Making Sense of This at Age 7

Yesterday Eby asked our friend, Emily, if Dimples’ school is like jail. That broke my heart! I thought we had explained things pretty well; we’ve talked about the school, the cottage she lives in with other kids, the gym where she plays basketball, X-country ski trips, and more.

But when you’re seven and your sister goes away, it’s pretty hard to make sense of it. It’s challenging for all of us.

I emailed Dimples’ case manager this morning asking if she could take a few pictures of Dimples – one outside the cottage, one in her room, and maybe one in the living room with the shelves of games and books. I think he would find the photos reassuring. It really is a very nice, comfortable place.

Eventually we’ll take the children to visit, but it’s too early in Dimples’ treatment to consider it. The first step will be a Skype call with Dimples and her sisters, which I think we’ll do in the next couple of weeks.

Last night Sunshine gave me a hug, and Emily came behind her to hug both of us – making a sandwich hug. “Sandwich hug,” Emily chirped. I replied, “Or a s’more hug.” “And Sunshine is the marshmallow,” Emily quipped back. Without a thought, I said, “We need Dimples to be the chocolate for a real s’more.”

We were all quiet for a moment, and as we moved apart, Sunshine’s face looked sad and her eyes were just a tiny bit teary. I asked, “Did that make you feel sad?” She nodded. “That made me feel sad too,” I said as I pulled her close.

Honestly, it’s good that we have moments when we miss Dimples and feel sad. I find it hopeful for our family’s future.

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. sandra zimmerman
    March 28, 2013

    I love your last comment about how you have hope for your family because you miss Dimples. It can be so very hard to feel empathy while wading through the after math of trauma. I have this secret fear that we won't be able to love our child even after he is healed. Then we have a tender moment together and I catch a glimpse of the little boy hidden under all that pain and I lose another piece of my heart to him. God bless as you walk the path you were called to trod.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 28, 2013

      I'm so glad you wrote this, Sandra. I think your fear is common to most of us who parent very traumatized children – and you had the courage to say it. Sometimes it feels like my heart is numb, so when I feel sadness, it comes as a relief.

      Reply
      1. Jennifer
        March 28, 2013

        We've been struggling over similar feelings with one of our foster children. Thank you, thank you, thank you for these honest comments. A wave of relief crashed over me to know it isn't just us. May God be glorified in the loving of these children in the absence of typical mommy feelings.

        Reply
        1. Lisa Qualls
          March 28, 2013

          Jennifer, I hope you find support and honesty here. Thank you so much for leaving a comment.

          Reply
  2. Chantelle
    March 28, 2013

    The pics for your kids to see sounds like a great idea. I hope it brings comfort.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 28, 2013

      Me too, Chantelle, and I hope her case manager (who is great) has time to take them.

      Reply
  3. Emily
    March 28, 2013

    I would like your blog readers to know that the fact that I "chirped" was intentional. I was being Easter-y. Like an Easter chick!

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 28, 2013

      I worked on that word for awhile 🙂 Sang didn't seem quite right, but chirped did.

      Reply
  4. Lisa Qualls
    March 28, 2013

    Thank you, Laurel, for your kind comment. This is so complex for us to cope with as adults, it's no wonder it is confusing for our children. I got an email from Dimples' case manager and she is sending photos tomorrow.

    Reply
  5. Joelle
    March 29, 2013

    Lovin' all of you through these hard days. It must feel very mixed up to a little guy that "sad" is actually a sign of hope! God is doing great things and His love for those He calls to walk through very difficult places is immense.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 29, 2013

      So true, Joelle. It's hard to remember that the current separation is what is moving Dimples toward glorious healing. Have a wonderful Easter.

      Reply
  6. Gill
    March 29, 2013

    When I was 10ish, my parents sent my brother away to a residential treatment center. They never told me why, and were very secretive about the whole thing. We would visit him occasionally and he never seemed happy there, but I just missed him. As a teen visiting, I would cry and feel so depressed after leaving him there for hours. Now that I'm an adult, information about what happened prior to the center is coming out, it's not pretty, actually it's quite ugly, but I think had I been told honestly what had happened, and the decision explained to me, I would have understood what was going on a lot more. As it was, he lived there for a few years, and I was scared that they would send me there too if I was "bad" or acted up. I realize my parents were under a lot of stress at the time, and as a mom now, I can understand wanting to protect their other children, but I have to admit that the whole experience has left me, the child left behind, with some serious long lasting side effects.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      March 29, 2013

      I'm so glad you shared this, Gill. I agree that it is important to be honest with children and explain things as well as we can. Bee and I have talked several times about her fear of being sent away if she is "bad," yet she understands that Dimples needs help in a way that she doesn't. The children know that we've done our best to help Dimples heal, and now she needs more help than we can give her at home. That knowledge doesn't erase their fears or their feelings of loss over their sister being away, but I hope it helps them make sense of it. We'll be doing family therapy with Dimples and her therapist, which I think will help too. Thank you for taking the time to share your experience as a sibling.

      Reply
  7. Mamitaj
    March 31, 2013

    I'm so glad you are doing everything you can to help your other kids process this. You are a great mom, Lisa. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 1, 2013

      Thanks, friend, you are too.

      Reply

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