Thursday, February 3, 2011

Overflowing Buckets

Because of my job, I sometimes second guess the future. I work with adoptive families, some of whom are struggling. Most of these families are devoted, loving, highly functioning and yet they are trembling under the weight of the challenges their kids bring. Some of our families have tremendous difficulty connecting with their kids and everyone suffers because of the trauma and resulting behaviors. When I hear the stories of hurt, disappointment and tremendous pain, I wonder if that will someday be us... I wonder if we will struggle with mental illness, behavioral challenges, physical difficulties...I worry that my kids don't have a dad who lives in our home. I've never been a biological parent, so I don't know if these worries are unique to families formed through adoption but somehow I doubt it. Even when you share genetics with a child, the future is largely unknown.

When I brought my boys into my home, I made a conscious decision to leave no stone unturned in bringing them healing, hope and unconditional love. They, and every child deserve no less than that. I am so incredibly blessed to have found the work of Dr. Karyn Purvis and Dr. Bruce Perry, my "FIESTA village" and the amazing support of other "mommy bloggers". So much of what I do with my kids on a daily basis comes from these sources and I am eternally grateful. I also know that for our family, God is the ultimate healer and protector. As a single parent, I'm so grateful to know that He is in charge. He has got it, even when I don't.

Since the adoption finalization, I've seen a huge difference in Mateo. He seems so much more settled, much more affectionate and increasingly able to self regulate. I've seen some changes in Joaquin too but Joaquin's personality is vastly different from his brother. He has always been very affectionate but he is also the child that until recently would completely shut down at the first sign of stress. They both have vivid memories of some very difficult moments but unlike most people, they are comfortable talking about those times. So often, I'm amazed by the empathetic, wise observations I hear from my kids and I hope that they continue to examine their experience. Despite the difficult family situations I see on a daily basis, tonight, I'm feeling really hopeful, really content and very thankful. I think that comes from a couple of events from the last couple days...

In the two years we've been together as a family, Mateo and I have worked really hard to help him learn how to be kind and gentle especially with the pets. He has struggled with self control and would sometimes poke a little too much or pull an ear a little too hard for the dogs' comfort level.They learned quickly to avoid too much contact with him. Last night, when I went in to kiss Mateo good night, Shumba, our sweet, 12 year old pup was curled up next to him and they were both snoring quietly.

As the boys were getting ready for bed tonight, Mateo was complaining about sleeping by himself in his room. Joaquin looked at him and said, "Mateo, just remember what your heart tells you. God is always with you. You are never alone."

I think these two occurrences showed me that we continue to move in a positive direction, closer to each other and closer to our God.