Monday, May 23, 2016

Facing The Reality of Broken First Families......

One of the hardest things I have had to learn about adoption is that it comes out of a place where hurt and brokenness occurred. Love is not enough to heal and erase the past realities and trauma doesn't just go away.  Newborn adoption doesn't ensure happy well adjusted kids and nurture cant simply trump nature.  As the mom to 8 wonderful kids who came into my life through the pain of a broken First Family I walk with them regularly down the trails of wondering and wishing and hoping for a different First Family story,  Even though we love each other dearly and they understand that there were perfectly logical reasons for why their First Families could not remain intact- their hearts are still deeply wounded and they would like a different reality.

With 16 years of adoptive parenting behind me I have come to realize  that each of their First Families is forever a part of our family- some of whom we know and others we don't - but all integral pieces never less.  It means that on Mothers Day I am the one present and they are truly aching for the ones who are not there.

It's no longer a threat to me - it's simply a reality of who we are and how we are knit together. Developing a toolbox of therapeutic parenting skills has simply been required to make it through any given day- but especially those Hallmark (Hell) Holidays - because they don't necessarily have words to describe their pain - they just lash out.  Or act out. Or withdraw.

I have never seen someone wear an 'Adoption Hurts,' or ' I wish my child didn't need to be adopted' shirt.   It simply wouldn't be an inspiring message.  But I think it would be the truth.  Because the breakdown of the family is so hard - even if they are newborns when it happens or If they don't remember anything about their First Family.

Thankfully no ones life story ends when they are an infant- it continues until their final breath.  Building upon that foundation brick by brick and year by year.   Adoption is essential in that it offers a solution to hurting families in our broken world.  But it is a excruciating decision for their First Family to come to and one that carries with it  a lifetime of realities and healing for every person involved.

Now that I am a single mom through divorce as well as an adoptive mom - my biological kids are experiencing this reality first hand also.  Our First Family is fractured beyond repair.  What they believed was solid and secure in their world was not - the things they trusted came undone and the structure that they knew no longer exists.  Slowly we are rebuilding a new life pattern together and learning how to simply live again.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Sick and Tired of Miracles......

Saturday I woke up and had a serious, thrown down my fleece, if-your-not-in-it- I'm-not-going-to-do-it and chat with God.  Because I'm tired.  I'm  weary.  I'm at  of what feels like the endless series of Red Sea moments - where the bad guys are on one side, the the ocean is on the other and there is no hope at all short of a miracle.  I've finally - at the age of 48 - learned that waiting on God to go in first, trusting wholly in Him to do what he says he will, be who he says he is and protect who he says he does - is sinking in.  

It wasn't a nice polite Sunday school type lesson.  But it could have been written straight out of the pages of Exodus and Deuteronomy.  Even though I had experienced two straight up Red Sea miracles last week -  I was DONE for the moment.   The adrenaline had washed out of my system, the fatigue had caught up, reality of the mess around me was evident and all I really wanted was to take a bottle of wine, head to my tent and go to sleep for a week.

Which isn't really an option for a single mom to 11 - or Moses after the whole Red Sea parting - watch your enemies drown adventure either.   Because both of us knew that dawn was coming and we still had to find water and food - that no matter how we felt about yesterday we had to get up and do that next thing.  And as tempting as it was - a  hangover really would not help me make good decisions.

I suspect that Moses might have wrestled with God in this way also.  "Enough with the miracles! How about a nice normal boring day tending sheep? No displaying Gods power and glory?  No demonstrating who you are and why.  No more - lets drive Moses to the very edge and let everyone think it's the end and this time - ... Come on Lord... Please???? "  I can see him pounding that snake changing staff on the ground stomping his foot and then realizing exactly what he is doing.

Just like me.

And as he and I stand divided by centuries the tears start rolling down....because that's what its all about.

The same God of Moses and Abraham and Sarah....of Luke and James and Christ.  The same promises.  The same story.  The same need to know that we are not in control of the miracles or the everyday,  Nothing has changed.  God is still God and we are not.

And that is good.

So as tired as I am - as much as my humanness longs for a 'normal' life.  I can finally see that these miracles are not about me any more than they were really about Moses or the people of Israel.  Sure they save me from more suffering - that usually comes before the miracle (thats why I need one - no one needs a miracle to be saved from the Monday morning laundry)- but the deliverance. It's all about showing something more.  Telling this old - old story.

Monday, April 18, 2016

I Do Like Babies.....

Sometime, a long time ago,  I started telling myself I didn't like babies.  I can't identify when it happened or why.  It's deep in there like the idea that I don't like butterscotch ice cream. This morning I work up and realized that it is simply not true.  It's something I have repeated (or has been repeated to me) so many times that I believed it - but that doesn't make it true.

