Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Why I Refuse to be a Survivor.

I can call him my son and not allow him to live in our house. 
I can miss him and despise the chaos. 
I can grieve for him and laugh at stupid jokes.  
I can love him and let him go. 

The Roanoke Times wrote an article recently about my breast cancer story. You can read it here- I am a Survivor. 

I have had coffee with other trauma mommas seeking advice, and to just be heard and know that they are understood, as we compare our stories of parenting kids with early trauma. Parenting RAD- I am a survivor. 

I have survived my sadness and grief at the graves of many; but not like the world grieves because I know where they are. God's word tells me, based on their testimony of faith that they are happy and safe and free from all that we are left to survive here. 

October 23, has been a big deal for us since 2006. In the adoption circles, it is referred to as "Gotcha" day. The day we picked up our two youngest sons is forever engraved in my mind. The mad flurry of activity between the phone call around 3:30 pm and actually walking up to the social worker's car around 6 pm - picking my middle child (then 18 months old) up out of his car seat. I carried him beside their nine year old sister who carried my youngest (then less than a day from turning six months old) into the Emergency Room for routine physicals- done when children come into foster care. They came, literally with the clothes on their backs, filthy blankets and crib shoes. 

Immediately, we were willing to give everything for them. The cost didn't matter (I'm not just talking dollars). The forever day came three years later, in November. 

This year, October 23, wants to focus on the pain, heartbreak and a reality that I would never had imagined back then. The indignation that welled up in me when I was asked to sign annual papers acknowledging they would still be my sons. 

Who would do that? I mean, I was saving them from that very thing? And we were promising to love them forever. 

Who? Me. 

I'm the one who has had to let my son go. After more than 12 full years of loving him no matter what. Years of learning that I could not save him from himself. From his disorder. From the trauma that came before us. From his illness. From his anger. From his control. From his failure to attach. From his choices. 

Oh, how I tried to fix him. To fix us. To save what is so precious to me. 

October 4, 2019 a judge finalized the dissolution of the adoption for our middle son. 

It was never our plan-never what we expected. Because we loved so deeply, it was supposed to be enough. 

But, human love cannot always overcome human trauma. Some disorders are permanent and pervasive. RAD is such a disorder.

Often, grieving for our son feels more crushing than any graveside; we don't know where he is. We don't know if he is okay and we wonder if he can ever be happy. This reality would make it easy to say adoption doesn't work. 

But that isn't true. The relinquishment of our parental rights, to ensure our son gets the services and treatment the complicated Attachment disorder requires,  doesn't diminish that we had twelve years of pouring into him; of giving him more than he had. Of loving him. 

Because adoption does work our youngest is at home. We get to lay eyes on him everyday, ground him from his phone, argue about getting up for school and encourage him to make good choices and to remember who he belongs to and who loves him best. And whether my middle son lives in my house, or carries my last name, or ever speaks to me again the truth is the same... Jesus loves him best too. 

Because of our son's adoption we've gotten a better glimpse of God's love for us- that unconditional, letting us go to choose for ourselves who we give control to- kind of love. The love that assures that no matter what, once we confess and turn our sinful selves over to God, we bear His name. 

No matter how far we push Him away; how we fight for and decide our control of our own selves matters most; we are still adopted as His own and He promised forever. 

Gotcha Day 2019 well, honestly kind of sucks this year. We're trying to celebrate the happy and not fall under the weight of the sadness of it all. 

Within my own strength, my own love, my own abilities to be what my son needs most, I can barely claim survival. 

But giving back to God what is His, trusting Him to do and be for our son what we cannot; obeying in adoption, and again, obeying when He clearly asked us to let go...well that makes Rex and me more than survivors, it makes us Conquerors. 

Romans 8:37 says
"Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us."

His love is perfect. 

In case you missed it, (I miss it a lot) His love is perfect. 

And it reaches me, and my husband, our sons in their pain...including Elijah in his. It reaches you, too. 

It is up to each of us to give the control to God. Let our indignation well up against sin, disease, and disorders that destroy but not against the people carrying them. Y'all, that is a daily, hourly, sometimes minute by minute struggle.  

The giving up is only possible in the letting go. 

How can I say I love my son when I let him go?
How can I grieve the loss of not parenting him when I know that contact limited to written letters is the only safe way forward? 
How can Rex and I get up each morning and walk into another day- not sure who, or where judgment and hurt will lurk from? 


I refuse to be a survivor.  
I'm choosing to be more than a Conqueror. 

And that promise to love him forever, it's a keeper. Because love isn't always the way we picture it, but once you give everything for it, you don't just stop it. 

