The Weight of What We Don't Know

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Last week I finally completed a pile of paperwork necessary for an evaluation for one of my children. The thick packet sat on my desk for over a month. Each time I pulled it out, held the color-coded pages in my hands, and thought about putting words to my thoughts, I couldn’t do it. From week to week, I moved this task to my new “to-do” list.

On Thursday I took the packet to a coffee shop and began to write. More than two hours later I found myself completing the last page. It didn’t take as long as I thought it would, but only for this reason, I simply left pages blank. Why would I do that? Why wouldn’t I want to give these professionals every detail I possibly could in order to help my child?

Because we have no answers.

Family history – none. Prenatal care – none. Details of child’s birth – none.  First words, motor development, feeding challenges – we have no idea.

Then there were the pages I could fill in – and those were even more heartbreaking. I sat in the coffee shop tears filling my eyes.

Many of you have had moments just like this, I know.

Lord have mercy – we need you, the Great Healer, in our children’s lives. You alone can do what needs to be done in the deep recesses of our children’s brains and hearts.Let us be instruments of your love. Give us willing hearts to persevere and a deep sense of hope, not hope that we muster up of our own will, but hope from you. Amen.

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. Cindy Mc
    January 20, 2014

    Amen.

    Reply
  2. Deborah
    January 20, 2014

    Do you ever have days where you just can't breathe? When the weight of parenting trauma kids is so overwhelming you feel like you are caught in a rip-tide and being dragged out to your merciless smothering death? Do you have days when you are so thankful that a child is away (fill in your own solution – Montana, rehoming, etc) because you know the chaos is less with him/her gone – but then you look around and see the wreakage that was left in his/her wake and wonder how you could have let it go sooooo long and get soooooo bad before you took action……. and then feel overwhelming guilt for both being thankful he/she is gone, and the damage you realize you allowed to your other children. Do you ever look back over your life and say "if I had known then what I know now I never would have….." and then end up suffocated again by the guilt that you even feel that way – because the truth is that the trauma kid didn't ask for me either….. he/she just wanted to go back "home" to their "real mom" anyway. I am having that day today – I have had that day so many days that it IS more of them than it isn't…… thank you for letting me voice my truth.

    Reply
    1. Bev
      January 20, 2014

      I've had those days too. They are so so hard. It's important to have a place to voice your truth.

      Reply
  3. Jennifer P
    January 20, 2014

    The "I don't know(s)" are the hardest. Or even the "Not yet(s)" when asked about drug allergies, food allergies, etc. Heartbreaking is true. I try to consider it an honor and a privilege to be allowed to grieve the lost answers for and with my children. But it still hurts. Thank you for pointing us to His hope. I like what you said about mustering our of our own will which often comes easier but isn't necessarily better.

    Reply
  4. Kylee
    January 20, 2014

    This journey can be so hard, sometimes. I've been reading and re-reading the Kubler-Ross quote you shared here awhile ago. I woke up in my little college house this morning to an email from my mom, talking about the challenges with my 12-year-old brother, who was adopted into our family. We're looking at the real possibility of moving him to a place where he can find healing and security and that is so scary. We were always that "model" family…4 kids, homeschooled, adopted 4 more. As our family identity has been shaken these past few years, I've had to recognize that my Lord truly IS enough, even when it doesn't feel that way. I feel like I've failed my baby brother as a big sister, and don't want to lose that last piece of the SWEET, fun, silly boy we are hanging onto. I appreciate you sharing vulnerably in this space. I share your articles with my mom when I can…it's good to know we're not alone, in the joys OR the sorrows of adoption. Praying for the Lord to comfort your heart in whatever way is needed today.

    Reply
    1. Deborah
      January 29, 2014

      Sometimes rehoming is the right choice for everyone – including the child being rehomed. Sometimes God's plan is for your family to get him/her "this far" and it is someone else's plan to take them the rest of the way. It is the dirty little secret of adoption – and THAT is the shameful part. But sometimes – sometimes – sometimes…….. the fresh start is EXACTLY what the child needs to succeed!

      Reply
  5. Emily B
    January 20, 2014

    I'm right there with you, Lisa. Because my kids were born in the U.S. I have their hospital birth records. But that's it. They never saw a doctor again until they came into foster care. I know bits and pieces from what my oldest girl has been able to pull out of her foggy memories (she came into care at age 6). But the memories she has are not good. The horrors they experienced will never be fully known. All I know is that they were not given what they needed as little tiny ones, and my hubby and I are left trying to pull things together the best we can. My girls cry over our lack of photos from their early years. They ask me what funny things they did or said as toddlers, even though they know I don't know. They ask if our coming baby will look like them when they were babies. It breaks my heart. I am thankful to at least know their birth weights and Apgar scores. I can tell them they were beautiful babies because they are beautiful girls now. I can tell them that I know they said and did adorable things, and that I wish I had been there to take the photos and write in the journals. And we keep detailed journals now, to show them just how important they are to me. My heart aches for you and your children–an ache I'm all too familiar with.