I do like babies.
2009 photo from when the youngest was born - a true gift to us all
And toddlers.
And teenagers.
And adults.
And the elderly.
I like all the ages.
I like people - period.

Part of this transition journey right now is testing and seeing if what I think is true is actually true.  Even down to these small things that I believe about myself and the world around me. I have been blessed with 11 babies - and they are that to me - untold and amazing blessings every one.

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Telling Our Own Stories......

"When we tell out own stories 
we avoid being trapped as characters 
in stories someone else is telling."

This Brene Brown quote is posted on my kitchen wall alongside a cluster of others which remind us of what can happen when we stop engaging in the practice of wholehearted living.  When we become  silent, passive, or uncaring - simply going along with what 'others' think rather than living our own lives.

This isn't a 'womens lib,' newly divorced - acting out -  statement.  Though to be honest, I was raised in Seattle in the 70's so I may consider chaining myself to a tree or throwing myself in front of a bulldozer just to to protest something (ha..anything) once in a while

No - It's a reminder to myself to stop -  wait. think about this and not just take the easy road out when others ask me to trust/believe/agree with them. I need to remember to check and see if words and actions match,if memory is correct,  and if the people I am trusting with decision making are who they say they are.  

It's learning not to be swept up in other peoples ideas of what is going on or what should happen. 

It's growing up, standing up and learning to tell the truth even if it isn't pretty or if others don't agree. It's believing in the strength of every family member to own and tell their stories also.  Because I need to and so do they.

Which is really, really,  hard.
Because people get scared
   And mad.
       And well.....
              Don't like you when you do it.

But I am learning
     the long hard way
        that I would rather live
            honestly and painfully
                out in the open
    than in the shadows of the truth.
Where everything is 'fine'
     but it really isn't .
And everything 'looks good'
     except it's falling apart.

    My life.
    Our life, shared as a family.
          separate people  within it.
    is a very good thing.
12 Individuals woven together
      into a rainbow of chaos
          Uniquely telling our own stories.

Because each of us has our own journey
 through hard things
     our own hurts
       our own healing
            and our own dance through life.

Is a beautiful, messy thing
    and we are going to tell each other the stories.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

I Am Still Me.....

I've been too busy building a new life to write much lately.  Shifting and sorting half a lifetime of no longer relevant world view into a new semblance of order takes a lot of energy and often the first - or second -shot at it is just a mess rather than something I can work with.

It's very much like going back to Jr High and reliving everything from in-school politics and how to work the combination locks on your locker to the new growing up boy/girl rules. It's icky, unsettling and I have so much more empathy for the world -turned-upside-down feelings my own four Jr High kids are experiencing.

But just like them - I need to go through it. In order to grow and not just be stuck at this particular developmental place....forever.  Because I know there is more to life than this moment and though my economic status, security and marital state has changed - I am still me.

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Waking Up Single....

Somethings are just too funny.  Like waking up one morning and realizing that you are suddenly -functionally- single - after 20 + years of being married.

The mystifying thought that regardless of how you 'thought'  or 'felt' about divorce or what you 'believed' regarding the permanency of marriage - yours is truly over.

You now have an Ex and have joined the 50% of marriages inside the church (and in the world at large) that don't last until death-do-us-part. 

If you have kids you have added single parent to your job description and have shifted from Mrs to Ms in the eyes of the world.

Yep.  This is now your reality.  And it's ok.  Well it has to be - because it's um...not a hypothetical. If you woke up single for whatever reason....its happened.

Then (if your a little twisted like me)  you might double over laughing at the though of someone....someday....actually asking you out on a date - how you might respond.... :)

"Um maybe,  I don't know what I think about that and I might just have to check with my kids....all say.... 2, 5, 7 (or in my case)...11 of them?"


Not exactly like the last time you had a first date at 25 - and the big question was 'what should I wear' - nope.

Not at all.

But then again...not really anything to worry about at this point. Because there is a lot of work to do first.  Rebuilding and testing a world view is hard - especially when one wakes up right in the mess of it. 

The permanency of marriage, the tragedy and trauma of divorce, the reality of personal opinion vs gospel truth - its all there to work through and consider in the aftermath that culminates in the excruciating final decision to end a marriage.

But it is good to stop simply assuming what we believe.  When we stop repeating what we 'think' about things and have to really live and breath the truth of what our core understandings are, then they either blow away like dust or become the solid foundation that the future is built upon.

Waking up single can be brutally hard - and it can be done really well.
Each of us has to decide and walk our own way through it.

