5 True Confessions From The Adoption Journey.

Smack dab in the title of this blog is the word Confession. So, obviously we’re true to that by sharing honest and raw stories from this journey. But, we’ve also discovered a few other realities that I must confess here and now:

Empty Chair in an Interrogation Room

I couldn’t have scripted this any better. As I stand and peer back over the last 18 years (Kristin and I will celebrate 18 years of marriage in 2 months), I’m amazed by our journey. No, scratch that…I’m BEYOND amazed. I’m overwhelmed. Is there another word for overwhelmed that’s more powerful? If so, send it to me, or leave it in the comments below. I’m finding that words really don’t do any of this justice. So, I’ll stick to overwhelmed for now.

I’m overwhelmed because I really couldn’t have dreamed anything more beautiful, crazy, adventurous, broken, messed up, defeating, or worthwhile. Worthwhile…and It’s not like the road has risen to meet us. In fact, it hasn’t. Not even close! Let me just be real… worthwhile and tomorrow we load everyone up in our beat up 12-passenger van and drive and hour and a half to visit one of my kids in residential treatment. Talk about your reality check. There’s definitely nothing rising to meet us. Yes, I claim this journey to be beautiful and beyond anything I could have scripted in-spite of the defeating, devastating moments we’ve walked through.

So, I stand and peer back, and I am amazed. In fact, I confess, there are so many things that make this journey absolutely, without a doubt, amazing. But, for the sake of your time, and mine, here are my top 5…

  1. It’s hard but hopeful. So….unbelievably….hard. Again, let me just be real. Our children have come from places of trauma and they often speak and act out of that trauma. It’s made the journey difficult. For so many years we misunderstood where they were speaking from. We used to see with blurry vision. But in the past few years, we’ve moved from blurry to focused. We see clearly now: The hope we have is that we stand with our children. We don’t fight against them…we fight with them, against their traumatic pasts. Instead of a lecture, we have a conversation. Instead of a battle, we hold them close to us through the storm. We find renewed hope through this. Out of these ashes comes hope. And let me tell you friend…hope that is forged out of the hard stuff, is hope that is stronger than steel.
  2. It’s broken but beautiful. Yes I know, I just used the word broken, but for good reason. Show me one person in this world who isn’t broken in some way, and I’ll retract this confession. All of life and humanity is broken in someway. We spend so much time denying this fact that we miss a bunch of beauty in the middle of it. Think about this- while we never want bad things to happen in this world, they do. They happen because we human beings are broken. In fact, we’re a mess. But, if it weren’t for that brokenness, we wouldn’t know our kiddos. That’s the beauty in this mess. My precious kids are celebrating their first day of summer break. I can hear their giggles, and squeals in the other room right now. I can also hear their arguing. But I smile all the same because I know them. I call them sons and daughters and they call me dad. Out of immense brokenness comes beauty unimaginable!
  3. It’s uniquely ours. Our family doesn’t fit into any mold on earth. Guess what? We LOVE it. That wasn’t always the case. In the beginning, I struggled with our weirdness. A lot! That’s because I didn’t grow up weird. I grew up very normal, middle class, American. I can honestly say, I didn’t know what I was missing until we began raising our unique family. This life we’ve been given was never meant to be lived in normalcy. It was meant to be lived in uniqueness…in the beauty of diversity…in the celebration of our differences. I love how unique our family is. I love that each of my children have their own unique gifting, and perspective on the world around them. We celebrate this to the zillionth degree. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
  4. It’s the greatest journey in the world. Such an amazing adventure. Hard, hopeful, exciting, defeating, beautiful! Worth every tear drop, heartbeat, and sweat drop…that is all!
  5. It’s perfectly imperfect. Our imperfections embraced, not denied, make this journey imperfectly perfect. You will never ever, ever find us trying to be something we’re not. And we’re sure as salami never going to not be honest about where we’ve been and where we’re going. We celebrate the fact that we haven’t figured it all out and we often trudge through the muck and mire of life. But we also celebrate the new creation that our broken pieces are forging. I think that’s what is truly amazing as I peer back over the past years. There has been a lot of pain, a lot of heartbreak. But that pain and heartbreak, healed and mended, is creating something new and more powerful than anything before. Thus, our journey is perfectly imperfect.

Yes, we talk about the hard, the hopeless, and defeating moments. We’re “Confessions” of an Adoptive Parent. Expect nothing less. But, we will also share the beauty, the bright, and the hopeful. It’s our value to never share any piece of content (written or spoken) that is void of hope by the time you reach the end. Mark…my….words!

So, I have to confess….while this has been extremely hard, it’s also been extremely hopeful. While it’s nearly taken the life out of us, it’s also been incredibly worthwhile on so many levels. It comes down to how you see it, and whether or not you’re intentionally looking for the beauty that’s actually there.

Question: In what ways have you found beauty on the adoptive journey? Share with us in the comment section below this post. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • Vince Crunk

    Two questions: how do you fight FOR your kid(s) when so much of the time is spent fighting WITH? Also find it really hard to have the conversations you mention.

