Wednesday, December 20, 2023

 The Highlight Reel    

I would assume, that we've all been guilty, at times, of only sharing the highlight reel of our lives.  You know how it goes... posting a photo of something amazing but cropping out the 'ugly' before sharing, or documenting a great family experience when there was actually some pretty thick tension in the live feed of the moment. Maybe you've been guilty of allowing that green monster of jealousy to settle in as you swipe through friends' vacation album. Or maybe you've zoomed in to the background of a photo to see what a friend or family member's home looks like or what they have...  

I wrote a bit ago that I wanted {or needed} to use this platform to share about our experiences surrounding foster care / adoption.  This is a tough blog to write. The insecurity and apprehension about our reality is real.  One of our children has a disorder called RAD - stands for Reactive Attachment Disorder and it's the most confusing, frustrating, difficult behavior pattern to deal with (IMO).  Our entire life outside of our home most often feels like being forced to show a highlight reel and restrained from being able to be real - somewhat opposite of what we choose to do through social media, yet equally damaging. Not allowed to be transparent. Forced to stay silent. Forced to smile and pretend everything is great. We as parents feel it so deeply, but so do our other 6 children. I know the controversy over sharing things about your adoptive kids. Folks say it's their story to tell - while I understand where that opinion comes from, the truth is, this is OUR story currently. The reasoning for RAD has nothing to do with us, but it now affects EVERY aspect of our lives! It affects our other children deeply. We need the support, through prayer and words of encouragement, especially to the siblings of our child with RAD! If a biological child had a sickness or issue, you rarely hear parents say that it's their story to tell - so, we share for encouragement, for prayer, for relationship and for the freedom to be real. Here's a small glimpse of what's on my lately...

Recently we've entered a new phase of parenting our child with RAD. Behaviors aren't as subtle, lies aren't covert any more, incidents are no longer sporadic, but daily. We've noticed a particular increase in false accusations, unhealthy behaviors and disobedience.  We have so many wonderful, well-meaning friends that are loving on our RAD child, and we are thankful, yet it's creating a web of manipulation and increase in negative behaviors. I am praying as I type that my heart would be seen and heard and that God would direct all of our words and actions towards her to point her in the direction of true, deep relationship with Jesus first, us as her parents next, her siblings and then all of the other fantastic family & friends in our circle! 

Recently, I had a conversation with our daughter about her destructiveness, mean behaviors to siblings, daily lying and even stealing (yes, I know.... most folks reading this would be scratching their heads and trying to figure out if someone else has taken over my blog because it seems so ludicrous).  The question that I needed to ask had been on my mind for weeks and I guess I had chosen not to ask because I was wanting to stay in the dark about the answer I felt she might give.  One night recently after an especially challenging 24-36 hours, I just decided it was time. The question was asked, "What is it? Or is there anything in this world that would make you want to stop lying and/or stealing?" I went on to explain that I was asking if there was anything that would be so undesirable that it would motivate a shift in mindset and create a desire to do right (be honest and trustworthy).  I knew the potential answers and even felt like I might know what might be said, yet I was still so saddened by the answer - a very matter-of-fact "Nothing."  I tried to go deeper and explain more - like Honey, what if it meant you could prevent a terrible sickness like cancer in your body (not that sickness is that simple but trying to dig deep into the thoughts & heart)? Nope. What if not changing meant losing contact with your biological brothers? Nope. What if it meant keeping our family safe? Nope. What if it meant choosing Heaven; choosing goodness, mercy, forgiveness, peace, joy and freedom from all the trauma? Nope.  

Not going to lie, it crushed my heart. But the answer to the next question I asked, hurt my heart even more.... "What do you suggest we do for you? How do we respond to hearing that you have no desire to do right or quit these behaviors that hurt and are negatively impacting our family?"  "I guess I can just leave. I'll just live with ***** (the name of a classmate she has never mentioned previously). Or I can just go find someone else to live with."  Talk about a punch to the gut!  We are more than 4.5 years into relationship with each other. She has lived in our home for far, far longer than anywhere she had ever lived before! To hear that she does not feel attached to us as her parents, her siblings, or even her biological siblings that she lived life with prior to us, was one of the most heartbreaking things I've ever tried to wrap my head around. 

We need prayer for direction. We need prayer for our daughter. We need prayer for our other 6 children that daily experience such hard situations due to one child. We need prayer for our marriage and family to remain strong. We need prayer for spiritual growth to take place and for breakthrough. RAD can not be managed like typical neglect situations and we ask for support for our family, though it will not look like you think it should.  We have to keep her circle very small. We have to control every aspect of her life in an effort to make her feel safe enough to begin to trust us as her parents. This is soooo often misunderstood. Folks see her as missing out or being treated differently. We catch the looks of confusion of people around us.  As hard as it is, everything has to go through us so she can begin to see us as her family. 

A few Sunday's ago (prior to our convo above) as I was leading More Than Able, a song I have sang and played over her, literally countless times, I became overwhelmed with emotions. Emotions of why? Why haven't You done a work in her life yet, God? Are You going to do the miracle we've been praying for and believing You for? Will we ever see her in a place of mental health and wholeness? Will she beat the odds of a 70% chance of adult life on the streets or incarcerated?  I very clearly felt that Holy Spirit nudge to listen and look... What I saw and heard has given me such a sweet sense of calm.  While I fully believe and still plead for healing for my child, there is the factor of her will and desire to receive the Lord's healing and help. BUT, while He is at work in her life, He is equally More Than Able to sustain me as her Mama!  I am more than able to walk this path with grace and endurance. Our marriage doesn't have to be strained by this! Our children don't have to grow up with massive damage emotionally or physically because God is more than able to grow in them through this!  I've read that God's calling will crush you and I'd say I've lived that a few times over already. Yet, this situation makes all the others seem so simple. It is crushing, but in the crushing He is there! He is at work! The amazing thing about our Father is that while the crushing of life, the effects of sin, difficulty, etc is happening, He is simultaneously at work rebuilding all that the enemy is trying to use to destroy us. I'm praying we allow the weight to push out everything that doesn't resemble Christ and that as He makes us more like Him, our children will grow closer to Him and His calling for their lives! We said yes to her, knowing her diagnosis, because we know Jehovah Rapha. Our prayer is that although the past has happened and was out of her control, the future will be determined by who she chooses to follow and we would love for you to join us in prayer that she chooses Jesus!!!

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  The Highlight Reel      I would assume, that we've all been guilty, at times, of only sharing the highlight reel of our lives.  You k...