There's a lot about adoption I don't know. A lot.
One thing I have learned along the way is this...
Whether or not this kid is successful in my home is 100% dependent on me.
You might not agree with that statement. You might think the exact opposite is true. Maybe you think her success is dependent on what she does or how she behaves.
But I whole-heartedly believe it's dependent on me.
My new one's success depends on...
...how close I am to Jesus.
...how much I'm willing to sacrifice.
...my willingness to stay in the game.
If she is struggling, then I need to do something. It's not her fault she never learned how to respond to others. She doesn't know what love really looks like or what it means to trust someone. She's never really been protected and provided for.
This becomes my job. Her success is dependent on how well I do that job.
Maybe you're in the middle of an older-child adoption and maybe you don't agree with me. I wouldn't have agreed with me the first time around either.
I would have told you that our troubles were all her fault. If she would stop screaming or for once tell the truth or (insert whatever crazy thing I was dealing with at the time) then things would be better.
We would be better when she was better. Problem was, she wasn't getting any better and I wasn't giving her any tools to help her move in that direction.
I was expecting her to just figure it out as I sat and impatiently tapped my fingers on the dining room table.
After a year of that, I thought I might need to try something else.
That's when I learned it wasn't her at all. It was me. All of it.
You see, helping the new one is a lot of work. A lot. It's exhausting and demanding and sometimes even embarrassing. It was all sorts of things I hadn't prepared myself for. I had no idea what I was doing, so I waited for her to do something different. Only she never did.
So I started doing something I hadn't done before. I started doing the lion's share of the work.
What did that look like?
It looked like...
...a million hours of talking through corrections sitting side by side on the couch.
...biting my tongue about issues that weren't considered the top three at the time.
...hugging her and coloring with her and reading her stories even when I didn't want to.
It looked like relationship building and it was hard because I didn't actually want a relationship with her.
As an added reality check, just know that I did not do this seamlessly. I still don't. Those things that I don't want to do are the hardest for me to get through and when a kid is causing absolute chaos in my previously peaceful home, I don't want to do any of it.
Actually what I want is that kid to leave. Could someone please come get her? I don't even care where you take her as long as she stays there for a really long time.
Are you starting to see why her success is dependent on me?
There's no guarantee this will all turn out the way you had planned. Biological kids don't come with a guarantee either, but I'd venture to guess they're a little easier to hold onto because they start out so little and cuddly, rather than moving into your home like a firecracker, spitting mean words and breaking things.
She's ten. She moves into your home. She's a mess. You didn't expect the mess to be as overwhelming as it is. You want her to change. She's not changing. You're miserable. She's still not changing. You're still miserable.
Too often what happens next is you give up on her. If she had behaved differently, you would have kept her. If she would have lived up to your expectations, you would have kept her. If she would have been easier to handle, you would have kept her.
If she could have done all that, she wouldn't have needed you in the first place.
Why is she the one having to do all the work? What have you done?
Take a minute and be honest with yourself. If you're on the verge of giving up, consider your effort. Have you given your all? Have you hugged her every day even when you didn't want to? Have you told her what a gift she is even when she didn't feel like one? Have you fervently prayed for her little heart to know Jesus? Have you done any of it consistently?
If not, then you're not through. You're not at the end of the line. You still have work to do. Jesus changes hearts. He really does. He can change hers, but He can change yours too.
The heart that can't stand the sight of her right now can one day love her with such intensity it will overwhelm you.
I know because I've been there.
Adoptive mom, the road you've chosen is a hard one, there's no two ways about it. I talk a lot about cutting yourself some slack when it comes to making it through the hard days. I think it's important to ask our kids to forgive us and to forgive ourselves when we fall short. We are going to struggle and sometimes we're going to fall. Hard.
But we don't give up. We never give up.
Because she is far too important. Because she needs our help. Because we made a commitment to her and it's our job to follow through.
She didn't sign up for this. You did. Her success depends on you doing the work because she truly doesn't know how.
I'll say it again...
Whether or not this kid is successful in your home is 100% dependent on you.
Do the work even when it feels like the hardest thing you've ever had to do. She's counting on you and she's worth it.