Monday, November 14, 2016

Running Hugs and Fireworks

I remember in my early months and years as an adoptive mom reading articles about other adoptive families and feeling so sad and frustrated because they made it seem so easy and wonderful. While they shared some of our challenges, they seemed to be able to function as a healthy, happy family. 

We weren’t a healthy, happy family. We were an absolute disaster.
But things are different now.

Being a mother to my boys is nothing that I thought motherhood would be like, and at the same time everything I ever hoped it would be.

I was watching an episode of Gilmore Girls today (I know, I’m really late to the party on this one) and there was a scene where Lorelai and Rory (mother and teenage daughter in case you’re not familiar with the show) run toward each other from opposite sides of the street and have this huge, happy, wonderful mother-child embrace. As I watched it my heart just exploded and tears welled up in my eyes because it reminded me of those days after school when my eight year old son sees me from far off and comes running toward me with a giant smile on his face for a huge, happy, pick-up-and-spin-around hug.

Those are the absolute best days. Running hugs from my son are among the most meaningful and love-filled moments of my life. It makes me feel like I’m in a movie and I’m the luckiest mom in the world. It’s the kind of thing you watch and just wish you had it that good, that you were loved that much and loved someone else that much in return, except it’s not a movie, it’s actually my real life!

But it wasn’t always my life. There were times when I worried I would never feel the kinds of feelings that other parents feel for their children. I loved my kids, but those big, fireworks feelings…I didn’t know if that would ever happen for me.

Not every kid will be a running hugger. My older son still won’t give me more than a limp side hug, or a forced squeeze while he grimaces and holds his breath. But I have to tell you that when I think about this son, my heart explodes with love for him too. Love is hard for him, but he accepts and returns what he can, and I’ve learned to accept that. Sometimes I have to re-learn it, but it gets easier as we go.

Anyway, back to the show and the heart explosion and tears, I had just received an email from Buckner (a non-profit organization) sharing the current needs of the foster care system and asking for support. Apparently there are hundreds of kids who need to be placed in homes, but there are not enough foster homes, so CHILDREN ARE SLEEPING ON THE FLOORS OF CPS OFFICES! I have a friend who works for CPS in Dallas and she confirmed that this is true, that she, herself, has spent multiple nights in the office where kids are sleeping on air mattresses on the floor.


So I was thinking about these precious kids in need of safe and loving homes, and then there was the running hug on the show and the fireworks in my heart, and I thought, I have to tell people about this! I have to tell them about how much I love my kids, and how amazing they are, and how much I love my life as an adoptive mom!

I’ve shared a lot about our journey through foster care and adoption, and most of it has been about the struggles, the pain, and finding the hope, help, and strength to persevere. But a lot of time has passed, a little over four years since our boys came home, and almost three and a half years since we adopted them. And I just need to let you all know that things are really, really good!

My kids are amazing. My life is amazing. I am so incredibly thankful for the opportunity to be the mother of my children.

Our boys came to us at 4 and 9 years old, their entire lives up to that point full of trauma and all kinds of hurt and pain, and they completely rocked our world. We were prepared, but we were not adequately prepared. We had support, and yet not nearly enough. We thought we knew what we were in for, but we had absolutely no idea. If I had it to do all over again, I would do a lot of it differently, but I would do it. I would do it again.

Because my kids are worth every bit of what we’ve gone through to figure out how to be their parents and how to give them the kind of love they need.

There is nothing special about John and I that makes us more capable of loving and parenting children like our boys. When we started we were not capable, not at all. We DID NOT have what it takes. But these incredible children who are now our sons have made us into better people than we ever were before. Becoming their parents exposed our deepest and darkest flaws as human beings, it brought all of our ugliness to the surface, but it also changed us for the better.

Fostering and adopting are messy endeavors, and our journey has been more difficult than some. We have one child who lives at home and one who lives at a youth ranch. They are both exactly where they need to be to thrive and we are incredibly proud of both of them. Our family is not normal or conventional and it has plenty of unique challenges, but we are a healthy, happy family.

We are thankful. We are blessed.

Our boys were just like those children sleeping on the floors of CPS offices, but now they are our sons, the ones who give us fireworks in our hearts.

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