Thursday, February 10, 2011

When it's Not "Bad Enough"

March 2008

Have you ever found yourself in that "in-between" space?  Where things aren't going that great, but, hey, things could be a LOT worse.  So you don't complain.  And things are going okay, but not great.  So you don't rejoice?

How many of us struggle in this space of in-between... 

I have been struggling here, in this in-between, lately.  Without going into great detail, we are struggling with some behavior and attachment issues.  It seems like we finally make progress with one child and then BAM, out of left field comes issues with another.  But they aren't what I would consider big issues.  I have several close friend struggling with some big issues with their children (related to adoption, attachment, depression, destruction, etc).  In comparison, our issues are piddly. Non-issues. My friends would think it was a vacation to have our issues!  I'm not exactly in a place to complain!  In fact, considering everything, we have had an amazing transition.  No one wants to listen to me whine about my "problems."


I don't.  Quiet.

And it weighs.  It isolates.  

Because ... if our kids are so great (they are) and their transition went so well (it did), than how is it possible that I feel so worn?  So ... hurt? Unloved? Irritated? Confused? None of those words truly fit. But they provide some frame of reference.   

What does that make me?  Our family??


We are quickly approaching our 3 year anniversary of having Abi and Hana as part of our family.  Selam has been with us over a year and a half.  We are no longer in transition.  We are into a groove. It feels normal, it feels right.  It feels like family.

And yet ... there are issues.

Oh, I read about the potential issues. I knew they wouldn't just magically disappear at the 9 month mark.  But knowing and knowing are very different things. And besides... that couldn't really happen to us could it? But it did.

Because 3 years does not erase 2+ hard years of orphanage mentality - sugary sweet (insincere) charm.  3 years does not replace a primal fear of hunger.  3 years does not replace a critical span where there was no trust.  3 years does not "replace" an Ethiopian mom, even one you don't remember. 

3 years is the tip of the iceberg.

These past few challenging weeks have shown us that we have found "normal" in our lives. And normal for us is not the same as "normal" would have been had we not adopted.  Although these specific challenges are likely a phase, this stage is not.  Our lives will morph and change as we all do as we grow older.  But "issues" won't disappear - they are part of our normal.  If we are lucky, they will remain (relatively) minor. And we will find the strength to meet them.  But pretending they are not there, letting the unease rest just below the surface is not healthy.  

Life is messy.  Adoption is no different. Beautiful, complicated, painful, redemptive, challenging, remarkable... but messy.  But a gift, an amazing gift.  

It may not be "bad enough" to complain.  I may not feel "good enough" to manage.  But this too shall pass in some form, and make me a better person.  And just because its not "bad enough" doesn't mean it is easy.  

And that's okay.


  1. So honest! I know what you are talking about with the attachment and behavior issues we are in the mist of it still, not as bad as a year ago but some of Kaleab's issues seem to still come up when we least expect it and then gets Isaac thinking and around we go. I am right there with you - you are not alone!

  2. Wow...isn't this true! I could have written this post...:) Well most of it. It's hard but not HARD, it's easier than most but still challenging.
    Praying with ya