Thursday, November 17, 2011
My biggest challenge as an adoptive parent
If people were to guess what my biggest challenge is an adoptive parent they might guess something about my kids -- something about watching them make mistakes, enduring their rages, forgiving them when they screw up, or the frustration of them making so little progress.
Or they might think about the people around me -- enduring the stares and criticism of people I don't know, putting up with comments from those I do know that think they can give me unsolicited advice or make observations about what I need to do. (For example, "Have you tried time outs?" Uh, yeah, duh, like a hundred times).
Or they might wonder if it was my relationship with Bart that was most challenging as we have kids who are triangulating and as we deal with the blows that come to us day after day.
However, I would say my biggest challenge is my own emotional management. Sure, it involves all the things above, but it is more about trying to keep myself on an even keel. Here are some of the emotions that I battle:
Anger, resentment unforgiveness and bitterness. The why questions of life that can plague me -- Why did God call me to do something so hard? Why did my children's birthparents give them such a horrible start? Why aren't things getting better when I am trying so hard?
Worry, Anxiety and Fear: Sometimes my anxiety goes haywire and I start to fixate on all the things that could be happening or might happen in the future with my kids. I have to convince myself that I can function in the midst of all of it.
Despair, Hopelessness, Resignation: Sometimes when I assess what is happening in my family I don't see much good. I forget how far the kids have come and I let myself believe that there is no hope -- that there is nothing more that I can do.
Every day I must battle, in some way or another, these three themes: Anger, Anxiety, and Despair. I have to realign my thinking, pray, talk to others, make good choices that affect my own well-being, and constantly adjust how I'm feeling and thinking.
The other night as I was talking to my mom, I thanked her for giving me such a great start in life... I told her that she and my dad gave me a brain that was undamaged by drugs or alcohol in utero and attached to me in very healthy ways. This resiliency is why I can continue to manage my own emotions.
She responded, "Yes, it's too bad that your kids couldn't have that same start." to which I commented, "But if they had, they wouldn't be my kids."
It's a constant process of reframing, recharging, getting things settled in my own mind and heart in what ever ways I can. Every day, every hour, managing negative emotions and turning them into positive ones.
I'd love to hear which of those 9 things I mentioned is the most difficult for you. I realize that my Minnesota readers probably can't be that open and candid (smile) but maybe the rest of you would like to share...