Family photo 2013

Family photo 2013

Monday, September 09, 2013

In changing me I change everything.

I thought I was a decent parent. By most common standards of measurement, I dare to say I was. We had a lot going for us as a family. My husband and I were deeply devoted to one another as well as to our five children. Willing, yearning actually, we hoped for more. Our eyes had become slowly, the slightest bit open to suffering. Our hearts ached for the moms and dads like us who tragically lost the ability to usher their little ones into adulthood.We were eager to make a difference in the world, to do something that would leave an ineradicable legacy, a lasting impression that would truly count to someone. Or some two.

In an attempt to avoid the almighty pursuit of excess, we wanted to extend a conscious choice to revolt against The American Dream, to buck tradition of ever seeking gain, to usurp the long reaching, tightly clenching grasp the fingers of materialism threatened to hold.

Adopting waiting, special needs kids would be our method of service.

We would bring them into our family. We would share all we had to give. We would provide our home, our attention, our education and medical care, our food and clothing and shelter and sporting activities and new sneakers and birthday cakes and our relative affluence.

Abandoning The American Dream for ourselves, we would offer its glory to them. The Land of Opportunity would be theirs to claim.

We knew we would change their lives. Neither of us ever once questioned that. Everywhere we went people reminded us of as much. What you're doing is so amazing, helping children in need. In this scenario there were clearly defined roles. Us: Hero. Them: Rescued.

I had no way of knowing just what would unfold as time played out our deck of cards. It became quickly apparent to me I didn't hold The Hero's Hand. Nothing I tried worked with them. I was a parent already, for goodness sake. I had a few year's hard won lessons under my mommy belt, why was I so horrendously ineffective at bringing them around? Why were they rejecting me? 

I was dazed and confused. Wading through a whirlwind of absolute unfamiliarity within the walls of my own familiar home, my life became a foreign entity to me. I sunk low. My eyes grew dim, my days darkened. I was desperate for reprieve from the failure that had become my daily, hourly, nightly comrade.

I couldn't look at adoption books. I wouldn't bring myself to attend seminars and workshops and weekends. I didn't want to talk adoption lingo. I avoided every means of assistance imaginable. I wasn't in a place to rise high enough to dig deep. Though it was selfish, I was set to wallow.

I never saw a therapist, yet I believe it's safe to say I was in a state of depression. I just couldn't bring myself around to rally. I wished I had an out. Surviving was our new highest ideal. Thriving seemed out of the question.

We made it through. I got up each morning and kept the kids fed and clothed. I read and played and cleaned.

Slowly, ever so slowly, the lightness began to creep back in. We made progress. We digressed. There were glimmers of hope, there were valleys of despair. Little by little, I found my Want To again. Like the morning dew, motivation refreshed my soul once more.

With new found vigor, I plunged head first into my adopted children's lives. I would pull them up. I intently craved normalcy. With plenty of hard work and commitment on my part and theirs, they would become like the rest of them. We would, once and for all, live Happily Ever After.

I pushed and prodded and slogged along. Trying, trying, trying. Always the trying. Something new. Something else. Another method. A new technique.

Their progress was not as I intended it to be. Why weren't they game for the utterly uh-mazing program I was introducing? They rebuffed my efforts, unwilling, unable to measure up to my recently set standards. As it turned out, resuming Life as The Deutsch Family Knew It was not their goal.

Stubborn, I continued to try and force things along. On an entirely different page in an entirely different book, they did not conform to my handy dandy checklist for personal growth, attachment, healing, and most importantly, overall advancement.

Through this I learned, I am continuing to learn, I will continue to learn, a most crucial lesson.

I couldn't reform these kids on my schedule. My timetable is not their timetable. My convenience is not, will not ever be, should not be their aim.

They are children. Children who have suffered greatly. Children that I was drawn to with all the benevolence my heart could hold. Children that need the time and space and freedom to advance at their own pace. Children who must overcome a great deal to learn to trust in forever commitment when they were taught early that forever doesn't last. Children who hold scars and injuries that refuse to be placed on a clock that must be fixed overnight, over days, over months, over years. It will take as long as it takes. It will take until. It may take heaven. Pushing too hard simply pushes them away.

As I back off, accepting them as they are, exactly where they are, without expectation for more or disappointment over what is, they begin to crawl forward, toward me rather than away. They offer me a genuine smile, a sincere hug, their exuberant laughter, a sentence of unsolicited random conversation about nothing at all which means everything to me.

As I adapt my approach to what works for them rather than asking them to jump aboard what works for me, our days grow sweeter. My expectations relax. My heart softens. My sense of normalcy modifies.Our lives lighten.

Our relationships flourish. Not like my relationships with my other kids, which were instant and intense from the first moment, but in their own way. With beautiful uniqueness. As a friendship blossoms with unfolding pockets of revelation.

I decide to stop laboring so intently so I may see change in them.

They patiently teach me so that I may finally changing me, I change everything.

1 comment:

Dawn said...

Worded perfectly. I went into adoption expecting one thing, and instead find myself here on my knees. It's humbling.

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