“I Didn’t Sign Up For This!”

The journey started off on a good note, only to come crashing down on you a few months later. When you find yourself whispering, “I didn’t sign up for this,” where do you go next?

Woman sitting alone and depressed

Let me begin this post by first saying, I know. I know, I know, I know, I know and I know! Sister, I’ve been there. Brother, I’ve walked in your shoes. No one told you about the way trauma rears its ugly head. No one told you about the real story behind his bed wetting, or her rage, or his impulsiveness. You jumped into this journey with two passionate feet and a heart to bring light into the darkness of a broken child’s life. And now, you’re exhausted and your kid is holding your entire family hostage.

Believe me, I know. I’ve walked, no, crawled….yeah, mostly crawled, through this same trench you’re in. Lord knows I’ve whispered these words to myself as we’ve had to evacuate our helpless children to an upstairs room while our other child rages and throws blunt objects across the house at them. I’ve looked to the heavens and begged for answers while standing out on my front porch answering a police officer’s questions while neighbors drive past. I’ve wrestled these thoughts in the midnight hour, as I’ve laid awake wondering where we went wrong, or how I could have prevented the secondary trauma my family is experiencing.

Yes, I know. I know the regret you often feel, deep with in you, for choosing adoption. I also know the shame you feel over feeling that regret. I know the grief you go through because the ideal life you dreamed about is slipping through your fingers like snow on a warm day. This child you brought into your home with such love and adoration has pushed every single boundary, and made choices that cause those around you to raise their eyebrows. While you’ve tried to draw them close and love them unconditionally, they continually push you away and pursue relationships that are toxic and superficial.

So you whisper often, “I didn’t sign up for this.” And that has you wondering….is there any hope?

Where Is The Hope?

This journey can often turn out different than you expected. You often find yourself isolated, alone, defeated. We get it. In the past, we’ve even had the church, the one place that’s supposed to accept us for who we are, brokenness and all, turn their backs on us. The nursery director (You know, the one who’s supposed to love babies and have patience with crying) told us they couldn’t handle our son because he cried too much. Cried because he was traumatized. Cried because he was scared. Cried because he had been in 2 foster placements prior to living with us and the trauma went deeper than a cavern.

It leaves you feeling hopeless. And then there’s that thought again…”I didn’t sign up for this.” More hopelessness. More despair. So, where is the hope?

I’ll tell you where. It’s in finding out, you’re not alone. In discovering there are others on this journey who limp the same way you do. There are others with the same wounds, same fears, same voices in their head. I don’t know how, but there’s something oddly hopeful in knowing you’re not alone. Your problems don’t magically wash away, but you somehow find the strength to face another day when you realize there are others.

There’s hope in finding others. But there’s also hope in acceptance.

Signed Up.

I know you didn’t sign up for this. I’ll say it again- I know, I know, I know. Remember- been there, done that, got the t-shirt (or the bill from the psyche ward) to prove it. But, the truth is, you and I are signed up. This is our new normal. Our children have come from trauma so unimaginable and dark that it’s hard to understand it. My child has Alcohol-Related-Neuro-developmental Disorder. It’s permanent brain damage. Nothing will ever change that. He will always need assistance in some fashion. He will always struggle through life. It’s reality. You may struggle to form a genuine bond with your child for a very long. This is the reality my friend. Now, based upon that, we have a choice. We could shake our fists at the heavens and continue to say, “I didn’t sign up for this,” or we could make a choice to move forward, love our children through the trials, work to understand trauma, and live, to the best of our ability, in this new normal.

I can’t go back in time and undo what has been done. I can’t go back and fix my child. I can’t go back and safeguard our family for what was to come. If I could, I would. Honestly, I would. What I can do, however, is love my child for who they are now, and strive to look past behaviors to the heart that beats inside of them. I’ve found that when I stop dwelling on what I wish would have been, and accept what actually is, I find hope quicker.

I promise, I’m not blowing rainbows and unicorns at you. The reality is, this journey can be extremely hard. And we’ve found ourselves worn out way more than energized, often. We know what hopeless feels like. But we find hope when we connect to others, and when we accept our new normal and choose to move forward. Life was never meant to be perfect. But there’s a special kind of beauty in the imperfection. There’s hope in the new normal. And there’s so many awesome moments on this journey when you open your eyes and heart and look for them.

Question: Have you whispered these words before? You’re not alone. Share your story with us in the comment section below. You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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