Sorry there is so much time and space in between these blog posts. As can be expected, life carries me through the days that turn into weeks and I try to remember the promise I made to you readers to finish my thought regarding all that I can pass along from the Empowered to Connect Conference. So last time I talked to you about the neurochemistry involved in parenting children from hard places. This post will build on that by helping us assess OUR role as the caretaker and having realistic expectations and pure motives for being such.
One of the staple verses for most adoption journeys, including ours, is James 1:27:
"Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you."
One could read the orphan portion of that verse and see the heroic posture of those words and interpret it this way: God will pat you on the back if you bring a child into your home that is not born to you and you give them a family. In your mind you create this picture that it will be like an "Annie moment" and you will bring a child home and they will be grateful forever. But that was not AT ALL the message there. Somehow many of us, including myself, graze over the words, "in their distress." The call wasn't to go and get/rescue from their mess but instead an invitation to enter into their mess. The role of the caregiver is not to be a superhero but to be the loving presence in the life of a child that comes with a lot of baggage. And not as a bystander but as an active participant in their path to holistic health. We are commissioned to be the healing force for our children. That can only take place through a trust-based relationship.
As I mentioned in my last post, children raised in healthy environments learn "I have a voice within this family" early on. The belief that 'someone will respond to my needs,' builds a foundation for things like attachment, trust and self-worth. So as the caregivers for children who did NOT grow up in such healthy environments, we have to be willing to go back to the beginning and build a bridge to their true hearts by establishing their preciousness to us.
A good word picture they gave for this was how when an infant goes #2 in their diaper we typically respond in a loving way, with a gentle voice and demeanor and we make arrangements to change the diaper. The message this sends to a baby is that they are precious to us even when they are sitting in their own "stuff." A healthy adult wouldn't scream, get frustrated with or abuse the baby for doing what comes naturally at that stage of development. Caregivers need to maintain that same approach when correcting behaviors of children from hard places, no matter what the age. They are doing what comes naturally to them and even some of those aggressive or isolating behaviors have served them well in the past when their only goal was survival. Caregivers need to be committed to connecting first and foremost and then correcting for the sake of empowering them for healthier responses in the future.
The mindset is "investment parenting." Seek out ways to be fully present with children: not just 'there' but 'with.' One of God's names in the Scriptures is Emmanuel meaning, "God WITH us." Even God, in His relationship to us, paints the picture of importance in being fully present with your children. The example He sets of pursuing a persons heart despite behaviors and attitudes should likewise be the path we, as believing parents, set our feet upon as we travel the road of providing care for our children. There is no healing without "being with."
It is easy, and common, to enter into adoption believing that 'love will be enough' (just look at the title of this blog site). But as parents we can't concentrate on a particular destination/outcome as much as setting into place a direction you want to head as a family. For me the main thought I am praying my heart towards these days, in relation to Jaydn specifically, is that I will understand that God has called me on a journey to become completely 'hers', not to make her become completely 'mine.'