Loving the less-loveable. The side of adoption/foster/kinship care that no one wants to talk about.

I haven’t blogged in a really, really long time. Basically in the last 3 years since we got my hubby’s nice and nephew (informal- zero help or supports), I have been pretty radio silence. The main reason: It’s near impossible to focus on anything but the constant daily fires I’m putting out.

I have been thinking about adoption, foster care and kinship a lot lately, and just how stinking hard it all is. The 1st 3-4 years that we got our first adopted child (12 years ago now), I was every emotion under the sun. I remember on adoption day being in tears, fearful that dad would show up and halt or stop everything and at the same time fearful that I could never fully love her like my own child. That adoption day was was 10.5 years ago now. I love her every bit as much as my bio-kids. I forget she’s not of my own flesh. She is my girl! And believe me, she is not without her faults. She is 13, and by the very nature of being 13, she is problematic. The past trauma she endured has left its scars, nature cannot be erased…and sometimes it wins. But she doesn’t have huge unmanageable or noticeable deficiencies or deficits because of her past trauma.

3 years ago we took on 2 kids with major trauma. They weren’t 18 months old when they were removed from their trauma like our adopted daughter, they were 12 and 8. Most of you know that the oldest left our home after 2 years to go back to a space that felt more normal and more acceptable to her. I don’t blame that, though all of it has been…very…emotional. Trauma is a fire you can’t extinguishe, a volitile fire that could get out of hand or explode at any moment, taking down everything in its path. You think that the knowledge of the trauma, of the deficiencies, will make the frustration easier, but sometimes..(more than I’d like to admit), it just doesn’t.

Our little guy has FAS (Fetal Alcohol Syndrom). I don’t talk about it a whole lot, but man…I’ve just been really struggling with the pure ass whipping of the effects brought on by neglect and trauma. Hear me say, I LOVE HIM TO PIECES, but the effects of trauma are real, and the anger you feel for taking on the effects of someone else’s choices, choices that hurt a child that you are now simply trying to help survive…well, it takes all of the less refined words in every language to express that level of anger (if you know what I’m saying). I’ve actually thought about writing a book on adoption/kinship many times. There are so many books about love and creating connection, the gift of adoption. Many on the effects of trauma on the brain/body. But sometimes I just want to read something that says, ‘taking in kids from hard places, doing what’s right… it’s really stinking hard. People will tell you that you are great people, when you actually feel like terrible ones, because of all the real-live thoughts in your heads. You will want to give up sometimes, and that’s ok”. Where is that book??? Because it is ok that it’s hard to love hard kids. It’s ok when it’s not the same, it’s ok whe the relationship is a struggle. You’re answering a call that you feel is right (perhaps even a call from God- for beievers), but then it’s a giant dumpster fire way more than you thought it would be. I know, God didn’t say it would be easy or all lovely picturesque moments, but no one goes in expecting daily- beat your head against a wall- levels of hard.

Then, yesterday morning we sang one of my favorites songs in worship. So will I. I actually taught to the congregation on this song once (you know, in my past- pastoral life). The song says “If you gladly chose surrender, so will I. If all creation exists to lift you high, so will I”. That kind of praising, when nothing makes sense, when it’s not going your way, when you don’t want a surrender, when life is full of questions with terrifying answers…that is grueling. I taught on those lyrics in the midst of finding out that we weren’t going to get the 2 kids (that we ultimately ended up with)- that we had felt so called to. I taught it in the midst of my daughter having terrible seizures for years, multiple a-day, that wouldnt stop. I taught it in the midst of watching a friend praise and worship beautifully to the song one Sunday, after going through miscarriages and infertility. Singing the words “God of your promise… If you chose surrender, so will I. If all creation praises, so will I”. In the moments that I taught on this song, I was honest in saying those were hard words to profess. Yesterday morning, today, the past 3 years, they are hard again. They brought me to tears. I couldn’t stop.

At the end when it says, “Every precious one a child you died to save.  If you gave your life to love them, so will I. You’re the one who never leaves one behind”. Those words…I lost it. I completely lost it. It was my birthday yesterday and I sat in worship and I could not control myself. Thank God we went into a prayer as the song ended, so I could try and compose myself. Have I told you I’m not a crier and I truly detest crying in front of others? I was a MESS- and not the hot kind…more the snot kind… :(.

Every person I know whether they are a Christian or not, every person I know who has said yes to adoption, Foster, or kinship…this is what they are doing. They are giving their life to love someone, to try and save them. They are not leaving them behind. But man, it is so painstakingly, life alteringly difficult sometimes, that all the ugly feelings can creep in.

I cried because I know I’m failing. I’m not surrendering well. Im not loving well. I’m giving into anger, resentment, and frustration way more than im proud of. I’m giving into selfishness, not selflessness. That’s not surrender…that’s not worship. God never said that surrender would be rainbows and butterflies. He said take up your cross. Ugh! So this is me, just being real with you…telling you my real struggle and where my real heart is at, and how God touched me. Not so you’ll tell me I’m doing a great job or how awesome you think I am. Please don’t! Reality check is, I am a greatly, greatly, off the charts, flawed human- and love is hard. If thats you, struggling to love, I’m in the boat with you. I am in the boat scooping out the water daily, keeping it from going under as best I can, then praying and holding on for dear life (with a glass…or 2…of wine) when I can scoop no more!

One thought on “Loving the less-loveable. The side of adoption/foster/kinship care that no one wants to talk about.

  1. Very powerful and vulnerable at the same time. Praying for your struggles, Chantel. That you will feel God’s presence in a real way as you surrender.


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