The kids had not been home long from Ethiopia and I realized I was well beyond my comfort zone. One night, after a very challenging evening, I laid in bed and sobbed. Ugly crying, sobbing heaves.
What were we going to do? Every kind of parenting technique we were trying was NOT working. I felt hopeless, in a pit and was scared there was little way out of this hole.
Ed came home the next day with a plan. The two of us were flying to Dallas. My kind man found an Empowered To Connect Conference (ETC), hosted by Karyn Purvis.
As we sat on the plane I stared out the window with my bottom lip and chin quivering: If this doesn't work, I truly have no clue what we are going to do. I feel like a complete failure. I AM A KIDS MINISTER FOR GOODNESS SAKE.
Ed held my hand and we flew in almost complete silence the rest of the way as he allowed me to cry.
During that weekend I learned many things:
1. Attachment Issues are real. They are not simple temper tantrums. They are emotions that erupt from very raw & broken circumstances.
2. We had a lot of work to do. Both for the kids and for us. We were rookies and it was time to load up some tools in our toolbelt so we could love and care for our children effectively.
3. Karyn Purvis was a pioneer in climbing the mountains with families who were parenting kids from hard places.
Attachment issues are hard, confusing and frustrating. For the parent and for the child. The moment something makes sense and you think you see a victory, a memory or a fear swoops in for the child and brings great confusion again.
And then... there is the great constant dilemma: Attachment, Attachment, Attachment... or, is this really just a discipline issue?
This may sound like greek to you... but to others, you may be knocking your neck out of joint nodding your head so vigorously... because you have BEEN THERE DONE THAT.
It is important to celebrate the victories with your child. Like, stand on chairs and do happy dances when the smallest win is experienced.
A year or so ago, I had a small victory. NOT a pat-me-on-the-back victory. Rather a LOOK-WHAT-GOD-DID victory.
One of my daughters came home from school:
"Mom, my friend came up to tell me at school today that she was impressed at the weight you have lost. She said you looked so good."
My daughter then walked over to me, put her hands under her chin, looked me straight in the eye and said "Mom, I was just so proud of you. And I was proud at what you've done."
This may not sound like much. It may just sound like words. But you adoptive-Moms know what I am speaking about.
I flash-backed to that flight to Dallas where I was sobbing, begging God for help.
As my sweet girl spoke to me in that moment about her friend, my lungs ran out of air, my tears started to flow and I hugged her as tight as humanly possible.
It wasn't about the weight AT ALL. It was about a connection we had in that brief moment. A connection I had begged God for over three years earlier.
A dance party erupted. I know she thought I had gone a little crazy, but it certainly did not stop me from celebrating.
All adoption families are in different parts of this journey. Some have referral pictures, some are freshly home with new little loves, some are celebrating the successes and some are knee-deep in "HELP-ME"!
Sweet friends, find one victory to celebrate today, just one. In the early days of our family, my one victory may have been that they only ran around the table 6 times instead of 7 times at dinner (all while screaming in Amharic). And we celebrated the mess out of that win. We literally let the girls stand on their chairs at the end of dinner and do the happy dance.
Sound strange? Well, attachment is a strange, exciting, hard, confusing world. Attachment is so possible, sweet Mamas, one slow victory at a time.
If you are in a puddle of discouragement in the middle of your bathroom floor, you are being prayed for. You are being cheered on by my Mama-winged arms.
Many of you are dealing with serious serious attachment issues with your kids. Ones that require more than counselors & far more than a cheerleader. Some of you are in deep discussions with professionals to figure out the how-do-we-do-this?
YOU ARE NOT FORGOTTEN. Your kids are not forgotten. God sees this huge burden you are carrying. He sees their hurts and their past experiences. His plans are still to prosper your family. It may not feel like it during this season.. but its truth.
I am praying right this very second that he will send you arm-holders that will hold your tired and weary arms up higher than you ever imagined.
Fellow Adoption-Families... go find those weary parents and be their arm-holders with your words, with your prayers and with your actions. This journey is hard, but we are not in these weeds of attachment and connection alone. Keep going.
Adoption is so worth every hard part, every joy, every high and every low. My kids are a deep joy I never understood until they entered my world.
Adoption Families, our kids are amazing and we get to see the beauty bloom out of the ashes of their past circumstance.
Keep moving forward, Mamas!
(And keep Karyn Purvis books on your iPad.)