Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Living Like An Orphan

Isaiah is going through a rough patch right now.  I shouldn't be surprised by it, but I always am.  This is how it is with kids, especially strong-willed ones.  They challenge you, for a period of time just to see if you will stand your ground.  Then, once you show them you really still are the boss, they settle into a season of better behavior.  
On the one hand, he is passionate.  He is a little comedian and charmer
 He loves to make people laugh and be the center of attention
 He is loving and affectionate and his smile could melt you into a puddle
He is a risk taker and survivor
 On the other hand, he can frustrate me to the point of wanting to run as fast as I can and scream at the top of my lungs.  He is a challenging kid.  His voice is so loud, it sounds like he has a megaphone attached to his mouth at all times.  To top it off, he talks ALL. DAY. LONG.   He doesn't take "no" for an answer, EVER.  Multiple times a day, we have a discussion about who the boss it.   He pushes the limit every minute of every day.   His philosophy is, "you just never know when mom might let her guard down, and I will get away with it.  He will even use that amazing smile and charm to manipulate to get what he wants, and so many people fall for it!!

All of this means that I cannot let up my guard.  I have to be consistent.  I give him a millimeter, he takes 10 miles.  It is so exhausting to have to be so tough with him all the time. It really limits the ability to be fun and spontaneous and "break the rules."  Doing that will set a chain reaction of behaviors that are just not worth it.  

I have noticed in the last 3 weeks that he has reverted back to many of the behaviors that he displayed when we first brought him home.  He has been living like he is an orphan.  He destroys things that others have that he doesn't have.  Because if he can't have it, they shouldn't either.  He disregards the rules of our household.  He talks about going to another family.

All the while, we continue to love him.  We prove to him that nothing he can ever do will change that love.  I think he is testing us sometimes just to see if we will still love him.  We are the 4th caregivers he has had in his life.  He has been with us the longest.  But that doesn't matter.  He still has to be shown over and over that we are his FOREVER family.

I share all of these things because I think it is important for those who have adopted to see that this is normal.  I also think those that have not adopted need to see that there are complex issues and struggles that adoptive families will ALWAYS face.  Seriously, he has been in our family for 3 years, yet he still doubts at times.  He still struggles with his story(what little of it he can understand at this point).  He still questions our love for him.  He still tries to function apart from the team.

I think there have been a few reasons these behaviors have creeped back in.  First, was this:
The 3 year celebration of their adoption
  We approach this event with excitement and joy, but he knows.  He knows that the fact that he was adopted means that something went wrong with his first family.  He knows that he was born in Swaziland.  He knows that his skin is a different color than ours.  He doesn't fully grasp it all, but he knows.  Even in the celebrating, there is grief over the brokenness of his past.

Also, the celebration of a friend's adoption has brought up questions in his heart.  Our philosophy is to be honest about his history, but to only answer the questions he is asking.  What I mean is, on the way to the adoption, he asked, "What was my first family like?"  My answer, "Isaiah, we don't really know. We never met them."  Then, he moved on to something else.  Now, I could have gone into a long discussion here with him, but I don't think he was ready for that.  He was satisfied with that answer and he will learn more as he gets older.

It breaks my heart that he chooses to live as an orphan when he is no longer an orphan.  God showed me recently that I do the same thing in my walk with him.  I question His love for me.  I doubt my place in His family.  I try to do things myself rather than relinquishing control to the one that loves me more than I could ever imagine.  I choose to do it my way instead of His.  All the while He loves me, He accepts me, He treats my as His daughter.

Our family would not be the same without these two!  
If you want to learn more about the issues and struggles that adopted children face, I would highly recommend the book, "Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew" by Sherrie Eldridge.  It is a great book that gives insight into this subject.

Oh, and Isaiah is convinced we need to adopt more children.  He has been saying over and over, "Mommy, I want more brothers and sisters.  I want us to adopt more children and feed them."  Recently, in the truck, he even spontaneously prayed a prayer that Jesus would give us more children to adopt.  I love his sweet heart.  He knows the difference that being in a family can make.

1 comment:

  1. What an amazing post! Exactly what I needed to hear this morning.