Happy Wednesday y'all, 

Saturday, July 27, 2019

Taking My Hands Off.

If you're around me much at all, you know I can't be still.  Not in an attention deficit way, I can totally focus on whatever I need to, for however long I need to. I just can't be still. 

It's just me. 

So, I struggled recently when I found myself again clinging to God's word, especially the Psalms. Specifically one that most people have heard whether they are believers or not, Psalm 46:10. 

The one that people have tattooed on their wrists and engraved on necklaces. The verse that says
"Be still and know that I am God" 

...well, I felt like I was failing Him because even in my devotion, quiet time and worship I can't be still. I wondered if I was being disrespectful or irreverent. 

This last year, especially with so much of my life that I cannot control or, even in learning the parts that I could control were toxic for our family, I was trying to be still.

Have you ever been there? Are you with me so far?

The hard lately, fear and insecurity about the most difficult decision of our lives (so far) keeps me even busier. Over-thinking every.single.decision. In trying to hold on to my son, to my marriage, to my faith, to everything in my life I find precious I realized I was actually striving, wrestling against God. 

Y'all, that ain't good. 

A few months ago I was reading a newsletter from a missionary friend.  He was telling about his daughter and how she loves it when he takes his hands off of the steering wheel when driving the hole-filled roads in Uganda. He explained the real meaning of Psalm 46:10 and how the Hebrew for be still, really means to let go, to take our hands off. 

Well, that certainly frees us up, doesn't it. 

So instead of sitting still and being quiet, I just need to stop striving. I don't need to figure it out, I just need to take my hands off and know that God is. 

He is bigger. He is more loving. God is working it out, with the entire picture in sight. He has an expected end and he doesn't need my help. But He sure wants my obedience and trust. 

We recently went to Pigeon Forge, TN to support our son and his youth group as they did ministry there. We were able to enjoy some free time with our young(er) friends.

When Rex and I have been asked what it is like to trauma parent, and ultimately make the decision to let our son go, the closest way to describe it is like riding a roller coaster. A big, scary coaster that twists and turns, goes upside down and backwards. The kind that you scream and think will never end, and then you see the straight stretch just ahead and you know you're at the end of that terrible ride and will be able to get off. Except, with trauma parenting, every time we would approach the gate and think we were finished, instead of the staff stopping the ride and letting us off, the coaster would speed past and take round again. Only the track is just different enough that we could never prepare for what was coming. No matter how much I screamed and cried and begged for an end, we just kept looping again. And again. The only way to survive was to hold on and pray that I didn't fall out. And the tighter I held onto to the desire to parent my son, to be part of his healing, to do everything I could do, the crazier the ride got.  

After much prayer and gallon jugs of tears (carefully collected and saved by my Jesus) Rex and I decided to let go- to relinquish rights to our son so he can have access to the care he needs if he will ever heal from Reactive Attachment Disorder. 

We decided to stop fighting what is, stop trying to figure things out (aka make things work the way we want them to work) and literally, take our hands off of our son; not knowing how it will end. 

While we were in Pigeon Forge, we spent several hours at Dollywood. These young friends of ours talked us in to riding a roller coaster. It has been a lot of years and both Rex and I had said we would never do that again. But we did. We got on The Thunderhead, a big wooden coaster that took us round and round, up and down speeding so fast I could hardly see what was coming. I screamed- the entire time and at no time did I let go of the safety bar in front of me. It was new and different and scary and I couldn't see the track. We got off and I felt victorious, but done with coasters. 


We walked up the hill and found another coaster- some people would call it a kiddy ride. But because you could see the entire coaster it seemed safer. So Stephanie and I waited in line (with the little kids) and took our seats on the coaster. 

There were hills and twists and turns and it even went pretty fast- but I could see the drops so you know what I did? 

Yes! I took my hands off, threw them in the air and enjoyed the ride. I laughed. Out loud. I felt safe and free. 

Stephanie and me on the Kiddy Coaster
The ride with our son, it's kind of like moving from that big scary coaster, to one where I can see more of the track and feel safer. 

I can't see the end of our story. I can't know the end of Elijah's story. I won't know where all the twists and turns and drops are coming next in our life, but I do know that in God's will I am safe. I am free and commanded to take my hands off. 
Joy in Letting Go
I'm choosing to stop holding on to the safety bar, to throw my hands in the air and laugh out loud- enjoying knowing that God is all I need and that He will be exalted. 

Y'all, can I encourage you to take your hands off. Practice being still by throwing your hands in the air and giving your hurts, challenges, fear and anxieties to the one who will be exalted. Trust in the safety of the One who can give you joy and laughter even tho' the ride is a little scary. 

Happy Saturday y'all!

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