    • Vince, thanks for your comment. I completely understand where you are coming from as we have been in this situation with our oldest son many times in the past. The simple answer I have for you is that you must remain calm and firm even when your child is disregulated and their emotions are heightened. Also- in terms of the conversation, change from a “How could you,” to a “Why do you feel this way.” We are so quick to move into lecture and it does nothing with our kiddos (as you probably realize). We’ve begun responding to our kids aggression or negative engagement with a simple, “Okay buddy, let’s talk about this. Why do you feel this way…” or “What do you hope to get right now?” (Not asked in a negative way or a harsh way). I really hope this helps. Thanks again for posing your questions. They are so much appreciated!

    • Allisonm

      The first thing that helped me was realizing that my kids couldn’t change themselves. I had to do the changing so that I could become the parent my children needed to move forward.

      Next, I embraced the truth that my kids would do better if they could. They didn’t want to be dysregulated. They couldn’t help it. That took a lot of the emotion out of it for me. It enabled me to stand with them as an ally and leader, rather than as a judge and disciplinarian.

      Third, I learned that my children’s behavior was communicating the level and nature of their distress, but that I didn’t speak the language and was misunderstanding what they were telling me. I had to play detective, not because my kids were trying to obstruct me, but because they were afraid, unable to communicate effectively, and fighting to survive. I have come to honor their efforts to survive and carry on rather than trying to suppress them as inappropriate behavior. I may have to correct it, but I can do so from a better place than distance or d

      Finally, I learned to meet my kids’ need first, give them time to recover, then teach healthier ways to get their needs met when they are calm and (at least a little) receptive. When they are in fight-or-flight mode, they don’t have full access to their cognitive brains or memory and can’t benefit from any teaching I try to do.

      Mike mentioned several books in a recent blog post. I have found Heather Forbes’ Beyond Consequences, Logic, and Control to be the most practically helpful for me, though the other books Mike listed are excellent, too.

    • Beth Cendere

      I also feel this way. Thank you for the comment and thank you everyone for the responses! I needed to hear that. Now I need to practice that.

  • Karla D Buchanan

    I have found beauty as I watched my child with Asperger’s finally give me a hug. Because touching my others is something that is out of her comfort zone. Or another child with Autism gives me a thumbs up to show me she understood but did not feel like responding.

    Or my daughter who cries in my arms as she grieves the death of her biological mother. Or another daughter who finally aks me to take her to an important appointment because the others she has depended on have let her down.

    Or my oldest daughter who was our foster child at the age of 14 returns at 18 to be near mom and dad. Then at the age of 20 she allowed us to adopt her.

    Finally I have son who is 32 and was adopted in my husband’s first marriage who asked me recently to officially adopt him. He says I am the only real mom he has ever had.

    Then finally I have welcomed 6 grandchildren into my life. These things are the beauty of adoption to me! The youngest child we adopted was 16 and none of my 6 kids are biologically related. But they are related by love and that is the most beautiful thing in the world to me!

    • Karla, oh my goodness, I love everything about your words here. Thank you so much for sharing with us. Wow! So cool.

  • Beth Cendere

    I guess I feel like I am “in the trenches” and right now it is hard to see your positive side of things. I want to. I am really hoping for the days I feel like that. Right now all this seems so unrealistic. It is really hard to know and fight for my 15 year old when everything that comes out of her feels like a lie. When she tells us one thing, her therapist one thing, and her friends another thing. it is so exhausting. It is hard to make the right decision when I am not sure of the truth. Then on top of that….sprinkle in drama and theatrics. I grew up normal, middle American from the midwest-where honesty means something big. I am not accustom to the manipulation that goes on and I really am not handling it well.

    • Jessica Hovde

      Hang in there, Beth! I’ve been in those trenches! They are soooo hard! You got this! The toughest thing about lying is that it feels so personal – because it’s a betrayal of trust. The hardest part is to remember they didn’t mean it as a personal betrayal, even though that is what it turned into in our hearts. They feel good at lying because of what they went through before us. It’s their strength to them – want to be valued for it – don’t understand the betrayal is actually betraying them too, because it’s breaking them apart from others. Keep speaking truth into them and doing what you know is right! You’ve got this. You so got this. You are not wrong that honesty is a BIG deal. Show her how her lies are rippling across the world around her, because that will destroy her someday if it doesn’t stop. You’re there to protect how you can and stop what can be prevented if possible. <3

      • Beth Cendere

        I think I have read this about 50 times. Thank you for the support. I have had her for a year and at this point I feel almost anxious when she comes home. Which effects our dynamic. And our small child. This is the first time in this year that I have reached out. Maybe because I thought I could handle it. I realize I am desperate for help at this point. So thank you for your words of wisdom!

        • Jessica Hovde

          Awe, Beth, it’s totally allowed to feel everything you’re describing in that situation. This is hard! I’m amazed you’ve gotten that far on your own with it! Lol! I would’ve totally needed a counselor to pour into me with that by now! (Which you are also SO allowed to do, btw!) Good job! You’re doing awesome! Have you ever read “Loving Our Kids On Purpose” by Danny Silk? Had me in tears. (Written for foster parents.) Just reminded me of it, hearing your story.