Sunday, June 3, 2012

Commit To Claim

"Claiming"  as defined by Jojo, our 14 year old daughter (adopted 2 years ago from a disruption)-

"When a parent says in their heart that this kid is MINE no matter what, it makes the ground stop shaking under the kids' feet so they can feel safe again"

In all my attempts to define what it means to "claim", I could never describe it better than that.  "When a parent says in their heart that this kid is MINE no matter what..." Thats exactly it!
'Claiming' is heart work...hard work...but definitely HEART work!
Constantly choosing to believe that the Almighty, Sovereign God designed before the beginning of the world that this child would be placed in your family.  That no matter what happens He will provide everything you need to deal with it.
Psalm 37:23-24 has comforted me through some of our most trying times with our children.  It says, "The steps of a man are established by the Lord; and He delights in his way. When he falls, he shall not be hurled headlong; because the Lord is the One who holds his hand"
I love that verse because it reminds me that the Lord is the one that led us to this place and that even when we are tired and stumble on the way, we will never be 'hurled headlong' because He is still holding on to our hands.  Think of it, what can overwhelm us if the God of all creation is holding our hand??
Let me just take a moment and remind you, adoption is messy!  We are inviting a child that has at least, a broken heart and at most, a scarred, traumatized, bruised and beaten soul, to share our lives with us.  What part of that seems like an easy task?  If we allow ourselves to fully comprehend what we are asking of them (and ourselves) we wouldn't wonder why we are all so stressed!
Truly, the only way that we can hope to navigate the garbage that is strewn along our path in this journey, is by determining that WE are the ones that God has asked to walk this very path with these very people at this very time! That is 'claiming'.
'Claiming' is choosing to accept all that this child is, all they came from, all their hurts, joys and hopes, all their wonderful qualities, all their ugliness, all the history that played a part in who they have become, all they will become and all they will fail to accomplish, and COMBINE it with who your family is to make a new family.
Did you hear that??  This is an extremely important point, so let me say it one more time, in a little different way...
'Claiming' means that whatever defined your family will now be different because you have invited a new person to be a part of it.  Adoption is not the same as birth.  When you give birth to a child, you are bringing another one of YOU into the family.  With adoption, you are bringing an entirely different element into the picture that changes everything.  It re-defines you.
Picture for a moment, what your family looked like before...what did you do together, what did you stand for, what was important/unimportant to you, what was the flavor, color, smell, essence of your family?  Now picture your new child...what was their life like before they came to you...their history, culture, family, what was important/unimportant, the look, feel, design and definition of who they are?  This doesn't just go away when they become a part of your family.
When a child comes into your family with a set of ideas and experiences that have defined their perspective on life and themselves, as wonderful as your family may be, simply being a part of a new family will not miraculously transform them into another one of 'you'.  If it was that simple, if love alone or a family alone, could do that mighty work, then it belittles their experiences (good and bad) and the person God has made them to be, or what their history was allowed to do in their hearts.
Change is painful, difficult work and I dont know many people that actually like it.  Adoption will, and should, shake the family tree to the roots.  Everyone will have to shift and adjust to find their new place.  For some, this is an easier process than others, probably a combination of the personality of the family and that of the new child.  As the family members feel the roots shaking and the image of what they knew before begin to take on a new look, it can create a lot of insecurity.  Its more important than ever to hold onto the belief ('claim") that this child was predestined before the beginning of time to be in this place at this time.  And to speak words that reflect that belief, to your family members and even to yourself!
When you 'claim' this new family member with resolve and determination then, as Jojo said, "...the ground stops shaking under the kids' feet so they feel safe again." When the ground stops shaking and they begin to feel safe, they begin to trust and hope again.

Saturday, January 14, 2012

holding it all together..or not!

Reading one of my favorite books of all time, "The Christians Secret To A Happy Life" by Hannah Whitall Smith. 
I thought I would share a quote that touches me every time I read it...

