Completely Wrong and Exactly Right

This may sound odd, but it is very hard for me not having Dimples in my day-to-day care. Given how difficult life was, this doesn’t really make sense. I’ve come  up with all kinds of theories about why this is so hard – none of them have made me feel any better.  Then I realized this truth.

As our children grow, we slowly loosen our hold on them.  First they are in our arms, then they begin to toddle, and before we know it they are exploring the back yard. They play at a friend’s house, they go to school (or a homeschool class), and somebody else watches over them for a time.  They go to their first sleepover and we wonder if they might call to come home at 10:00 pm – or 2:00 am.  Slowly they become more independent and we adjust in small increments.

They become teens and begin making more of their own decisions (with the resulting consequences), they learn to drive, and do things that are dangerous which we only hear about months (or years) later.  They graduate from high school and leave for college, or move away from home, and even with all of those tiny steps toward independence made over many years, it’s hard.  When Hannah moved away for the first time, I was sad and it took time for me to adjust.  When Mimi got married, it was a serious kind of letting go.  I won’t even talk about Isaiah being in Seattle because I still miss him a lot and haven’t quite gotten used to it.

This experience of having Dimples away is not natural or developmentally appropriate.  Sending our 11 year-old child to another state, where she is being cared for 100% of the time by others, is not the way it should be.  I feel uneasy, uncomfortable, and sometimes really crummy – and those feelings are actually okay.

It is the strangest thing to have something feel so unnatural and wrong,  and yet to also be at peace.  We know that Dimples is exactly where she needs to be and that this is the best way we can love her right now.

So today, my stomach is in a bit of a knot, my head hurts, I didn’t sleep last night, and I’m close to tears.  And I’m just fine with that – I’m pretty certain that it will get better with time.

Lisa

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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.

0 Comments

  1. Mary
    January 24, 2013

    Thanks for sharing Lisa. As a foster mom, when we had to part with our first foster baby, people asked me–what is it like? And I said, "It's unnatural!" Thankfully, he was in a good place though and with family members who loved him and didn't even know he had been born! It was that strange feeling that you put into words here–unnatural and painful and ripping me in two, but really, really good.

    It is a different situation with Dimples because she is your forever girl, but the title resonated so much and brought back those feelings of personal heartache so another could benefit.

    The memory still makes me teary, but happy too. Henri Nouwen says that suffering is so much like joy. I think so.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Mary, that is a great example of what I'm trying to say. Thank you for sharing that.

      Reply
    2. nancileamarie
      January 24, 2013

      I was a foster mom, too. And that is a good description of how it feels.

      Reply
      1. Lisa Qualls
        January 24, 2013

        I really appreciate hearing about the experiences of foster parents. Thank you.

        Reply
  2. Lorene
    January 24, 2013

    I am having difficulty with the natural progression of letting go, I can't imagine the feelings you are experiencing through this. I am holding you, Dimples, the family and the program; in prayer. May you each feel God's loving embrace and peaceful presence through this.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Lorene – yes, it is harder than we imagine, isn't it. Thank you so much for your prayers.

      Reply
  3. sandra
    January 24, 2013

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and feelings as you help Dimples heal. I eagerly follow your posts because we have a son who had a rough beginning in life and is still too hurt to accept our love. God bless!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Thanks for commenting, Sandra. I'm glad you're following our story and hope I can encourage you.

      Reply
  4. Karen
    January 24, 2013

    We adopted one of our daughters at 13 after she had joined our family at 10. Building attachment at the age others are beginning to separate from their parents (little by little) was a challenge. We struggled for years, including placing her away from home for a time for the family's sake, as well as her own. As our counselor said many times, "You are a family, whether you are living together or not." It is the commitment that counts, not the location. Praying for you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Good words, Karen. Thank you.

      Reply
  5. mamitaj
    January 24, 2013

    Well put, Lisa. I can only begin to imagine the mixed-up feelings you must be living through.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Mamita, you've been on this journey with me for a long time. Thanks for hanging in there.

      Reply
  6. Deborah
    January 24, 2013

    You are exactly right Lisa – it will get better with time. What is really wonderful is the times coming down the road when God reveals proof that your choice, no matter how hard, was exactly the right one to make. Every day the Lord shows me in small wonderful ways that we did the right thing.

    Hang in there – soon, for every tough day you will have a flood of really good ones. Prayers for you to breathe your way through this day.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      When we read The Whole Brain Child and the authors encouraged us to teach our children that "feelings come and go." I think about that often, and say it to myself. I think you are right that there are going to be good days coming along – thanks Deborah.

      Reply
  7. SleepyKnitter
    January 24, 2013

    It IS unnatural, but sometimes what is unnatural is the only way we can love, just as you said so well in this post. Continuing in prayer for you, Lisa, and wishing things could be different.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Thank you, friend. I so appreciate your prayers and kind words.

      Reply
  8. Emily
    January 24, 2013

    You are caring for her in the ways she needs best, which is being such a wonderful loving mom. But I know it's so hard. Praying for you. Love you so much.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Glad you let me process this with you, Emily. Love you too – and thanks for the prayers.

      Reply
  9. Lori
    January 24, 2013

    Thinking of you daily and continuing to pray for you to be wrapped in God's peace. Letting go is soooo hard and I can't imagine having to let go at such an early age. Sending big hugs your way and wishing we were close enough to share some time over coffee.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Lori, thanks for keeping up with us. I would love a cup of coffee with you.

