It's a Crying Shame

It’s A Crying Shame Part 2 | Part 3

A little over a month ago, I wrote a post that I never imagined would be written.  I fretted, cringed and cried as I thought about what I needed to say. I felt shame that we needed to take Dimples to a residential therapeutic program.

I worried about what you would think of me and questioned whether I should just shut my blog down and walk away. After all I had studied and shared about therapeutic parenting, I had failed at it with my daughter. Nothing we did was enough to bring healing to her.

I spoke about shame in my talk at Refresh and shared some things I’ve learned from Brene’ Brown, a research professor from Texas.  She says that shame speaks to who we believe we are and is expressed in phrases like:

I am never good enough

Who do I think I am?

I am not who I thought I was.

The last phrase speaks to me.  Parenting a very traumatized child made me question who I believed myself to be as a mother.  It shook me to my core, and honestly, I’m still working through it.

Brown says that shame needs three things to grow: secrecy, silence, and judgement.

How many of us keep silent about our struggles and isolate ourselves in order to keep it a secret?  Our homes can become prisons rather than a warm and welcoming place to be embraced in safety and security.

Do you ever feel judged in your struggle to parent your children from hard places?  My guess is that most of us do at times.  Our kids just don’t act like other people’s children.  The deficits of their early years seep out in their behavior and it’s tough not to be embarrassed at times.

Brown says that there is an antidote to shame – and it is so beautiful that I want to share it with you.  Shame cannot survive when it is doused with empathy. When we say “Me too,” we extend empathy.

 I’m writing to you today saying, “Me too.”

Let’s reject secrecy and silence, let’s love and not judge one another, and let’s extend grace and kindness to one another on this incredibly rewarding and challenging journey.

I have more to say about shame and some scriptures to share tomorrow.

Question:  Do you experience shame as you mother your children from “hard places.”  Have you experienced healing empathy from somebody?

I would love to hear from you, friends.  Let’s say “Me too” to one another.

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.

53 Comments

  1. DebiB
    February 13, 2013

    Yes, I have felt much shame over having a daughter from a 'hard place'. I feel like one of the biggest things I had to let go of was our family name. We have two older bio boys and the teachers at school were always raving about them. The people at church loved them. My family thought they were great. They weren't perfect, but they were a blessing to others. Then along comes our little Spunky girl, broken, hurting, and a whole lotta work. All of a sudden, she's not a blessing, people don't like her, she doesn't get invited places, people look at us like we must just be spoiling her when she doesn't obey or throws a huge fit, the teachers wonder what we are doing or who we are as parents. Sigh….

    I have felt so misunderstood and wanted to run and hide. Quite honestly, the main thing that has helped is having others in the adoption world who are honest and vulnerable and 'get it'…..like you. It gives me hope and courage to be honest and to move forward. Thank you….again!

    Reply
  2. Angela
    February 13, 2013

    Yes. It is only through the power of the atonement of Jesus Christ and time that I have found peace with the mistakes made while we parented two children in foster care that were from very hard places.

    Reply
  3. kristen
    February 13, 2013

    not just hard place children. yesterday i lost my patience with one of my bio kids while we were out. someone i really respect overheard me and i feel so much shame. parenting is hard, and i am forever telling myself i am not good enough. my kids deserve better. thanks for your honesty and starting the conversations.

    Reply
  4. Sue
    February 13, 2013

    This made me tear up with relief. Wow. Talk about judgment- my 7 year old from Kazakhstan had a two year old tantrum coming home from his horseback therapeutic riding class. He was screaming and refused to get out of the car in our driveway and my own dad was there, who thinks I am doing nothing and my son is just a spoiled brat. Been there, will be there again soon.

    Reply
  5. Coffee mom
    February 13, 2013

    Oh yeah. Me too. Again and again.

