I. Is. Treasure. Daddy. 


Our dog does this adorable thing when you are petting her. The moment you stop, she makes these precious noises and takes her nose and tries to lift your hand. She is great at communicating that she wants more lovins. And she ALWAYS wants more lovins.

We were lying in bed petting her this morning when this exact scene was played out for the millionth time since we adopted her about a year ago. I found myself saying out loud, “She has six years of not getting loved on to make up for.” As a thought crossed my mind my hubby spoke it out loud, “Just like our kids.”

See, our dog came to live with us after not having a loving home for 6 years. She was so scared when we first met her that she ran away from us all. She was so scared of human touch. She had never lived in a home before and wasn’t even potty trained.

There is so much about her story we don’t know. So much that we will never know. Her trauma still remains. You can see it in her fear of strangers and her fear of kids. But she has also made great strides. She knows her momma loves her…we call her my mini me because she follows me everywhere. She loves her daddy and is no longer frightened of his height. After months of growling at her, she now loves our daughter and will lay with her.

I often look at our dog and wonder how anyone could have treated her poorly. How anyone could have not showed her how loveable she is. How anyone could have just hurt her and not taken care of her. And my conclusion is always that they missed out on the best dog ever.

The same can be said about our kiddos. Unlike a dog though, they deal with the emotions on a daily basis of what they have gone through. And the questions I ask about my dog are the same questions I ask about them, and even more importantly, they ask about themselves.

Here is something I wrote in May of 2016…a true story about our daughter that I shared last night at the adoption banquet that we had the privelage of sharing our journey at…

      I.IS.TREASURE.

Garbage day. Daddy gets on his blue disposable gloves. We look over. Daddy hunches down, being funny. Silly daddy. She laughs. Don’t catch me daddy. Don’t throw me out. She smiles and hides as daddy walks outside to put the garbage out.

I. NOT. GARBAGE. DADDY. She jokes on the outside. On the inside her heart wonders if she is. Trash. Thrown out. Used. Not important. Not worth keeping.

My heart is heavy. Sweetie, you are treasure. You are special treasure. She tilts her head questioning. I look into her beautiful eyes. God made you that way. You are chosen . You are a treasure and special to Him. You are a treasure and special to us.

Daddy walks back through the front door. She runs over to see him. A huge smile on her face. She looks as though she will burst. I is treasure daddy. I. IS. TREASURE. DADDY. Yes baby, you are indeed treasure!

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.

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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.

lori

Giving Without Expectation

This week has been one of those parenting weeks that just feels like too much. A suspension from school, another almost suspension, stealing, bad and dangerous choices, and a whole lot of lying…all of these being their own separate incidences.

I am tired today. Honestly, this week has taken a lot out of me. Each of these situations have required a lot of physical time and emotional energy to enter into. For kids who come from hard places, actions aren’t what they necessarily seem. Often there is so much behind them. A trauma that was triggered. Something going on at home that has set them off.  Desiring more connection.  Something that upset them at school. Their brain not working the way it’s meant to.

But is is way too easy to forget that and to just be mad and dole out discipline. To drill your child with “Why on earth did you do that?!” To quickly send them to their room. To stay mad even after you have been apologized to. To not take the time to calmly sit with them and care about what is going on underneath the bad that they did.

It takes time…lots of it. Energy…both physical and emotional. It takes sacrifice…putting your own needs aside, your own emotions aside, and entering into their brokenness and loving them in the midst of it. It also takes letting go of your own expectations.

Expectations of how they will respond. Expectations of what they do or do not deserve from you in that moment. Expectations of what they will do in the future. Expectations of how they will treat you.

As I have thought about all of this, I am reminded of something I wrote this summer about a precious moment with my daughter. A moment that revealed my own brokenness. A moment that was filled with so much beauty. A moment that taught me a lot.

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Giving Without Expectation

The brokenness. The toll. The never-ending work. The sacrifice. The trauma. Always being on. No moments of solitude. Sleepless nights. Constantly giving of yourself. Constantly. All the time. Giving. Always giving. Not expecting anything in return. 

