How to Find Hope When Everything Seems Hopeless

Today’s post is from my good friend, Mike Berry. Mike and his wife, Kristin are writers, speakers, parents, (very young) grandparents, and the creators of the blog, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. They have a thriving Facebook page, offer an online course, AND, Kristin has a new book coming out soon. I’m looking forward to spending time with Kristin when we both speak at Created for Care in January and February!

airplane window

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.

With a longing look, she says words that are still echoing in my mind- “How did I end up here?” She’s parenting a child who is distant and defiant. At the smallest notion, she blows up. It’s exhausting and defeating. I’ve seen the look in this precious mother’s eye more times than I can count. Heck, I’ve seen that look in the mirror staring back at me.

“I feel you sister,” I say to her as she shares her deepest pain. And boy do I. Lord knows, I wear the same scars on my heart, and in my mind, from the battles I’ve been locked in with some of my children over the years. I’ve been pushed farther than I ever thought I could be and lived to tell about it. I’ve survived some of the most desperate moments on the journey. I’ve asked the question, “How did I end up here?” a few (hundred) times. I’ve felt that lost feeling as I’ve taken a step back and surveyed our life. I’ve questioned if I’m a good father, or even a decent human being, when I’ve lost my cool with my kid. And most importantly, I’ve had many moments where I failed to see how any hope could come out of such a hopeless situation.

Feeling Hopeless.

 Have you ever been there? Ever felt this way? Ever been in a state of complete hopelessness? Ever felt lost or alone?

Ever wanted to throw in the towel, call the agency, your case manager, or even your kid’s birth parent, and say, “Yeah, I quit?” If so, you’re not alone. Me too. It’s okay, you can be honest here. Say it out loud if you need to. No one’s listening. And even if they are, they have no idea why you’re saying “Yes” to a computer screen, or nodding your head so hard it may come detached from your neck. 😉

Let me repeat myself…me too. Oh….my….goodness friend, me too! In fact, most days, I don’t even know what hope feels like. It’s easy to find yourself in this place on the foster and adoptive journey. I know you love your kids. I do too. I love them more than anything and nothing will change that. But the constant battle can take the life out of you.

How do you find hope in this? How do you lift your head one more time and believe in tomorrow? Here’s how….


   1    Understand that you are not alone. I don’t know what it is about camaraderie but it’s healing. To find other foster and adoptive parents on the journey who have the same wounds as you, the same fears, the same love in their hearts, and the same desperation, is….healing. As I listened to stories from many other adoptive parents (in New York…far from my small borough of Indiana), my problems didn’t go away. The issues my children face are still real. But, I feel hopeful when I meet others who are limping like I am.


   2    Believe that the sun still shines behind the clouds. Behind every dark and gloomy cloud, the sun is still shining. Do you realize that? Even in the middle of a massive storm, the sun is there. It’s just hard to see behind the clouds. But, it’s there. The picture I’ve used in this post is an actual picture I took a few years ago just after my plane took off from Denver International Airport. You can see the wing and engine of my plane in the bottom half of the picture. Just below the cloud line was one of the worst storms I’d ever experienced. It had left us delayed for more than 3 hours. I was frustrated. I felt hopeless. I even uttered words like, “I’m never getting home.” I know, ridiculous right? But once we took off and, moved above the clouds, I saw one of the most beautiful sunsets I’d ever seen. I pulled my phone out and took this picture. I was reminded that this sunset was there the entire time I was in the storm below…. delayed…. frustrated…hopeless. The sun still shines when all you can see are clouds and storms.

There Is Hope.

 Friends, this journey is hard. This journey is exhausting. If you’re anything like us, you entered with a full heart, passionate, ready to love children from hard places. But soon you discovered you were in an uphill climb. You weren’t prepared to handle the major attachment issues. You knew nothing about disorders like Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, food insecurities, or separation anxiety. You didn’t know about trauma informed care. I get it. That was us. Just a couple of years in, we hit a wall head on. It didn’t change the love we had for our kids, but it did thrust us into a major battle. One that still rages.

We’ve learned that hope exists in the middle of the battle. We’ve learned to see the light in the middle of the darkness. As people of faith, we believe that our Father in Heaven walks into the hell with us and holds us. We believe the sun still shines even when we’re surrounded by storms and dark clouds. Yes, there is hope. It’s found when you realize you’re not alone. It’s discovered when you understand and believe there’s a beautiful sunset just behind the raging storm.

I shared this with my new friend in Brooklyn. And before we parted ways I saw the light return to her. I saw hope. Sometimes you just need to be reminded that you’re not alone and the sun is still shining, even when you’re in a massive storm.

Special thanks to Mike for this wonderful post.

Friend, are you struggling to hold on to hope? Share your thoughts with us – we want to hear from you here or on my Facebook page.

Next time we meet, it will be 2017. Can you believe it?

Take a little time to reflect on 2016 and look ahead to 2017. I’ll be back Monday with some of my thoughts and plans, and I would love to hear yours.

Have a happy New Year!


kalkidan mom dad ahope

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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. Rachel
    January 1, 2017

    I’m watching and walking thru this with my daughter and my son-in-law. It’s gut wrenching at times. I point her to Jesus and His love for her and our love in the midst of the storms. To say it’s been rough is an understatement.

    It’s hard to watch my child and the agonizing pain she feels with her defiant and distant foster child.

    We love him so much….it hurts!! Love is sacrificial.

    If you know of any other ways her daddy and I can come along side her, please let us know.

    This article really helps. It doesn’t fix things, but is comforting to know we are not alone. Sometimes people downplay (believing they are caring for them)……but they really don’t understand simply because they have not walked through it.

    E don’t always u derby and either….

    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 1, 2017

      Your daughter and her family are so blessed to have you! Having family love you and support you through the challenges of caring for children from “hard places” is the greatest gift. Come alongside them in prayer and encouragement. If you live locally, give them regularly scheduled breaks they can look forward to. You might like my post: Eight Ways to Help a Struggling Family

  2. Wilma
    January 6, 2017

    Oh how I wish that we could have had the internet support when we adopted a 10 year old in 1983. Many was the time that I felt that I just could send him back. We did have support from our church, friends and family and we feel that we succeeded in loving him and helping him become an adult. He has a family, a wife and three daughters and is the hardest worker I think I’ve ever known. If we had had the support that is available today through blogs, I think our journey might have been easier. Thanks to all of you for sharing your experiences.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 9, 2017

      Wilma, we are so blessed to have the community we have online now, the world is smaller in so many ways. I can imagine the isolation you must have felt. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  3. Katie
    January 8, 2017

    This post REALLY resonated with me. I was nodding my head the whole time. I love listening to The Honestly Speaking podcast and love the practical yet heartfelt wisdom Mike and Kristen share there. Thank you for this. So much. I’m in a place right now with my adoptive daughter where I cannot see hope. But because I am a believer, I know there is always hope.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      January 9, 2017

      Thanks so much for the comment, Katie. Mike and Kristin are the best!


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