When my second child decided to run away I knew in my heart to give him the space to do it. He was twelve, swimming in the confusion of puberty, attacked by hormonal changes and sifting through some junk in his heart. He needed to run, clear his head, and go it alone, for a little while at least. After three hours I started to worry. I called a few neighbors and one had spotted him walking toward the main road. Where was he going I thought? This isn’t just a little venture through the neighborhood anymore. It was super-hot that day and the son was high in the sky. I jumped in my minivan headed in the direction of the pool we belong to in another neighborhood. Maybe he went there. When I finally spotted him I slowly pulled my car alongside him and rolled down the window. “Do you want I ride”, I gently asked. “You look tired”. Reluctantly he agreed and he slunk his body into the seat. He looked exhausted, physically and emotionally, his face sunburned too. “Let’s stop at Robinette’s Farm and get a cold drink or an ice cream.” “No, I’m not hungry or thirsty”…this from a child who wears a size 13 shoe. But I stopped anyhow and asked him to come and sit under the big oak tree, the one we played and climbed on when he was little. He slid down the trunk on to his bottom in the dirt and started to cry and cry and cry. And I sat next to him and received his tears, his hurt, and his confusion and offered grace. No judgment, no guilt trip.
You see all my children are adopted and they are just like all kids in most ways. They get sick of their world and us and just need their own version of time-out, or control. Yet my kids are different in that sometimes they bump up against the hurt of relinquishment and the confusion of being let go. Their thoughts and feelings get mixed up inside and sometimes yuck comes out. They wonder at times if things would have been different, better somehow. They wonder about birthmom, which is really big to them. And most of all they wonder if we, their parents, even care.
Several years ago I co-wrote a book to help adoptive parents help their kids understand where they came from and who they left behind and why that hurts sometimes. The goal was two-fold: To help parents prepare their hearts first and develop compassion for their child’s story, birth family and the brokenness they experienced. And secondly, to help parents sift through the details of their child’s relinquishment and create a truthful story that would honor their child’s past; A connection that every adopted child needs. Before You were Mine, Discovering Your Adopted Child’s Lifestory was born from a need that all adoptive parents have—A need to help their kids heal more fully from the loss of relinquishment and move forward in life secure in who they are and who God made them to be.
And so my child ran away that day. He was experiencing a perfect storm, hormones, confusion, the works. But on that day he wept for the loss of his birth parents. You see, he has always known his story, but now he was beginning to understand it and feel it for the first time.
Family Matters is hosting an adoption conference on March 23 at Central Christian Church in Mesa. They’ve asked me to come and share my heart and experiences and teach those attending why story matters so much to our adoptive kiddos. So come and learn. Find out how you can help your child heal through story. Find out too how grace based parenting really works in the adoptive home.
Interested in adoption or fostering a child? Attend Family Matters “Foster & Adoptive Parenting Conference” – Click HERE for more information.