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Wednesday, January 15, 2014

What to do When You Can't Fix Your Child?

Our family is pretty open about how it was formed.  Before marrying, my husband and I hoped for a large family made up of a blend of adopted and biological children.  We were open to adopting all sorts of kids, but we had one small prerequisite:  They had to be somewhere in the 'difficult to place' category.

Whether that was due to age, health issues, parental background, or whatever, we wanted to give a home to a child that might not have one otherwise.  We were pretty realistic as to what that meant and might look like.

Our adopted kids all know their history, in an age appropriate way, and we make a point of honoring their birth parents, no matter what their story or life choices.  After all, it's because of them that we are privileged to raise these precious, amazing human beings.

But I underestimated the love I would have for these kids, and the powerful, overwhelming desire I would have to heal and fix and protect them.

We adopted first, from the foster care system, so I hadn't yet experienced a mother's emotions when our first beautiful daughter came into our lives.  It caught me by surprise, the intensity of this thing called maternal love.  I wanted nothing more than to erase every bad thing that had ever happen to her and do everything in my power to protect her from any further pain.

My love grew as daughter number two burst onto the scene.  I felt inadequate and unworthy to parent two such amazing, precious daughters, and to meet their varied and complicated needs, but I was soooo determined to be the best mom to them that I could.

By the time our son arrived, I thought I had a decent grip on the whole concept of doing the best you can and trusting it's enough.

I was wrong.

This precious kid was only an infant when he came to us. . .but we were his third foster home.  Born to a birth mom with multiple medical and substance abuse issues, his little brain had been formed in a toxic slurry.  No doctor could foresee the long term implications, but things didn't look promising.

I went right back to that place of feeling entirely inadequate, completely ill-equipped, and utterly without direction.  But oh, how I loved that beautiful little boy, and did my best to ignore predictions, focus on the present, and give him every possible chance to succeed.

He's nearly 13 years old now, and most fears from those early days never materialized.  Physically, he is a beautiful, healthy young man.  He loves sports and camping and is all boy when it comes to bathing and non-stop eating.

But he hasn't come through unscathed.  Behavioral and emotional issues area present, and they result in a shaky self-esteem.  There is a chasm between him at his best and when he is struggling to make healthy, safe choices.  A horrible, frustrating chasm.  One that I don't know how to bridge.

And I grieve.

I love this boy.  This frustrating, difficult, time-consuming, wonderful, talented, marvelous, precious boy.  My heart breaks for him as he walks through life with a burden not of his making. . .paying for choices he did not make.

I have spent hundreds of hours with doctors and therapists and counselors and teachers to try to find the way to keep the real him present and this angry shadow at bay.

I have spent years on my knees, offering to carry his burden if only he could be relieved.

I have cried rivers of tears for my precious, blue-eyed boy.

What do you do when you can't fix your child?

You trust that this is a journey that will end.  You trust that those involved will emerge stronger and more tempered and more compassionate.  You trust that in all the squeezing and refining and trials, a diamond is in the process of being born.

How?  By trusting the One who made your son and who loves him even more than you do.

I'll do this.  Why?   Because I love the One who gave me this son.  And because there is no other choice.

He's my son.  And this is a battle we will win.

(Photo courtesy of publicdomainpictures.net and can be found here.)

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