Tuesday, June 10, 2014

When rescuing is not enough...

In my spare time (while driving, cooking and cleaning etc. etc. ) I have created t-shirt designs on paper that would be helpful to my family. (with the hope that my children will never have to wear them!)

My latest t-shirt says: 
Front: " Keep calm and don't rescue me. " 
Back: " I already belong to a family that loves me."  

A couple months ago, Sol, myself and our kids were hanging out at our local bookstore to escape from the 100 degree weather.  My 4 boys stepped to the side to check out the children's books while our girls decided to sit next to us in the cafe and have a little snack.  One of our daughters was humming a tune while our other daughter sat staring off into space.  Before we knew it,  a couple " concerned customers" decided to " check us out" and question (interrogate) us and our girls:
" What are your names? How old are you? Are they your daughters? Why is she staring at me like that? Why are they not reading? Where are they from???
Since when is it socially appropriate to walk up to a stranger and question them let alone talk to your children without your permission?  Why do people think that our business is theirs?  
About 15 minutes later , 2 police officers walked in and approached our girls (apparently they had been called by a "concerned customer") They spoke to our girls and then pulled Sol aside.  
After a few questions, Sol took the police to our other boys who were sitting between piles of books listening to their youngest brother read. 
The police took one look at our 4 boys and replied with a warm smile " You have more of them?? " 
" I can tell they are clean, well fed, loved and cared for - there is absolutely no need for us to be here." - their affirming voices echoed throughout the entire store.  
Thankfully, our 12 years of loyalty to this bookstore paid off and the store manager apologized repeatedly.  
But still... - they could have prevented this... 
My 9 year old biological son wouldn't let it go -  he couldn't understand why someone would call the police just because his sisters weren't reading books. 

As I've shared this story to several friends/peers - the common response is 
" Just shrug it off, Chris. -   you guys are great parents... that "concerned customer" had her own issues. " 
But what is most often forgotten is that we experience this on a frequent basis and it is deeply traumatizing to us.  It is unfortunate that some of my adopted children have learned the success of gaining this type of negative attention.  

Truthfully, it's painful and frustrating to watch.  It's absolutely not fair to our adopted children when strangers, peers, friends feed into their "orphan, rescue me" handicap. 
It paralyzes them. They suddenly forget who they belong to and become blinded by their past as their "orphan identity" begins to haunt them over and over again.  
They have been disillusioned by a "rescue minded" society.  
Unfortunately, every single time a stranger, police or "well intended" friend has stepped into "help" - our family suffers.  And it never seems to stop.  

Recently a close friend advised me to " call 911" if harassed by a "concerned stranger." 
Perhaps I should.... but what about friends, teachers that have tried to "rescue" our children and suddenly turn their back on us thinking "they know better."  
I think I can ask this question for ourselves as well as the adoptive families who walk the same road as us: " Why are my children everyone's business? "  
There may be a tone of frustration in that question - as there should be.  
But I sincerely want to know why.

Rescuing children was not our motivation to adopt. We never aspired to be heroes. 
 Healing, restoring and educating children from hard places to live well and 
be part of a loving family is what drove us to adopt.  

I'll admit...I stepped out of my comfort zone to voice out my frustration, but I know I'm not the only one that struggles like this.  I can genuinely speak for a handful of adoptive families that I know who would stand with me in our disappointment.  If only "concerned people" would leave us alone - perhaps it would help with our children's healing, security and attachment struggles. They would no longer be confused but instead consistently know who loves them and resist jumping into the next arms that "reach out to them. "

Most of the time I feel like I am drowning in other people's judgements and ignorant comments. I then cast judgements on myself until I realize that each day God will fix what I couldn't fix and heal what I couldn't mend.  I did the best I could do.

         People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered.  
Forgive them anyway.
            If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, alterior motives. 
 Be kind anyway.
            If you are successful, you will win some unfaithful friends and some genuine enemies.  Succeed anyway.
           If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you.  
Be honest and sincere anyway.
           What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. 
 Create anyway.
            If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous.  
Be happy anyway.
            The good you do today, will often be forgotten.  
Do good anyway.
         Give the best you have, and it will never be enough.  
Give your best anyway.
         In the final analysis, it is between you and God.  
It was never between you and them anyway.
- Mother Teresa 

Sunday, February 16, 2014

Love Redefined

For those of you that know me well... I don't sugar coat my "amazing life" as an adoptive mom of 6. Perhaps if you have been following my blog, you might have figured that out.
My blog has been silent for the past few months because of an exceptionally challenging season. My heart has been stretched to extremely uncomfortable places, my faith has been tested and stripped to points where it seemed only fear and doubt where left to taunt me. Voices of condemnation and judgment have shattered my heart into pieces and diminished every reality I've known to be true.
I have never had to love a child that uses every possible means to reject it...until now.
Love is a scary thing for adoptive children. But loving a resistant, defiant and revengeful child is also a scary thing for an adoptive parent.   
Before my children came home, I thought I knew what LOVE was. 
Now, I don't. 
God is redefining my definition of love. It's not only the "compassionate, empathetic and sympathetic" love that my narrow mind thought would be enough for my children.  
It's so much more. I  still have yet to find out. 

Recently our family experienced yet another horrific and traumatic incident. 
Yes... another one.  
My 5 year old biological son asked me "Why? Why mommy would she do that?" 
"I don't know son...." My voice trembling with anger, frustration and extreme sadness.  
I don't know and yet I did. The more I love them, the more they want to resist. It's too scary. Perhaps unknowingly...they would rather destroy the ones that love them the most and run to strangers. 
So what can I do?
What should I do?

I have buried myself in tears and prayer, indulged myself with chocolate, spent hours at the gym attempting to work off my frustration and spent hours venting with close friends.... but at the end of the day, my circumstances haven't changed.

Adopting 4 older children at once is "not amazing or heroic."  It breaks you everyday and turns your world upside down. Every.Single.Day. 

Last week, I nearly broke down in front of my son's 6th grade teacher, RTI instructor, school principal and school psychologist as we attempted to form a game plan to help my son who is barely at a 1st/2nd grade level complete the 6th grade.  
" Do you have any prior history of your son?" Asked the school psychologist. 
" I have nothing.... But I do know that my son has experienced more trauma than any child his age should have had to. 
I replied.
"He seems extra sensitive." Commented one of the instructors. 
" Emotionally, he is barely 5 years old. We suspect that this was before or after a very traumatic incident for our son." I explained, holding my tears back.

Here I was....with a group of educators  fighting for my son's education. 
He would have never received this kind of care and love from his birth country. 
Perhaps one day he will look back and realize.... how much he is loved and even if he doesn't.... It's okay. We didn't help him because we felt sorry for him, we helped him because truthfully... all we want for our kids is to give them every opportunity in life to succeed. 

I often wonder how God will redefine love for each of my children. 

Maybe the only answer I need right now is that "I am loved, unconditionally loved by an amazing God who sees and accepts me in all my brokenness."  

It took Derick an entire year to even begin to take the risk of accepting our love and care
for him. Not only did we make Christmas a special celebration for him,
he also chose to make it special for himself and us.