How to Find Hope Beyond Labels and Doctors

I slumped in my chair as I listened to the doctor speak. “Your daughter’s unpredictable behaviours and social difficulties will reappear once she returns to a mainstream classroom……There’s no point in making a referral for her Fetal Alcohol Effects. Her brain is impaired and can’t be fixed…..Your daughter isn’t a candidate for effective ADHD medications due to her Tourette’s.” Then came the blow: “There’s nothing more I can do for her.”

A cloud of gloom threatened to envelop me. The weight of despair was ready to consume me. The bleak future the doctor painted could have easily left me feeling hopeless. But I couldn’t let it. I fought back.

Continue reading “How to Find Hope Beyond Labels and Doctors”

3 Ways to Fight the Good Fight

I remember the day well. Our third family therapist in three years greeted me and my husband with a smile as she led us into her office.  I forced a smile back but my frowns, crinkled above my nose, likely betrayed my true thoughts. Will you be the magic one who can help us make our adopted daughter behave?

Reality sunk in over time: There are no perfect solutions or cookie-cutter strategies. Every day is different, every situation is different, and behaviour issues change.

As parents, we are in this for the long haul. So how can we fight the good fight? Here are some thoughts based on 2 Timothy 2:3-6.                         

Like a Soldier

Soldiers endure hardships but persevere.

Soldiers take orders and obey.

Soldiers stay focused.

As a soldier of Jesus Christ, I shower my daughter with love no matter what. With every hateful word she spews at me, I aim to respond with patience, self-control, and compassion. When opportune moments arise, I connect with her through play. I remind her that I’m here to help her. I guide her in knowing how to express herself appropriately.

During difficult times—which can last hours, days, weeks, or even months—I strengthen my mind by cutting off self-defeating thoughts such as I can’t take this anymore and replace them with encouraging scriptures. One that resonates with me is from Philippians 4:13 — “I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” 

Like an Athlete

Athletes endure rigorous training.

Athletes follow the rules.

Athletes focus on their goal.

I feel wounded when my daughter says, “You are the worst mom ever,” “I hate you,” or “I want a new mom.” In these moments, I want to flip my lid. But I can’t.

All therapists say, “Remain calm.” So, I try to suppress my desire to yell. I try to suppress my desire to get in her face and tell her why I’m a good mom. I try to suppress my desire to slam a door. I even try to suppress my instinct to burst into tears. This requires training. I used to fail more than succeed. Now, the reverse is true. Like an athlete, my goal remains on helping my daughter attach and heal.

 Like a Farmer

Farmers work hard.

Farmers are patient.

Farmers hope for a good harvest.

Farming is tedious work. Not glamorous. Day in and day out, farmers sow seeds, water crops, pull weeds, and more. Then they wait patiently to reap what they’ve sown.

Like a farmer, I sow seeds too. Mine are seeds of love. I water with patience, compassion, and play. I pull the weeds of insults and dysregulation by modeling desired words and behaviour.  The fruits of my labour will take time to produce a good result. That’s okay. I’m in this for the long haul.

The Role of Compassion in Attachment

I thought my nine-year old daughter and I were in a good space.

“Mommy. Watch me do my gymnastics.”

I “ooohed” and “aaahed” as I watched her twirl and twist her body in ways I could only imagine doing. She soaked up my attention and beamed. Our half hour together felt blissful. But then, her mood changed. Continue reading “The Role of Compassion in Attachment”

5 Tips to Bring Out the Joy Between Biological and Adopted Children

“Count to 40,” my daughter hollered to her older brother. Then she turned her attention to me.

“Mommy. Mommy. Where should I hide?”

“Right here,” I said. Her eyes lit up and she squeezed her skinny 9-year-old body into the kitchen cupboard.

Footsteps came thumping down the stairs. “I’m going to find you,” her brother teased.

Giggles emerged from the kitchen cupboard.

“Aha. Got you,” he declared.

My daughter grinned from ear to ear. “My turn to count,” she squealed, and the game continued.

Whether it’s my 13 or 14-year-old son playing this game with their sister, it always delights. Nothing warms my heart more than seeing my children happy and getting along. I’ve worked tirelessly to achieve moments of harmony between my biological sons and my adopted daughter. It’s been a struggle, but I’ve learned some lessons along the way. They include: Continue reading “5 Tips to Bring Out the Joy Between Biological and Adopted Children”

6 Tips for Navigating Openness in Relationships

I switched schools in fourth grade. Nervous excitement consumed me on the first day. I wondered, What will the kids be like? Will they be nice? Will I make a friend?

Meeting my adopted daughter’s paternal grandmother reminded me of that day. Butterflies fluttered in my stomach, and my mind raced. What will Grandma be like? Will she be nice? Will we connect? Continue reading “6 Tips for Navigating Openness in Relationships”

Patience and 3 Corresponding Strategies to Diffuse Emotions

My husband and I adopted our daughter with the best intentions. My heart swells with love. Because that’s who I am, I naturally wanted to shower her with goodness, kindness and acceptance. So why, then, did I so often land in a pit of despair? Continue reading “Patience and 3 Corresponding Strategies to Diffuse Emotions”

Our Biological Children’s Journey With Adoption

My children are my prized possession, so when my husband and I adopted our six-year-old daughter two years ago, I grappled with my boys’ intense jealousy and anger. At ages 10 and 11, they seemed okay with the adoption until its permanency became real. Continue reading “Our Biological Children’s Journey With Adoption”