Thursday, March 24, 2011

Two Girls


I attended my first post-adoption support group. I felt like I needed to stand up and say, "My name is Traci and I am a struggling adoptive mom." And then everyone would smile and say, "Hi Traci!" Support groups are not my thing. I have never been the type to attend one - or even think about attending one. But, this week...I did.

And God gave me a gift.

I had no idea what the agenda was going to be. I didn't even tell anyone I was going to attend. But there were two teenage girls sitting directly across from me who were introduced and then began to talk. They are biological sisters who were adopted from a different country when they were 4 and 2 and they began to share their story.

One started, "I was horrible."

That is how she started. Wow!

"I did everything I could think of to be horrible for my mom." She went on to tell story after story of how she would do the exact opposite of what she had been told to do, how she ruined birthdays and Christmas celebrations, how she was often in trouble at school and how she wanted to make her mom's life miserable.

I sat there stunned. Was I getting a glimpse into the future?

She talked about being drawn to those who also misbehaved and even as a teenager is now drawn to "the bad boys". Her sister then talked about following in those same footsteps, often being rebellious, defiant and being intentionally horrible toward her siblings because she was so jealous of them. They shared how anger was their main emotion and how they were very comfortable being angry. When they were angry, they were in control. When they were angry, they could control the situation and the family. If they would start to feel sadness or nervousness or fear, they would squash that emotion and instead return to ANGER.

When it finally came time for questions, I jumped right in, "Why? Can you tell me WHY you acted this way?"

"I was testing my mom. I was abandoned and I always felt like I had to have done something so horrible for my birth mom to abandon me. I just wanted to test my new mom over and over and over again to see if she was really going to stick with me. I couldn't trust her. I couldn't trust anyone. So many grown-ups had let me down. She would say she loved me, but I didn't believe her."

The other sister began crying, "I was scared."

I followed up with telling them a snippet of what I am going through right now. Then asked, "What advice do you give me as that mom who is being tested and kept at an arm's length?"

The both answered at the same time, "Don't give up on him."

Don't give up on him. Love him. Forgive him.

In desperation I asked, "WHEN will he stop testing me?"

Again, they both answered, "I don't know. Probably years from now. But don't ever stop loving him."

Within 48 hours, I read the article by Tim Keller I shared yesterday and then heard from these two girls. And again, God brings me right back to knowing this is ALL ABOUT LOVE. I look back on my life a few years ago and realized I had no idea what love really was. God definitely is teaching me about the way HE loves - that substitutionary love that says I will substitute

my comfort
and my peace
and my way

to fill you up

and make you comfortable
and give you peace
and give you your way.

That kind of love goes against all our sinful nature. We may talk a good talk about "loving your neighbor" and "loving the way God loves", but the reality is that when we are loving those who love us back or fill us up, we are getting something out of our loving them. I think God wants me to learn how to love someone who never gives back or loves back....yet.

I am happy to report that things ARE improving around here. I am still practicing my firm love. There are clear expectations and clear lines. If George crosses that line, he is disciplined in a firm, non-emotional way. He had a horrible day at school yesterday, spending a lot of time in the principal's office...so we still have a LONG way to go. He is still in the testing phase. He still wants to know that even if he is at the worst he can possibly be, we are still going to love him and stick with him.

We are, George, I promise.

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