The truth is sometimes hard, really hard. The truth is that we are experiencing major struggles with our oldest and that as I type this, he is living with my mom, not here. I don’t know if that is something that is temporary (as of tonight, it will be three weeks), or more permanent. I do know that it has been painful and that I have come to rely on God in the past three months more than I ever have before.
Many years ago, I made a choice that I would not go public with some of the struggles we were having with this child because I wanted to respect his privacy, I didn’t want others judging him, and if he decided to turn his life around, I didn’t want him haunted by words that live forever in cyber space. I do feel that it was the right decision and I stand by it, but it is also a decision that in some ways, makes it harder for me because people do not understand how we got here and there will be people who judge without knowing the full truth. There are a few things that I do want to say in case there are others going through similar struggles who will feel like they are not alone if I share.
I feel like a huge failure as a parent. I know logically that there is nothing we could have done differently. We have tried everything over the years…counselling, seminars, camps, homeschooling, school, prayer, books, more prayer, more counselling, assessments, professional advice, desperate pleas in place of prayer, and we have still gotten here.
I look back and know that we weren’t perfect parents (and still aren’t). He was our oldest, our guinea pig. When he was younger, The Husband and I fought in front of him. We weren’t always consistent in our discipline. We were too strict about some things and not strict enough about others. But even if I analyze every little thing, I know that there is nothing we could have changed that would have changed the outcome. Though I feel guilt because I am human, the logic tells me that there isn’t any one thing that we did or didn’t do that got us here.
One of the other things I struggle with in this is how others will now assume that his struggles were because of our adoptions or because of us having a large family. I know that people like to tie things up into packages and top them with a bow and that is what they will want this to fit into. We know that that is not the case. We began having struggles when he was 2. We had his first assessment done when he was 5. This was all before we started fostering, before our first adoption. If anything, the adoptions bought us more time. His trip to Ethiopia with The Husband last year (which would not have happened without the most recent adoption) was so good for him and for the relationship between the two of them. He is also more compassionate and less selfish than he would have been had it not been for all of the adoptions. As for the large family, we have always made sure that each of our kids get ample attention and one-on-one time and of all the kids, he has had the most of it. I would even venture to say that he has perhaps had more attention than he would have if we just had two kids and were therefore not making a concerted effort to make the time.
But I know that there will be people who say things like, “well I knew of a family who adopted a bunch of kids and it ruined one of their bio. kids” and that kills me. I know that it will happen regardless of what I say and that many of the people who say it in the years to come won’t even have met us. As an adoption advocate, it hurts me to think that our family’s story could be used as a deterrent for others. I have no control over what people say or choose to believe, but it is hard for me to know that given human nature, those words will likely be spoken. (for the record, I also hate the word “ruined” and our son’s life is far from “ruined”)
So, that is a tiny glimpse of what we have been walking through the past few months. It has been a very painful time and there has been a lot of worry and anguish, but for me, it has been a time where I have pulled closer to God and chosen to believe the words shared with me by 3 people who have walked this road before me: ”God is faithful”. When I spoke to a dear friend who has walked a similar road with some of her kids, she told me that God is faithful, that God will pursue him, that my job is to pray for him. Later that week, in speaking to a family member who watched her son choose a difficult road, she spoke the same words. And finally, in speaking to that boy, now a grown man who has turned his life around and is living for Christ, he also spoke of God’s faithfulness and the importance of his parent’s prayers. So I feel like I have been given a road map that is hard to follow, but proven true.
Finally, I want to say that it feels very vulnerable for me to go public with this. I know that this will likely shatter the image many have of our family and I am somewhat grateful for that because perfection is impossible to live up to, but I am also feeling raw and when I chose to share the situation with a friend a few weeks ago, her response and words were so hurtful that I have only told one person since then. What I am saying is that I am not up to handling harsh comments at the moment. We need support. We need prayer. Our son needs prayer. Prayers appreciated. Judgement, not so much.
Whatever your true struggle has been this week: a cluttered house, yelling at your kids, battling your weight, harbouring resentment towards a sister-in-law, taking out your frustrations on your husband, feeling guilt over the unfinished lists, refusal to forgive, distance in your relationship with God, feeling inadequate, feeding your kids cereal for supper, having unmet expectations, wishing for something you can’t have, not teaching your kids, skipping church, cutting someone off in traffic, being choked by anger, ignoring your responsibilities, wearing dirty socks because there’s no clean laundry… join in the Truth Tuesday link up.