I have no expectations. She lays outside enjoying the warm sun. As I come out to join her…ugh. “What’s wrong mommy?” I explain that my foot is hurting and itching and I don’t know why. “Sit here for a minute mommy.” She points to the step. I’m curious. Some sort of game she wants to play? I sit. She comes over. She gently touches my foot.

“This one mommy?” Warmth fills my heart as I look into her caring eyes. Yes sweetie, that’s the one. I try not to choke up. She looks intently at my foot. She takes her hand and carefully rubs on top of it. She carefully pulls my toes apart, searching. She is determined.

I look down and see a little black speck. I know my girl. I know that she is going to think that this is the offending party. “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy I found it!”She brushes it away. Her smile is huge. “All better mommy?” I already knew what I had to say. My smile matches hers. Yes sweet girl, all better. 

She gave to me. In her own brokenness and need, she gave to me. Freely. without being asked. Unbegrudgingly. Lavishly. Not expecting anything in return. My girl gave to me. 

I was blind.  I do expect. I expect a lot. I expect my  kids not to complain. I expect them to care when they hurt my feelings. I expect them not to do something they know they shouldn’t. And all these expectations are sometimes chained tightly to my giving.

The chains may be invisible, but they weigh it down. They dig deeply in, leaving bloody grooves. So heavy. I know my children feel that weight. I sometimes see it in the slump of their shoulders. In the flash of sadness written on their faces. In their defiant behavior. A weight too heavy to bear. A weight not meant for them. 

The brokenness. The toll. The sacrifice. Lord, You gave to me. You gave to her. Freely. Unbegrudgingly. Lavishly. Help me to give to my children like this. All the time. Giving. Always giving. Not expecting anything in return. 

lori

Not Giving Up 

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Not giving up on things in life is really easy when they don’t require much of you. For instance, persevering and continuing to make reading a part of my life is not hard because I absolutely love doing it. It brings me tons of joy. I love learning. It’s a way I can relax. Yep, easy to not give up on my reading endeavors. 😂

I’m purposefully using a silly example, but this reality is true nonetheless. We are very tempted to give up on things when they are hard.

Foster adopting our sibling set of three has taught me so much about this. Before we ever got our kiddos, we had to make the decision that giving up was never an option. We made this commitment ahead of time because we knew it could get really, really hard. And it did.

But we made that commitment. No matter how hard it got. No matter how much it hurt. No matter how much it cost emotionally. No matter how much we lost. No matter how much was sacrificed. It wasn’t an option then and it’s not an option now. No matter how hard it still is. No matter how much it costs us emotionally. No matter how much we have to lose. No matter how much we must sacrifice.

Has it been easy? I think you already know the answer to that. Has not giving up been worth it? Absolutely.

All of this came to mind this morning as I was working on something new exercise-wise. And while it might seem weird to relate this to not giving up on my fitness journey, let me assure you that it’s really not. My hubby can attest to the fact that I have always hated the pain that exercising causes. The burning in my muscles. The burning in my lungs. The exhaustion. The hard work it takes. The perseverance. Ugh…hated it all and was quick to give up. While my hubby would push himself more every time we worked out, I would do just enough to get by without it challenging me too much.

And if I’m honest, isn’t that how I want all of life to be? Not too challenging?  More easy than hard? More simple than complicated? More full of play than work?

But that’s not how life is, is it? But the hard work is worth it. The not giving up is worth it. As I recently told my son, we have two choices when something is hard. We can give up, or we can keep trying over and over again. One road leads to complacency and the other one leads to growth.

Am I a perfect Mom? Nope. Do I always react the best way when my child is dealing with the impacts of trauma? No. Am I always patient with my children? I wish I could say I was. Sometimes I fail. Sometimes I have to ask my kid’s forgiveness. Does that mean I should throw the towel in and not continue to seek to love my children really well? Heck no! I get back up. Over and over and over and over again. Every single day.

I don’t doubt that foster-adopting has grown my ability to persevere in ways I needed desperately. In ways that have effected other areas of my life…even exercise.

