Circle of Friends

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I am in Seattle today for Honeybee and Dimples’ appointments.  My friend, Tonggumomma, at Our Little Tongginnator, wrote this beautiful post and it seems perfect for a day when we celebrate love.  The love of a good friend is a rich gift.

Circle of Friends

Sometimes life just really throws you a fast curve ball. Sometimes you feel so lost and alone, you don’t even know where to turn for help. Sometimes the noise of this world drowns out God’s voice so much, you forget that you need to listen more carefully and instead you simply stop listening altogether.

That was me almost six years ago, while spring gradually eased into summer.

The Husband and I were brand-new parents. We’d arrived home from China with our little Tongginator three months prior and ours wasn’t a smooth adjustment.  In fact, our social worker later told us that she counts our family in the top five of those who faced the toughest transitions upon coming home.  We did receive help and encouragement from our family and friends, but I still felt so overwhelmed and so isolated. No one in our social circle had ever walked in similar shoes. And frankly, I didn’t even know where to start if I did share. Nor did I know if I’d be able to stop once I opened the floodgates.

During my first few months as a mother, I felt on the verge… of what, I couldn’t say.

And then God sent someone to me, someone very special, so that I would remember to listen for Him. During the late spring of 2005, the Husband decided we needed to attend a picnic sponsored by our local Families With Children from China (FCC) . He felt strongly that we needed to rejoin the land of the living and try to connect with others facing similar issues.

I didn’t want to go.

I didn’t want to pin a fake smile on my face and listen to others talk about how quickly their child adjusted to life within their family. I didn’t want to bump into travelmates and watch their children play and walk and feed themselves in a developmentally age-appropriate way. I didn’t want to explain to others why strangers sometimes erroneously labeled my child autistic. I didn’t want to go.

But I went.

Because the Husband thought it was a good idea.

We arrived at the picnic early because we didn’t know how long the Tongginator would last at such an event. As I looked around at the crowd of people, I felt bitter because I had been right.  Happy families, smiling children, babies “all caught up” and curious stares after asking our daughter’s age surrounded us.  The Husband, master camper and picnicker extraordinaire, selected his perfect spot for our blanket: under a tree with no shade. I secretly rolled my eyes at THAT choice, but bit my tongue and spread out our blanket anyway.

Then I ate crow.

Because the Husband? He is smart.

And a non-shady spot under a tree at 10:45 AM becomes the only shady picnic spot at noon. God used that shade to send me a very personal and loving message, a message that said I wasn’t all alone.

Canuck K and and her husband Iowa arrived at the picnic late, looking tired, dusty and overwhelmed, with screaming twin toddlers in tow. Canuck K approached us hesitantly, a stranger unsure of our reaction, wondering if they could share our blanket (because they forgot theirs at home) and, more importantly, if they could share our shade under the tree (because it was HOT, y’all). My eyes darted between her weary face, the girls’ screaming mouths and Iowa’s slumped shoulders. Then I patted the blanket and said, “make yourselves at home.”

On that fateful day: the Tongginator (age 15 months)
and one of the twins (age 21 months) … probably Spice …
no, Cinnamon … no, Spice … oh, I don’t know!

Canuck K told me months later that she didn’t think we’d say yes. Her twin daughters, Cinnamon and Spice, also newly home from China and transitioning just as slowly as the Tongginator, tended to garner a “there’s no room” reaction quite often. But on that day, with me as the inn keeper, oh, how wrong she was.

During the first moments of what would soon become a friendship, as I looked at a mirror image of my exhausted, deer-in-the-headlights expression, a repetitive thought continued to circle through my brain: “thank you, God.” We connected that day, Canuck K and I. During the coming months, we grew to become sisters of the heart. Over the course of the next five years, our daughters formed close friendships through weekly (sometimes twice-weekly) playdates during the preschool years and later every summer.  Attendance at two different elementary schools has yet to sever their bonds.  They remain a tight knit circle of friends – they are “the bestest of buddies.”  They don’t just enjoy playing together, they TREASURE one another.

And my friendship with Canuck K has gotten me through many of the rough patches we face that are so unique to adoption parenting.  She is an excellent sounding board who will never fill my head with “let her cry it out” advice unless she truly believes, with her adoption- and Tongginator-educated mind, that the Tongginator is acting out in a typical way rather than reacting to trauma or attachment issues, or is digging in her heels to meet a sensory need.  Canuck K didn’t cringe with horror when the Tongginator struggled hugely with bathroom-related attachment issues.  She grasps the complexities when I share “the Tongginator is processing her abandonment at the moment.”  I don’t even need to share details with her… because she has been there.  She knows.  And she understands.  Because she is walking a similar path.

My friendship with Canuck K helps to fill up my cup. More importantly, during my early years as a mom, our Tuesday mornings acted as a lifeline, a gift from God, one that continually pulled me back from the cliff edge that often felt just a few feet away.  I feel so much more secure in my support network this time around.  I know that Canuck K will be there for me this spring, as our family brings home another little one from China.  If my newest child faces similar challenges, I know Canuck K will walk alongside me in ways that others simply can’t.  Because she has been there.  I feel so comforted by that fact.

And this all started because of God’s immense love for me.

The Husband’s stubborn insistence.

And some shade.

Tonggu Momma shares about life with her pint-sized terminator from Tonggu County at the blog Our Little Tongginator.  Follow along as they travel, sometime this spring, to adopt the Tongginator’s mei mei.

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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.


  1. Laura
    February 15, 2011

    I love this….what a treasure friendship is! Isn't it nice to have friends who "get it" : )

  2. Hannah Tucker
    February 15, 2011

    I loved reading this! I'm learning more and more of the importance of friendships – and am treasuring my friends.

  3. Aunt LoLo
    February 16, 2011

    Love this, TM. You're right – this post is an oldie but a goodie. And a great reminder to EVERYONE – When we are at our edge, God sends someone stubborn, some shade and a miracle.


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