No Longer Just Surviving

[Disclaimer: I wrote this post in the early morning quiet, before any of my children woke up.  I nearly didn’t post it after a particular child came downstairs, complained bitterly about everything, threw herself around the kitchen doing a poor job on her chore, fussed about the available food for lunch, and basically soured the morning for everyone.  Then I thought, “Well, at least I felt hopeful and happy for a little while this morning!” Sometimes we have to dig deep to find hope and happiness]

It is early Tuesday morning, Valentine’s Day.  I came downstairs at 5:30 to finish making a blueberry coffee cake that I want to have ready when the older boys start rolling into the kitchen.  The coffee is made. A small pot of chai tea is brewing. On the counter sits a basket filled with bags of little treats for the kids.

As I was oh-so-quietly working in the kitchen (so as not to wake any young children), I was struck by the thought that we are no longer just surviving. It feels as if we are really living again.  For over four years, we simply survived.  Our lives revolved around the constant struggles and striving toward healing.  Here we are at four years and nine months since Dimples joined our family, and we are finding some balance.

That is not to say that life is easy.  There are daily challenges, regular appointments, and the need for a team of people who care for Dimples and provide respite for us.  Russ and I use therapeutic techniques we’ve learned and have nearly daily discussions about how we handled something – and what might have worked better. We work especially hard to “give voice” to our other children.

But, there is a little more room to breathe than there has been these past years.  Perhaps because we are getting better at recognizing our limitations and accepting the need for the changes we’ve made.  Dimples has also made great strides toward healing and self-regulation.  How quickly we forget to be thankful for progress!

Even as I write this, I know that we have a four-day school break coming up and my stomach hurts when I think of it.  Try as I might, I can’t always stay ahead of each and every day that I need to plan for Dimples.  It could be a complete disaster, but hopefully there will be friends to play with, places to go, and the days will pass by without huge problems.

For those of you who are still in survival mode, hold on.  It may take much longer than you want it to, but press on, pray, get professional help, recruit a team of friends to hold you up, get respite, and take care of yourself.

Happy Valentine’s Day, friends.  I hope you have lots of love in your life today, and most of all, I hope you know the love of Jesus, who loves you with an everlasting love.

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Lisa

This post may contain Amazon Affiliate links. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

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. Hannah Tucker
    February 14, 2012

    So thankful for the moments when progress is obvious! The moments when it's actually easy to see that Love is not bigger than the ocean we feel we're drowning in, it IS the ocean we're drowning in! God's grace be on you this beautiful morning!

    Reply
  2. sleepyknitter
    February 14, 2012

    I understand that sinking feeling at the thought of a four-day school break — because of one child. It is overwhelming how one young child can change an entire family. We are still in survival mode. Hang in there! Love your blog! I read every post.

    Reply
  3. Pam
    February 14, 2012

    Thank you Lisa. We are still in survival mode. I pray one day…we will get to thriving instead of surviving. 🙁

    Reply
  4. Tammy
    February 14, 2012

    I smiled as I read your post. So many times, I have thought – Oh…, we're living normally. We are no longer dealing with "something". Only to have a hard day emerge as soon as I thought it. Just yesterday, when I dropped my son off at school, I was thinking about how he rarely negates everything anymore – and that life is comfortable – (at the moment). It's funny, because as soon I think about such things, I become afraid that I might have just jinxed it. But…, (and dare I say it…), he started to go into meltdown phase when he realized we couldn't go somewhere that he had hoped we would go. But…, just moments later he regulated himself, and a battle was averted.
    So.., you're post indeed made me smile. Thank you so much for sharing. It always helps me remember that our process is just that a bonding process.

    Reply
  5. Kim
    February 14, 2012

    Thanks for sharing your moment of hope. Happy Love Day to you and your family!

    Reply
  6. Shonni
    February 14, 2012

    Thank you for sharing this. We are “surviving” right now. I know it will take time, and we are learning to love as the LORD loves us!

    Reply
  7. Courtney
    February 14, 2012

    this is encouraging to me as we hold on tight!

    Reply
  8. Fiona
    February 14, 2012

    Thank you so much for this reminder today! Needed it after last night when I nearly crashed the car as my daughter grabbed the steering wheel while I drove, and pummeled me so much I have bruises today 🙁 I love her so much but it is very hard to keep going some days.

    Reply
    1. Lisa Qualls
      February 14, 2012

      Fiona, you probably already know this, and are probably doing it, but just in case, I want to encourage you to get serious professional help. Children who seriously harm others or themselves need help. I am not a professional, only another mom, but if that were to happen again, you might want to turn around and drive to the nearest emergency room. This is the difficult stuff that is very hard to write about, but I want you to know that you are not alone.

      Reply
      1. Cindy Blair
        February 18, 2012

        Lisa, do you really think the people in the emergency room would be of help for this type of situation? My town hospital emergency room would not be, plus charge me alot of money for basically nothing. What do you think they would do for her? I'm trying to wrap my brain around this reply, really not wanting to debate you.

        Reply
      2. Fiona
        February 27, 2012

        Thanks Lisa. We are actually still trying to work out exactly what to do and where to seek help. She has been diagnosed with Central Precocious Puberty and we are waiting for insurance clearance for hormone therapy. She is only agressively physical during a certain week of her cycle. She is 8, and emotionally about 5, but physically her body is functioning like an adult woman's. She has only been with us for 1.5 years and definitely has significant baggage. I am trying to wait for the hormone therapy to see how much is left afterwards behaviourally. We have good weeks and then the dreaded one and you are right it is very hard to talk about and even share openly. Really appreciate your support and knowing that I'm not alone.

