Their Pain, Not Mine

I woke early this morning and quietly crept out of bed, trying not to wake Russ.  The morning was cool, and the light was gentle.  In two hours it will be hot and the sun will shine harshly — I’m not into suffering, so I prefer to run early.  Without Russ, I can run as slowly as I like, which goes along with not liking to suffer.

As I was running, my mind drifted to a post I wrote recently about Restorative Sabbatical.  I wrote,

I’m going to be honest here; we have had three long hard years.  Life is getting better, there is no doubt…

I thought of my children and my heart was heavy.  These three years have not only been hard for us, they have been equally, or possibly even harder, for them.  While our lives have been turned upside down, it cannot compare to the changes they have faced. They have given up their:

      country

      culture

      language

      home (even if it was an orphanage, it was home)

      friends (some who were like sisters and brothers since they were together for many years)

      and the life they imagined.

I do not doubt that this is the life God has for them; He places the lonely in families.  But we cannot ignore their losses.  We must not ignore them.  It is essential that Russ and I acknowledge our children’s grief, fear, loneliness, and anger.  We must join with them in their suffering.

Even their healing comes at a cost to them.  Letting go of the old ways of relating to people, the ways that made them feel safe, is terrifying.  Learning to trust that we:

      won’t hurt them,

      will provide for them,

      will keep them safe,

      will love them,

      will never leave them,

      is hard, gut-wrenching, wrestling-with-your-soul work.

Lest anybody (including me) think that Russ and I have made all of the sacrifices, we must always keep before us just what our children are struggling to embrace.

May we never give up, never lose hope, and always believe in the transforming and healing power of our loving God.  And may we do it gently, with our children’s hearts held tenderly in our hands.

~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.

22 Comments

  1. coffeemom
    July 14, 2010

    ou're such a a great mama. I wish we were neighbors…I think I've said that before. Sigh. Great post, and reminders, as always! M

    Reply
  2. Julie
    July 14, 2010

    Amen, Lisa.

    Reply
  3. Tova
    July 14, 2010

    Thank you for this post. So often people focus on the sacrifices we have made for our daughter (adopted at 2 from Liberia) and forget that she has lost and sacrificed more than we could ever imagine. When someone pointed out that if I had gone through what she had lost, I would be Post Traumatic, it really opened my eyes as to her behaviors. It gave me the needed compassion, insight and motivation to parent her the best I could for her situation. There are still hard days, but to see how happy, settled and joyful she is most of the time makes me so grateful.

    Reply
  4. Paula
    July 14, 2010

    I feel like I have to remind people frequently that my Ethiopian adopted children don't necessarily feel "lucky". They had to lose everything they knew to come to us. Nice post.

    Reply
    1. Kasey
      February 9, 2012

      Well said, Paula. I hate when people say, "He is so lucky! He must be so grateful!" He is the bravest little boy I know.

      Reply
  5. bonnie
    July 14, 2010

    Yes – I was pondering this just the other night – I should complain less and be way more compassionate my kids are so very brave to face everything they have faced.

    Reply
  6. carla
    July 14, 2010

    This is so true. It's hard not to get so consumed in my suffering and sacrifice that I forget what our adopted children are going through. It's difficult to find balance for our family, to make sure everybody is getting what they need emotionally and physically. To try to make sure everybody feels equally loved, I don't think this is really possible though. I find that what compassion I do have comes from realizing the loss they are suffering, how their worlds were turned upside down. We will be sending the oldest who is seven to school next month and believe this will be good for all of us, including and especially her. She is attending a summer day camp right now and she thrives in this group environment. I have also found that I can breathe again and when I pick her up, I an actually relaxed and enjoy my whole family a lot more. I don't think I have taken more than a dozen deep breaths in the past year and a half since we brought them home, anxiety I guess. I have had to move out of my box of thinking home school was the only way for our family, but God doesn't live in a box and we have to seek His best plan at this point for everybody involved. It has been difficult to step out of the box where it is comfortable and familiar, but I am learning more and more that when we seek Him with OPEN MINDS and wait for His answer and direction, it will be the best and there will be peace. Sorry, didn't mean to write a book!

    Reply
  7. Laurel
    July 14, 2010

    Great thoughts! Thanks for sharing!

    Hope you have a wonderful rest of the week, with friends & family & all the wedding "stuff".

    Laurel 🙂

    Reply
  8. Anita
    July 14, 2010

    So true…I just talked about this yesterday with a girlfriend of mine. I was totally amazed that our little boy trusted us to take him on an airplane away from everything he knew. His reaction…total awe at the airplane, escalators, etc. But, how brave is that for a 5 year old boy to just go with us? He is truly the most amazing human being I've met so far in my life!

    Lurking Reader,
    Anita

    Reply
    1. God-Given Passions
      July 14, 2010

      So true, Anita! I guess that I hadn't thought of it from that perspective. How much courage our children have. They certainly are amazing!

      Audrey

      Reply
  9. Shannon
    July 14, 2010

    You rock. This is so tender and beautiful

    Reply
  10. Jillian
    July 14, 2010

    Amen.

    Reply
  11. Mama Bear @ Bear. Believe. Hope. Endure.
    July 14, 2010

    I, too, live this kind of situation, and the self-reminders to err on the side of compassion can't come often enough! This morning, I was reading Psalm 86, how "you, Lord, are gentle and mild: you are kind to all those who call on you." If God can be kind to me in all my weaknesses, the least I can do is try to model His gentleness to my children…even when (and especially when!) it's tough.
    Thank you for your blog. I've been reading for a while, but this is the first time I've poked my head out of lurkerdom. =)

    Reply
  12. April
    July 14, 2010

    Amazingly tender and heartfelt post, Lisa. I often have to remind myself that what I have experienced does not compare to what my daughter has and it is great perspective for those days when I think – oh man, are we really making progress??

    Reply
  13. Giann
    July 14, 2010

    Nicely said…..thanks for sharing!

    Reply
  14. M. Ann
    July 14, 2010

    Lisa, Thank you for honestly and openly sharing what adoption has looked like in your family. I'm new to your site and have gleaned a lot to ponder as we are in the beginning stages of our own journey. In His love, M. Ann

    Reply
  15. [email protected]
    July 14, 2010

    Priceless! Thanks.

    Reply
  16. God-Given Passions
    July 14, 2010

    Great reminder Lisa. Compassion is name of the game around here – when I'm wearing my big-girl pants I remember that our little guy has given up so much more that I. My 'sacrifices' really look an awful lot like blessings when my perspective is in order 🙂

    Reply
  17. learningpatience
    July 14, 2010

    I say this sort of thing to people all the time when they ask about our adjustment – it is SO hard on the kids. I do appreciate your willingness to share your struggles and the ways that you have learned to overcome, to parent better, to find rest, and to rely on the Lord! It is good to see both sides of the story!

    Reply
  18. melodie
    July 17, 2010

    I have just started early morning runs due to our new Florida heat. They do give me time to reflect alone before the day begins. Who know huh? Thank you, as always, for honest, thought convicting posts. Best wishes to you and your family today celebrating your daughter's wedding!

    Reply
  19. Kim Hull
    July 18, 2010

    Lisa, thank you so much for sharing , and for writing the very words that are in my heart. So happy for your beautiful daughter, and I pray blessings over her marriage.

    Reply
  20. AmyAJ
    July 26, 2010

    I'll print this one and hold onto it.

    Reply

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