      Reply
  10. Laurel
    January 24, 2013

    Great thoughts.

    While I have "released" a LOT of Big Kids, it was totally different to release my Little Miss to a Residential Care Facility in another state. So different.

    With our 7 Big Kids . . . I was excited to tell people that they were off ministering around the world . . . in college across the country . . . in the military serving our country . . . getting married. But, with our Little Miss, even after 6 months it is hard to explain to people why she is not with us at this time. Even harder . . . only one person at church has even asked where she disappeared to. Seriously. She up and disappeared and no one noticed?!?! or cared enough to ask?!?! So sad.

    But, I know that I know that I know that she is in the RIGHT place at the RIGHT time, and that the LORD has chosen this path for her healing. We are doing what is RIGHT, although very HARD, in order to bring God's BEST for our precious daughter.

    Hugs & Prayers

    Laurel 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Yep, there is the shame factor – another whole topic to explore. It is very hard to explain. I had a weird conversation with our pharmacist about shipping meds to her and he kept asking questions. This is a painful process, to be sure.

      Reply
  11. Mary (Owlhaven)
    January 24, 2013

    I think part of it (pondering much shorter separations from my own kiddos) is that we as experienced mommas have an instinctive feel for when a kid is ready for each new step out into the world. When older kids have not yet completed a normal 'younger' developmental step, we instinctively want to keep them closer so that they can reach that milestone. In the case of kids with attachment issues, of course those milestones are emotional one, so it makes sense that you long to have her back with you, to complete that attachment work…. I'm glad that God has graciously given you confirmation that this is the right path for your family right now, even though it feels so hard, and at some moments 'wrong', I'm sure. Praying healing for your girl…
    Mary

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      So true, Mary. Our children are all so different and you're right that there is an instinctive knowledge of when they are ready to step a little bit further away. I'm praying that this time is going to bring us to a place where Dimples can attach to us. Thanks for praying for healing for her.

      Reply
  12. Hannah Jasmine
    January 24, 2013

    (((hugs))) Praying for you.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Thank you, Hannah.

      Reply
  13. Kate in NY
    January 24, 2013

    One thing I've been coming to grips with lately is that the entire process of adopting an older child is – in a way – unnatural. Older children are only available for adoption by way of loss, tragedy, trauma – it is inherent in their situation, no matter how much we may want them in our families. All children should be lovingly parented from day 1 – they should get to bond and attach and experience all those milestones with the same caregivers, year in and year out. That is the "natural" process you describe with your other children. But that doesn't happen with our older adopted kids – so there is no real "natural" progression to expect.

    I often have to remind myself, when I think "he's been home 6 years, it should not be so hard anymore," that there is no template for this kind of parenting. And that can be, for me, kind of a relief – takes the pressure off. Out of an unnatural situation, we are just doing the best we all can.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Yes, Kate, you are right on. Adoption is born of tragedy, and the natural process of attachment is completely interrupted. It's so much for some of our kids to overcome. We're all just doing the best we can – parents and kids. Thanks for sharing that.

      Reply
  14. Ann
    January 24, 2013

    Lisa, I keep thinking that it must be so hard to put into words the grief you are feeling–because it's unlike other kinds of grief. When I see happy pictures of Dimples I think of how you might especially feel that deep grief–maybe I am only transfering my own feelings of how I felt looking at pictures after our son died–regardless, I want you to know I continue to pray multiple times every day and I want you to know you are surrounded by people who care–and even more importantly, Dimples is surrounded by love and prayers. With all those prayers being lifted to heaven, I can only assume that God has a really good reason for waiting to heal Dimples–I'm waiting with you for His redemption, however long that takes! Sending support and love, Ann

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Ann, I sure wish I knew why God hasn't healed her yet – but I trust Him, I really do. You're right that it is so hard to put it into words and even to make sense of it. Thank you for your love and ongoing prayers.

      Reply
  15. Sadee
    January 24, 2013

    I am learning much from your journey. Thank you!! I'm so sorry for your pain. And I have so much hope of Jesus being near to you and Dimples. Thank you for living life open to joy and pain.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Thank you, Sadee. It helps me to know that other families are being helped by our experience. This simply cannot be for nothing – if I believed that, I would despair.

      Reply
  16. Dawn Wright
    January 24, 2013

    Definitely praying. Totally makes sense when you explain it that way. Must be so very hard.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      I'm glad it makes sense, Dawn. Writing forces me to process this and make sense of my feelings and thoughts.

      Reply
  17. Tisha
    January 24, 2013

    Speaking of exactly right, your explanation of this delicate situation was just that. You have such a beautiful, tender mother's heart. I am praying for you all, Lisa.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 24, 2013

      Thank you, Tisha. I so appreciate your friendship and can't wait to see you in CO in April.

      Reply
  18. Chantelle
    January 25, 2013

    I'm trying to learn from you how you accept your own feelings ("and I'm just fine with that"). Admiring you as always. 🙂 (((hug)))

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 25, 2013

      Thanks, Chantelle – the admiration is mutual.

      Reply
  19. Leslie
    January 25, 2013

    So hard and unnatural, yet just right for what she and you all need for this next stage of healing. Hugs.

    Reply

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