When it comes to my fitness journey, I have learned that not being good at something right from the start is okay. I have learned that failing and not being able to do something is actually an opportunity for growth. I have learned that being a beginner is totally acceptable. I have learned that the hard work is worth it.

So, for the sake of keeping it real like I love to do, here is me trying a new yoga move today. The L shaped handstand. I tried it. I did it wrong. I tried it again. My legs slid down the wall. I tried it again. I could not get my body in an L shape. I just kept trying. Did I ever accomplish it? Not today. Will I keep trying? Definitely!


Where in your life would you like to continue to grow in perseverance?

lori

Trauma Triggers

I Will Never Let you Go

My back is heavy against the front door. I sit on the hard ground, salty tears pouring down my face. I’m crying so hard that speaking is not possible. The pain. My heart feels like it’s breaking. Snot slides onto my lips. But I can’t move. I can’t get up. I can’t leave this door. So I don’t. 

Please let me go Mommy. Just please let me go. Why won’t you let me go? 

I’ll never forget that moment when I rounded the corner of the house and saw you there. Shoes on. Jacket on. Determined look on your face. I’ve seen this before. I know what is about to happen. Our eyes suddenly meet. Everything turns to slow motion. 

Please let me go mommy. Just please let me go. Why won’t you let me go? 

My fingers barely grab onto the end of your jacket. You pull away, dragging me with you. I wonder if my fingers will slip off. I’m so scared. My heart is racing. You continue to try to get away, and I somehow get my arms around you. I half pull, half carry you into the house. I lock the door and slide down onto the floor. 

Please let me go mommy. Just please let me go. Why won’t you let me go? 

I pry myself off the ground and make my way over to you. I sit next to you and pull you into my arms. I squeeze you tight and let you know how much I love you. Your whole body shakes as you cry out your pain. My tears join yours as our hearts hurt together. We sit that way for a long time. I rub your back and reassure you that you are okay. That WE are okay. That I will NEVER let you go. 

(Written by me 2/10/17)

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I wrote this not long after one of our children tried to run away. This wasn’t the first time, and it may not be the last. The reality is that children who have come from hard places have lots of trauma, and that trauma doesn’t just disappear no matter how loving of a home they are now in. I don’t think a lot of people realize that. People just assume that once a child has been in your home for a while that things should be going great…that any problems you had at first would be all better by now. But as a foster-adopt mom, let me assure you that that’s not how it works. The impact of trauma is far reaching and long lasting and different triggers can cause it to rear its ugly head.

In our case, when one of our children’s trauma was triggered, they attempted to run away. Our child didn’t really want to leave. Our child was scared of being loved and of loving. Scared because everything this child had loved in the past had been taken away.

The thing about trauma is that you never know what is going to trigger it, or when it is going to be triggered. It could be as simple as a smell that reminds them of something. It could be a word you say. It could be a food that you give them to eat. It could be a situation they are in.

Sometimes I feel like a detective, as I try to figure out what is going on underneath the surface when our children act out in these ways. What part of their story is being triggered? How can I help them walk through what they are experiencing in this moment?

And in case you were wondering, yes, it is emotionally hard when your child does something like try to run away. Yes it is hard not to take it personal. Yes it is hard not to be mad. Yes it is hard to remain a calm presence. Yes it is hard to not feel rejected.

In these moments I have to remind myself that my child has gone through a lot and is responding out of the trauma, not based on whether they are happy here. I also have to remind myself that our children are gifts for us to steward…loving them is about THEM, not about US.

lori

Secondary Trauma

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First let me say, I am blessed that our children are so affectionate. All three of them…not one more than the other. I have a 10 year old who still loves sitting on his momma’s lap…that’s awesome! And an 8 year old who doesn’t mind holding my hand in front of his friends. All three love cuddles and are quick to let us know how much they love us. Yes, I am blessed.

That being said, I’m tired of being touched. It is almost laughable to me that “touch” has always been my love language. I don’t know if the professionals say that your love language can change, but mine surely has. Though I’m not a professional, I think trauma can certainly change it.

