Lately, I’ve been thinking about throwing in the towel, closing this joint down, and pretending like this blog never even happened. Because, my life isn’t that interesting, and what could I really even have to say, and being open with all of you is HARD!
And then, as I’m going about my day something strikes me. A thought, a phrase, a situation that brings my heart joy or deep grief…and I find myself wanting to share this thing with you, to encourage you or challenge you…maybe sometimes even to make you laugh.
So, after weeks of silence this is where I find myself, with a thought that I want to share with you so badly that I’ve decided to allow you to see into my heart a little bit.
I have had this thought for a week or so…or this stream of thoughts really…about adoption, and parenting, and teenagers…I feel like I’m ALWAYS sharing about this, but this is my reality so it probably is going to be something I talk about…anyways, back to the thought.
It began as I left a brief conversation with a kind and loving woman that left me a bit unsettled…not angry and not hurt, it’s just that something about the conversation didn’t sit right with me…it’s a conversation I’ve had before, and the words she said I will most likely hear again.
“Adopting a teenager is such a hard thing to do.”
Why does this statement bug me so much? It’s true. Adopting a teenager is hard. But, I think what bugs me about it is the implication that adopting a teenager is somehow harder than adopting an infant, a child, or having a biological child…but is it?
Is there some sort of scale I don’t know about, some sort of system for quantifying and measuring the difficulties of parenting that I have been left in the dark about? Do biological moms sit around discussing their child raising and the one that has it the easiest gets some sort of all expenses paid trip to a private island, and poor me doesn’t even get to be in the running for it because I adopted a teenager (insert dramatic music here)!?!
Sure, there are things that are harder. Walking through his grief and trauma with him is hard. When behavioral issues arise, weeding through what’s learned, what’s instinctive, and what’s teenager is challenging.
The moment I became a mom was hard. It wasn’t simply an elated moment of joy where the child I had spent 9 months growing and loving finally arrived. Instead it was a moment where the child I had spent years praying for and loving from a distance was finally here, and that moment of joy was shared with deep grief, because to acknowledge me as mom means to recognize the loss of the two moms that came before me. The moment I became his mom meant choosing to open my heart fully, to love him with abandon as a mom should, and then to grow into that in time…and to pray he would choose to love me back…it is still a bit terrifying! So yeah, that’s hard.
But, how do I quantify if this is harder than parenting any other child, if these pains are worse than having the child of your womb telling you they hate you…because I’m pretty sure that HURTS!!!
Then, this week, clarity came in the form of a shared video on FaceBook and I heard these beautiful words…
“Healthy seems easier, healthy seems normal, healthy seems nice. What I didn’t know then is that easy, and normal, and nice would do little to make me a better and more complete human being.” Heather Avis watch the video here
Those two sentences welled up a crazy mix of emotions in my heart and I found myself overwhelmed with grief and joy…seriously, I can’t even write about it or re-watch the video without becoming a crying mess…they are written not about teenagers, but about adoption in general, and adopting children with special needs specifically. But, they spoke so clearly to my heart because I suddenly realized why that statement above had bothered me so much…
IT’S A LIE
It’s not harder…it’s scarier, more complicated, messier, and abnormal.
But so many of us have bought into the lie that somehow adopting older children is harder. Adopting children with special needs is harder. And when faced with the opportunity or the challenge this is the lie that many of us tell ourselves to justify inaction…I’m so guilty of this when it comes to special needs.
But, the truth is, our lives were never meant to be about easy, simple, or normal.
My mom-ness may be more complicated than most. I may not have memories of my child as an infant or toddler. I didn’t hear his first words, or see when he took his first steps. I wasn’t there to send him off to his first day of school. But I have been given an incredible gift. Because when those moments come when I’m discouraged…as they do for all parents…when I feel inadequate, and like there’s no way I can be the parent I need to be, there is a sudden gust of wind that rushes in and lifts me back up and reminds me…I was chosen for this…I was chosen for him…he was chosen for me.
Is adopting a teenager hard…yes. Is raising a young man hard…yes! Is being a parent hard…YES!
But this was never meant to be about simple and easy. Because what growth, what depth, what demonstration of true love ever came out of simple and easy?
6 thoughts on “Is it harder?”
I use to work in the Human Services office with Deneen many years ago and I can say with fair certainty that the woman was attempting to give you a compliment because most people want a younger child that they can “raise the way that they want and who wont have habits that they will have to break” for lack of better words. These are the typical statements from those who don’t love and see as we do as Christian’s, to love a child, to love one another as Jesus loved us. I think you and Ian are doing a wonderful job, I read your blogs and am amazed at your journey and feel blessed that I can say I know such a strong woman. Please don’t loose your hope or faith and when someone says something like that just remember everyone needs love and not everyone is saved and able to provide that love.
Thank you so much for this. I have heard, and even felt those statements before. But then I look at my parents, their siblings, and my brothers and I, and my husband and his brothers…and am smacked in the face with the reality that this is not something we can control. I have habits, made choices, and struggled through ailments that my parents did not teach me or choose for me, or for themselves. I think this is what I was hoping to communicate, that these things we tell ourselves to justify our desire for simple and normal are a deception, because simple and normal aren’t a choice for us.
WOW! What a perspective… what a eye-opener.
“But so many of us have bought into the lie that somehow adopting older children is harder. Adopting children with special needs is harder. And when faced with the opportunity or the challenge this is the lie that many of us tell ourselves to justify inaction…I’m so guilty of this when it comes to special needs.
But, the truth is, our lives were never meant to be about easy, simple, or normal. ”
This is so on the dot. And where I’m at, I feel like the “hard” road IS the one I’m meant to be on, and because God has deemed that so it’s not about it being “hard,” but right, and rewarding and life changing.
And the lies we believe. Honestly I was under the impression that adopting older children, or other children, or something other than the norm is harder due to the fact that when it’s your own child, you have the nine months, the time, the infancy to “break into it,” and learn as the child is growing to walk into the big shoes of being a parent. But I see the lie now, generated to complicate things, and what an idea– to JUSTIFY INACTION. And the lie is that you’re thrown into it, but I see now that God is bigger than a timeline; he WAS preparing you before the time came, he didn’t neglect or overlook anything a “normal” new mother needed in preparation.. in fact his spirit has been equipping you and providing you in this calling just as his word says he does, and that’s been evident! Thanks for sharing this thought, I know it opens up many perspectives and renders your story that much more vulnerable, but this has seriously given me a new, greater perspective into letting go of the lies we’re learned to believe for the sake of BUT GOD. To say the least… 🙂
“It’s not about being “hard” but right” YES!!!
Oh, and just an interesting fact, from the moment we attended our first parenting class to Andrew entering our home it was 9 months 🤗 my abnormal pregnancy
Love this, God used this to bless me. Thanks friend, I’m praying for you and your family:-)
THis is a great article and really mad when me reevaluate the way I thought about older child adoption. I think what can be so scary is realizing that child has done more living than you will ever do. That they lived a life that was not pleasant and thus carry scars both physical and emotional, is scary. Thank you for putting some of it into perspective. Sometimes we need to ask the right questions before we can get the answers we are looking for.
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