Friday, October 28, 2011

31 Days: Letting Go of Expectations

No one ever promised us that adopting our children would be a simple thing. I didn't expect to whisk Silas into the mix and then just go about my happy business.

I knew it would be really, really hard.

For like six months.

And then it would be sort of hard for another six.

Then we might have a few bad days over the next six months.

Then we'd be home free.

We'd be in "regular parenting" territory then, which is never a slice of pie. It always requires effort and attention. It can be frustrating sometimes, exhausting often. But the dark, bruisey days would be over.

We've had Silas with us for 19 months. My extremely generous timeline for unfavorable behavior has expired, and we're still registering a solid Month Ten. At least this week.

It's been one of those weeks that used to find me feeling bullied and defeated, but now, after much practice, I simply feel bone-tired. It has worried me, the way I've learned to compartmentalize. It has concerned me at times, the way my patience grips the very edge with its fingernails.

This adoption thing? It can be lonely business. It's hard to find the kind of everyday support that I crave, not because people in my life are unwilling to offer, but simply because it's different.

When these hard weeks come, I sometimes feel judged. She should be doing things differently. I feel inadequate. I'm tired of screwing up. I feel defensive. He's had a difficult life. I feel exasperated. What will it take for him to start to understand how this stuff works? I feel rejected. My kid doesn't love me.

I feel all of those things, at times. They are my knee socks, my jeans, my gray T. I wear them well. They fit just right, at this point and they're surprisingly comfortable.

But then I pull on my love for my child. I zip certainty up to my chin. I ball up my hands and shove them into Promise.

I walk in the sunny-day truth that I often know the right thing and choose the wrong anyway. I do not always obey the very first time. I shove and kick when I'm scared, or when I think my idea was better.

And still, just as I love my angel-lashed boy, I am loved.

I could never have known for sure what this journey would look like or how it would feel. I might have run screaming for the hills had I understood that it would be this hard this long. That is the thought that threatens to break me. I might have turned my back on one of the blessings of my life. I might have missed the moment where he turns to me and says, "I lu yew Mommy". I would have missed stifling a laugh when he looks up at me and says all mean and sassy, "I tickle yew". (He finally understands that "I spanka yo bottom" wasn't working for him, so he improvises now.)

So, I'm learning to let go a little. I'll not take personal the days where he wakes up spitting mad at me and the world, because these days come in waves. I'll ride it out knowing that maybe tomorrow, or next Monday, he'll smile straight into my heart and giggle me through my day.

Every day is a step in the right direction, even when it's hard.

Every day is a chance to remember that God honors this work. He honors it full. He cheers us on, reminds us that the dark days move faster if you dance a little.

Every day is one more opportunity for grace - for all of us.

*For the rest of the Letting Go series, click here.


  1. Oh no.
    I am so sorry about those bad days.
    I still have them with Kaish.
    11 years later.
    I love the pictures of your sweet baby in his socks with his stuffed animal.
    Love. Love. Love.

  2. You know, I think one major flaw that we all have in common is that we tend to forget sometimes that we are here to work.

    We seem to occupy our sights on living and forget about the task at hand.

    Adopted or not, they are still our work.

    I love that Siley has his teddy bear stuffed up into his shirt.

    I love that you share the hard stuff and tell people that it's there, and that it's okay, and that it's worth it.

    It is worth it.

    I love you Flower Patch Mommy-girl,


  3. How many blessings would we have missed if we knew how hard the journey would be? I know I'd be living a pretty boring life.

    He's precious.

  4. Well, if this helps...from what I read, I think you do great momma work.

    And, that is my opinion from seeing your spotlight life. It is extra hard not to feel judged when your life is in spotlight!

