Sunday, July 7, 2013

Day 7: The Best Advice

Today's guest post is by Karen, mom to these three little ladies. 
When you grow your family, you get a lot of advice – some of it good, some not so good. My favorites are:
Sleep when they sleep.

Never wake a sleeping child.

Accept offers of help.

I had no problem executing the first two; as a matter of fact, I prayed for a child that would sleep well, long & often (an unanswered prayer!) because I love sleep. However, for a long time, I ignored the third.

I was the Queen of Competency. Blessed with gifts of administration and organization. Wrote the book on multi-tasking and functioning for days with little sleep.  The master of my domain – by myself!

When my second child arrived home at age 4 with autism, I struggled, but basically was able to do it all on my own – not well, but it all (mostly) got done, and we were surviving.

My third child, an older child adoption, changed all that. Only I was slow to accept the reality because of my Pride.

When our oldest daughter arrived home at 9 years old, she was full of emotions and fears and uncertainties. She underwent a huge cultural shift. She lost the only home she ever knew (and even if it’s a “bad” place, it’s a known place for them).  The loss of her biological family was finalized. She was in a foreign country with no language where everything was different. She lost everything she knew up until that moment.

That would be a lot for a healthy adult to process, but for a child whose developmental stages have been interrupted by trauma – it was a recipe for chaos.

Which is exactly what erupted in our home.

I struggled by myself for a long time trying to hold everything together – meeting everyone’s emotional, physical, and spiritual needs. I was trying to be everything for everyone – and several of those everyones had high needs and were struggling with trauma.

I was exhausted. My marriage was strained. My kids were a wreck.

I needed help.

Tangible, physical, come cook dinner for me and tend to one child while I soothe and calm the other two kind of help.

I lived in this chaos for months before getting help. Why?

My pride.

Pride – a deadly sin, for it isolates you, hurts those around you when you let it stand in your way, and goes against God’s plan for His people. His plan is for us to be in community and be part of the Body.
 Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function,  so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other.

This design is intentional. God’s plan requires we break the bonds of pride that say, "We are an island of sufficiency." It allows us to accept our dependence on God through the physical reality of accepting our dependence on others.
It humbles us. In a good way.

It also allows others the opportunity to participate in God’s grand plan for these hurting children. By allowing them to help you, you help them see what it truly means to lay down our lives for one another.

Share each other’s burdens, and in this way obey the law of Christ. If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.

One of the things we discovered was that the places help came from were not necessarily the places we expected. The family we expected to step up to the plate slowly receded into the background, while other family members unexpectedly waded into the deep with us. Friends who had stood by and prayed these children home disappeared, while those we considered merely acquaintances became the glue that sometimes held our family together.
That was something to process.

I also discovered that I had to do some work. I needed to figure out exactly what I needed, which is no small feat for someone who felt like she had never needed anything!

Help comes in many forms, and during this 31 Day series I will be writing about focusing on your friends and your church. I'll give you some ideas on how to figure out what you need and how to ask for it – hard things, but necessary and part of God’s design for us.

You can find Karen blogging at Casa de Alegria.

Here are all the posts in this series so far:
Day 1: Drowning in Paperwork
Day 2: A History of Loss
Day 3: Tantrums
Day 4: Parenting with Connection
Day 5: Prayers for the First Days Home
Day 6: Others Share about the First Days
Day 7: The Best Advice
Day 8: How to Get the Help You Need
Day 9: Thing People Say to Adoptive Families
Day 10: More Things People Say
Day 11: Unexpected Challenges
Day 12: Unexpected Blessings
Day 13: Manipulation and Control
Day 14: Sharing Control
Day 15: Packing with Attachment in Mind
Day 16: Kids Camp Two Years Later
Day 17: Listening to Adult Adoptees, Part I
Day 18: Listening to Adult Adoptees, Part II
Day 19: Understanding Negative Behavior
Day 20: Does Race Matter?
Day 21: Bedtime, Spanking, & How We Parent
Day 22: So. Your Adopted Child Hoards Food
Day 23: A Movie I Recommend
Day 24: Bullying
Know someone adopting an older child? Part of an adoption message board? Invite your friends to be a part of this series by using those tiny share buttons at the bottom of this post. Thanks!

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