The reality is, most international older (other than infant) children who are adopted do not come into your family alone. With them, they bring their invisible baggage. You may not see it very often, but it is there. The difficult circumstances that they have been through that, at times they don't know how to handle the pain. And due to the limited information that you may have on your child's history, you may not even know what they cart around in those bags.
As great as the strides you make each day to help your children heal from the difficult place they come from...you can't fix it for them. You can't make it go away. You can't go back and change history. You have no control of what they have gone through. And to be honest, they have gone through a lot. (Read a good possible situation HERE to understand what might have taken place in their life).
Our social worker reminded me that it is important to accept that I can't change it and fix it. Acknowledging it will help me focus my energy on being supportive when our boys are struggling. And struggle, they do. There are times it feels like we take 2 steps forward and then one step back. We are not where we were 5 months ago, but we are not where we long to be.
I pray every day that GOD will heal the hurt and pain and brokenness. Oh...to see the brokenness first hand is hard. Grieving is normal for these kids. And they grieve in many different ways. Crying, sleeping, refusing to sleep, acting out, disobeying, rejecting, being difficult...all normal ways for these little ones to act. And one of my new phrases I've come up with is, "just because it's normal, doesn't mean it's easy". Everything we have experienced so far is NORMAL.
These little ones don't have the coping skills to process what they are feeling. And there are times that something triggers something from their previous life and then we have a few days of set back. A few days of grieving, rejecting, showing us their brokenness.
We had one of those days yesterday. Chuck had gone for his morning walk with Tyce (our 4yo) and he was all smiles and happy. Then they walked into the kitchen and I greeted him. The moment he saw me, his face fell. He wouldn't make eye contact with me. He was angry and defiant, he rejected me all day and was just out of sorts. The only thing I could get him to communicate was that he had a dream about Ethiopia and it made him sad. It clearly triggered some difficult feelings toward me, the mama (which is NORMAL to have rejection toward the mom only). And when he saw me that morning, he was reminded of it. I don't know if it was something about his birth family, or being left at the orphanage, or who knows what. But those feelings are real and he is a broken little 4 year old that is trying to process the pain the best he can.
And in those moments, I stay close to him. Hold him, pray with him, say loving things to him and try to reassure him that I will always be here for him and love him. And when we have days like that...I pray. I pray that God will heal their pain and hurt. That the Holy Spirit will do a miracle in their lives that will transform them to children that can understand love and God's grace.
So, today, we get up and the very visible baggage that was being carted around our home yesterday is back in the closet. It isn't gone, for the pain and brokenness is deep. It will be back and we will be reminded that they have experienced significant hurt in their little lives and we will take another step back. It will be an obvious reminder that they need the flow of the Spirit in their lives. The healing touch of Jesus.