The darker side of adoption



It was 1:34 am and another plate flew past my head and shattered against the wall. I chalked up the loss to the cost of adoption, finding some peace in the fact that it was a Walmart replaceable dinner plate as opposed to a china plate or family heirloom. I have long since packed away my Lladro’ figurines on the top shelf of my closet to be enjoyed for a fleeting minute every morning and evening when I pull my clothes off the hangers.

The weeks since Toby has left have been challenging with the boys. Actually “challenging” is a laughable understatement. Things have not been this hard since those early months of placement when both boys worked so hard to test my willingness to stick with them through the most challenging of behaviors.

In fact these few weeks have perhaps been even harder. The silence found resonating on this blog site is testimony to that struggle. When things are hard I find myself isolating from others, both in a physical sense as well as a virtual one. Perhaps this comes from an uncertainty as to what and how much to share…always trying to walk that delicate line between being real in our journey while still respecting the privacy of my family. Or perhaps it’s because I feel so lost in the darkness that I struggle to find the light that I want to share with you. Sometimes though I think it comes down to just being weary. A weariness so soul deep that even a Rip Van Winkle sleep couldn’t bring the rest I crave.

The weariness comes from the lack of respite. I’m sure many of you can relate. You might not be dealing with the same trauma but perhaps your circumstances bring a similar weariness.  It is a weariness that comes from always having to be “on.” The opportunity to escape, even mentally, is not there. Our home at the moment is like an active minefield, Grace and I are tiptoeing through our days, trying to tread gently for fear of setting one of them off and then having to attend to the casualties and destruction.

Toby’s absence has sent both boys spinning out of control and the results are bigger and more explosive than you can imagine. The cruelty, the hitting and biting, the name calling, and the broken decorations, the 911 call (oh, yes he did!), the manipulation, and the holes punched in the drywall are just the tip of the proverbial iceberg. I live in a state of constant vigilance and fear…not of my sons, but of losing control of the situation with my sons.

On Tuesday we had a therapy appointment with Tina. I went in first to update her before I brought Ozzie in. She asked me how I was and the floodgates opened. After weeks of isolating myself from the world I finally had someone safe to talk to. I told her I was tired…so very tired. I laughed with bitterness at the irony of my situation. In my desire to save these two boys from a life of horrendous abuse I find myself now in my own abusive situation.

I am in an abusive relationship …actually two abusive relationships…that I can’t walk away from. If it was my husband doing and saying these things I would have walked away a long time ago but these are children. My children. My boys who are dealing with hurts bigger and scarier than anything you and I could conjure up in our scariest nightmare. I have the privilege of being both of their security as well as the walking representation of the figures they love and hate the most: their birth parents. And so I get to be on the receiving end of all the hurt they would like to inflict on the parents they don’t have access to.

I get it. Mentally, logically, I understand the reasoning and the motivation behind the behavior, but that doesn’t make it any easier emotionally. The  “I hate you”s feel all too personal. I am feeling Toby’s absence in a profound way and am looking forward to him pulling down the driveway in a few days. I look forward to having my co-captain home and being able to “tag out” of the ring every now and then. I look forward to not being alone in the struggle and to the peace and security Toby’s presence brings to my boys and to me. I am looking forward to Grace being able to step down from her role as helper and co-parent and be able to just be a teenager with teenager thoughts and concerns. I am looking forward to getting on our bus and getting away as a family as we share experiences that will glue us together.

So often I find that the only stories shared about adoption are either the rainbows and roses, “Happily Ever After” stories, or the horror stories of families destroyed and adoptions dissolved. I write our story, not to sway opinions, garner sympathy, or embarrass. I share to encourage others and to put a real face to adoption. There are beautiful moments in our journey but also some hard ugly realities. These do not exist separate from each other. Together they make up this life we live. Adoption is a blessing. I testify that adoption not only strengthens families but also strengthens the individual. The struggles have a way of holding a mirror up to our souls to show us the real strengths and weaknesses that lie within. The journey humbles and makes all involved more dependent on Christ. It is a refiner’s  fire that purifies and strengthens.


We have been asked if we would ever consider adopting again. I usually laugh and say that the answer depends on the type of day you ask. If you asked me this week, as I look at the carnage that covers the floor, I might break down in tears

but the truth is this…

If God calls us to it we will answer with a resounding “yes,” not because I have confidence in our abilities as parents, but because of the confidence I have in my Heavenly Father and in his plan for our family.

Is adoption hard?

 H***   YES!!!

Oh, so hard!

Far harder than we could have imagined, but the miracles witnessed daily make every uphill step worth the struggle.

Even on days like today…

Perhaps most profoundly on days like today.

adoption 2

4 responses »

  1. I KNOW from 11 years of experience with my sons what you go through, and my heart aches for you, my sweet friend. Jim was gone all week for work and I was so relieved when he came home. It’s so unsettling when the father of our home is away because of the emotional memories. Feel free to email/call me anytime to vent; I will likely have been through it too!

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