Saturday, March 12, 2016

I'd Like To Stand In The Yard And Shout........

This has been one of the best weeks I can remember in years. Not because everything went right. Heck. Lots of things didn't.  But because when things went wrong - the kids and I dealt with them in (mostly) right ways - and demonstrated all the hard work we have been doing to change old fear-related habits and conquer some really bad patterns of passivity.

It makes me want to stand in the yard and shout Hallelujah!!!  Some thing really has changed!  And hug all the neighbors who walk past. 

It inspires me to write thank you notes to the specific friends, pastors and elders and who have walked with us over the past 36 months of separation and divorce drama.  (I hope there is time in this day to do some of this...even if only in email.)

It calls me to leave a trail of bread crumbs and a beacon of light out here for those of you who are still wandering through the confusion of a broken marriage. Lost and trying to figure out what is going on.....For you - I hold out a promise that there is hope for a future (married or apart) where the chaos ends and you too can stand in the yard with joy in your heart.

Not that bad things end. From one perspective it was a REALLY hard week.  But that we can learn to weather bad things in ways that make our roots go deeper and our hearts stronger rather than leaving us trembling on the floor. 

It is possible - and I'm here on my feet cheering for those who chose to get up and do it.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Chasing Out Ghosts....

Life is crazy here at the Old House. Crazy Good in the healing way that gives in to Sunday night house parties and sudden road trips.  Joy runs wild through the house and friends fill our table and couches with laughter.  Compassion has been kindled again and fear no longer steers our life adventure.

But it wasn't like this 6 or 12 or 24 months ago.  It was a bone -crushing, stare at the wall and try to think of the next thing - can we do anything else but this? 
Type of hard.

Were the passwords in the halls and the ghosts that haunted us.

They were tenacious tenants - deeply rooted and whispering destructive ugly lies to anyone who would listen. Sneaking into our dreams and holding us hostage with little more than a whispered thought.

It was horrible and I knew it.

I wanted to shake my fists and scream  'NOT IN MY HOUSE!' To run through every room - turn on lights and reveal the truth.  To anoint every corner and lock the doors so that they could not return.

They had to leave.

Thankfully, they have moved on now.  This house was no longer comfortable with all the changes we have made and they did not like being ignored.  They were happy in their despair and found it too crowded now that the cousins.....

Forgiveness and

Have moved back in.
And turned this house back into our home.

Saturday, February 27, 2016

The Wheels on The Bus Now Stop Here....

During the blogging break much has shifted on the education front at the Old House.  8 different IEP/ISP( Individual Service Plans for non-public school children) were begun and implemented with our local district in September - four kids have begun public school in various settings and the rest of the team is spread out over a spectrum of options.

It was utterly terrifying and overwhelming to begin with. The paperwork, testing, vulnerability, philosophy shift and the simple reality of its effect on daily life patterns was almost paralyzing in the middle of an already hard life season.

But now that we have named this fear, faced it and tackled it together -

Its AMAZING - and we are thriving!

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Fear: Both a Strength and a Weakness.....

Fear is a double edged dagger. 
It sharpens our senses in dangerous situations and helps us protect ourselves and others when there are real threats.  It can also paralyze, warp and distort our world view when it is based on lies or rooted in a need to control the people around us to create a safe zone.

As a criminologist fear has served me well.  The gut feeling that 'something'  or someone isn't quite right has guided my professional career and allowed me to continue working with the police department as a civilian throughout the mommy years.

But true to human nature my strengths are also my weaknesses.

You know the game Worst Case Scenario?  I don't play it with a board - but in my head I can spin out ideas that would sink the Titanic. 

Go ahead and laugh.  I may someday have a career writing fiction which could feed the family.....but it isn't always helpful when lying in bed at night and hearing a sound outside.

Anyway -I come by my fear honestly as a cultural American - influenced by both the church and the state - I have plenty of things I could be alarmed by  - but that doesn't mean its good or beneficial in all situations.  There are too many times when fear steers the behavior of groups, settings or individuals far away from where they truly should be as a protective or reflexive reaction to change.  And not all change is bad.

I've always known that.  However, in the past 5 years I have slowly learned how to separate the real dangers from the false ones in my head. 

It's been an important learning process that has revealed my own weakness and tendencies and brought me to a place where I am much more able to discern between the two and make independent decisions about which fears are simply shadows in the night and which are actual threats. It's been hard/good to watch the influence of other peoples fear on my own thoughts and to develop healthy boundaries for dealing with that outside influence.

Fear has a place and a purpose in our life - but it should never have a central focus in our decision making.  Even on the hardest days.

Next post.....Specific things I am no longer afraid of.