversation of others, especially other parents, and is warm, bubbly, and engaging.

(Sometimes) The girl at home will go a whole week without saying a single word to me; on a good day she'll say "good morning" and "goodnight." 

The girl in public loves to chat! She especially likes to chat with others in front of us, so that we can take notice of how much she is enjoying herself.

When asked to clean up after one of our pet's accidents, the girl at home will refuse and disrespectfully say "No! It's not my mess!"

The girl in public is always respectful, responding with "yes sir" and "yes ma'am" when addressed. She is submissive to authority and always well mannered. 

Each and every day, when asked how her day was, the girl at home will respond with a simple "good," never offering more information. Even when prompted with other questions, she would prefer to sit in silence on the ride home from school.

The girl in public will gladly talk about her day with others at church; she prefers surface, nonchalant chatter over deep, meaningful conversations that would allow her to connect with her adopted parents.

The girl in public seems well adjusted, happy, and completely embracive of her new life, but the truth is she is broken, numb to feeling, and unsure if she wants this "new life."

I could go on listing examples of how this plays such a huge role in our day-to-day life, but I feel sure I have made my point clear. So often I am told of how the girls have "come a long way," how they are "well-adjusted," and how they are just so "precious," "sweet," and "lovely." My sharing this is not about correcting those who have said those things nor is it meant to tear down our girls. It is for those adopted moms out there who are in the same struggle; who, like me, wonder what they're doing wrong. How can the girls appear so comfortable with everyone else? It must be me! It wasn't until someone else had the courage to speak up, in a blog just like this one, that I finally realized it wasn't me! For so long, I harbored so much guilt, I believed it was because I wasn't good enough, brave enough, strong enough, kind enough... but, it wasn't me and it's not you! There is so much freedom in realizing that. 

I think the kids want us to think that it is our fault. Maybe you don't agree and maybe you just don't understand how that could be true. But, I believe all of our kids have lived in misery for so long that they don't know how to live at peace. Misery is familiar, misery is what they know, misery is what they feel, and they aren't satisfied until everyone in their house is miserable, too. That is the cold, hard, honest, truth. Just like the old saying, "Misery loves company."

We must be aware, but not overcome. We must not allow the root of bitterness to rise up and give place to anger. These children are to be pitied. But we must not only pity them, WE MUST PRAY; pray that God would deliver these children from the awfulness of their past and the depravity of their nature; pray that He would restore what is broken and give them everlasting peace through His saving grace; and we must pray that we would be a vessel of His redeeming love in the providential goodness of their adoption into our family. 

There is so much to share, this is but the tip of the iceberg, my friends. But, I pray that you'll stay with me and that you'll come to know my heart in this matter. The adoption of older children is so complex, there is no cut and dry, no black and white, no short and sweet answer to the question "how is it going?" It is my prayer that this will be a window into our world, to inform our friends of how you can pray for us, and to help other families who are in the trenches of parenting adopted children. 

Therefore He is able also to save to the uttermost (completely, perfectly, finally, and for all time and eternity) those who come to God through Him, since He is always living to make petition to God and intercede with Him and intervene for them. Hebrews 7:25 AMP

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Hard to live it - even harder to re-live it

It has been 4 months since my last post. I fully intended 4 months ago to begin opening up and sharing the "real" story of our adoption and what it looks like on a daily basis. I don't know how to explain why I haven't started sharing except that it is just plain hard. Hard to live it, even harder to re-live it. I spend most days looking forward to the little things that help me escape, like tending to my flower garden in the evenings or watching a cheesy love story on Netflix, and the thought of sitting down to write about things I've tried hard to forget sounds more like torture than therapy. But, I keep telling myself.... you need to do this, it will be good for you, it will be good for others, so here I am again.

I find it difficult to know where to begin. The trouble with sharing something so deep is, to be blunt, it's a lot like throwing up, once you start you can't stop and you're left with a nasty mess to clean up! If I'm being honest, I am fearful of the nasty mess my sharing will leave behind. However, bottling everything inside feels like a poison eating away at my very soul. Regardless of how it makes others feel, or how it makes me "look," it must be said.

To avoid "word vomit" and scattered, disconnected rambling, I feel it best to use the video I shared in my last post, regarding reactive attachment, as a guide. In the video, Todd Friel listed 20 characteristics that are common in adopted children who experience reactive attachment. Out of the list of 20 characteristics, there are only one that we have not experienced with our girls. In the event that you haven't seen the video, the characteristics are listed below. I will choose at least one characteristic as a frame of reference for each blog post. 

I do want to point out that, no matter how negative some of these stories may be, I have never known the Lord like I know Him now. That is not to say I have achieved perfection in my walk with Christ, but it is a confession that I have never needed Him the way I need Him now. I can say with full confidence that His strength is made perfect in my weakness, because I am so weak. No matter how difficult my days are, I lay my head on the pillow each night knowing He has called me to this task and He is refining me through the flame, and to know Him and to experience Him in this way is worth all of the pain - ALL of it. I hope that sharing my experiences can, in some way, be an encouragement to someone who is struggling to hold on to the Lord in the midst of their "storm." He is near. It is dark, but He is near. Hold on to His promises.

20 Characteristics of Reactive Attachment:
  1. Superficially engaging and charming
  2. Lack of eye contact on parent's terms
  3. Indiscriminately affectionate with strangers 
  4. Not affectionate on parent's terms
  5. Destructive to self, others, and material things
  6. Cruelty to animals
  7. Lying about the obvious
  8. Stealing
  9. No impulse controls
  10. Lack of conscience
  11. Abnormal eating patterns
  12. Poor peer relations
  13. Preoccupation with fire
  14. Preoccupation with blood and gore
  15. Preoccupation with bodily functions
  16. Persistent nonsense questions and chatter
  17. Non-stop demanding of attention
  18. Triangulation of adults
  19. False allegations of abuse
  20. Creating chaos