Wednesday, June 16, 2010

As the scars fade...

Everyone who knows me knows I am passionate about adoption. I love a good happily ever after. But I also know that there is a part of adoption that we don't really like to think about. A part that does not include 'happy'- the part that our children have to live with~ loss.

As my children get older and start to process exactly all that 'adoption' entails-the questions become deeper and harder to answer as they begin to try to understand. I truly believe that at some point or another 'most' adopted children will have to come to terms with the past and deal with 'loss'. And loss of course can be very painful.

While out of respect for my children I try to keep their story their own- I also believe with all of heart that to truly live a Christ filled life we have to be willing to share our hurts, trials and pains- in order to help someone else- and that will be crucial to their healing. So because my children's story is in part 'my' story I will share 'my experiences' in adopting an 'older' child who is dealing right now with the loss.

We adopted Mya from Guatemala when she was just 2 months shy of 4 years old. She lived in an orphanage there for approximately 8 months. She vividly remembers her birthmom and the life she had there. But what she does remember is the day her birthmom left her- along with the pain and the loss. And that pain carries with it insecurities- and those insecurities carry tendencies to lie, please at all cost, and hide what is truly inside.

And I am beginning to realize that the scars run deeper than I ever had a clue.

Now I will fully admit that while I have tried my hardest, I am quite sure I have not always handled raising a child with this degree of loss as perfectly as I could have. While I have read book after book and sought advice after advice- the truth is, what works for one child doesn't always work for another. So, I try and then try again. Some days it is truly exhausting. Other days I see progress and I am over joyed. Yet regardless of the day- what I do know is that God personally assigned me this job and it is a privilege. And I know that it is okay if I don't have all of the answers right now. I know that what is important is that I am here for her.

The thing is with children who have experienced such loss- the scars run deeply and sometimes we don't realize that the ways they respond to certain situations are due to the scars that are present deep within. When a child has a broken arm it would be silly for us to expect them to lift weights with such an injury. It is the same as a child with a deeply wounded scar. There are just some things we cannot expect for them to do the same. While the scar may not be visible on the outside- it is still there and we must treat it with extra care and love. We must give this child grace- and give them a place where we do not rush the healing. And it is crucial we provide an opportunity for them to feel safe and allow them to process the past.

Mya has been home close to 4 years and still her #1 fear is that I will abandon her. Still. No matter how many times I have told her I will never leave her- that fear is still very real and very scary to her. Because this fear is still so alive and real to her-once again it effects her and runs over into our everyday lives.

One thing I have learned is that no matter what I cannot take the way she responds in fear personal. Actually, in the past I have posted notes around the house that say 'do not take it personal' as a reminder- because parenting a hurt child is hard.

And I have found that it is even more important for me to stay close to the Lord and His guidance for the answers. Because they are right there in His word. And I truly believe that He word will be the one thing that will finally be able to bring complete healing to my precious daughter.

I trust with my entire heart that God will be able to take those scars and turn them into something beautiful. Because the reality is-none of us are going to make it through this world without scars. None of us are going to have days without pain. But what we do with those scars and how we use the pain we have experienced is what is important.
Last night I sat watching Mya ride her bike around the front yard, proud of her accomplishments of riding with no training wheels. I loved watching her overcome the fear and jump on that bike and go. That is my deepest desire for her life.

I pray daily that she will continue to grow closer to God and discover that His love is more than enough.

It isn't always easy and while I fully admit I don't have all of the answers- I am so thankful I serve a God that does. And I trust as she grows God will heal those scars and replace the loss...
and she will bloom and grow.

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Unknown said...


I really hope you will read the book I am finishing now. It will reveal so much to you about them, you and how good God is in our lives to heal all that is deep within us.

I love you and this post is so true! I have written a few of these myself because of the pain many of our children still deal with today from almost 3-6 yrs ago. Our oldest will deal with them the most because she has a false sense of the truth from when she lost her BM.


Leah Maya Benjamin said...

that was a truely wonderful post, thank you for sharing. I am not in the position as my Maya was given up at birth and then lived with foster parents until I moved there and we lived together until we could get home. She might not remember it but she does talk about us living there, and when she was a baby living with her abuelita (thats what we call her fostermom). We are starting the process again and I do hate ( I kow thats not a great work) but I do that as wondeful as adoption is at some point there will be hurt rational or not becasue they were given up by a parent.

Dardi said...

As you know, this topic is very near & dear to our hearts. As you stated, life is full of hurts, & for some, there are deeper wounds than for others. The BEST thing you said was that you can't take it personal. Joe continues to try to drive that point home with the teachers in our schools...the realization that so many of these children have "stuff" going on & it's not a personal battle. Sometimes, we have to understand that we can't fully understand.

Amy, you're doing a great job! Mya is blessed to have people that will continue reaching in to bring out every treasure she has yet to discover about herself! Praying that you continue to receive much grace so that you can continue giving it!

Love you ~ Dardi

Cari said...

Thanks, Amy, for sharing that. Perfectly timed as we are diving in to our first older child adoption very soon. The adoption blogs are so valuable to me, because it's very few face-to-face people that can relate to this.

Sophie said...

A very touching post Amy, thanking for sharing your daughter's story. My daughter was 1 yr. at adoption and while she won't remember anything about being abandoned I'm sure I will face many questions.I believe the best way to deal with this is providing a stable environment,constant reassurance and above all mirroring God's love.

She's a beautiful girl and is truly blessed to have a mom like you.

Rebekah said...

Do you (or any of you other ladies) feel that children who are adopted at birth have the same issues to work through?

Thanks! :)

trustandobey said...

