Replacing The Mom I Thought I Would Be With The Mom My Children Need

Replacing The Mom I Thought I Would Be With The Mom My Children Need…

This thought has raced through my mind this week.  I’ve sat on my bed, saddened, throwing my hands up in the air and thinking, “This is not what it’s supposed to feel like.  This is not normal.  I want to do normal things with my kids.  I want to be able to take them to a late night event without worrying about giving medication or some medication wearing off, or some crazy, impulsive act, or some reaction from an attempt to grow closer.”

Following several rough days in a row that accumulated into a punch to the chest by one of my children, my first reaction was to lash out (which I did not do).  My second reaction was to consider why the whole event happened in the first place.

Maybe, it is my child. 

Maybe, it is me.

Going backwards in my mind to before I chose to become a parent through adoption, I always believed I would be the kind of mom that embraced every single soft moment with my children.  I wanted so desperately to pass on the tender moments that my mother passed on to me; those moments that will always be cemented in my psyche and so treasured in my heart.

Yes, of course, I do treasure these moments that I have with my kiddos but honestly, the soft moments are not as common as the hard ones.  The mere fact I am even having to come to grips with losing my idea of what motherhood means, and replacing it with the kind of motherhood my children need, does not fall lightly on my heart.

Sometimes, I feel like anything but a mom, but instead, like a bit of a drill sergeant.  Even after all of these years, it doesn’t feel natural or good or anything like what I wanted or what I envisioned parenting would be like.

Don’t get me wrong, though.  My love for my children is fierce.  I know that children are not perfect.  Parents are not perfect.  I get it.  However, when one chooses to embrace the call to adopt children who come from difficult and hard places, it is no longer about perfection.  It cannot be.  To believe this is to believe a lie.

Forget the bubbly, rose-colored glasses, sweet moments.  Forget the tender moments you recall as a child with your mother.  Forget what you thought motherhood would be.

Instead, replace the mom you thought you would be with the mom your children need. 

To be honest, it is heart-breaking.   It is frustrating.  It completely consumes you.  To worry about behavioral issues, impulsiveness, attachment issues, developmental delays, poor self-esteem, aggressive tendencies, appointments with doctor after doctor, meetings at school, appointments with counselors, and medication management, the Mamma you thought you would be seems to disappear.

However, do you want to know what keeps me going?  It is the intrinsic belief that it is up to me to be the kind of mother my children need…to replace the mom I thought I would be with the mom my children need.  It is the belief that every single moment of my life leading up to the moment I became the mother of my children was not a mistake.  In many ways, all of those moments prepared me for it.

My children need me to be steadfast, an advocate, understanding of trauma and various other issues, gentle with adoption, humble when it comes to getting that I won’t truly understand it all, and never, ever giving up.  One of my favorite quotes about the adoption experience is this,

“Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the Gospel in my living room.” -Katie J. Davis

That is how I see it.

Redemptive.

Understanding that it is only by grace that any of us get up each day and keep moving forward.

Not throwing in the towel when it gets hard and it hurts.

Looking at your child and knowing how much he or she means to the Lord.

It will never be easy  – ever.  It will break your heart more times than you can count, but it is truly living out the message of the Gospel while also dwelling in the awareness of our own adoption story.

Adoption is a beautiful picture of redemption. It is the Gospel in my living room.” -Katie J. Davis

Replacing The Mom I Thought I Would Be With The Mom My Children Need…

Yes.  It’s a work-in-progress and I suspect it will be until they are all adults and beyond.  I am also a work-in-progress; a Mamma who is far from perfect but one who absolutely would lay down her life for her children.

One who is need of redemption on a daily basis.

One who gets that the best way to help her children is to heal herself and replace the fantasy of what she thought it would be like and replace it with the mamma who knows what it is to raise kiddos with extra needs.  

Yes.  I am saying good-bye to the Mom I thought I would be.

I am saying hello to the one my children need.

 

 

 

 

A Letter to My Daughter on Our Adoption Anniversary

Happy Adoption Anniversary, Sweetie!  It’s been eight years since we were declared your forever parents; the ones who would walk you through the rough times and celebrate with you in the good ones.

There has been some rough times, hasn’t there?  There has also been some incredible times.  I know this.  You do, too.

I watch you.  I see the way you watch my every move, as well.  There is great pressure raising a girl in this world; raising one who is strong enough to be fierce when it matters and soft enough to be empathetic when no one else will.  Well, I’m here to proclaim that you are both of these things.  You’re fierce when you need to be and you are soft when it is necessary.  (Although, Mommy wishes you were a little more soft with me…especially when our shared strong-wills clash.)

It’s different raising a daughter.  Not bad, just different.  Us girls are complicated.  We feel every ounce of emotion that enters our psyches.  We over think and overthink until our brains are just done.  We love big and we grieve big.  Often, we are our worse critics.

It’s because of this that I want to tell you to never underestimate yourself.  Allow those strong emotions to come but do so in a way that will always respect yourself and those in your life who matter.  Don’t stop grieving for the homeless and others who are in a bad place.  That kind of empathy may not be rewarded on this Earth, but I believe it will be in Heaven.

