Our new children, ages 10 and 11, had been living with us for several months when my husband, Jeff, and I realized we needed to reconnect as a couple. Our older birth children were home to watch the younger ones, so we decided to resume our habit of taking walks. Time alone together had been nonexistent, so we were looking forward to it.
But as we stepped into the street, our 11-year-old son ran after us, screaming that we were bad parents to leave him "alone." We learned that Daniel battled an intense fear of abandonment, and addressing his concerns day in and day out was challenging.
Such struggles are common for children with traumatic pasts, but dealing with issues like these can make parents weary. If you feel worn out or overwhelmed, the following ideas might help you persevere:
Seek professional help, connect with other adoptive parents and attend conferences such as Refresh (www.RefreshGatherings.org). Learning how God has helped others with similar struggles can encourage you and give you a new perspective.
Remember why you adopted.
In Mark 14:3, a woman anoints Jesus with an expensive perfume — a gift that undoubtedly involved great sacrifice. What did Jesus say about her? "She has done a beautiful thing to me" (14:6). When you adopt an orphan, you also give a costly gift — one of lifelong love. That's a beautiful thing in God's eyes. He sees your gift.
Care for yourself.
Loving a child well takes energy, so it's counterproductive to ignore your physical and mental health. With your spouse or a close friend, discuss what you need most: exercise, a Bible study, the occasional date night or even regular walks. Don't resist asking for help, whether from family, friends, baby-sitting co-ops, church ministries or other support groups.
Think long term.
It can take quite a while for a child to grow confident in your love and to heal from past traumas. I know of two mothers whose daughters — both adopted as older children — had been emotionally distant and hostile for years. But as young adults, these girls now treat their mothers with love and respect. Life is long, and children eventually grow up and change.
It wasn't long before Jeff and I were taking our walks again, although the first year with our new kids would have been easier had we sought more support. Don't repeat our mistake. Be intentional about seeking the help you need.Julie Holmquist is a book editor for Focus on the Family and the author of A Call to Love: Preparing your heart & soul for adoption.
This article first appeared in the June/July 2018 issue of Focus on the Family magazine and was originally titled "When You’re Weary." If you enjoyed this article, read more like it in Focus on the Family's marriage and parenting magazine. Get this publication delivered to your home by subscribing to it for a gift of any amount.
Julie Holmquist is a book editor at Focus on the Family. She and her husband, Jeff, have raised four children, two of whom were adopted.
Julie is the author of A Call to Love.