    Keep it up though, you are living out the smile in God's heart by loving the abondoned and unloved :)

  5. Hey there lady. I don't mean to focus on just one small part of this post, and I know this wasn't even the point of your whole post. But just to maybe make you feel a bit better, my birth son is 4.5 and still wakes up spitting mad most days and lashes out at me and would take dad over me any freaking moment of the day. I gave birth to the child and most of the time I still don't think he likes me that much. Loves me, yes. But likes me? I'm not so sure. Mothering is hard and lonely for all of us. Not to say that your feelings aren't valid, I know they are of course! But just wanted you to know that we all feel this way sometimes. birth mothers, or adoptive mothers. love you girl

  6. It's great to know we're loved, even when we're unlovable.

  7. Loved this post--thanks for sharing your heart...

  8. The scariest part of parenting is seeing yourself in the actions of your children...especially identifying in their disobedient hearts YOUR disobedient heart. Oy. That doesn't go away with their age increasing, thank Goodness, it is still heart breaking....which, I'm guessing is His point. I love loving him from afar and am SO proud of you for loving him as his Mama. He IS precious and amazing and just stinking cute--and "challenge me" is written ALL over him. That same strong will that I can so identify with. "I DARE you to love me, lady" ;) You have. Love wins.

  9. love those shots shan. you're a good mom. we are all just trying to figure out this parenting thing. you're not alone.

  10. I think your kids are exactly where they need to be now. God put him there and you know that. I feel compelled to point out that those littles take change differently than we expect. This reminds me of how I see so many children lash out when their dad deploys. We are smack dab in the middle of Army land here. After a month or so moms are wondering what on earth is wrong with their kid. When in truth they are still processing something huge and we just don't get it. Prayers and peace for you. He is precious.

  11. I know it has been tough. Biological kids can be tough too. I have raised 3 and sometimes with the grands I still don't have the answer, but I know who does. Keep your chin up. Love conquers all.

  12. Oh I so feel you sister. I had that same time line when we brought Silas home, and it's been thrown out the window, ha. Like you, we have good days and bad. The bad ones definitely feel lonely! Just know you aren't alone! So thankful for our Heavenly Father who has paved the adoption road for us! He is so patient with me, a daughter who tries too hard to be distant with Him sometimes. He is rich in love!

  13. I understand...there is another layer with a child who is adopted. I've been where you describe and felt what you felt. Trust and follow your heart on how to help your children find healing. This will bring love and reassurance.

  14. oh, this is so lovely and fascinating. I am totally digging your perspective on things. You make me think!

  15. I feel like I've been reading a lot about the "hard" side of adoption lately. Like maybe God is saying, "Are you sure you want to do this?" The answer is still yes, someday, but I'm not going to go in with a plate full of expectations...

  16. thanks for being real. sometimes i think as Christians we feel like we have to paint everything with a rosey glaze because that is what we should do. but i'm certain God's grace and hope and promise shines brighter when we're raw.

    i see so much of God in you and in your life's stories. thanks for that. i see His grace and hope and promise in you. you are a light.

    i recognize that doggy pillow pet. it's a lifesaver at bedtime.

  17. You are not alone! I have 6 kids, 3 adopted...and it is harder...the best thing we have ever done, filled with blessings, but tough. I read this post the other day on another blog and it was soooo perfect.

    Thank God, every day is a new start. :)

  18. I am sitting next to my sleeping 13 year old who blatantly finds my voice, my hug, and my very presence extraordinarily annoying. We are constantly at odds. I wish I could understand your feelings from an adoptive perspective; I can't. But from my mother perspective that I share with you, all I know is this work-in-progress next to me requires an unending abundance of patience -and, dang! sometimes it's rock hard work to raise these kids o'mine...yet I wouldn't have it any other way.

    Had you known how hard it was going to be, I'm mighty sure you would have done it anyway just for those angel lashes and crossed ankles of that sleeping boy!!! (And aren't they so sweet when they're sleeping???)

  19. Dear friend, it looks like Angel-lashed boy had a bout with his stuffed animal also. To quiet his friend up he put him under his shirt... Adore that photo...

