When you see our kids…

When you see our children…You may see their excitement to get a cookie. Or their adventurous hearts as they play outside. You love their bright smile and the way they run up and hug you. Their manners astonish you. You think they are just like any other kid you have met.

When you see our children…You may see chaos. You may see their bad behavior. You may see their fits and extreme dysregulation. You may see them interact with your kids in ways you don’t like. You think they are troublemakers and need better parenting.

When you see our children, you are not REALLY seeing our children. You are seeing their presenting behavior. You are seeing the surface. Sometimes, in terms of compliant behavior, you are seeing only what they want you to see. You are not REALLY seeing our children.

Children from hard places are skilled at protecting themselves. Often this looks like good behavior and great manners and sweetness when people are around them. If you get the privilege of seeing their outbursts and fits (and it IS a privilege), then it means you have actually gained some trust with them. They are beginning to trust you enough with all of who they are.

But even when you get to see this part of them, this is just the surface. They are not bad kids. They are not just being defiant. They don’t just need more discipline. They are hurting kids. Traumatized kids. Kids who need love. Kids who need connection. They need to know they are safe. They need to know you aren’t going anywhere.

As an adoptive parent, sometimes I forget this. Sometimes I forget my kid has been through trauma. As though their life has been easy and they don’t have extra needs. When it’s one hard behavioral thing after another…when it takes tons of work and sacrifice…its way too easy to begin to get frustrated instead of compassionate. But that’s not what my children need. They need my heart. They need my love. They need my patience. They need me to dig deeper and see what is underneath. They just need me to actually see them. Really see them.

I wrote the following last year….a moment of clarity when I actually saw my son.


I’m sitting on a piece of tape ten feet outside your room. Every few seconds I hear the same thing. A whisper in the night. Are you still out there? Yes buddy, I am. More seconds tick away on the clock. I love you mommy. I love you too my boy. You sneak quietly out of bed. Mommy, one last hug. I squeeze you tight. You head back in. Again comes the whisper. Again I reassure you. Thirty minutes so far. I wonder how long this dance will last.

I see you differently tonight

I’m not irritated. I am not frustrated that you keep checking if I am here. Over and over again. One more time. One last time. Again and again and again. I’m not angry that I have to sit here on this hard floor, waiting for you to fall asleep. I’m not frustrated that I’m uncomfortable and exhausted and just want to be in my own bed. Tonight I’m not overwhelmed that we have been doing something like this for almost nine months. Nine. Months. About thirty six weeks. Approximately two hundred and fifty two nights.

I see you differently tonight

I learned something about your story yesterday. I hate what I learned. HATE. I hate it because it happened to you. I hate it because it was evil. I hate it because it should never have happened. I hate it because you are my boy. My heart breaks for you. These tears I shed are not enough. I could never shed enough tears for you my son.

I see you differently tonight

You are safe. I am still sitting here. I love you. Yes, you are safe. I am still sitting here. I love you. Yep, you are safe. Yep, still sitting here. Yep, I love you. Safe. Sitting here. Love you. Still safe. Still sitting here. Still love you.

I see you differently tonight

We twirl one last time. The music slowly fades away. Our dance has ended. You lay snug beneath your covers. Curled tightly in a ball. I cry out to God to give you sweet dreams. I cry out to God to give you good rest. I cry out to God to redeem nighttime for you. Please Father. Please.

I see you differently tonight

This won’t be our last dance. We will dance again tomorrow. I will sit. You will cry out to me. I will answer. As many times as it takes son. I will not be irritated. I will no longer think you just need to be brave. I will no longer question whether you are really afraid.

I. See. You.


6 thoughts on “When you see our kids…

  1. I am a biological mother of two beautiful boys, and I won’t pretend to even vaguely understand what you go through from day to day. However you have my greatest sympathy and as a mom you have my greatest empathy and more than that you have my respect. It is tear jerking and heart warming to read your posts and I applaud you. Thank you for reminding me of what a good heart sounds like. No one is perfect but we can try our best and that is what makes the difference right? I am so happy for your children that they have found safe pastures and a loving home.

    Liked by 1 person

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