I visited with a delightful adoptive couple after church last Sunday. Although their 17 year journey has been challenging they remain hopeful. Like many of us they have struggled to understand their son and his unique needs while acknowledging the toll it has taken on their family.
“Hey, before you leave I have a question for you,” Sam said. “Have you heard of…” and he rattled off the names of well-known individuals who specialize in helping children with challenges.
“Yes, I have.”
“Well, what do you think about them?”
I said they were credible and well respected. “But no one has all the answers,” I continued. “You know your child better than anyone else. Take from each professional what fits for you. You don’t have to believe everything they teach to benefit from them. No one gets it right for all kids and families. As adoptive parents we need lots of tools in our parenting toolboxes.”
Coping strategies, life lessons, parenting theories, scriptural truths, and more fill our toolboxes. Some of us regularly tidy up our boxes while others manage with disheveled ones. Whatever their state, we need to know what tools we have, rid ourselves of ineffective ones and add new ones.
Many toolboxes overflow with tools we’ve secured for our children: therapists, counselors, medication, school and church programs, etc. And that’s great. But what helpful tools do you have for your journey? And have you given yourself permission to use them?
Here are three you might find useful:
Dr. Steve Stephens and Alice Gray present learning to forgive as a process in their book The Worn Out Woman. They note, “…the failure to deal with hurts is one of the primary reasons women feel exhausted and weary. Carrying a load of resentment or guilt takes a terrible toll-physically, emotionally, and spiritually.”
It’s OK to love your hammer, that go-to-tool on which you rely. But ask God to help you embrace adoption challenges as opportunities to acquire new ones. We need lots of tools, for our children and ourselves.