    Reply
  6. Chantelle
    February 13, 2013

    Me too. I definitely feel shame – so much of the time – over what feels like my inability to be what my daughter needs in a mother. Especially when I lay down at night. Shame hovers and presses in. Guilt, worry, fear about the future. I watch other theraputic moms and so wish I could be half as empathetic, compassionate and caring towards my children who struggle as they seem to be towards theirs – but often I feel mostly sadness and regret and worry that my child will never heal as a result. Your honesty has helped me immeasurably. (((((((hug)))))))

    Reply
  7. sandra
    February 13, 2013

    I struggle with this very thing almost daily. Quite honestly when I read your blog I yearn to be like you. I admire the way you relate to Dimples. I have not yet come to that place in my relationship with my son. Thanks for being brave and writing this post.. I can say, me too from the bottom of my heart. God Bless! Sandra

    Reply
  8. Jen
    February 13, 2013

    Most definitely struggle with shame because many people in the world love to think they can do things better than I do them. Sometimes I almost want them to step into my shoes to see how hard it is and how hurtful their comments can be to those of us struggling to live in the "new normal" for our lives. Sometimes we just have to get to the store to buy bread or vegetables. It can be hard when one child is tempted by everything sweet and has no power over his inner drive to HAVE THAT COOKIE. Our sweet daughter is stressed by crowds and changes in routine and her response to that stress is not pretty and can be hurtful to others. We spend a lot of our time isolated because it is hard to keep everyone feeling safe. I so appreciate your blog and your honest sharing of the struggles because it is nice to know that I am not the only one walking on this pathway.

    Reply
  9. Deborah
    February 13, 2013

    ME TOO ME TOO ME TOO!!!!!
    We are coming up on a year since we took our daughter to long-term respite with another family. I still feel deeply ashamed that I never really felt a love for her that I should have. I feel overwhelming guilt that I don't miss her and the drama/trauma/chaos she brought to the house. I feel inferior and like a fraud, because we took this adoption journey believing we were pretty good parents with something to share – and obviously I just wasn't as good a mom as I thought I was.
    ME TOO Lisa – ME TOO!!
    Thanks so much for your raw honesty – that lets us all cry and heal with you. I cannot imagine if you shut down your blog……. please don't.

    Reply
    1. Mom-2-6
      February 13, 2013

      Yes!!! This is ME TOO! My son is still in our home and I absolutely hate the turmoil he causes in our lives. We are seeing an attachment therapist and I see little hope. He is now 15 and I look forward to the day when he is no longer in my home. I feel sad saying that. I hate feeling this way. We cannot afford residential treatment. (He has told us if we send him away, he'll just be worse.) He is proud that no one can control him. There are sooo many days when I feel shame and doubt. I wonder "Why did I ever think I had anything to offer to a child?" So sad…..

      Reply
    2. Chantelle
      February 14, 2013

      (((hug)))

      Reply
  10. jen a
    February 13, 2013

    love this post lisa and i love brene brown….she is great! i can give you a resounding 'me too'
    the looks when we are out an one of my special needs boys is having troubles are so hard to handle. take a look at the picture my friend posted on my wall. its wonderful 🙂

    Reply
  11. Gloria Griffis
    February 13, 2013

    Lisa, I have admiration for you all giving homes to these children who have such great needs. No one really knows ahead of time what will be packaged in a person and what will be required to help them develop into enough wholeness to fulfill their destiny in Christ to their generation. Parenting, like so many other callings from the Lord, is best accomplished by hearing his voice and following him for each situation. Sometimes that will involve residential therapeutic care.
    The whole family is impacted by each child and their behavior. The Lord designated rest on a weekly basis because we have need of it. Rest while you have this season.
    The whole family will be better able to help when your absent child returns home if you have embraced the season of rest from this particular challenge.
    When I've seen you at church I've so wanted to come up and hug you and say, "You're doing a good and godly job of raising these children. You seek out whatever resource is available for their good. And you walk with them no matter what comes their way. I
    so admire your efforts."
    The Lord bless you and keep you. The Lord guide you each day. And know, that those who have walked this walk know your pain, your hope, and your challenge.

    Reply
  12. Tama Covert
    February 13, 2013

    Oh Lisa!
    ME TOO!!!!! I have been there. I adopted two older girls from the war torn country of Liberia, West Africa. While one was more complacent and willing to follow the social order of our family, the other was not. In fact, we got to where we had our younger ones sleeping with us and hid all the knives in the house. Talk about not feeling in control of your own household. We thought we could love her enough, share Christ with her, gain our strength from the Lord and endure most anything through His wisdom….after all, He was clear on our pursuit of this adoption. We disrupted the older child. That sounds easy and flippant. But I assure you those words come with a great deal of pain, humiliation and the deepest since of failure I have ever known.