Wow, Amy, I never realized that Mya was a little older when she came home. The pictures only show a happy, smiling, beautiful little girl. It breaks my heart to think of her going through the abandonment and remembering. Bless her heart!
I do think that all adopted children deal with these issues to some extent but it has to be harder living through it than imagining how it went down. I fully believe that this is where God's extra measure of grace is given.

Mama in Uganda said...

Amen, thanks for sharing your heart and the Truth. Jesus is truly able to transform their hearts and minds.

Kimberlie said...

Wonderful post! As a Mama to three, soon to be four that became our children at an older age, I can so relate. I have finally learned by the third, not to take it personally. And with my second, there is a hurt so deep inside him, that my love has not yet reached it. He's a joy and I love him, and it hurts me that I can't take the pain away. My oldest has his issues too. Maybe they always will. But as frustrating as it can be sometimes to have to cover "old" ground, what they are really looking for is to one more time hear you say, "I love you forever and always and you will always be my child."

Thanks for reminding me what a blessing our special children are because we get to watch them grow, mature, and see God work in their hearts.

Laurel said...

Oh so true. It takes much time and patience to try to help our children heal from the scars that run deep ... the invisible scars that may even become more pronounced as the years go by.

Thanks for sharing.

Laurel :)

James 1:27 Family said...

I agree with you that no mom is perfect, but you are pretty darn close! You are an amazing mom and the proof is in the beautiful children you have.... not beautiful on the outside (although they certainly are) but beautiful on the inside.

Our second son was 10 weeks when he came home to us and he has some issues surrounding his adoption too. We remind him over and over that we love him, we chose him, and we're never leaving him.

Thanks for sharing this. I know many families will be encouraged.

Much love to the Blocks!

Tessa said...

Thanks so much for this post. My husband and I are in the process of adopting a 9 year old girl from the foster care system. I realize that a child that has been through so much can easily be labeled and pigeon-holed into a life that is filled with hurt, and yet I truly feel a peace that God will use her story to glorify Him. I am full of the hope that only comes from Him that she will be able to overcome her many obstacles. I know it is going to be hard, and yet I feel at peace about it. In fact, I am decorating her room around the theme of "bloom" and that is why the last thoughts of your post meant so much!

"Are These Kids All Yours?" said...

There are so many things.....that hide beneath the surface and sneak up on you.....sometimes when you weren't looking. We struggle a lot with various things- insecurities, people pleasing, going up to anyone, and the list goes on. Makes me realize HOW MUCH WE NEED HIM to help our children. Thank you for sharing.

Pam said...

Just a quick comment, I have read many times that there is usually a "turning point" if you will once you have had the child as long as they were in the orphanage or away from your care. It may be that once she is with your family past the point that she was with you...that you will notice change. I know that was true about my son, although he was only a year old when we got him. I continue to be amazed at how emotionally scarred he is as well. People just don't understand how exhausting it can be, unless they have lived it. Blessings to you and your precious children.

Anonymous said...

What a wonderful post. One thing that kept me moving forward with our adoption before we had our daughter was that no matter what problems I heard about, they did not seem any harder than the problems I was having with my natural I figured that whatever problems my daughter might come with...I would not have any assurance that it would not have been just as hard if she had been ours from the beginning.

So, that's true for you, too. You would not have had the same problems if she was yours from the beginning, but you could easily have had just as difficult problems.

It doesn't make the problems easier to handle, but I think it makes them easier to take.

Audrey said...

Thank you so much for this post. I so needed to read this TODAY :) I am grateful for moms like you who share the real stuff. It helps more that you could ever realize.

Ling! said...

Beautiful post. Thank you for sharing. I would like to adopt a slightly older child soon, but my husband is concerned about the emotional scarring that comes with. I can show him this as a way of proving what a beautiful, wonderful, PERFECTLY CREATED child you have!

Elizabeth said...

Praying for you sweet friend. Sending lots of love and hugs.

Debbie Doughty said...

My 28 year old daughter came home to us at just 3 months. While she would be the first to tell you that she has "the best parents in the world," she still struggles with abandonment issues. She has always been a people pleaser and highly self-motivated, a daughter anyone would be proud of, and we certainly are, but she still fears our rejection. I tell you that not to discourage you, but to encourage you to keep the faith. We can provide the love and tools for them to trust, but they have to use them. I keep praying God will break through her scars. I'll be praying for Mya too.

MyLinda said...

Thank you for your post, we all need a reminder to not take it personally! Our 6 yo daughter came to us at 4 mos. as a foster daughter but went thru many months of devastating visits before us adopting her at 3 1/2 yrs...she has many scars and definately has a different way of dealing with things and people because of what she has went thru. Loss is difficult, I so wish I could take all the hurt away!

darci said...

thank you fo rsharing this-we serve an amazing healing powerful God. love darc

Megan said...

Thank you, Amy!

Jocelyn said...

i identified with this post so much. it is so hard sorting through those hurts, trying to understand the behaviors, the fears, the anxieties. and to remember that you cannot take it personally... i may need some of those notes around my house too! a friend of mine wrote post about this subject- of the emotional disabilities, the sensory disabilities, etc that her daughter is dealing with and that my sweet son is dealing with- and she made a statement that with a physical disability it is so visual that you can't foget it... where as these emotional disabilities or issues are unseen and so it's easy to forget everything they have hidden inside.. and we often- as loving parents- try so unsuccessfully and naively to FIX them, when what they really need is to be accepted and loved for who they are- fears, outbursts of sad and often frustrating behaviors, the pushing away... all of it.
our kids have often gone through more in their short lives than we will EVER in our whole life go through... and it cannot be "fixed" in a few months, 4 years, decades... it's learning how to survive through it, make progress towards security and trust and just love, love, love them.