I remember the first day when I woke up not in a complete fog from PADS. It was like I could see again. My world was clear. The medication and therapy were working. I started to think about how I ended up in such a place. Why was it so hard to come to terms with the difficulties I was facing and why did it take me so long to find others who were in the same situation? I then started to wonder how many other people are on this journey but are struggling alone. Behind closed doors. We, as a community, need to be real. We need to be honest.
Coming to peace with my own journey has been such a huge part of my road to healing. Sharing my story, reaching out to others, offering support and encouragement. That has glorified my struggle. It has given me a passion, a drive that perhaps was lacking before. But, what I do know, is that had I never embraced this journey, I would have never found healing.
Raw is beautiful, right? The grit is what we need. To normalize the hard. We do nothing to help others struggling post adoption when we allow ourselves to hide behind our own troubles. But even more so, we do not help ourselves. With honesty comes freedom, the freedom of knowing that even though your story isn’t perfect, it is beautiful. It’s those imperfections and shortcomings that make us real.
We live in a world where perfection is considered the norm, where we ignore the hard realities and only focus on the outcome of glory and redemption and joy. I think this is so true in the adoption world. We have gotten to a point where honesty is too hard. We are afraid we will be judged harshly or fall short. But, honesty is beautiful. Both the ups and downs of adoption come together to form a masterpiece. The picture where trauma combines with love, where grief combines with family. Because, although the glory deserves its own recognition, so does the struggle. We need to speak of the hardships, to see the real. To open our eyes to the beauty that comes from the pain. To see that a journey can be both good and hard.
I feel as though so many struggle during post adoption but are afraid to speak out. Fear of failure or being judged. Fear of being inadequate. Fear of the unknown. But I’m here to tell you, first hand, that the struggles do not mean failure or inadequacy. And, it is up to us as a community to embrace those whose stories aren’t perfect.
I think of those who are struggling to make beauty from the ashes. Picking up pieces from their lives on a daily basis and praying that those pieces will, years from now, form some beautiful story of healing and hope. Of joy and love. But, today is not the day. Today is the day that they wake up hoping to survive the trials and tribulations. Hoping that they can muster enough strength to handle the screams and ugliness with the kindness and love that their child so deserves.
But embracing the difficulties doesn’t mean we let the hardness overcome the glory or the struggles overcome the joy. Because when we do that, we lose sight of what really matters.
So often I fail. And I remind myself that I am not alone. I text my accountability friends and I speak truth to them. Because these mommas understand. They understand the darkness of PAD and the difficulties of raising children from hard places. They listen, relate, offer advice and keep me accountable for bettering myself. There is glory in that. There is freedom in being real with other people. If I pray for one thing, I pray that everyone has those friends, those friends who know you because you share your struggles. Not best friends, but reliable ones. They, too, are walking in the path of the unknown; the realm of trauma and the palpable realness of grief. They know all too well because they are there, too. When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable with our own imperfections, we also find a redeeming healing. A drive to be better.
So often, the struggle of post adoption depression and your child’s trauma intertwine. They form this unique wall that is so hard to break. But in order for our story to be made whole, we must separate the two because our child needs us, the real us. Not the us that is masked by the hard reality of post adoption depression. The us whose mind is clear so that we can focus on them.
While my PADS is under control, everyday I must make a genuine effort to not let my scars interfere. So, I try to find laughter among the difficulties. To bring joy to the moment. To giggle more and cry less. To replace screams with love. To bring beauty out of the ashes. But, again, it’s not easy, is it? My attachment and trauma therapist told me that I need to consider those months when I was knee deep in PAD as lost time. I can’t make up for it and I need to accept that. I have to move forward and let go of the guilt. I urge those of you suffering to do the same.
So, now, I work on healing wounds. The deep wounds of trauma that come from being adopted and leaving your birth country, culture and language. The wounds that come from grief and fear. The focus has shifted. And while my problems are still real, my son’s are at the forefront of my mind.
While I know and fully understand that attachment and working through your child’s issues are so very important, you can’t do them justice if you aren’t fully present for the journey. And, for months, I wasn’t fully present. So, we start anew. Working day by day to find healing and hope.
In the end, the days are hard, oh so hard! But, I have support. People to keep me up and alive and moving forward. People that tell me it’s okay not to be perfect. It’s okay to slip back into my moments of imperfection, the moments where I need Jesus the most. But, pull yourself up. Lift your head up high and push onward. Because our children need us.
— Guest post by Erin, moderator on the PADS FB Support group