The greatest burden we have to carry in life is self. The most difficult thing we have to manage is self. Our own daikon living, our frames and feelings, our especial weaknesses and temptations, and our peculiar temperaments, our inward affairs of every kind, these are the things that perplex and worry us more Than anything else,and that bring us oftenest into bondage and darkness. In laying off your burdens, therefore, the first one you must get rid of is yourself. You must hand yourself and all your inward experiences, your temptations, your temperament, your frames and feelings, all over into the care and keeping of your God, and leave them there.  He made you, and therefore He understands you and knows how to manage you, and you must trust Him to do it. say to zhim, "Here, Lord, I abandon myself to thee. I have tried in every way I could think of to manage myself, and to make myself what I knowI ought to be, but have always failed. Now I give it up to thee. Do thou take entire possession of me. Work in me all the good pleasure of thy will. Mould and fashion me into sucha vessel as seemeth good to thee. I leave myself in thy hands, and I believe thou wilt, according to thy promise, make me into a vessel unto thy honor, 'sanctified', and meet for the Master's good work" and here you must rest,trusting yourself thus to Him continually and absolutely. 

I love the freedom this passage suggests. I see the parts and pieces of my life flying in the wind and I try to pull them back together with bungee cords of my own making. Pretending that I am the person that I am suppose to be, hoping nobody sees the dangling sins and inconsistencies. It's too hard, I can't manage myself. I can't hold it all together!  But as Hannah Smith suggests...I don't need to!

Wednesday, January 4, 2012


I wrote this over the weekend and thought I would go ahead and share it. Maybe there are some who can relate to it.

Tonight we ushered in 2012. Much to our surprise, our welcome party into the New Year included the first full blown "episode" for Miss Abby in over 8 months!  She did not have one of these the whole time she was in the program or since she came home in October. The really frustrating part  is that we are on a weekend vacation to the Oregon Coast with two other families, something we rarely dare to do!  
The issue started because she was sharing a bed with Jojo, which she was not happy about and she felt the need to wiggle her leg for a while before going to sleep, provoking a fight. Her solution was that Jojo go somewhere else to sleep. Not really what I had in mind. In my mind, her choice was to stop wiggling or sleep somewhere else herself. Not wanting to do either, she proceeded to make a stink. 
The stink escalated to screaming and wailing, then "discussing" with her invisible friend the plan to leave. 
What is especially hard for me is that David and I disagreed on how to handle the situation. I should have listened to him, of course. And now I feel like garbage.  He wanted to just get Jojo out of there, make her a bed somewhere and let the household get sleep ( likely saving the weekend as well). My feeling was that if she wanted to be the problem, she should either have to go somewhere else or help make Jojo a bed somewhere else. 
Let me take a minute and explain my reasoning- 
       Before Abby went into the program her behavior was completely out of control. She would rage out of control at the slightest provocation, scaring the kids and leaving David and I physically and emotionally exhausted. We got to the point of walking on egg shells trying to keep from causing any issues with her just so we could have as normal a life as possible.  Unfortunately, instead of keeping her calm, she would just find a new way to throw a log in our path so we would have to address it and she would have a reason to ramp up her behavior. Partly because it gave her a sick sort of comfort from her pain, and partly for attention. Our fault in it was allowing the behavior to ramp up. 
My problem tonight was that my response was based in fear. I was afraid to let the behavior go because I'm scared of repeating our past patterns. 
So here I sit at 2 a.m. Posting guard outside her bedroom door to make sure she doesn't slip out of the house in the middle of the night. She probably won't, but you never can tell with her, besides it makes the other kids feel safer knowing I am watching. David is in bed, probably not really sleeping. Both feeling frustrated at ourselves, each other, and the situation. The question is, what needs to change? 
We need to find a way to manage this complicated relationship more effectively. I don't believe that all is lost but this child has a very limited chance of ever living on her own due to her disabilities And I feel desperate to find a place of peace and grace with her. 
So much rides on me and where I am at in my relationship with her and the Lord. Honestly, she is not a very easy person to be around, so when I am stressed or tired, I tend to pull away some. I REALLY need Gods help to keep me vulnerable and tender-hearted. No one would argue that I have every reason in the world to be hurt and even angry with her. She has done a lot of hurtful things to our family. It's easy for me to allow a protective wall to rise up between us. The hardest thing is living in a really raw, unprotected, vulnerable place where I have to trust that God will protect my heart and family.