The trauma that can be caused by touch. We are all familiar with the kind caused by abuse or neglect. But to be honest I never imagined you could incur trauma by being touched TOO MUCH. In my case, this is what is called secondary trauma. Secondary trauma is often defined as “the stress resulting from helping or wanting to help a traumatized or suffering person” (secondarytrauma.org). To explain what I mean by all of this, let me tell you a story…

Dinner time. Three kids fighting for who gets to sit next to me. It’s your turn, and you lean on me. I feel feet touching me from under the table. Its how you get to touch me from across the way. Dinner is barely over and each of you are yelling over one another to sit on my lap.

I know you need touch. I want to provide for your needs. Nothing is ever enough. You are insatiable.

Family movie time. I’m excited about the movie. You are excited about sitting next to me. Three voices fighting over me. Flanked on each side by a kiddo. My third kiddo pushes onto my lap. You touch me. You rub my arms. You grab my hand. You kiss my face. All three of you. All at one time.

I know you need touch. I want to provide for your needs. Nothing is ever enough. You are insatiable.

Every day. All the time. Your desire for physical affection is beyond anything I’ve seen. Almost 547 days so far of constant touch. Morning. Afternoon. Night. Morning. afternoon. Night. Morning. Afternoon. Night. Day after day after day.

I know you need touch. I want to provide for your needs. Nothing is ever enough. You are insatiable.

My insides cringe. Touch. Touch. More touch.  You sit on my lap and give my face a gazillion kisses. I literally feel anxious. Even violated. I do my best not to show you how I feel even though I’m dying on the inside. I just want 5 minutes where my body is all mine.

I know you need touch. I want to provide for your needs. Nothing is ever enough. You are insatiable.

I hate touch. But I let you touch me. I’m your mom. You need my touch. So, when we sit together at church we are like one being. You take turns on my lap. I rub your back. I rub your face. I squeeze you tight. I rock you back and forth. You mess my hair up. You kiss my cheek. You squeeze my arms.

I know you need touch. I will try to provide your needs. It might not ever be enough. You might always be insatiable.

(written by me 2/12/17)

Secondary trauma is a very real thing. In seeking to help your kids who have been effected by trauma, you are now traumatized yourself. This can look so many different ways. In my case, our kid’s lack of love and attention and affection created in them a bucket with a whole in it of sorts. Their bucket of physical affection can never be filled enough. So much so, that in trying to meet this need, I now hate something I once loved. But I am learning to seek to meet their needs and yet provide some boundaries that will help me through my own trauma.

I don’t like secondary trauma. Who does?! But I would do it all over again for our kids.

(How ironic that as I am writing this my son just said, “Mommy can I give you a hug?” Yes son, yes son you can. And he did. 😊) 

lori

Because we can tell you our past 


It’s been several days since you told me. A  beautiful moment mixed with unbelievably deep brokenness. Vulnerable. Real. Brave. Raw. My mind can’t stop thinking about it. My mind can’t stop thinking about you. Your deep wounds. The horrible things.

I am honored. Knowing your story is heavy to carry. How have you done it all these years? But I feel privileged to be the one who now carries it with you. You are not alone. You no longer have to pretend this never happened. You no longer need to keep these secrets. You are safe. We are family.

We sit next to each other at dinner. I pull out tonight’s dinnertime question from the can. Why did it have to ask about why our family is so special?  My heart beats faster. Wondering what you each will say. There are some silly answers. Some deep ones. Some everyone agrees on. One that strikes deep into my heart. That is yours. Your answer my son.

I will always remember your words. You grab my hand before you speak. You look right at me. Then you open your mouth.
Because we can tell you our past.
Because. We. Can. Tell. You. Our. Past.

I am speechless. I see the truth of those words deep in your eyes. I see freedom there. I see love. I see vulnerability. I see longing. I see need. I see trust. I see your deep wounds. I see the horrible things. I see my precious son.

(I wrote this in May of 2016) 

Since we have been on this journey of both beauty and brokenness, it has been so helpful for my heart to just sit and write. To sit and cry and write. To sit and feel the pain and write. To sit and feel the joy and write.  To just feel. Allow myself to feel the pain of my children. Allow myself to feel my own pain. Allow myself to rejoice in the redemption that God is bringing.

lori