    Reply
  13. Tama Covert
    February 13, 2013

    continued…
    I have to say that those who couldn't say "Me too!" were the most hurtful in time of need. Judgment from others when your hanging on by a thread is devastating. Like you I, I am still working through it. It has been six years, but isn't it just like the enemy, when we start to feel victorious in our pursuit of God that he reminds us of our failures?
    Now I am parenting two teens. Wow, that comes with it's own set of inadequacies in parenting. But He is my sustainer and lifter of my soul!

    Reply
  14. Jodi
    February 13, 2013

    Do I experience shame?? Do goats stink? (I'm pretty sure they do…) I have felt like a failure so many times with both my bio and adopted kids. Sometimes it's because I made a grievous error… sometimes it's because they did and I feel like they wouldn't have done that had I been doing my job right. Sometimes it's that one of my children appears to be rejecting all the beliefs I hold dear and I am ashamed at my inability to show them the truth. Sometimes it's that I had a bad day with a child (any one of them, really) and the idea of bringing in another one scares me — and then I'm ashamed of that, too. Then, there's a part of me that feels guilty for asking my husband to adopt again at all because it appears to me that the children are more MY passion and his wishes lie elsewhere (even though he tells me he's in — he's totally on board — he'll do what he needs to do, etc…) Gosh, I really sound like a case, don't I?

    Reply
  15. Joy
    February 13, 2013

    Yes!!! My five year old adopted son (home for two years) randomly asked me yesterday if we were going to unadopt him. It stopped me in my tracks. I don't even know how he knows that word. I could feel the shame coming over me. Maybe if I were a more loving parent, my son would not be so fearful. When a sweet friend of mine found out, she stopped and offered a heartfelt prayer for my children right in the middle of our grammar class. She empathized with me and it was a powerful unforgettable moment for me.

    Reply
  16. maggie k
    February 13, 2013

    So interesting to read this post because my one constant reaction whenever one of my kiddos behaves badly – at home or in public – is that it is my fault. So maybe I would label it guilt rather than shame but I think that the feelings are very close. If I were just a better mom, more understanding, anticipated that the (fill in the blank situation) would be hard and trigger a response, etc, etc., then the meltdown, tears, kicking, etc would not have happened. I could somehow have prevented it all. That I should have some kind of super power to keep them happy and safe all the time. It sounds silly when I write it down but that is the core response that I feel when things go sideways/messy. I don't really have any examples about receiving empathy from others – probably because in the midst of a situation I am feeling totally stressed, guilty, inward directed and embarrased if it is a public meltdown. I may have missed people sending me sympathetic smiles because I was too focused on me and my kids. I'd like to think that is true that people were sympathetic but I just missed it in my self absorbed moment. I don't know.

    Reply
  17. linedancergal
    February 13, 2013

    My 12 year old son is autistic. Believe me I know what it's like to feel judged! On the outside he looks 'normal' but his behaviour is anything but! I used to get embarrassed by his behaviour quite often, but I think I've gotten used to it! I suppose I struggle sometimes, but mostly my only concern nowadays is that nothing is said that will hurt him. People assume he can't understand but it's amazing what he takes in. He doesn't know how to be mean or unkind and he can't conceive of anyone else acting that way either.
    It's more obvious that he is different now that he's taller than me. When he was a little kid he just looked naughty. I often felt exhausted and wished I could be a better Mum. Some things we learn from experience. We don't know them until we've had the experience though lol.
    I think most of us tend to be critical of ourselves. We often expect more of ourselves than we would of other people! If this was your friends having similar issues with their daughter, you wouldn't be ashamed of them, you'd think what amazing people to love their child so much when it's so hard. You'd probably admire their strength to let someone else take over for a while. It's just a matter of whose eyes you look through.

    Reply
  18. Aleisha
    February 13, 2013

    Shame can be felt by parents of the well behaved child as well. I recently (2 months ago) became a first time foster to adopt mom of newborn boy. Despite being born prematurely and being drug exposed-he is developing normally and thriving. That said, I am still fighting anxiety within myself. How can I feel anxiety when God has blessed me with someone that so many parents are waiting for. I feel shame that my anxiety over the situation sometimes outweighs my vision of the blessing.

    Reply
  19. Louise
    February 13, 2013

    I have experienced shame because I, too, feel that I'm not who I thought I was. It's a rare find to meet someone willing to offer you grace and empathy with these kids from hard places. What I find is that it's usually someone who has walked this road who is most empathetic. Those are the relationships I run to when my tank is running dry. I'm here to say, "Me, too." Thank you for your transparency. I'm able to process more of what we're going through based upon your willingness to share. And your "me, too" makes me realize I don't have to hide in shame. I'm not alone.