  20. Waiting for the regular parenting to kick in. Oh, girl, you are not alone.

  21. OH My GOSH we have that bee pillow! JINX!

    P.S. I don't know a thing about adoption, but your emotional guy, he sounds like MY child. Mine spends a good part of the day wailing, or my personal favorite, screaming at the top of his lungs. Perhaps I will be able to sign him up for yodeling. I feel certain all this angst will be useful to him someday. Perhaps he can join an emo band.

  22. I can't share your experience of adoption, but I can tell you that my youngest of three boys has been like this for the last 2 years and I can share in all the feelings you described. This parenting gig is tough!

  23. Many blessings we would have missed if we knew how much your trip? I know I would be living a pretty boring.

  24. May you have all the strength and patience that it takes. It may be tough but when intentions are good, God is on your side!

  25. Shannon, It's been 21 years since we adopted our girls. I wish I could say I've stopped kicking myself for the ways I wish I'd handled things. Why are we always so hard on ourselves? Enjoy them while they're angels...hang on for dear life when they try your patience and love them ALWAYS. God knew the kind of mommy Silas would need and he gifted him to you. Hang in there, Patty

  26. We've always desired children and cannot have our own. It's hard to know your situations, but we are happy other adopting.

  27. oh, i'm sitting here crying right now. eight years later, and i'm still feeling a lot of what you've expressed. i have bio children and an adopted one, and it IS different, it IS challenging in a totally different way, and it DOES call me to a life outside myself in ways that parenting my other kiddos doesn't. well worth it? absolutely. but it can be exhausting, and the resources for encouragement can seem to be few at times.
    thanks for sharing your heart in such a tender way while still honoring your little one. what sweet pics, and i know that your experience will continue to grow you and him, both. and God. . . always God.

  28. That was a beautiful, heartfelt post. You're such a great writer. I'm so sorry for those hard days.

  29. Oh girl. You and my sister should talk...she knows where you are coming from with this hard fought love story.

    You know what I think? I think you have been hand picked by the "Chairman of the Universe" for this, and will be fully equipped for each day on the job. It says so in the training manual--Philipians 4:13.

    Praying you get an "I lu yew!" today!

  30. "But then I pull on my love for my child. I zip certainty up to my chin. I ball up my hands and shove them into Promise." LOVE THIS!!!!

    We all need to do this, no matter the road we are walking <3 Thank you for sharing your struggles and joys with the rest of us.

    You are a gift <3

  31. He was such a doll yesterday! What precious pictures. Keep them in the pocket of your hear and thank the Lord you still have nap time!

  32. Thanks for your beautiful honesty about the difficulties of adopting. I'm happy you are getting through it to the jewels of who he really is. These are those "light and momentary troubles" it talks about in 2 Corinithians that never seem so light and momentary when you are in them. That's the verse I wrap up in when things are overwhelming.

  33. I hear you in every word of your post. We adopted our last 2 and while Sarah tucked seamlessly into our family our Avari wouldn't fit. Avari has been with us for 6 yrs in April. This past year and a half was what I thought our lives would be after the first year with her (I kept saying it will be better in 6 months) I said that alot because it stopped me from going crazy. I had advice from every corner "Let her cry or let her cry it out" "Don't carry her" "Don't hold her so much or lay down with her". I was told not to do everything that she really needed to feel safe. Now the dissenters are admitting we were right. You do what you need to do and what your heart tells you for Silas to feel safe and "home".

  34. i wish i had no idea what you are talking about - but alas i do. we are on year 7 and most days are just normal but unfortunately i have my guard up and let my heart and mind resort back to whatever negative feelings i've conditioned myself to feel when my "e" has an "attachment disorder sorta day" . . . THANKFULLY these are getting to be less and less for my sweet boy. i hope God can say the same for me :)

    sending hugs & prayers,

    xo ellie

  35. Your writing real. Your heart available to strangers. I admire you for that, Shannan.

  36. I love what Kristi said,"The Chairman of the Universe", He picked you and Cory(and that means He picked me too)for Si Pie. He has come such a long long way!! I loved seeing Charles tucked into his shirt. I think it is symbolic of where Silas is in our lives, tucked right into our hearts.

