How Have Adoption and Foster Care Changed You as a Mother?

How have adoption and foster care changed you as a mother? As a woman?

I’ve spent the last 24 hours thinking about this.

Sometimes I forget who I am – and whose I am. Yesterday my 18 year-old daughter reminded me.

Sunday morning, before our guests arrived, I was not in a good place. As Annarose pointed out, there was a lot of negativity out of my mouth. I hate to say it, but I hardly noticed.

Sunday dinner used to be a highlight of my week. Hospitality – welcoming people into our home, feeding them at our table – this used to be the way we lived.

I own stacks of plates, loads of extra silverware, dozens of glasses, all the things I need for feeding dozens of people. I used to bemoan my lack of a double oven, and we had grand plans for remodeling our home to include a larger kitchen and dining room.

Then we became an adoptive family.

Life changed. Our family changed. I changed.

We continued opening our home to crowds, but it became increasingly difficult. The circle of friends who understood our children grew smaller while the demands on us grew greater.

Still, we clung to Sunday dinner as a family anchor with our older kids and their friends. We may not have invited other families over, but we still filled our table and overflowed our dining room.

Now it seems I’ve lost my confidence. I love the idea of people filling my house and gathering around my table. It’s the two days before everyone arrives when I don’t feel good about any of it.

By Saturday I’m convinced we’re incapable of hosting gatherings – I doubt myself at every turn.

Adoption changed our family in many ways – we are not the family we were before.

The day Russ and I walked through the blue orphanage gates in Ethiopia, our family became something new.

Likewise, the mother I was before, the mother of the children I birthed with Russ, that mother also was forever changed that day.

Adoption changed me – I’m not the mother I was before.

I thought I was bringing children into the family we had created and I was going to mother them in the very best ways I knew. I would just add some trauma-informed parenting for good measure.

That was not to be.

We became a new creation, a very broken, messy, new creation.

God called us to a task far beyond our capacity. Every moment of our days, we depended on him.

We adopted because we loved children and loved being parents. We had something beautiful, a loving family, and we wanted to share it with children who needed us.

God’s plans were far greater.

He joined our lives with our new children’s for our good and for theirs.  

Sunday dinner is a small thing in the face of so many changes, but it’s symbolic of who I was as a mother and as a woman. I feel the loss each time I try to replicate what we had.

Then a day like yesterday comes together, and while it will never be the same, I looked around my table, and it was beautiful. We sat elbow-to-elbow, talking, eating and I felt a little bit more like myself. God restores joy when I open my eyes and accept it from his hands.


Let’s talk about the ways we are changed through adoption and foster care.

I want to explore this with you, friends, and talk about the ways we are changed through adoption, foster care, and loving vulnerable children – the good, hard, joyful, sad, even scary – all of it.

Can we take a little time for this? For each other?

Maybe this will be two posts, maybe ten. We’ll talk about it until we’re done. I could probably pour ten posts out of my heart right now.

Tomorrow I’ll revive Tuesday Topics with a question for you about how you’ve been changed by adoption and foster care. Please jump in with your thoughts.

If you would like to contribute a guest post, take a quick look at the My Thankful Life information. I would love your contribution.

If only we could do this around my table, mugs of coffee and tea in our hands. You mean so much to me.

Lisa

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.

14 Comments

  1. Emily
    April 18, 2017

    Love it. Love you. (Also- love your hair!)

    Ben and I have been blessed to be at your family’s table literally and emotionally/spiritually.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 18, 2017

      Thank you; I’m so glad you’ve shared our table with us, in happy times and in sorrow. We’re thankful for your friendship.

      Reply
  2. Amy Leong
    April 18, 2017

    I used to be pretty judge-y about other parents and kids. My bio kids were smart, friendly and well adjusted so I thought we were pretty great parents. Now we parent three more kids who are from hard places. How full of pride we were! We have learned to accept that families are far more complicated than they appear and we all need a lot of grace. I’m grateful for a softer heart that the Lord has graciously given through our adoption journey.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 18, 2017

      Amy, yes, so much of what you’ve said resonates with me. I didn’t think I was a judgmental person at all, then the Lord brought me low, lower than I imagined, to the point that I was judged so harshly and so painfully. I realized there were places in my heart where I did hold judgment; I’ve worked very hard to let them go. It’s a journey, and you’re so right, we all need grace upon grace for one another.

      Reply
  3. Rebecca
    April 18, 2017

    Great idea! I definitely parent far, far differently than I ever imagined. It’s hard to imagine life and parenting any different, though. Once you’re here, there’s no going back. The lessons and changes are forever, and in my experience, that’s mostly a good thing.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 18, 2017

      That’s really good to hear, Rebecca. It’s true that the knowledge I’ve gained has changed the way I parent so much.

      Reply
  4. Sara
    April 18, 2017

    It’s hard to learn all new ways of parenting and becoming a different family than you were before and yet still the same. It’s letting go and becoming at the same time. Our family is still finding our new way even years into adoption.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 18, 2017

      “Letting go and becoming at the same time.” That is a beautiful way of putting it, Sara. Thank you. If you have time to add those thoughts to today’s Tuesday Topic post, I would love that. Thank you.

      Reply
  5. AmyG
    April 18, 2017

    All of this!!! So true! I have never heard anyone say the reality of this experience in this way. Yep, me too! Changed in so many ways…not all good, yet.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 18, 2017

      Yet — but, for me, I remind myself God doesn’t waste anything, so even the areas where I see changes I don’t like, I hope in time, those changes will become something to be thankful for too. Thank you Amy.

      Reply
  6. Missy Hansen
    April 19, 2017

    I can relate to this very much…

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 19, 2017

      You are not alone, Missy. Will you add your thoughts to today’s post, Tuesday Topic: How Have you Been Changed by Adoption?

      Reply
  7. Margaret Guerra
    April 20, 2017

    I’m with you in the grief for what once was or what could have been…and so conflicted and guilty because I think that at times. Thanks for your openness.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 20, 2017

      I encourage you to let go of guilt, Margaret. You’re experiencing loss, and grieving it is a healthy process. When we hide it and don’t talk about it, we get stuck in shame, and shame isolates us from one another. This is hard stuff, friend. There are many mammas who are saying, “Me too.”

      Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

I accept the Privacy Policy