So I know it has been 2 years since I blogged last. I have been overwhelmed by family responsibilities as well as things with work and church. Blogging has just not made the cut. So what has brought me out of semi-retirement? It is this … “Do not judge others, and you will not be judged.” Matthew 7:1 Now, before I get on my soap box, I first want to say that I know that I struggle with this area. I have a tendency to size someone up and not give them a lot of room for error. God is the God of grace and being His child – I am called to show grace too. I know I need to grow in this. (I have heard that usually the things that bother you the most are the same things that you struggle with, and I am finding that to be true.) So with all that in mind, please understand that in sharing my frustrations – I am looking in the mirror and saying …”you too!”
Almost two years ago my wife and I adopted Daniel Ryan from Ethiopia. It has been both a very exciting and joyful journey and a very challenging and heart breaking one as well. I wish I could explain the emotional roller-coaster of adoption, but I cannot. Needless to say, it is a mind melting mixture of joy, obedience, love, heartache, frustration, and pain. Before our experience with adopting our son, we were clueless about what this road would look like and how our son would need us to love and guide him. Therefore, it is frustrating and hurtful to feel the judging eye of others on us. How we parent him is admittedly different than how we interacted with our other children at this age, but their struggles are different. My wife and I have had to be more on top of the behaviors and choices in our youngest’s life.
I’m sure at times it looks like we are being too strong, or coming across as very strict. Clear boundaries create security and consistency which is needed when the guidelines of our home (and at school) are constantly (not occasionally) being bent or broken. Do you have a child who regularly checks to see if you are looking before acting? One who sneaks, hides the truth or just flat out lies as a normal way of living? It is a survival skill that was learned in his previous days of wondering the streets without supervision. Structure and guidelines are having to be learned at 8 that should have been established at 2 or 3. Having a healthy respect for parents or any authority was not a part of his life before. His mantra was, and at times still is, “It’s not wrong if I don’t get caught.” So, now our eyes have to be constantly in tune with his behavior. Somethings what seems small for other kids, if not held in check can escalate quickly to very destructive behavior. We are coaching and encouraging these behaviors that seem odd for an 8 year old (who happens to look like a 10 year old) to learn. But it must be done.
Meanwhile, we feel the eyes of judgement all around. “What? – Your not allowing him to eat whatever he wants?” … No, he does not know when to stop. He eats like a grown man, and he will eat himself into a puking mess if we let him. How do we know this? We have lived it. What? Why don’t you let him watch that? Well, because he did not have supervision as a young one and watched some things that he shouldn’t have. Now simple super hero flicks trigger scary memories and will lead to sleepless nights and paralyzing fear. What? Why do you seem to be always asking him to be quiet? … Because he will talk, ask questions (many that he knows the answers to already), and distract people at school, at church, and in a room full of adults that are having a serious conversation, because he has not learned yet that their are appropriate times to talk/ask questions and times that it is not appropriate to interrupt. What you may find to be cute in the moment, loses its luster after about 100 times of the same negative behavior. Unfortunately, his teacher at school knows this all too well. So, though you may not understand why an adoptive parent is doing what they are doing, you probably also don’t know why. So, don’t judge. Don’t look down at them. Support them. Ask if you can help in any way. Ask questions and try to understand instead of assuming you know better, and please don’t give advice for something you know so little about. You may discover that they probably know a lot more than you think and are trying to really hard to support their child and his/her real needs.
On a secondary note, please don’t praise, smile at, high five and tell an adoptive child how awesome they are and neglect to say the same things to their non-adoptive siblings. They (all) notice! Sometimes people don’t realize they are doing it. It is as though they are compensating for the adoptive child and his/her difficult circumstances by being super nice (but then not doing the same with other kids). This is not healthy or right – for him or the other kids. He sees that he is different (and often because he knows he is really different – he doesn’t want to be singled out). The others see (and feel) that they are not as special – and that is not true. So be super nice. Give high fives. Just make sure your enthusiasm is spread out to all the kids and not to just the one!
Thanks for reading this and if you have any feedback, please feel free to e-mail me by pushing the button below!