        Reply
  9. Julie
    February 14, 2012

    Bless you. I feel the same way. And just when I speak out about being encouraged…WHAM! Praying with you and for you for the healing of our kids.

    Reply
  10. Jeannette
    February 14, 2012

    Thank you for talking about the reality AND hope, both are encouraging.
    I have a question that maybe you and your other readers can help with. We still feel like our child (officially 4yrs, more like 6/7 yrs, home for 2 yrs now) DOES NOT desire to change. We try to encourage evidences of change, talking about what he used to not be able to do, and looking at what he can do now (as well as lots of other techniques.) But it feels like really he would be rather content if we just didn't try at all, and that is perhaps the most discouraging part. Is this common or do your children see "the life more abundant" and desire that even if they get hung up sometimes?

    Reply
    1. Laurel
      February 14, 2012

      Jeannette … our 10 year old daughter (actually 12 or 13) has been home from Ghana for 4 years. She shows no desire to change … no desire to bond with any of the family. She doesn't see life as "the life more abundant". Oh. My. No. She has absolutely no appreciation for all that she has, but would rather tell us, "I hate all of you." "I don't need you."

      It is TOUGH … but we keep on loving her and praying for her.

      Lisa … definitely still in survival mode, but so thankful that Little Miss is now in school.

      Reply
  11. Mary
    February 14, 2012

    Whenever I have a thought like, "I relish the tone of my home in this moment and all cylinders are clicking," I normally just have to wait a minute for the other shoe to drop. But you are right and this is good encouragement–we relish our moments, breath in those happy ones and bear up those hard ones. To everything there is a season . . . Last Tuesday my nephew underwent surgery to have a tumor removed from his chest and I got an email that our foster son's file was transferred to the adoption unit! And I thought–only our God can encompass both of those extremes, without slighting the one to exalt the other. Gospel people can really mourn and rejoice at the same time. That really convinces me on days when I doubt what my life is all about.
    I have learned on your blog a little more about being able to be happy with a candle when everything else is yuck, or let a warm cup of coffee nurture me even when I know I have to face a caseworker later that day. I used to want to say all or nothing. And you sure help all of us abandon that silly idea!

    Reply
  12. Melissa P
    February 15, 2012

    Wow. This is so important for me to hear. The timing of what you write about speaks to my husband and I more than you'll know. I NEVER could have comprehended (pre-adoption of an older child) that we'd be in survival mode for more than a few months to a year. As we head toward two years (and still have folks bringing us meals, helping me in hysterics, feeling isolated, etc.), we are still taking life one day at a time. It is both humbling and quite frankly, shocking. In fact, I am STILL shocked by my daughter's behaviors/issues at times. You'd think I'd be used to it. But, its unpredictability and atypical-ness still floors me and my emotions. It is so good to read that you all are somewhat "back to normal." I wait for the day. And, in the meantime, we'll keep going to therapy, praying, getting other professional help, going on dates, asking for respite, meeting with other parents who are in this with us, etc. Thank you, thank you, thank you. We will keep trucking along.

    Reply
    1. holly
      February 18, 2012

      Lisa, Melissa, and everyone else,
      Thanks for your honesty. We are almost at 3 years, and I still shake my head some days, in amazement at just how hard it is. The moment I start to celebrate, I am quickly reminded of just how broken my son is, and how difficult our days are. One moment he wants to be reminded of love, the next moment he is destroying something. I feel like I can do an hour well, but on days that he's home all day, I'm a wreck by noon. I continue to trust that God will provide each of us with his supernatural strength, as I've experienced so many times in the past. It is hard though, and I really never imagined it would still be this hard.
      Thanks for your encouragement, it's a gift.

      Reply
  13. Paula
    February 16, 2012

    What a beautiful picture of your daughter! Like you, we're in and out of survival, but most days we're living. I remember a time I couldn't even say we had a good half-day! God is faithful and HE will supply all our needs — and our kids' needs too.

    Reply
  14. rebekah
    February 19, 2012

    For some reason this post is really stopping me in my tracks. I'm trying to figure out why. You know I've read your words for a few years now and have sent friends to here and always been eternally grateful for your information, your strength and your honesty. And I've been selfish about it, because now I feel this heaviness in my heart for your last 4 years and 9 months. During that time, I've brought home and integrated two children into our family with your help and that of others and yes, I have helped others too with what I know, it's the wonderful community we all circled around in, but my heart has only dealt with that work under my own roof.

    Not sure what I'm trying to say. We are now mostly clear of the hardest work and what we do is really just fine tuning. We convene for daily parenting check ins too, still and I guess I don't see an end to that. But even our hardest work hasn't been nearly what many need to do.

    I love that you are beyond just surviving. At the same time, there's something about this post that speaks of the pain and difficulty, too.

    Reply
  15. Holly
    May 17, 2012

    It is so encouraging to hear others talk about 'survival mode'! Thought that was just in our house! I am mom to 4 domestically adopted kids. They have been with us for 3 years and many days are still just hard to get through. So thankful I found this blog. Prayers and hugs to all of you as we journey together.

    Reply

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