    Reply
  20. Leslie
    February 13, 2013

    Me too. Our parenting struggles may look different at times, but I am frequently disappointed in myself and my reactions. You're not alone. We're not alone. Lots of love to you.

    Reply
  21. Acceptance with Joy
    February 13, 2013

    SO not alone. Such a blessing to know that. An awesome post. Please keep writing.

    Reply
  22. Tricia
    February 13, 2013

    I went through that all of last year when my oldest son through marriage (making him my "step" but I hate that word and I was the only mom in his life since she abandoned him as a toddler). He had experienced a lot of shame from this abandonment and went through a season of rebellion, left home to live with kids he had just met going from place to place, living with drug dealers, roaming the streets… all in the small city where we go to church, shop, have most of our friends. We were so embarrassed, felt like complete failures as parents, were bitter, angry, frustrated, depressed, confused… and more. People would call to tell us where they had seen him, what he was doing. I dreaded and would feel physically sick driving around that city, always wondering where we'd see him, trying to find him. We felt judged and condemned by some and because my husband is an elder, the pressure felt that much stronger.
    It was the worst year of our life of raising children and yet was the biggest year of spiritual growth we have ever experienced and. One that caused us to cling on to God and each other with all our might. It totally challenged my trust in God with my children, it exposed deep pride that I had and didn't realize… I really had believed that if you did X,Y, Z that you would end up with children who loved the Lord, made wise choices, etc.. .. essentially thinking it was all MY doing. Yikes! I was in for a big surprise! God, in His love and goodness, connected us with others who had gone through the pain of prodigal children and we were encouraged and exhorted. I have become MUCH more graceful and merciful with others. My relationships are much closer as I've been forced, through my son's actions, to be more real and vulnerable with my own imperfections and with our children struggles. Wow, is that freeing!! I know it's prepared me for the 8 year old twin girls we adopted a year ago… to not personalize the behaviors that they will and do exhibit and to trust GOD with them instead of even the best therapeutic parenting that I can give them. I'm so thankful that you've continued blogging.. such an encouragement and realness to it!

    Reply
  23. Nathan
    February 13, 2013

    …I might know a thing or two about feeling shame. Secrecy, silence, and judgment are also no strangers to me, either.

    Empathy is indeed a powerful tool, though.

    Reply
  24. Tricia
    February 13, 2013

    Me too….I love BB's book Daring Greatly. REading through it once and plan to read through it again more slowly. Shame stinks. Thanks for the post and look forward to more on this topic.

    Reply
  25. Brenda T
    February 13, 2013

    I grieve probably every day the fact that we have to do things "differently" for my daughter; that I am always on guard; that all the other girls her age are starting their first sleepovers and we could never dream of doing that; on and on and on. Me too, friend. Me too.

    Reply
  26. Tiana
    February 13, 2013

    ME TOO. Can I just say, I am in tears right now, but not of shame. Just happiness, that so many other Moms GET IT and dare to admit it. I am praying for every one of us. Wouldn't it be wonderful if we all lived on the same street?!

    Reply
    1. Chantelle
      February 14, 2013

      I'd move to that street tomorrow if it existed! 🙂

      Reply
  27. Emily
    February 13, 2013

    Lisa, this is an epic post.
    I love you!

    Reply
  28. Stacy
    February 13, 2013

    Oh my goodness. You just described me! I brought home a 14 year old a year and a half ago and I STRUGGLE!! Thank you so much for writing this!!!! Love your heart and love reading and learning from you. Blessings to you!

    Reply
  29. Scooping it Up
    February 13, 2013

    Me too. You continue to lift and teach, even amid your struggles, thank you. We have a house guest right now, a sweet mom from Ethiopia. I know she has been confused about one of my little Ethiopians behavior which is PTSD/sensory driven. There is a lot of crying /freak ou/t raging and she seems confused about why the crying is so constant. it has been humbling having a witness who doesn't understand here. I have found myself embarrassed. Trying to let it go, show love, and not worry what anyone thinks.

    Reply
  30. Mrs_B
    February 13, 2013

    Me too!

