Thursday, July 19, 2012

"I want to go home."

I was recently telling someone that parenting LJ requires multiple lenses. I can't just look at him as my son. I have to look at him as my son that has grown up in five foster homes, my son that has pockets full of memories that I cannot access, my son that has never had a father, my son that doesn't understand stability, my son that questions security, and my son that has lived a harder life than most thirty year olds, but is only able to communicate as a three year old.

Sometimes I forget about the extra lenses and LJ's emotions or reactions take me by surprise, reminding me how important it is to, continually, rely on our heavenly Father for LJ's success in our family.

We were on vacation, this past week, and talked about it for many days prior to leaving. Ty and LJ were excited and had fun packing their dinos, trains, and sand toys. On the way "Up North" (where we Michiganders go for breathtaking views and water fun!), LJ started crying, "Mama, I want to go home."

Excited about our trip, I didn't think anything of his outburst and dismissed his [what-I-perceived-to-be] reasonless cries.

It wasn't until about the third I-wanna-go-home meltdown that I connected his crying to a lack of security.

And then it all made sense.

It didn't matter that the four of us were vacationing together with our closest friends or that we shared the same bedroom or that we were staying in a dream lakehouse or that we would return home in a week. From LJ's perspective, we were sleeping in a new bed in a new home with "friends" that in his experience turn into a new family. He doesn't understand vacation or temporary housing. He only sees that he has been taken from the house and bed and toys that he has come to know as "home"- for the sixth time - and he isn't sure that he'll ever go back (in the past he hasn't).

I hate that.

I hate that security cannot be talked into place. It requires strong hugs, warm kisses, kind words, and so much time...

LJ trusts us - enough. But, how are we any different than the last five homes? He never lived in a home more than 6 months and he's only lived with us for 4. His experiences will override any good his heart conveys. Security in our family is going to take time.

My heart breaks for his. When it comes to mothering Ty, I can reason and love away any fears that exist. My arms are safe and forever and secure. With LJ, I spend so much time wondering about his heart and fragile emotions. I know he finds love and safety in my arms (although truth be told, he runs to daddy first), but the latter hold no definition. What does forever mean when your life has been chopped into six month segments? What does security mean when adults have been transient and boundaries crossed?

Some days A lot of days, I wish we could just fast forward. I wish we could skip the growing pains and move right to the place of peace....Isn't that how it always is?

With me anyway. Always looking for that easy button. Navigating through this path has been more challenging than we were prepared, but we hold on, knowing that we are doing the work of God and applying sweet balm to LJ's heart.

We will move past these insecurities and one day LJ will only remember the unparalleled love of one mommy, one daddy, and one heavenly King.

Pray for us as we move toward that day.


  1. Wow, how awesome that he relates your home to safety! And, that he wanted to go there. You are moving toward that day. You should be proud of what you and Ben have done already for LJ. How did he react when he did get home?

  2. That is so heartbreaking! To think that LJ and so many other children have gone through such trauma at such a young age just makes my heart ache for them. I'm sure he did equate a trip away from home with upheaval in his life. But now that you are home, maybe he will start to understand that THIS home is permanent, and that sometimes trips can be enjoyable. I will say a prayer for you on your journey.

  3. I was reading Prov. 20:5 today and this verse reminded me of your post and the multiple lenses that are required to adequately parent LJ.

    The purposes of a person’s heart are deep waters,
    but one who has insight draws them out.

    There is no doubt in my mind that God is filling you and your husband with insight and even giving Ty insight into loving LJ into wholeness and stability.

    I love this verse too!

    Psalm 8:2
    From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger.

    What an adventure your whole family is on.

    Praying for you guys!


  4. Oh - I know how you feel - and I want to reassure you! But time is the only thing that will work, time, hugs and words of reassurance.

  5. you have very good insight into what may be going on in your little guy's heart. i am so glad God has given you that. HE truly made you for THIS.

  6. This post brought tears to my eyes. To think of something so wonderful--family vacation--becoming something so scary for LJ just broke my heart. I'm sure it must have been really hard for you, too. The fact that you are able to access those different lenses in your parenting interactions with him says a lot. This too shall pass and his days of complete security within your family will be so worth the time it took to get there! Hugs!

  7. Thank goodness for moms like you. I work with so many foster and adoptive families who cannot see through these lenses. And my heart just breaks for those children. LJ could not be in better hands, or better hearts. Everything you said is true, insightful and so, so sad. With time and the amazing family that he has, LJ WILL be able to have trust, security, safety and, most importantly, peace.

  8. Your post brought back memories. We adopted our daughter (from China)when she was almost 4. The first time we took a family trip to see my parents, it really upset her. As we packed up clothes, toys, etc., she just got quieter and quieter. Turns out she expected to be left behind. Of course, it didn't help that she didn't yet have enough English to fully explain her fears. so sad.......

    Now, 5 years later, she loves family trips...they always include Chik-Fil-A, a rare treat in our family of 7. lol

  9. It is hard to see our children hurting...however, remember that with each hurt comes an opportunity for healing. I went on our first trip with my son right before he turned a year old. He had been with me about 5 months. The trip was hard for him. I doubt he enjoyed much of it, despite the fact we were seeing family and he was being doted on by everyone. However, when we walked back in through our back door, he let out this HUGE sigh of relief. He literally melted in my arms.

    It is important for our children who have moved so often to learn that we go away but we still come back to the same home, to the same family and to the same life as before. Remember, with each fear, with each hurt is an opportunity for him to heal, for you to "do it right", so to speak, when every other time in his life is has been done wrong. It is only after you do this over and over and over again will he start to feel that security. So yes, it is very, very hard to see our children hurt. But also see it as an opportunity for growth.

  10. My heart just aches for him. Thankfully he won't ever have to be shuttled from one home to another again. Oh this just hurts my heart to think of how distraught and scared he must of been, thinking he was going somewhere else.

    I know it isn't the same but we recently adopted a second dog. In order to adopt him we had to bring our other dog to meet him. Our first dog was from the same shelter and as we pulled up to the shelter she was panting and frantic and almost crazed. I found out later she had been abandoned to the same shelter more than once and she must have thought she was being left again.

    There will come a day when LJ won't remember the abandonment. There will still be scars, scars that he may not understand where they came from, but they'll be healed scars and he will be loved and secure.

  11. I'm glad you have such an understanding heart about the pain and loss LJ has gone through. I hope he learns that he has permancy and love with you and this is his family for good.

    I don't know if you've read this blog by someone who aged out of the foster care system, who sadly never got a family, but she has a page of great tips for those parenting foster care kids that might be helpful for you and your family as you parent LJ in the future.

  12. You are SO on the right track - You are SO in the right place - and I bless you with peace, wisdom, strength, hope and love that knows no end.

    That you will continue to and forever KNOW the faithfulness of our God in your family.

  13. This is so sweet a story and so sad. I know things will get better as each day LJ gets the love he is looking for.

  14. I absolutely love your blog! My sister-in-law told me about your site. She went to school with you - I believe in high school. I have been enthralled in you story. So much so that I read through all of your posts in just a matter of weeks! I admire your heart for children and adoption. You are an eloquent writer and I have thoroughly enjoyed catching up on your story. I laughed and cried throughout your posts. Most importantly, I have been spiritually encouraged and challenged. I look forward to how the Lord willl continue to use you and your family.


  15. Oh Rebekah! What a heartbreaking thing! So happy that you are sensitive to his precious broken spirit and can recognize this.