Friday, February 24, 2012

Adoption Perspective... Fear and Transitions

I wanted to share about one thing I learned in helping our kids transition into our care... and how fear plays a part in those transitions. And as part of my theme for this blog is "perspective" I want to share how I experienced a huge perspective change in the reality and nature of fear.

I wrote about all the ways I tried to help our big boy transition into our care... and really I think we did a knock out job of helping him feel safe, secure and that we love him and he could trust us. In some ways, his transition was far more easy for me to understand and feel compassion for than it was for me to understand with Thea. I think I saw the physical fear in his face and eyes when I met him. He really did wonderful and had very little problems adjusting to us and our new role in his life.

That brings me to where fear took hold of me. We were always really uncertain if adding 2 new kids was a "good idea"... it was a subject of months of weighing and wrestling with... there were so many up sides for our kids (the new ones), a few downsides, and we knew a bigger and heavier commitment and responsibility on our shoulders and parents. Then there was always the thought, "What if we get a child that needs more than we are able (or feel capable) of giving them?" It was not an easy choice. But at some point early last summer we realized that there was a series of events that had lead us to both of our kids, and we had tried to find other alternatives (particularly for our daughter) but all fell through nearly immediately. We were certain she was meant to be our daughter.

But, then again, after meeting our sweet girl in September I had a bunch of doubts all over again if we could be the kind of parents and family that *she* needed. It was as if all those fears and uncertainty returned to me with a vengeance. It was almost like drowning in fear! For one, I had gone home with a sweet little boy who really made our life easy... we enjoyed, for those 3+ weeks, a family-life that was almost simple. And I liked it. We knew that we'd most likely return for Thea in January... when we were ready and able to give her the time and attention we thought she would need... but then almost immediately we had another court date for her! I was immobilized in this fear that "I didn't have what it took" to be a mom of 5 or to be her mom!

I was also worried about getting on the plane to go back because I thought that we'd lose our court date again, for legitimate reasons due to circumstances that were taking place in country at that time. I was so worried and not wanting to go back that Tim had to make a deal with me like you would an 8 year old going to camp, his "deal" was if after one week things had not worked out I could come home, and he had already booked that ticket so I knew he was telling the truth. I feared the unknown, all the hard things I had to do on my own and I felt completely unable to skillfully take care of the possible problems that I could potentially come up while I was there! Then there was Thea and all of the hard things we had dealt with when I had cared for her the first time.

Now I feel really silly about it all... silly, that I should have known God would work it all out and that this was never up to us, but on His timing and in His will!... but all I could feel was that overwhelming dread and fear! 

But... the fear was real, even if the circumstances were just possibilities.

Walking through that fog of fear I some how found my way back to her and "just did the next thing" for about 5 days. After those days I realized that instead of a screaming terrified baby, I had a really sweet, and happy baby that wanted me... as her mom. All of the logistics and issues in court worked themselves out... perfectly. Amazingly. I was humbled.

For three days after that I felt like I had been hit by a truck... it might have been jet lag, a baby that was up a few times at night or something else, but I really just had to lay around and rest because I felt so depleted! I even worried that maybe I had gotten a "bug" or was beginning to get malaria... but I didn't. I was just wiped out... I now think it was from all the stress and fear that I had surrounding me that week or two prior.

Fear is such a weird thing.

It is an emotion, but it has physical, mental and even the ability to change how you view people and circumstances. I physically felt different during that week, my stomach in constant knots, feeling hyper, unable to sleep and unable to relax and even slightly suspicious and paranoid.

I have never ever felt those things before in my life... or at least to that degree and in that overwhelming of a way! There were times I had to say, "Marci, this just doesn't make sense what you are feeling! You need to think other thoughts..." and I would pray.

And you know, eventually, I realized that must be exactly how sweet Thea felt for sometime (if not much longer). When I realized that that is what she was going through I immediately felt so so broken at my inability to have understanding for her! I feel so glad I had that horrible week of fear just to understand how she must have felt too!

I understood her restlessness at night, her fits of screaming, her drowsiness all day long and her desire just to "shut off" and zone out. She was afraid! She was dreading the unknown, she felt suspicious and untrusting of me and others, she felt wiped out and even potentially sick feeling. And when we moved rooms it was highly scary and alarming to her because she didn't know what that would mean for her!

Again, I am so so thankful that I went through that horrible week... it wasn't the week that was really horrible, but my fear in the unknown of what that week might hold.

In one of the books that we read on adoption that seemed to have the most "sense" and logic to it, the author talks about how it is one of the most important tasks for parents of adopted kids to help them have "felt safety", it isn't that it is truly unsafe around them, but that they perceive more fear in situations, more insecurity and that our job is to help them understand and feel safe in our care!

That is what God did for me. While I was in the airport, half way there, I sort of had a breakdown... I just didn't want to get on that last plane to UG... I wanted to run home! I was internally wrestling with God saying, "God, I want to go home! I know (because that was what fear was telling me) I will get to UG and be told the judge will not show up, I'll wait for weeks all alone and I am not even sure we should be bringing Thea home... I am so afraid... I can't do this on my own! Why does your Word not tell me what I should do?" I felt this voice say, "David... David was afraid... look to his words."

I opened Psalm 1

"1 Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
2 but whose delight is in the law of the LORD,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
3 That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers. judgment,

4 Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the

nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction."

Every word was like cool water to me, it calmed me, gave me perspective and peace. Every day of my 26 day trip I read the next Psalm in order... every day it addressed the need or fear I had for that day! It was "felt safety" for me. It reminded me I have a Father who cares, provides, is trust-worthy and in control... and I need not fear.

The last verse I read on concluding my 26 day second trip was Psalm 26:12,
"My feet stand on level ground; in the great congregation I will praise the LORD."

That is what our God does for us. He helps us overcome fears and to stand on the level ground of Him... so that we can give Him glory! That is also what we are to do for our kids.

How can we be that kind of parent for our kids?
Do we brush off their fears as silly or do we help address their fears as something real, but help them see the situation through that new perspective?


Captain Murdock said...

Beautiful post, and hit me powerfully where I am right now - one week after bringing home an older child from ET who is experiencing crazy fear, and this new mom to 5 littles who feels completely inadequate has a fair amount herself.

Marci said...

You know I think it is so good and fitting when we can taste just a small portion of what our kids are going through... I wouldn't shy away from it. We are inadequate! BUT we also have no reason to doubt, feel pity or regret... because if God has called you to this then you can know HE and He alone with help you mother and bring up these kids! He is the "author and perfecter of our faith" and we aren't perfected through any thing easy... Hugs!!! So nice to know others are walking this crazy path too!