Altered Expectations

I realize with this blog, that there's a good chance it's only actually being read by about ten people, most of them in my family, but there are those views way out of our country, so, who knows. Point being, when I say one of the reasons we decided to tell our story was to hopefully encourage, or at least shed light on, foster to adopt, I wonder if I even have an audience for that. I also write as a way to document for the kids, so even if I don't have that audience, the story serves a purpose. And finally, my new favorite word, it is cathartic (providing relief through the open expression of strong emotions) for me to write. Healing to get the thoughts and words out of my head where they spin and repeat themselves, and onto the page, where they become concrete. Sometimes it brings laughter and joy to write, other times tears or anger. Today, I am conflicted, defeated and moving forward. These moments are among those that are much harder to write about. Where I wonder if I should share? What if I could see my audience, would I still write this? But alas, it is cathartic, and maybe someone else will 'feel me'. Maybe someone will be encouraged. Maybe I will be encouraged. There is healing and hope in sharing. We are called to be burden bearers with each other (Galatians 6:2). And so, I will share. Then I will fret for a week that I shouldn't have. Such is my life and my mind. Bless my heart.

When we were in training to become foster parents, one of the repetitive themes was that sometimes 'love isn't enough'. These kids, many of them, have been through horrendous acts that most of us can't fathom. I know I can't. I didn't lead a charmed life, but I was loved and safe and provided for. The idea of abuse, abandonment, neglect...these things are foreign to me.

When we found out that our first placement was an almost one year old boy who had been neglected we were glad to know that 'that was all'. Just neglect. As I've mentioned throughout the story, he just fell right into place in our family, and five months later, when his newborn baby brother came, it was like we had a hole he filled perfectly. We were a family, even though many months would pass before that was official. All along the way we would say how thankful we were that he was too young to remember or be affected by his beginning. We loved him and his brother and that would be enough.

We were wrong.

Timothy was in daycare his first two years with us while we were both school teachers. When I became pregnant and it started to look like adoption was going to happen, I left teaching to stay home with the kids. His third and fourth year with us he was in preschool for speech. When he turned five and started kindergarten, we started to notice a few behaviors...talking a lot, having a hard time sharing, chewing on everything, busy to the nth degree.... for the most part, normal boy stuff that we hoped the smaller environment of a private school would help him work through. His teacher was amazing and from what we saw in the evenings, the behaviors were lessening. The summer following this year things started to get difficult. By the end of summer break, I was praying the return to structure would return our sanity.

That was the fall of 2013. I'm still searching for my sanity.

And it's not that he's a terrible kid. He's not. He's happy, entertaining, compassionate, smart, helpful. But the behaviors we struggled with (still struggle with) are like an off rhythm beat at a deafening volume that doesn't stop, has no thought of anyone else, is defiant, impulsive...pretty much just all around frustrating, especially when I know his potential.

After a certain event in the spring of 2015 sent us to counseling with all our boys, we decide to stay on with Timothy and address some of these behaviors.

The result? Trauma. Anxiety. ADHD. And one grieving momma. The substances ingested in utero, the violence, the neglect....while only a fraction of his life, the trickle down from these events are life altering for him. For our family.

I know there are no guarantees with our natural children. Some may struggle with these same issues, but to know these things are likely caused by the damaging actions of another to your child...that hurts. It just does. And when we've gone almost six years with this idea that the life we've provided...structured, loving, nutritious, nurturing, etc...would keep him from the side effects, or that we could shelter him from what happened before he was removed from that environment, the realization that we haven't and won't be able to, is heart wrenching. He'll be ok, of course, but it was an added element we were hoping to avoid.

So why share this? Because, as in all things that befall our families in this life, we have to lay down our expectations, our pretty picture of what we thought this would be, and our comparisons, and deal with the life at hand. The one that will likely need counseling long term, medications to help him cope and find an even playing field, and friends and family who will stand by him in support and encouragement and prayer. While we have several friends who have adopted (most international), and many friends with young kids, this is not a topic that has come up much. We like to think everyone around us is surviving gracefully in the land where dreams are made, but the reality is, most are not. I'm likely not the only one to have struggled with these things with either natural, or adopted children. And I'm likely not the only mom to sit in the quiet at nap time and wonder how in the world will she survive this, and every day, only to lay her head down at night questioning how she will do it again tomorrow.

So, we shift our expectations, we grieve and we move forward, knowing His grace is sufficient for today. And tomorrow, the sun will come up.