Loss. Pain. Sorrow. Grief. These are no strangers to those of us on this adoption and foster care journey. How do we deal with these losses and all of this pain? What do we do when our heartache is more than we can bear? Is it actually possible we could learn to see grief as a gift?
Join us on this episode of The Honestly Adoption Podcast, as Mike and Kristin interview our good friend, and fellow blogger, Natalie Brenner, and how she learned to see grief as a gift.
This is a guest post by our good friend, Courtney Westlake. She is the author of A Different Beautiful
. She lives in Illinois with her husband Evan and two children, Connor and Brenna. After Brenna was born with a severe skin disorder, Courtney began chronicling family life and experiences raising a child with physical differences and special needs on her blog
. You can also follow her on Facebook
You really want to speak up, because, you’re a mama bear (or papa bear). It’s so hard to let them stand on their own when you’ve spent so much time advocating for them, defending them, and fighting for them. But there’s a time and place to stay quiet and let them stand.
I wanted to insert myself into the conversation happening a few feet away from me, to explain and to defend, but I held back. I craned my neck a bit, waiting to hear what my children would say to the little girl who had just asked about my daughter’s red, peeling skin.
We all need hope on the journey of foster care, adoption and special needs parenting. But, often, it feels so far away. We start to wonder, “Will I never find any?”
Hope. Just saying the word fills you with a myriad of emotions, doesn’t it? You either feel a peace that passes all understanding because you’ve discovered hope, or you’re struggling to breathe because you’ve lost hope altogether. Sometimes we look at life, and the difficult circumstances we are presently in with our children, and feel as though we’ll never find our way through this. But what if we told you, there is hope. And, you can find it!
It’s easy to find yourself at a hopeless point on the foster and adoptive journey. You wonder, “How did I get here?” Soon, that wondering can turn into, “Will I ever find hope?” We believe you can.
It’s late but I’m finally on a flight home after an incredible weekend in New York City. I’ve just spent the day interacting with an amazing adoptive parent community in Brooklyn. I’m inspired as I listen to their stories, hear their hearts, and see their smiles. I can’t help but feel grateful to be a part of this special day. I love this crowd. They’re my crowd. They’re my people. I’ve seen hundreds of faces today, but one I can’t seem to get out of my mind. One mom, who desperately longs for a positive relationship with the child she adopted years ago.
The lonely, and often, defeating road of parenting children with disorders like FASD (Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder) or attachment issues can cause a person to shake their fist at heaven and ask “Why?” We know this because we’ve been there.
Her email dripped with desperation. As I read each line I could feel her defeat, sense her anguish, and understand her anger. According to her, I was her last resort. She was parenting a child with FASD, and it was taking the life out of her. Her son’s decision-making, logic, sense of self, and care for others was missing all-together. All I could think was, “I’ve been there sister. You are not alone.”
If you’re a foster or adoptive parent, there’s one conference happening this year you simply cannot miss. It’s called The Refresh Conference. Check out the video below to learn more…
“These are my people!”
For two years I’ve been a part of Refresh. And for two years, those words have crossed my heart, and my lips each time the conference kicks off. There’s no other way to explain my experience than this…. I feel at home. As comfortable as if I were hanging out in my own living room…pajama pants and all (kidding). I can breathe at Refresh. I can hurt openly without anyone looking down on me, or judging me. I can share my deepest wounds as an adoptive parent, and everyone around me nods.
They get it. More than that, they offer hope for anyone who is weary or worn out from the journey of foster care and adoption. If that’s you, let me be clear…. you simply CANNOT miss The Refresh Conference this coming fall and winter. You read that right… fall AND winter. There are now two great locations to choose from. Click below to find out more…
Get the scoop on Refresh Chicago
Get the scoop on Refresh Seattle
*Editor’s Note- This is a guest post by our good friend Lisa Qualls. She is a writer, speaker, mom of 12, and the creator of Thankful Moms
, where she writes about motherhood, adoption, faith, and grief. Lisa is a mom by birth and adoption. Along with her husband Russ, their adoption journey has been marked by joy as well as challenges of trauma and attachment. You can visit her blog here
, and connect with her on Facebook here
Even through our own difficult life circumstances, we often have the ability to help others who are struggling on this journey. But where do you begin, and how do you know what to do for someone in great need?
Last week I heard from a woman whose friend adopted a child and the family is struggling. Her heartfelt note asked what she could do to help. She wrote, “The mom looks sad and frustrated all of the time.”
She closed her email with, “What can I do to help? What can our church family do to help?”Let me offer a few thoughts…
As parents, we want the best for our children. Our hearts break when their’s break, our joy soars when theirs soar. When things fall apart, we do our best to fix it. But maybe we’re not supposed to be in control of every emotion they experience.
“What your mom needs to remember is that she isn’t in control of your emotions.” The counselor was looking right at my daughter but I knew she was talking to me. We had just had a very emotional counseling session. My daughter was asked to list her stressors. I had known for a long time that I was the cause of some of her stress and truthfully I was relieved to see my name at the very bottom of a long and honest list. Watching my daughter make the list was a mixture of sadness, pride and sheer relief.