Stick to your guns.  Stand up for what you believe in.  Don’t shy away from expressing your opinion (even when it’s not how others think you should feel).  Don’t give yourself away; to a job, to men, to anyone.  It’s hard to get yourself back once you do.

You, by far, have challenged me more than your brothers.  However, you, by far, have taught me more about myself and about this parenting life.  You question everything.  I mean EVERYTHING.  Don’t stop doing that.

You leave me nearly exhausted each day but you also give me the gumption to get up at each new dawn and try harder.  This, sweetie.  This is what it is like to watch your heart dance and prance around in the form of a little girl.  This is both challenging and incredible all at the same time.

It’s been eight years since the Judge declared you to be our forever daughter; although you were always “ours” from the minute you were brought to our home.  I need you to know that I’m constantly thinking of you.  I’m constantly considering how I can make a positive impact in your life and how I can protect you from the harshness of this world.

Yes, it’s been eight years since the Judge declared you to be ours forever, but to me, time is sifting by at too quick of a pace.  If there is anything I can teach you, it is this.

What you are right now is not who you will be in the future.  You will grow and stretch and sometimes, it won’t feel good, but it will be good for you.  Life is neither easy or hard.  It is both at the same time.

There will be times when you feel less than the girl sitting next to you.  There will be other times when you feel that you can climb the highest of mountains with ease.  Both are relevant, but both are fleeting. 

No matter what, always remember that as much as we love you, you have a Heavenly Father who loves you more.  Our love will never compare to His.  While we are your parents, you belong to Him.  He knew you before we did.  He knew you when you were in your birth mother’s womb.  He was present when you were born.  (We were not and that is something that has always grieved my own heart.)  You are wanted and you are cherished by us and by the Lord.  Don’t ever forget that.

It’s been eight years since the Judge declared us as your forever parents; eight years of laughter and tears.  Eight years of talking-back and saying “I’m sorry”.  I literally cannot imagine my life without you.  These years seem to have come and gone so fast.

Eight years from now…well…I don’t even want to think about that, yet.

Happy Adoption Anniversary, Sweetie.

We love you.

We always have.

We always will.

Eightisgreat

 

Could YOU adopt a teen?

The is a great need for families to foster and adopt older youth.  It is a constant challenge that those of us in child welfare deal with.  During various recruitment events and other types of meetings, we often speak about how long too many kiddos, age 12+, are lingering in the system.  The challenge is to get people to understand that older youth in the system are just as “adoptable” as young children.

I get it.  My husband and I fostered infants.  This was our desire.  There’s nothing wrong with it.  It still fulfills a need.  However, as we get older and as our children age, IF we were to ever foster again or adopt, we would absolutely consider older youth.

Could YOU adopt a teen?  Maybe so.  Here’s an article I wrote for Adoption.com regarding this very subject.  Click this link to read more:  Could YOU adopt a teen?

Blessings,

Caroline

Teens Need Families, No Matter What

Hi there!  November is almost over with and Christmas is on its way, but we still have a few days left for National Adoption Awareness Month.  This year’s theme is “Teens Need Families, No Matter What”.  It is such an important theme and speaks of the reality of older youth in the system who are waiting for their permanent families.

To learn more, click this link for an article I wrote about this subject:  Teens Need Families, No Matter What

Wishing you all well!

Blessings,

Caroline

Foster Kids Are Not Unwanted Kids {Adoption.com Article}

Foster Care Awareness month has come and gone but the need for a better understanding of the foster care system, and the children in it, never goes away. There are lots of misperceptions and myths circling around about kids in the foster care system; troubled, unwanted.

While some kids in the system struggle with emotional and behavioral issues (given the impact of trauma on a developing child), it is extremely rare to find a foster child that is not wanted by someone. Here’s the link to an article I wrote about this subject:  Foster Kids are not Unwanted Kids

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject!

Blessings,

Caroline

Why We Don’t Celebrate Adoption Anniversaries as “Gotcha Day”

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Adoption anniversaries are widely known as “Gotcha Day”; however, my husband and I made a decision very early on in our foster care and adoption journey to not use this term when celebrating our adoption anniversaries.

Before I go any further, I do want to say that I don’t judge others who use the term “Gotcha Day”.  Not at all.  Every adoptive family is unique and chooses to celebrate or not celebrate their adoption days in their own way.  For our children’s life experiences and the reasons they came into our lives, the notion of “gotcha” has never settled right on our hearts.

According to the Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary, the word gotcha means an unexpected usually disconcerting challenge, revelation, or catch; also:  an attempt to embarrass, expose or disgrace someone (such as a politician) with a gotcha.  Think about the times we have played a joke on people and then said, “Gotcha!”  While this word is often used with fun, the actual meaning is more serious.

“Gotcha Day” is very popular and commonly used by a lot of adoptive families.  It has also sparked debates both within and outside of the adoption community regarding the insensitivity of it and the overall meaning.  I don’t want to get into the societal views of this but I would like to explain why we have chosen not to use this phrase.