  37. This parenting thing is tough, but take on parenting a child that came to you w/ a bruised heart and battered spirit, and it's a whole new ball park. I'm living it w/ you, girl. And that voice you (we) hear that questions you at your weakest? He's a liar. He likes to push you when you're down. That's when we need to hear His Truth the most...and the truth is, He will equip us, fill in the gap for us when we aren't enough, and He is our defense and refuge when we are beaten down. xo

  38. Had you known then that the road would be this long...had you known now that you'd grow in the most incredible ways...

    Your life is worship. Just the way you breathe in and out and keep on. That's true worship.

    And your raw honesty, it speaks of so much Grace.

  39. "I pull on my love for my child. I zip certainty up to my chin. I ball up my hands and shove them into Promise."
    A bit like putting on my Armor daily (Eph 6:10), I think I need to put on the clothes of love too.
    Thank you for this!

  40. I admire your honest portrayal at the loneliness I've heard described by so many regarding adoption, blessing for a restful evening dear friend

  41. I scrolled down to leave a comment and it stopped on a comment from "mama."

    Adoption is so much bigger than just us and our hubbys and our babies from around the world.

    It touches every life involved, including our parents and our siblings and our friends and those who stand in the distance watching us.

    Your mama is precious, and her love for your si-pie is beautiful.

  42. "That is the thought that threatens to break me. I might have turned my back on one of the blessings of my life. I might have missed the moment where he turns to me and says, "I lu yew Mommy". - this thought floats through my mind many times a week, it carries me when I don't understand God's plan in other areas of my life, to look back and see that I would have missed all of this if I would have said no to God's plan for adding children to our family.

  43. I am childless and can't add anything useful other than God's love shines through you everyday - good ones and bad ones - and touches everyone.

  44. It is hard...just so hard. I have to tell myself sometimes...don't be so strong that you think you've got this one...that you don't need Him to take the lead. My kids bring me to my knees. I've been crawling around for the past two weeks. It is so past time to let these battles go...I will let go. Thanks for the gentle reminder.

  45. Nobody knows what the future looks like, except the One who is already there. The best we can do, as parents, is pray for "daily bread" and strength for the day. He has promised us both.

  46. Beautiful post! Thanks for sharing this.

  47. has taken me 63 years to realize may be talking about your child silas...but God is talking about his child me...hugs and blessings and prayers...laney

  48. We love that boy! Looking forward to seeing you all.

  49. I love this post. I love reading about your family and your experience with adoption. Your babies are precious! You are so right that God honors this work. Cheering you on from Texas, Jessica.

  50. Praying for you. I've got a 9 year old who came home at 27 months of age and we really struggled. We still struggle some. But it does get better. The Lord has taught me a lot about myself through my son. Hugs! Amy

  51. Shannan,
    Beautifully written. Being a divorced woman, I wish that I had looked at my marriage differently. That it wasn't an option to end it. But I didn't look at it that way. But that is how I look at my children. No option. I've told you before that my daughter is gay. I always used the scripture about "nothing shall separate us from the love of God" as my example of how to love...and that is how I looked at how to love my or not...neither height nor depth nor breadth...roughly quoted. I met a young lady once who upon meeting me, she rose as if to honor me. As we walked away I said "what was that about?" My daughter said "when she told her parents she was gay...they dis-owned her. She knows you have stood beside me."
    We walk. This is what we do. Keep walking. Hold HIS know you are not walking alone. (This is where I have to say do parents parent without faith?)
    love, Cheryl

  52. Google Karen Purvis!
    Author of: "The Connected Child"
    She even has videos on YouTube I think!

    Lover of your blog!
    Thank you for all the time you spend writing...

  53. Oh, I love the honesty of many adoptive parents need to be reminded that they are not alone in these feelings. Would you be willing to let us feature this on "We Are Grafted In" ( We'd love for our readers to be encouraged by this. Just let me know!
    Stephanie co-administrator of WAGI
    smurphy28 AT juno DOT com