As a blogger, I may be compensated in some way (either pay, product, or experience) for sharing the post below All opinions are my own. ~Heidi
Edited to add: When I originally wrote this post, I titled it “When Adoption Hurts” but, since I’ve been going through this situation, I’ve come to know that there are MANY parents who are dealing with very similar issues with their kids – and it doesn’t matter if they are biological or adopted. So, if you are parenting a prodigal, I hope this post might be of help to you.
I’ve been thinking for a while about putting my thoughts into a blog post, but it’s really hard to know where to start. However, I’m hoping it might be therapeutic for me and, maybe, help someone else who comes across it. So, here goes …
19 years ago this month …
… My husband and I made the decision to adopt. We had experienced several years of secondary infertility, I had almost died due to a tubal pregnancy, and we both knew we didn’t want our daughter to be an only child. I had two brothers adopted from Korea, so the decision to adopt was an easy one for us; I only wonder why we didn’t consider it sooner.
I filled out mountains of paperwork (which is oddly fun for me), we submitted it to the agency that we decided to work with, and we waited.
In August of that year …
… we received pictures of a 6-week old baby girl who was born half-way around the world in Vietnam. I have to admit that the pictures we received were not particularly becoming (I think they could have tried a little harder!), but I knew in my heart that this tiny baby was the one that God had chosen for our family before the foundation of the world. And I was thrilled to accept the referral. Now, all that was left to do was wait to travel.
For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.Psalm 139:13-16
A few months later …
… we boarded a plane bound for Vietnam, met our beautiful baby girl for the first time, and spent the next 18 years loving her as best we knew how.
I’m sure we made a lot of mistakes. But, at least she was our second child and we had SOME parenting experience. And, what we lacked in parenting skills, we made up for in love.
I look back now and wish that she had come with an instruction manual (all kids should – it would make this parenting gig much simpler!) I remember things about her personality that struck me as different at the time, but I just chalked it up to differing personalities. Now, I believe these things I picked up on were a direct result of trauma experienced in her first four months. Had I known, maybe we could have sought out therapy or help in some way when she was younger; but, I didn’t and we didn’t. And, nothing good ever comes from second guessing.
We tried our best to meet her where she was and to do things that would encourage her to use her talents. She is very musically talented and excelled at both the piano and the violin, so we always tried to encourage that. She is also very intelligent and, as homeschoolers, I always tried to tailor her education to her interests and let her work at her own pace.
A few months after she turned 18, she got her Associates Degree from our local community college and we were so proud of her. She worked so hard to make that a reality, even getting involved in the Virtual Student Council there.
Then, she went off to college …
… and the last time we saw her was Thanksgiving weekend.
She made the decision to walk out because she “was under pressure and stress” while she was here.
And now, she doesn’t talk to us anymore. We don’t know where she was over her winter break, what she was doing, or who she was with.
We do know that she has accused our family of awful things. Things that, when I’ve heard and read them, have rocked me to the very core of my being. Things that don’t make sense to me. Things that have made me do a lot of second-guessing and soul-searching.
I’ve even questioned my kids still living at home. “Did we do those things?” “Are we that awful?” “Do you know we love you?” To which we receive the answers, “NO!”, “Absolutely not!” and “Of course!”
We have an exchange student living with us this year who tells me over and over again how much we have taught him about family and how important it is to be a part of a family. He appreciates the way that we sit down and listen to him and respect his opinion. He enjoys spending time with us together as a family. And he asks me all the time, “Why doesn’t she see what she is missing here?” I don’t know.
Adoption (& parenting, in general) isn’t all rainbows and sunshine
Over the years, I have talked a lot about adoption on my blog – even doing a full month’s series on the topic. I’m not an expert; I’ve always just shared from our personal experience and from my heart.
I’ve always said that our adoptions were easy. We didn’t wait years like some people do. We had pleasant trips to Vietnam. We got two beautiful children who have blessed our lives in different and numerous ways. They are smart, and musical, and intelligent. And I know they were both meant to be in our family for different reasons.
I want people to adopt. I think God calls His people to adopt. I think WE, personally, were called to adopt.
But, right now, adoption hurts. Parenting hurts. And life, in general, just hurts. My heart aches each day. And, much like losing my best friend to cancer, the hurt doesn’t go away. The days stretch to weeks and then to months; and the hurt is different, but it’s still every bit as intense.
When it came time to select a word for 2019, I looked long and hard for a word that I could work with and I landed on “surrender.” I have realized that no amount of crying and stressing and worrying on my part will do anything to bring our girl home. She is, first and foremost, a child of God and I have surrendered her and this situation to Him. I know that He cares more for her than I ever could and that He has a plan in this situation that I cannot see. He holds the future – and His ways are always greater than our ways. So, I rest. And I wait. And I trust.
A hundred years from now it will not matter what my bank account was, the sort of house I lived in, or the kind of car I drove… but the world may be different because I was important in the life of a child.
FOREST E. WITCRAFT
If you are reading this
… and you are a hurting parent
(for whatever reason), I understand. Let’s pray for each other. Leave me a comment or e-mail me privately so that I can pray for you.
… and you’re the parent of a prodigal,
I’d encourage you to find a group of other parents in your situation that you can talk to. I have done this and it has been extremely helpful to me. While I wouldn’t wish this situation on anyone, it does help to know that you’re not in it alone. There’s a stigma that makes you feel like you can’t open up to people – it shouldn’t be! There’s nothing to be ashamed of. But, you NEED to open up – so find someone to talk to.
… and you’re a prodigal child,
- take the time to check in with your parents, even if it’s just a “hi” and “I’m doing ok.” Anything is better than nothing.
- find someone that you can TRUST to talk to – not your peers!
i’tsOK to seek counseling. I recommend a Christian counselor, but there are other good counselors available also.
- talk to your pastor. God has placed him in a position of authority over you, in a loving, caring way. Let him help you.
- and, if you are doing something that you think your parents will be angry about, tell them anyway! They are your parents and they love you! They may be disappointed but I can almost guarantee they will try to get you the help you need.
… and you know someone who is hurting,
REACH OUT TO THEM. Trust me when I say that they probably feel very much alone. They don’t want your advice, they just want your care and love. They might not even want to talk about their current situation – but they probably need a diversion. Make time for them. And, most importantly, don’t judge! “But for the grace of God go I.” Tomorrow, this could be you.