From the very start of each our children’s lives after birth, there was heartbreak and loss.  Our children were not able to live with their biological parents and it was not by choice.  Our children’s biological parents did not make a plan for adoption.  They did not set out to find a family for their babies, nor did they expect to lose them.  It is true that two of our birth mothers made the decision to voluntarily terminate their rights but we know that this decision was desperately saddening and very difficult.  To be completely correct, while they voluntarily signed, there really was not a lot of choice in the matter.

Circumstances of life led them down the path that they were forced to walk on and that path included a life without their children.  This is not a cause for celebration nor is it something to take lightly or in fun.  This is why we don’t say “Gotcha!” when referring to our children’s adoptions, nor do we say, “Happy Gotcha Day!” to others who are celebrating.

We acknowledge the anniversaries of our adoptions with a cake, a balloon and by calling it “First Name, Last Name Day”.  For example, mine would be called “Caroline Bailey Day”.  We want our children to know that the day we adopted them is so very meaningful and that they are a gift in our lives.  Honestly, each of our adoption days has been the most joyful ones in our lives, yet, my husband and I also recognize that as the years pass and we witness the unfolding of these little human’s lives, their biological parents do not get to experience this.

It’s in this recognition that joy and sadness sit side-by-side.

Having been a part of the adoption community both professionally and personally, I have witnessed so many precious moments of families whose lives have been touched by adoption.  It has been an incredible privilege to play just a small part in this.  I have also sat with biological mothers who were deeply troubled and trying to navigate life within the decision to make a plan for adoption or trying to mend the reasons their children entered into foster care.  Folks, there is nothing more humbling than this.

To listen to a grieving mother who is acknowledging that she wants to do what is best and safest for her soon-to-be-born baby or choosing to essentially give up and let her child stay with his or her foster parents or be placed in an adoptive home is by far, one of the hardest things I have ever had to do in child welfare work.  While the children may be able to grow up in a safer home or with parents who can provide more opportunities in life, these biological mothers will live with this loss for the rest of their lives, and their children will as well.

Our own children’s biological mothers live with loss.  Even though we’ve tried to soften the blow a little bit and answer as many questions as we can with our children, my husband and I know that we will never replace who their biological parents are or what life would have been like for them to grow up in within their immediate family of origin.

Recognizing all of this and saying “gotcha” when it comes to adoption just doesn’t sit well in my soul.  

It never has.

I suspect it never will.

 

 

 

 

 

Four “AHA” Moments That Changed My Adoption Path {Adoption.com article}

I was recently tasked with the job of writing an article for Adoption.com regarding “AHA” moments that changed my adoption path.  For the article, I chose to focus on four moments that changed my perspective of the path to adoption.  These moments are ones that have stuck with me long after the Judge’s gavel fell and adoption was declared.

To read the article, click on this link:  Four “AHA” Moments

I would love to hear about your “AHA” moments!

Blessings,

Caroline

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives {Adoption.Com article}

I recently wrote an article about one family’s story of their adoption from Ethiopia for the website Adoption.Com.  As I was writing the story, I was moved to tears from the imagery of the words of the mother.

“When we picked up our kids at the orphanage, I remember pulling into the compound, the taxi pulling in through the locked gate, then kids flooding out of the house, running toward our car. There were probably 40 children there, climbing on us, saying “Mommy” and “Daddy.”

Surely, there is more that we can do as a world full of beating hearts and stable homes.  Whether they come from Ethiopia, China, or are in the United States Foster Care system, there is no excuse for children growing up in this world without a family.

Consider what you can do.  Get inspired.  Do something.

You can read the article by clicking on the link below:

International Adoption: Changing Hearts, Changing Lives

What Adoption Means: Obedience

“What Adoption Means” Post #7-

This message came to me from someone who felt the calling of foster care and adoption at an early age, and then as an adult, chose to be obedient to His calling for her life.  Her life is truly blessed because of it!

“I have been processing this concept for a few days of what adoption has truly meant for me. The one word that immediately brought to my mind was OBEDIENCE! At a very early age, the concept of foster care was brought to my attention through a research paper I was writing my junior year of high school. I began to study and learn about children in the foster care system and knew the Lord would somehow make this happen when the time was right.

Several years passed, graduating from college, starting my career, marriage and then it happened. I was driving along a street, and read a sign that said Foster/Adoption Information Meeting. I went home and spoke with my husband about the desire in my heart to foster/adopt. We were in agreement and went to our first meeting on a cold January night. I had peace in my heart after the meeting was finished.

The journey began with classes, and eventually the license came. The Lord blessed me, and has fulfilled my life with two children. We provided respite services for our little guy when he was one-month-old, and then he was permanently placed at six-months-old in our home. My little girl was just five days old when I brought her home from the hospital. Our adoption anniversary of two years for both children just happened in November.  Since then, we have added one of my children’s siblings to my home, and the State Children’s Division is in the process of termination of parental rights.

One word – obedience – has brought three little blessings in my heart. God entrusted me to raise them, teach them about Jesus, and to ensure they know where they came. They were not an accident, and me driving down that road one January evening was not an accident either.

When we obey God, He will bless us.  It’s as simple as that, and we never know when those blessings will happen.”