    Lisa, your blog over the past many months, your vulnerability and honesty and wrestling with faith yet holding on has given me much encouragement to continue to move where God calls us. I feel the desire and ache to minister to other adoptive parents (many in my church and community) mostly out of the silent pain that our family has been through as a result of our child from a hard place.

    Your words today reminded me of parts of a lyric from a Fernando Oretago song:

    I am small

    And self-conscious

    Every mirror

    Reflects the grain

    Judge my essence

    By my kinships

    Remember me

    Not my shame

    Don’t we all want to believe that God will take all our shame and bring about something beautiful for His Glory though He promises that the refining of our faith must come through suffering. I say this yet am currently wrestling to believe it is true. Many times with my child, I have felt empty and dried up with nothing else to give. I feel misunderstood by others and especially family. I feel lonely.

    Me too.

    Reply
  31. Paula
    February 13, 2013

    Even reading these comments, I hear myself thinking "but those moms probably have much bigger challenges than mine; they deserve a break. " Unlike myself. It's really hard to let go of guilt and shame.

    Reply
    1. Chantelle
      February 14, 2013

      I do that too Paula! Me too!

      Reply
  32. Mamma Sass
    February 13, 2013

    Thank you for this post. How great the shame there is. We have 2 children – both adopted from Ghana, we have no other children, and have only been parents for 4 years. In 6 mos. Our oldest has been in and out of of an acute psychiatric hospital 2 times (for 4-6 wks each time) in six months. Just yesterday, he was transferred to a longterm RTC. We are devastated. My husband works in Social Work Therapy, I have studied it, and yet between us, our skills, and local therapies, we have not been able to help our dear son. He is such a wonderful boy, but his past trauma has overwhelmed him, and we don't know how to help him. We have felt such shame and guilt that we have been able to do very little in helping our son heal. We know God is watching over him. We chose not to make this decision for a few years, just hoping we could do enough. I can't beleive it has come to this. It is so raw right now – for all of us. We are praying that the RTC will be a place where he can recieve more than we could give. Thank you for this post – I needed to hear, we are not the only ones feeling such shame.

    Reply
  33. Ellen
    February 14, 2013

    It is truly "harder than hard" to parent a traumatized child. What hurts me most is when people question our adoption and thus devalue our child. What that says to me is "they are not worth it…" That pain resonates deeply within me and reminds me of some of the pain traumatized kids experience every day. No matter what path God uses to bring about healing, it is always His work – not mine.
    But, God always reminds me that He alone brings healing and my job is to follow Him and point to the Savior. It's so much easier and freeing! It's all grace.

    Reply
  34. Cheryl
    February 14, 2013

    Me too. With tears spilling over. Not only in parenting one of my adopted children but also in parenting my oldest bio daughter. Who at age 20 'ran away' to another state to be near a boy she thought she could save from his mental illness. Who now at age 26 is undergoing testing to see if she herself has a mental illness diagnosis. Despite being open with family, friends, church and school we are alienated and lonely. The friends we had at church and school before we adopted know we struggle yet don't want to hear the nitty gritty of what we deal with day in and day out. If we do share the struggles they don't know what to say. Numerous therapists for both our bio and adopted children has helped us as parents. Reaching out to those going through adoption related behaviors is easier than finding those struggling with their older bio kids. OK, now I am crying hard and have to stop writing.

    Reply
  35. sarah
    February 14, 2013

    i am obviously not alone in my gratefulness for this post! thank you. it's in my top five favorites. God bless.

    Reply
  36. Jamey
    February 14, 2013

    There's a Rich Mullins song called Promenade and it has a line in it that says, "but the silence that you keep is the silence that kills". I think it's so applicable to these lives we live with children from hard places.

