Thursday, May 26, 2016

Muting the Sigh

God has been kneading my heart over the last few weeks, stretching and pulling, bringing the knotted, ugly pieces of me to the surface.

I have been wrestling with my apathetic feelings toward Sweet Mama, lately, and arrogance has crept in. The reel of mind conversation loops unkind, but genuine words.

I’ve done enough.
No one else would go this far.
She’ll be pregnant again in four months.
I am done with her; I am done with this.
I don’t care.

We have continued to email back-and-forth from prison. I stick to talking about the kids, because it’s the only conversation that doesn’t frustrate my love for her. Mama will be released in a few short months and her plans are not life-giving. She’s going back. To him. To the familiar. To the only life she knows.

Her resolve is to do better, but she doesn’t see the holes of her plan.

She called me, this week, and in a very abrupt, I-think-I-can-intimidate-you way, asked, “So how is this going to work with my kids when I get out?”

I wanted to slam the phone down and erase her from my memory. I’m pretty sure she has mistaken my kindness for weakness and thinks that somehow, in the end, we’ll co-raise her children together.

I tried a rational approach and expressed my hope that one day she would have a strong, healthy relationship with her kids, but walked her through some of Cisco’s traumatic experiences over the last two years in hopes that she would understand why he’s not ready for a relationship, now.

She didn’t see it.

I did more listening than talking and she released the selfish folds of her heart. Her love for her kids is true and real, but it’s tangled in her childlike focus on what she wants. Her experiences limit her abilities. She has probably never felt the depths of a mother’s love. Never felt sacrifice or cheering or mama bear protection. If she’s never seen it modeled, how is she to know?

We got off the phone and I was angry. I was angry that Sweet Mama couldn’t understand the fragility of Cisco’s heart or the inappropriateness of bringing one of the babies with me on a prison visit. She doesn’t see her relationship with me as a gift and seems to lack social awareness of not only how her words might affect my feelings, but also the usual practice, here.

I spewed my frustration to Ben and in effort to avoid apologies later, I set our conversation and friendship aside for a few days. I didn’t answer her follow-up phone calls or emails.

Instead I prayed.

I prayed for wisdom and asked God for fresh perspective.

His answer came in Galatians 6:9.

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.

I’m not ashamed to admit that I’ve given up on Sweet Mama – because it’s genuine. This path I’m navigating is not worn with travelers. It’s not usual, natural, or easy. I have to check my emotions at every turn and, continually, ask for a new supply of patience. I am not a born quitter, but the complexities of this challenge have worn me. When it comes down to it, my love for my kids is so much greater than my love for their mother.

But, my love for God is so much greater than my love for all else.

It’s no wonder my spirit is split.

I’ve been chewing on these words for days – do not become weary in doing good – do not become weary in doing good. Do not give up. Do not give up. Do not give up.

This morning, my reading was in Ephesians and I found the comfort I needed to right this flip-flop.

For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good…

I was CREATED to do good.

And I agreed to love like Jesus when I said yes to him and yes to Sweet Mama.

I have to push forward. I have to continue to step well outside natural boundaries. I have to love this woman that is so difficult to love...because it’s in me.

The Jesus in me will erase my disgust, mute the sighs, and try again, today.


  1. I get it. Some days you just have to remind yourself to not give up and love like Jesus does. Some days it's hard for all of us. I have to remind myself daily. Just do good. Do it like Jesus and find peace in my heart. One day at a time. Best to you! XX

  2. One of the hardest concepts for Christian people to grasp
    God's love is not all soft and gooey. Life situations often demand toughness. Jesus was gracious and compassionate but often times there were limits. What at times could be interpreted as harshness was in fact the only remedy for redemption.
    I love your heart.

  3. I. Hear. You. On every point. Every flip flop corner of emotion you described. We are in the thick of it with our foster daughter (for whom we have full custody) and her mother who is in and out of jail lately. I don't have any wiser words to offer you than the Lord has already brought you. Just wanted to encourage you in knowing you are not alone. I totally get it! There may be few travelers along this road, but there are travelers. I totally totally hear you. Do not give up! You are rocking the walk.

    1. Thank you for the encouragement. It helps to know there are others navigating a similar path.

  4. HUGS... It sounds like you need some right now. It is really hard when you see something that the other person doesn't see. Hopefully the veil will be lifted allowing her to see and understand. Until then, you walk a difficult path. My heart goes out to you and her, and at the same time it cheers that you are out there doing what is right, even when it is difficult.

  5. Prayers for you and your kids....I have had to cut ties to our sons birth mom for now just not safe. Best of luck.

  6. When Elee's bio dad threatened to take me to court and try to get her back it was a little hard to not block him and wash my hands of him.

    But I knew he is hurt that he doesn't get to raise her.

    So, I still let him text me. I still update him. I still send pictures and am kind.

    He has said some kind things since then.

    It's a mess that we are all swimming through. Don't hesitate to tell her that she is NOT going to see the kids (or whatever the situation is for you guys.). Might as well rip the bandaid off so the healing can start.

  7. I have been following your blog since before Laron came home. My life and beliefs are very different to yours but I love following your family and hearing about them and maybe you need to hear it but I am truly amazed by your family. I hope you find the strength for the not so easy challenges like this and please keep sharing.

  8. I first read this post about six hours ago. I didn't have a comment more coherent than "...whoa ... but ... what?!?"

    So ... I think because Sweet Mama does not have faith, she doesn't understand your faith. She doesn't understand the strength you get from your faith and she doesn't understand how you will use that strength to protect your children's hearts with every fibre of your being.

    I wonder about this because like her, I grew up with addicts. Though my parents dutifully went to church, they never took the time to teach me faith. (Long story short, I do live a spiritual life now).