    Reply
  6. MommaFoster
    January 20, 2014

    Amen. Praying for a peaceful, hope-filled day for you.

    Reply
  7. Bev
    January 20, 2014

    I've been there filling out long histories with not enough information for help that may or may not help, and looking back I can't think of anything that we could have done to anticipate any better what would help and what would not. The mantra has to continue to be "be faithful in this moment". That is the only thing you can do. In a way, it's a relief. Just be faithful…to God, to your tears, to your children…

    Just a note of encouragement though. We haven't received this from all of our children from hard places, but this week we got a note from one of them. I want to preface the note with the acknowledgement that this child had out of home placements, had tons of therapy, and still ended up running from home at 16 and finding his own families since then. I did countless things wrong. I lost my temper many times and was judgmental instead of empathetic and got too tired to be the mom I wanted to be so many times. I've spent so many tears and sleepless nights and grief at my own fallenness on this amazing child. This week this note was a gift.

    Here are some excerpts of what he wrote: "Mom, Dad, you guys where the first greatest thing to happen to me…. I want this to happen, I want us to happen…Now I dream about being the kid, the one you can brag about, instead of ask for prayers of guidance,… But it's all with time. It's not quick, it's not easy, but i really am trying to balance my life out, and get more of me out (as in 'be who I really am instead of acting out of my pain–my [Bev's] explanation). Basically I love you guys, and I'm so lucky to have landed with you guys. I might not have as much quantities of love as some people, but the love I do have is stronger, you guys don't love me cause I'm your kid biologically, you love me because you choose to, despite it's hardships you kept though, and I think that make a it all that much better, so thank you"

    Reply
  8. Emily
    January 20, 2014

    Praying with you this morning, friend. I love you so much.

    Reply
  9. Luann Yarrow Doman
    January 20, 2014

    Will you please make your blogs into a book? When we bring our sweet Ethiopian princess home someday, I am going to need your wisdom and guidance and experience at my fingertips. Pleaseeeee?

    Reply
  10. Beth Templeton
    January 20, 2014

    I just want to add my AMEN to that prayer. Let it be Lord God for each or these precious ones you have entrusted us with. Our trust is in You Father.

    Reply
  11. Sarah
    January 20, 2014

    Beautiful prayer, beautifully written. Thank you!

    Reply
  12. Chris
    January 20, 2014

    its just as painful writing a 2 yr post placement report, and seeing very little has been gained, and in fact, lots lost over thelast year. and then reading my blogs from the anticipation and trip journals, to what we began to experience after 6 months home-OH MY!!!!
    somedays, I am sure God mad a huge mistake in making me the mother of 4 with cognitive issues, and trauma pasts, and who knows what else!!!!

    Reply
  13. RoseofSharon
    January 20, 2014

    I'd like to offer a slightly different perspective.

    I've adopted three kids from state foster care. All have huge blanks in their histories.

    This doesn't bother me much, because I have huge blanks in my history too. I was never adopted, but I should have been removed from my mother, who struggled with alcoholism and mental illness. My memories before age 5 are either hazy or downright painful. Outside a birth certificate, I have no records. No doctor visits, no dental care…nothing. A few years ago I ordered my school records, curious what I would find. I discovered I entered school at age 5 (I remember that) and at age 7 I weighed less than forty pounds. Nowadays my clear neglect (I was nearly bald from untreated ringworm) would have warranted a call to CPS. At the time, nada.

    But you know what? I don't need documentation to tell me what I survived and what I can accomplish. It is not documentation that matters. It is the growth in our hearts. I have put a lot of work into growing, so who cares about records?

    I remind myself all the time, people can and have survived terrible challenges: civil wars, holocausts, slavery, racism. We can both recognize traumas AND recognize our vast, wondrous human ability to thrive and overcome. This attitude has helped me immensely with my own kids, who are today thriving and happy.

    So…let yourself mourn what could have been, and let yourself see it is not a prison that will keep your child trapped, but a room she can learn from, and move on. Hope that makes sense. I love your blog and read it all the time. You are an amazing mom!

    Reply
  14. Keisha
    January 21, 2014

    AMEN!

    Reply

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