    Reply
  37. jtmabpark
    February 14, 2013

    We do foster care and we accepted a child with RAD that has been exposed to a lot of sibling abuse. We took in her younger sibling over the holidays, HOPING that when they go up for adoption, it could be possible for them to go together. There are other siblings that have to be adopted alone due to the harm they have already caused. After they got comfortable they began displaying these behaviors again and it was so heartbreaking to realize that even they can not be adopted together. We had the older one first but when the younger one came to live with us he told me that he was going to stay with us forever! He was improving everywhere, in school & in behavior AND he was bonding so much with my whole family. After the 2nd call by us to CPT due to him offending on his sister or our other foster child we were forced to have him moved. When he was interviewed by CPT he alleged my own son touched him, yet it was the same scenario of what really happened with his bio-brother. It was so sad the day he had to leave. Talk about having to chose between bio-kids and foster kids. Ripped my heart in 2 because his words played over and over in my head. "Mom I love you and I want to stay here forever." UGH! So many people at his school do not understand and are not happy with us. I guess we do not understand how much we are a people pleaser until those who once supported you, turn on you! Snide comments about stability and normalcy are like daggers to the heart of a mom that so desperately wants to help this boy heal yet I do not get to. Would of, Could of, and Should of have the ability to take over my focus and destroy our ministry. However, there is safety in obedience. We are not responsible for the results of that obedience when it involves the free will of others. So I now have a new position in this child's life. I pray, advocate and give him lots of love when I see him at his visits with the siblings and mom. No longer am I in 'control' (like I was ever in control) of his daily stability and this hurts. The day he left I had the song running in my head Blessed be the name of the Lord……. Specifically "He gives and takes away but my heart will chose to say Blessed be the name." If you had asked me 2 weeks ago what my life would look like today I would have given you a very different idea as well. Yet now I get to sing another song called "Trust and Obey for there is no other way, to be happy in Jesus…….. but to trust and obey" 🙂

    Reply
  38. Jennifer
    February 14, 2013

    Lisa, thank you for your words, they come to me at a hard time and I can't thank you enough for your transparency. I am so thankful you did not shut your blog down. I am new to it and just brought a 3 year old home from foster care in December, placed with us for adoption. What a hard difficult journey so far and we are learning a lot.

    Reply
  39. Karen Peck
    February 14, 2013

    I recently had an email conversation with another mom with an adopted kiddo from a hard place. I had shared some of my feelings with her and she was SO grateful that I had said those feelings outloud because while she was feeling them about her son, she had only expressed them to her husband, not to anyone else. And so she now knows, she is NOT alone. And neither am I!

    Reply
  40. Tamara
    February 14, 2013

    Lisa, Thank you for your honesty, When I read your blog it was like looking into a mirror. We too have had to make the hard decision to put our Daughter in a residential treatment center. She came to live with us at the age of 6 along with her bio twin brothers. We adopted all three two years later, fast forward 8 years. We have had several ups and downs. This last year she has gotten increasingly more angry and aggressive towards her brothers that it became a safety issue to keep her in our home. Every night when she calls and begs to come home we feel like we have somehow failed her. God is close to the broken hearted and I cling to the fact that he knows me more intimately then any other and he knows my heart. Thank you for sharing all of you! unless you come from this place people really have no idea what we go through.

    Reply
  41. urbanservant
    February 15, 2013

    Me too….and still working through the shame and reorganization of life as it needs to be in order to be healthy.

    Reply
  42. SleepyKnitter
    February 15, 2013

    Yes, me, too. I feel deep shame for the situation with our formerly oldest daughter not working out. We hadn’t wanted to adopt a teenager or even to adopt anyone older than our oldest daughter, K, who was three at the time that we began the adoption of our eight-year-old, A, and then suddenly we were adopting a 13-year-old, AC, in an emergency situation. That wasn’t what we wanted to do at all. But once we decided it was what we needed to do, what we thought God made it clear HE wanted us to do, we wanted the relationship to work and threw ourselves into it! But it didn’t work. She hated us, frightened our children, and turned our home into a prison, not deliberately — she was a broken, frightened, angry child with no framework for understanding family life — but just the same, AC’s anger turned our home into a prison for all of us, a place we didn’t want to be and that it was painfully clear she didn’t want to be. So by God’s mercy we found her a wonderful, nearly perfect second family where she is blossoming and doing so very well. But I felt shame from the noticeable lack of support from several different people who did translation work for us with our then 13-year-old. They clearly believed something negative about the way we handled the situation or responded to our daughter or I don’t know what–they have no idea how traumatized WE were, as their own adoptions had gone far more smoothly. And I still struggle with a deep sense of shame over how everything turned out in general, still worry about how our former daughter will view our family as she grows up in this very connected, digital age — she has already falsely accused us of wrong-doing–she doesn’t have any way to understand how hard we tried for her, how enormous the sacrifices were that we made on her behalf, and we don’t expect her to understand, but it still hurts deeply that she believes we wronged her when we were trying so very hard to help her, at the cost of the emotional well-being of the rest of the family, our marriage, our reputation, et cetera. And we did love her, or at least I did. I loved her, I wanted the relationship to work, I tried so hard. But it didn’t work, and there are people out there who weren’t in our home and just don’t understand that but still judge us for the way we responded, and she judges us. It hurts, and it embarrasses me on a deep level, even though I know at a gut-instinct level that finding her another family was the best solution for both her and for us. She is doing so much better without us, and we are doing so much better without her. What an awful, heart-breaking thing to say.

