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I Feel Like a Phony

My husband and I recently brought home our youngest son through international adoption, and I have to say that one of the hardest parts about this process for me has been the unexpected admiration that we have received because we chose to adopt our second son instead of having another child biologically. Please hear me say this – I appreciate every encouraging word that has been sent our way; I really do.  And it has all meant so much to us and has kept us going even through the tough days.

But I feel like such a phony every single time I hear someone say something like, “You are such great people!” or “You’ve done such a great thing!”

And it’s been especially hard lately because I’m not very happy right now.  This beautiful story of rescue looks more like a sinking ship at the moment.

I have heard of women speak of post-adoption depression, but at that point I was two years into waiting for the green light to travel and get custody of my son and I shrugged it off as being an impossibility for me.  ‘I already love this kid too much.’ I thought.  I mean, being sad during the paperwork and waiting–absolutely.  But once he’s home, what is there to be sad about?

But here I am.  Exactly one month, two weeks, and one day after gaining custody of Ryder, and I am struggling.

I know I sound like the biggest jerk on the face of the planet right now.  I have a beautiful, healthy baby boy who is finally in our arms and united with his family.  Trust me.  I know how horrible I sound.  But hear me out…

Life in our home right now is a never-ending battle.  The boys are constantly at each others’ throats, which people say biological brothers would do, as well.  But this is different.  Maddux didn’t have the “warm up” time with an infant sibling. One day Maddux had total reign over all of his toys, and the next, a toddler rolled in and started breaking all of his stuff.  And Ryder also bit, pinched, and hit his foster siblings freely in his foster home without correction, so you can only imagine how things are going here.  And even more than the broken skin from the biting, Maddux’s broken heart has been hardest for my mommy heart to deal with through all of this.  Maddux was so excited to be a brother, but now he just walks on eggshells standing guard for the next attack when Ryder doesn’t get his way.

Ryder’s home country also did not encourage discipline before school age, and based on his attitude and unwillingness to be told “no,” we are pretty sure he was in charge at his foster home.  There is a constant battle here between our expectations and his extremely strong will–especially when it comes to food (which is likely the result of his impoverished background).  I just want him to realize that we have expectations for his behavior because we love him, but it seems like enforcing expectations only seems to distance him from us and cause him to reject us more.

Being unsure of whether I’m “doing it right” has also done a number on me.  Every decision I make, every word I say, every look I give–I am second guessing myself.  “Maybe I should have just ignored him and let him do it–he’s been through so much already” or “I just let him off way too easily–he can’t treat people me that.”  Finding the balance between enforcing expectations and showing grace is just about to kill me, y’all.

And so, the truth is that I am not a great person doing a great thing.  I’m a broken person trying to love a little person with a broken past, and I’m just not doing a very good job.  I want so badly to be an amazingly patient and unconditionally loving mother, but this new life has just been really hard.  Harder than I ever anticipated it to be.  And I feel so defeated.

Then I remember why we did this in the first place.

Folks, I am not the rescuer.  I am the rescued.

I am not a hero who saved a little boy’s life.  I’m a broken woman who was once dead but is now alive because I was the one rescued.

tumblr_n2ebn53Owf1sg4ssuo1_500-2.jpgSeriously, think about it.  God has shown me he is trustworthy over and over, and yet I still live in fear.  He has shown me that He loves me unconditionally, and yet I frequently doubt my worth. He has shown me that He is the only source of true joy, and yet I’m often looking for joy in every place but Him.

If I’m being honest, I’ve actually spent the majority of my life being a real pain.  Being strong willed and battling the expectations He has set before me.  Rejecting him when His plans weren’t what I had in mind.

(Oh crap.  This is all starting to sound familiar.)

No, I have never bit God or screamed at him in Thai, but I certainly have fought His love at times.  But I realize that even in my brokenness, God still loves me.  He still fights for me.  He still has unshakable patience.  He still shows me undeserving grace.  And as the rescued, I am to extend that same love and grace to my hurting son.

So the truth is, Jesus called Chase and me to adopt, and because we owe him everything, we did.  We are far from saints, and this process has only reminded me of that.  But I have an incredible God that is more than capable of seeing us through this confusing time.

As we try to navigate through these stormy waters, we have to stay focused on these truths: He equips us to succeed in our callings.  And He has a perfect plan for Ryder that will glorify Him, and we are blessed to be a small part of that.

So, yeah.  I’m down.  Call it whatever you want– maybe post-adoption depression or simply the result of living in a broken world.  But my God has never, ever failed, and my rescuer will once again prevail.

Better days are coming.  But until then, I pray… and try not to get bitten.

5 Comments

  1. Shannon says

    This is want I know from experiencing a male child from 10-13 years of age. A boy whose parents never corrected his behavior, who gave in rather than battle, who would allow him to punch and kick them without being checked–this boy is now a monster. He truly believes he does nothing wrong. He truly believes he is entitled to call all the shots and have every little thing his way. At thirteen, he curses at his dad willfully, calling his dad all kinds of names. He punishes when he doesn’t get his way. His dad walks on eggshells around him.

    My advice: the terrible two got that name for a reason. Compound that with all the extenuating circumstances and you’ve got the terrible twos on steroids. You’ve only had six weeks with Ryder. Cut yourself some slack. Truly treat Ryder as your own. You are strong enough to weather this storm. Don’t give him an inch. It will be exhausting. It will also be the most loving thing you can possibly do. It seems tough now, but correcting behavior now is easier than dealing with a monster later.

    And consider this, a true relationship cannot exist without conflict. Conflict is part of the bonding process. That is part of what makes siblings close. Correcting Ryder’s behavior and continuing to love him is the best thing you can do for him. That’s where one demonstrates unconditional love. Free reign isn’t an option.

    You are in control: you are a child of God: you’ve got this. Stay strong, Mama.

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  2. Judy Myers says

    Just a thought…. The reason people tell you how great you are to adopt a child from another country is the fact that it is an extremely hard thing to do. Getting the child is not the hard part. It’s afterwards for a long long time esp at this age. Poor Maddox doesn’t understand and does not have the words to express his frustration . All he knows is that this little person has taken over his home, his parents, and his toys. ….his life.
    Will all take time. Things should settle down little by little as Ryder grows and matures. Just make sure not to be too hard on Maddox when he is angry at something Ryder did.
    These are just observations. Use what you can and toss the others. Good luck my friend.

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  3. Gina Tynes says

    Hugs. Keep your chin up. Your doing great. Continue to follow your known convictions raising your adorable sons and continue to remind yourself of the truths as you are here. Satan attacks us at our greatest points of influence; yet,through your faith in God you will overcome. 😘🤗

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  4. Lola says

    I lived in that country for years and I can say that this is not usual. I hope things are better now and have settled down. Adoption is so much harder than people think and for the child, there are lots of emotions and not enough words or life experience to handle. They get into overload so quickly–and when anyone’s emotions are overloaded, they physically have trouble thinking. When the emotional brain takes over, we physically lose connection with our cerebral cortex, our thinking brain. I do hope you have an experienced counselor to help you and yours cope. I know this post is more than six months old, but still, being a mom is hard, being a mom to a child with special issues — oh, I know that one — is even harder. Good energy to you. There are good days ahead.

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