This post was written by Michelle, an adoptive Mom.
When most families around the world celebrate a Holiday like Easter Sunday with jubilation, families like ours, with kids who have experienced trauma, brace for a storm. From the candy, overstimulation from church and family gatherings, to the mad rush of an easter egg hunt, it often proves to be disastrous. How can caregivers find hope when this is the case?
It’s the day after Easter. I’m sitting on the couch scrolling through Facebook. I should know better after holidays. Look at all the beautiful family pictures! All those smiles! Such pretty dresses. Everyone enjoying church together. Fun Easter egg hunts and spring activities. Lots and LOTS of smiles and thanksgiving for blissful time with extended family and even a few mentions of what Easter truly is.
This was supposed to be a post from Kristin about taking better care of yourself while caring for children from hard places. But then I read the story of the recent suicide of California Pastor Andrew Stoecklein, after battling with depression. So I decided to talk openly and honestly about the struggle of being a pastor.
I’ve been there.
This thought bounced around in my mind in the early morning hours, like words echoing off of canyon walls, as I read the heart-crushing story of how Pastor Andrew Stoecklein’s life ended this past weekend. In the darkness of my bedroom, I wiped tears from my eyes as I thought about his wife and young sons now trying to figure out how to live life without their husband and daddy. I read how he struggled with depression, and anxiety and I identified perfectly.
It’s a big question we receive often, from church leaders and families in the trenches: how can the church better support foster and adoptive families?
Unfortunately, over the past 15 years we’ve been on this journey, we’ve seen a few churches get this extremely right, but many get it extremely wrong. Personally, our family has walked through a few situations where the church was no support at all. But, we believe in the church and the impact it can have in this world, and for foster and adoptive families.
Ask a complete stranger on the street to describe foster care and they’ll probably say, at one point, “I’ve heard it’s really hard!” And they would be right. Sometimes it’s extremely hard, in fact. Given this truth, is it really worth it?
We were so frustrated we couldn’t see straight. We had re-arranged our entire day, cancelled several appointments, pushed some meetings back on the calendar to make sure we were both home with the two children we were caring for, because our case manager told us earlier that morning that she would be by for a visit at 2pm, sharp. “Please be on time. I have several other visits I have to make,” her voice message said.
One year ago today, I was suddenly fired from my job at a church. The experience was devastating and embarrassing. But one year later, I’m living a bigger purpose than I could have imagined.
Numb. That’s the word I would use to describe the feeling I felt when my supervisor looked at me and said, “We’re releasing you from student ministry.”
Actually, numb communicates a feeling. I had none. No expression on my face either. After the HR Director finished his spiel about what I had to sign, what I had to agree to, and what I had to leave behind, I shook their hands, and quietly walked out of the office we were meeting in. In my right hand were severance papers. Never in a million years would I have dreamed I would carry severance papers!
When you have children with special needs, everyday is an adventure. Sometimes, the adventure is exciting. Other days, it’s frustrating. Simple things that most people take for granted, like walking into a church, are an uphill climb. We personally climbed this hill for years before making progress. We’re still climbing in many regards. The biggest question we’ve wrestled with is, how do you function while making sure your children’s needs are fully met? This is a post by Kristin, who has lived on the front lines of our children’s special needs.
Today I’m embarking on a battle. I know I look a little frazzled. I truly did put make-up on …two hours ago. It takes at least an hour to coax my newly adopted son from the house to the car. The quick stop at the Dunkin Donuts drive-through was a special treat for me even though I knew it would put us even more behind.
We roll into the church parking lot and I begin winding in and out among rows of neatly parked cars. There has to be a space a little closer I think. I’ll never make it from the back of the parking lot. Who am I kidding? We haven’t actually made it into the church in 7 weeks. I see one but I’m too late. I’ve got to squeeze the 12 passenger van in somewhere. Finally I see the spot and make my way there. My 18 month old has already started his protest.
“NONONONONONONONO” he whimpers, “too loud.”