    I guess I'm trying to understand how she can be so obtuse. The reality is that you and Ben adopted Frisco, Edie, and Hunter. They are being raised as Pinchbacks, because they are Pinchbacks, and they will continue to be Pinchbacks.

    I also have faith that when it comes time to say "no" to her and draw a boundary, your faith will tell you that you made the right choice.

  9. I've been following along for years--I found your blog sometime during the early days of your adoption of Tyrus. I have always marveled at your patience, your tenacity, and your huge heart. You (and Ben) are doing things that the vast majority of us would never even consider doing. It's truly awe-inspiring and motivating. I have taken many of the things you've said as lessons and try to apply them to my life--even though I'm not in a similar situations, I think a lot of what you write about can be adapted.

    With all of that being said--and reminding myself that I only know as much as you share here--it might not be an awful idea to continue taking some steps back from Mama. Rather, to stay where you're at and not progress forward any further. It's not to say that you should stop caring about her or cut her out of your life completely. But instead, maybe draw a line in the sand and stand firm in limiting what you and your family can invest in her. Instead of always meeting her where she's at, perhaps explain some standards and goals that she should strive for. I know that we are taught to love, and taught to do more for others than what we do for ourselves. But, she clearly needs more than what you can give her. At some point, this will begin impacting your children--whether they learn about her and her shortcomings, or whether your involvement with her causes you to focus your mental energy on her and not on them (I hesitate saying that so as not to sound like I'm insulting your parenting).

    I'm really not meaning to insult you--I hope it doesn't come across that way. It just sounds like your relationship with her is negatively impacting you, and I feel so sad for you. I don't think there's anything at all wrong with continuing to take time apart from her.

  10. This scripture came to mind when I read this post. You are living this scripture out. Don't be too hard on yourself, let the Word bring you back from the frustrations you are experiencing.
    Matt 5:16, Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.
    In Christ,
    Ashley Moon

  11. Hi Rebekah! I've been following you forever and we adopted our son Nathan shortly after you adopted Tyrus. We recently became foster parents and took a sibling set of 2 (ages 1 and 2.5). I have been rooting for their mom but yesterday she did something that set her back at least a month which really sucks and it's hard to want her to get them back when she doesn't seem to put them first... it is hard and I commend you for doing the very best you can to keep her involved and a part of their story but there is a point where you don't give up on them but you "let them go" and trust that Jesus will care for them so you can care for the kids. I'm not there yet because I am only fostering and adoption is not yet in the picture but because we have an awesome open adoption with Nathan's birthmom, of course we would want to try and have that with her too and I have to be realistic that it just may not be the case with her because of her choices :/

  12. I have been following your writings for over a year. I found your blog because my husband and I feel called to adopt.

    Your writings have been such a raw fountain of grace and truth that God has been using to build me up. Even though you write from an adoption perspective the truth you share pertains to all areas of life.

    Aside from your own family, I pray this generation understand and embrace the gift they have in you. Continue shining bright the glory and beauty of the risen Christ.

  13. This is definitely a unique path that you are on. And I'm just some stranger on the Internet. I don't believe there is anything wrong with putting up strict boundaries and limiting just how much information she receives. It isn't showing lack of love. It is protective love over those children, who need to be kept safe from her. She is an adult and has made her choices. Continue to love her and to pray, but I don't think anyone would fault you for stepping back from the openness of this adoption situation due to the stress and unhealthiness of her situations. The Word tells us that it would be better for a person to tie a millstone around their neck and jump into the ocean than to cause a little one to stumble (paraphrasing greatly here, I realize). Be fierce, be strong - for the kids. If it were me I'd have to let her go and make her choices.

  14. Following your blog for a while now. We are a foster family and we have adopted (thru foster). I always strive to make relationships with the families. It's never easy. But so worth it!
    When we adopted, the first mom and dad didn't (and still don't) want to stay in touch. however, a grandmother and aunt and a few cousins did. We began by emailing and building a relationship. I ended up having to write a length very specific email about how we are the mom and dad and very specific things that needed to be addressed. We see this family very often now and it has been amazing. They totally respect our boundaries. I know this is a total exception to the rule. But I feel that adoptive families should be more open to this. I want to be able to tell me children that I did everything I could to ensure that they could know their first family. It so helpful to them.

    I think what you are doing is so amazing! It's very hard and frustrating. Their first mom is living in a totally different reality than we are. It just is what it is. Maybe a very specific email where you get very real about trauma and how that affects children in a very real way. Lay it all out, but with the hope of healing. It really has to be baby steps. she may not understand, but she may still comply. Of course, if she slips back into bad habits you could not have contact.
    praying she will at least stay connected thru email. Praying for the Lord to be known in her life in a real and meaningful way.

    Mostly just saying good job! I think you're doing a great thing. She is worth your time and energy. Your children will be thankful that you tried your best. :)

  15. I know you'll find the way God intends you to walk, praying for you and your sweet family. Remember the God who gives us peace that passes all understanding sometimes asks us to do things that pass our understanding as well. Hugs Mama!

  16. We are going through the exact same situation. Our adoption of 3 siblings from foster care will soon be final. Mom continues to live a destructive life and doesn't understand why we don't want the kids to be a part of that. She seems to think that, as you said, we will somehow co-parent them. I had to block her from messaging me until I felt I could reply in a positive manner. It's so hard to be empathetic when I myself have only felt an undying love for my children. I'm so torn for their future. The oldest is the only one who has significant memories of her but doesn't ask to visit her. I don't know if this is a blessing or a future hurt. I'm praying for you, mama. Please do the same for me.

  17. Hi, Rebekah! Glenda also follows my blog and told me about your blog - to check it out. I am SO GRATEFUL because I have been perusing your posts, and if we met in real life, I'm certain we'd become fast friends. I'm following your blog now and praying for you. All my best...