Saturday, February 21, 2015

Fear of man, no more

The other night, Peter and I met with a prospective adoption therapist. During our time together, she said something to me that was so very freeing.

She told me that adoptive moms are the most "looked-down-on" kinds of moms. 

How scary! And, yet for me, it was freeing. It was as if I felt the chains falling off of me.

I grew up with a wonderful family in a relatively small community. Most people knew my dad and/or mom, and my last name was familiar. It was not uncommon for me to introduce myself only to be told "your dad took care of my mother when she was ill," or some such thing. I was raised to remember that my actions reflected my family. I believe that was a good thing, especially because as an adult, I recognize the parallel: if I carry the name Christian, my actions reflect the God I serve, albeit imperfectly.

Whether rightly or wrongly, people do get a picture of Christ by what His followers do and say.

But, somewhere along the line, I began to care what others thought, and that's not good. Even though I know what is True, I still struggle with people's perception of me on occasion today.

And, I'm being honest here....

When I know I'm in the right, I can handle when people attack me or try to shame or manipulate me. Generally, in those situations, criticism stings for a moment, but then it rolls off my back.

But, when I am uncertain about a decision or an action, I will be often be concerned with what people say or think. I know this is a trap (Proverbs 29:25), so I resist the temptation, but if I'm honest, it can be a battle.

One of my concerns in going forward with this adoption has been the judgement that I know will come from others. I have been amazed over the past two years with not only how opinionated people have been since I became a mom (is it me, moms? or does everyone seem to have an opinion on how I should raise my kid?), but also at how much liberty even strangers take in asking personal questions about my transracial child.

Just. Wow.

Most of the time, though, I try to take questions as an opportunity to educate on adoption, but sometimes I just want to shake my head and ask 'really?' (Well, honestly, sometimes I want to do more than that...)

Through NO fault of their own, our children have and will have issues that differ from what children raised by biological parents face. Some of these are visible now, and some we may uncover later. Much of our parenting is the same, and much of it is different. We still deal with toddler tantrums and little girl drama, boo-boos and bedtime charades.

But, when my little ones don't want to be left in a nursery or in Sunday School, it is not because they are experiencing age-appropriate anxiety; it is because they are not sure that I will ever come back. It is because that has been their experience.

When my ten-year-old someday throws a temper tantrum in the middle of the mall, it is not because we don't set appropriate boundaries at home or because she is spoiled; it is because her body may be ten-years-old, but her emotions are still three-years-old. Or, when my six-year-old is afraid to go over a friend's house for the afternoon, it is not because he is sheltered; it is because he has seen too much.

Children who have experienced trauma (and that's just about every child in foster care) are stuck in a fight or flight pattern. You and I have that adrenaline rush when faced with a danger (think being approached by a scary animal). Our bodies see the danger and make a choice to fight it or to flee it.

Children who have been exposed to the various unsafe and abusive conditions that warranted their removal from their natural parents are often in a constant state of fight or flight (or freeze). Their little brains and bodies often don't know how to relax and feel safe. A kiddo in this situation may see dinner being prepared, but may still worry about not having enough food. This is why it is not uncommon for children with these experiences to hoard food. Healing is possible, but it takes time. We've been told that for every one year in foster care, children need at least one year in a stable home in order to overcome.

Believe me, this is a learning experience for us. We have to rethink our parenting style. It isn't going to be easy, and people may think we are too permissive, or too strict, or just plain crazy. And, maybe we are. Or, perhaps there is more to what most people can see. Maybe, my husband and I are privy to information not known by others, and just maybe, we are doing something right.

So, if you happen to see us when one of my kids is having a meltdown over the wrong kind of pizza (and it's happened), please don't tell me how you handled it with your kids, because that just may not work with mine. Mine might need me to order a different kind of pizza so she can begin to understand that moms make sure their kids have food. Or if one of my children uses an inappropriate word or doesn't yet know how to tie her shoes, please refrain from passing judgement. Maybe I need to keep tying them for awhile so she learns that moms help care for their kids.

And, if you just can't help but judge me, know that I forgive you. I once judged moms, too, before I understood.

Instead, please offer a prayer on our behalf. That will help more us than you may ever know.

1 comment:

  1. Love this post. And love each one of you. Give hugs to the kiddos from us! ��