(Erika's picture from the lake)
This will make some angry. WHY? Because when you are in the process of helping a hurting child it is HARD. You begin to second guess your decisions, your views, and if your child can really be helped. And the challenge of changing our ideas of successful parenting can be very scary.
But when I say the word LOVE. I do not mean "loving intentions", "wanting to do a nice thing", "Like".... I mean laying down your life LOVE. AGAPE LOVE. Love that does not act unbecomingly towards another but always does what is best. LOVE that DOES NOT FAIL and is NOT conditional.
Some say that is impossible. In Christ, ALL THINGS ARE POSSIBLE! But we have to humble ourselves to learn a different way.
Our children have come from horrific circumstances at all different ages. They each had to learn very, very basic things, like what a family is. They each had to learn that they were safe. They each had to learn that mom and dad WILL NOT HURT them, EVER.
They had to learn that LOVE is something they have never known.... The kind of love that is real anyway. The kind that keeps them safe, cares for them, does what is best for them, tucks them in , holds them, rocks them, feeds them, and CHERISHES THEM. They had to LEARN to accept being CHERISHED! Why? Because not one of them felt worthy of love.
So WHY do they NOW? And they ALL DO....
Grace filled, love filled, parenting is a process....
It is the process of laying ones life down for another. It is the process of putting everything aside, to help that one lost little one. It is the process of carefully, OH SO CAREFULLY and GENTLY introducing our children to family life, to truth, and exposing them to tender and loving correction, teaching them that they are precious even when they do wrong. And it is the process of introducing them to the fate of mankind. We live in a sinful and lost world. But there is a savior. "Let me tell you about Him." It is the process of teaching them to ask for forgiveness and to forgive! And this is VERY important, because there will be times where YOU must ask THEM for forgiveness. :)
It is also the process of teaching the children who are more secure, to lovingly and gently guide their sibling along the way, by example and in action.
If you are called to be the parent of a child who has faced great challenges, CONGRATULATIONS!
It is an honor that carries GREAT REWARD! :)
You will find out just how sinful your own heart is. You will find that you can be terribly foolish by angrily asking your child to stop being angry. :) You will find that your ONLY source of strength and hope comes from the Lord and HE will sustain you in times of great need.
You will find that your prayer life increases and that your focus is more directed. You will find that when YOU make changes, and YOU MODEL the behaviors you want to see in your children, your children, no matter where they came from or how old they are, WILL respond.
It will not happen overnight. You will have steps forward and steps backwards. I remember so well asking Miss Alli to trust me just a smidge.....:) You will see behaviors change and then out of the blue go back 10 steps..... DON'T GIVE UP and DON'T FREAK OUT!
Because when a child goes back.... they are about to LAUNCH FORWARD! This has been our experience MANY times! Sometimes they just have to make sure you are still going to love them IF...
As I reflect back on the last 34 years of parenting, (as of October 17) and then the beginnings with Miss Anna and then Miss Sarah, and then Miss Erika, and especially the last 20 months with Miss Alli, who didn't come home until she was 11 years old after TWO FAILED adoptions and horrific circumstances in Russia.... I rejoice in God my Savior at the loveliness I see in each of my children. I rejoice that I have been allowed to be a part of their lives and that in my flawed condition, God has seen fit to use Mike and I together, as a team to help them produce the fruitful fragrance of LOVE.