    With our other three treasures as well, I have experienced shame, shame that I am not a stronger, emotionally healthier mother, shame when relatives just don’t understand our children’s issues, shame in front of elementary school teachers who see me not able to fully meet my children’s needs (even financially), shame even that we adopted our now nine-year-old who was very happy in her foster family and didn’t really want to be adopted. Shame for many, many things. There is much about adoptive parenting that never entered my imagination six years ago before we started adopting, back when I still thought we would have a bio family someday.

    I can’t say that there is really one person who has helped me deal with the shame aspects of adoptive parenting. Like so many adoptive parents, I have avoidant attachment issues myself and don’t really have that “one person” to whom I can tell anything. Rather, it has been blogs like yours that have helped me heal. I read adoption blogs almost every night after the kids go to bed, and it has been the “true confessions” of other adoptive moms that has brought me some level of peace with all the struggles.

    In spite of all the struggles, though, I love my three (four!) children with all my heart and am grateful they are in my life. May God bless them richly through us, in spite of us.

    Anyway, sorry to write a book! Just such a relevant topic — so much more could be said by just about any of us, I’m guessing.

    Reply
  43. allison
    February 15, 2013

    I usually feel like "a lurker" here. While our son is from a hard place, prenatally, we've had him since he was 4 days old. But he had traumas before that. that I should be able to just "suck it up" & deal w/ him because he can't be that bad…. In light of so many of your journeys & children, I often feel like I should not have to complain or it can't be that bad for us compared to some of your stories. In a way, I guess it isn't. That said, I've had to own how much "control" I thought we would have by adopting from birth vs older. Wrestling with his rageful temper tantrums & meltdowns for the past 2 1/2 yrs, since he was 1 3/4, and how at 4 1/2 now, he can easily go into a 2 y.o. tantrum. Having not been a parent before, we've heard SO MUCH criticism from our family & friends who think he's spoiled, we're not disciplining him enough, he has us completely wrapped around our finger, he doesn't respect his elders, etc, etc. but the feelings & experiences are the same, so I hope you don't mind me "lurking.". 🙂

    Reply
    1. Pam
      February 16, 2013

      Just because your child came to you early doesn't negate the fact that he IS a child from a hard place. Nobody here is going to deny that fact. Read about prenatal trauma. It is woven into their very being. Your experience is just as valid as mine…my son came to me as an older infant. Behaviors sound exactly the same. The journey to how we all came to parent and love our children matters little…what matters is that parenting this kind of behavior constantly is HARD. Extremely hard. You don't need to qualify or belittle your journey to your child. You have EVERY right to have your feelings validated, just like the rest of us do. There isn't a single one of us able to just "suck it up". This is hard. Every day. Hugs. Hang in there.

      Reply
  44. Kohana
    February 16, 2013

    I'm with you. I wrote about this last week. http://growingfamily.typepad.com/growing_family/2

    I love coming here to feel that I am not alone. In my day-to-day life I don't know anyone else parenting a child that has experienced early trauma and neglect. Finding others working through the challenges, even from across the internet, helps me feel like I am not alone. Thank you.

    Reply
  45. karrie
    February 17, 2013

    I just got around to reading this and will say ME TOO!!!!

    Reply
  46. allison
    February 17, 2013

    Thanks so much for your support, Pam!!!! Most days now I realize that the impact & behaviors are the same. And I am in awe of so many of you who deal with multiple adopted children!!! Thanks again! 🙂

    Reply
  47. michelle
    February 20, 2013

    Yep. Been living in the Dominican Republic with our family for over 2 months now (with at least 2 more to go!) adopting our two new children, both 2 years old. It's our 3rd and 4th adoption. Not new to this stuff. Yet failing miserably at being a mother to my new daughter. Very lonely. Thanks for your honesty for me.

    Reply
  48. brianandracheldavis
    July 16, 2014

    Posting a "me too" right now on my own blog. Thank you. http://breezysunday.com/blog/2014/07/16/humble-pi

    Reply

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