>So many of the things that are involved with adjusting to an adoption keep crowding into my head. So, I’m processing stuff. Which means I have to post, you know it…its how I process. Bear with me. I wish someone had talked about this stuff when I was researching wondering dreaming about it all. I know, heaps o’ books out there, but for my meager mind, I need things categorized a mite differently. Maybe. All those books are so helpful and even now crowding my bookshelves and stacked on my night table. I am still using them and will be for a good long while, maybe ever.

But even so, this is how my mind parses things out:
You know how you hear about “Turn key” businesses? Where you can just step in and the biz runs properly, right out of the box?
Well adoption is the exact opposite of that.

But even so, I have decided that there ARE “turn-keys” in the adoption process, the adjustment process. And I think they really are critical to the fine tuning of an adoption, at least for us, me, our family. These are the keys that literally turn and open or close the process of adjustment (at least in my opinion, I’m just a mom, not an expert, so take this for what it is).

Sadly, there is NO ONE key to the whole process; though wouldn’t that be fantastic!? But I think these are a number of keys: time, touch, trouble, trust, truth, talk, terror even. I’ve written about the terror often enough. And time, downtime, that is. And recently about the trouble. But one of the most important keys, a true “turn key,” is one of the hardest (of course!).

Oh my.
I think this is one of the biggest.
In some ways, it’s everything.
Think about it: TRUST.
There has to be so much of that.
But how hard it is to find, to grab, to hold, to create, to hang onto?
If you have it, it seems solid..and you are more fortunate than you may realize.
If you do not, or cannot, then it can be so ephemeral, so heartbreakingly out of reach.

I think it is what we are all searching for, as much or more than happiness, or possibly, love.
Because you cannot trust without love.
Because you cannot be happy without trust.
They flow and feed each other.
So, yeah, its big.
When you have brought an older, hurt, child into your family is it gigantic.
It is everything.

Gee whiz, trust. Sounds like a basic. I have realized I really took it for granted, that foundational unquestioning trust. I trust my kids, beyond those moments of obvious lying or um, borrowing, and run of the mill kid stuff that most kids have to test out. They trust me. Even if they hate me for holding them to curfew or being strict, they still, if push came to shove, would admit that (even if I am “so wrong and clueless”) I have the best intentions on their behalf. I trust my husband, I trust how things work. I trust God. Right?

Well, this adoption has taught me that actually, I have MASSIVE trust issues! (It’s the curse of the control freak, always) God, husband, kids, new kid, the whole shebang. Not too fun finding that one out! But, really, helpful, because with the entrance of a new, older, child into a home….everyone’s level of trust is laid on the line. And you know what? You have to deal with it.

As mom, you have to deal with it yourself and for the others too. I’d love to say that foundational trust is unshakable. And it might just be for Coffeedoc and Buddybug. And thank goodness for that! But for the rest of us? Well, it was shaken some. You can see that shake in the jealousy, the attention seeking of new and old kids, the acting out, the frazzled tempers and moods (yeah, mine too, once or twice. Ahem.). Really, so much of that turmoil stemming from questions of trust, different levels, but still the same bottom line. And for our new sweet girl? Well, its still not there for her either. How can it be?

So, how do you build trust? How do you parent a child who just plumb does not, cannot truly deeply TRUST you? Its much harder than it seems and I think its one of the huge reasons that it can be harder to adjust to older child adoption. When you’ve raised a child from baby or toddler that trust has a million times over to be proven built tested and reinforced.

A new child, older, coming from a completely different world and ways? Do they have that tested track record with you? No. Do you trust them immediately in the same way as your children already at home? Honestly? You can’t. You don’t know them well enough yet to know their expressions moods triggers. You don’t know when the honeymoon will switch to a meltdown or if it will even. So that takes time to trust and anticipate their actions and reactions. And so, until you build that foundation of trust…. Well, you’re flying, um parenting, without a net.
And for the new child? Well, that trust is gonna be a long time coming, deep down. They might well trust that you will feed house and clothe them. But the deep trust, the kind that withstands the misunderstandings, the corrections, the grief the anger the complete discombobulation….that isn’t there, not really. And so when they feel like they are drowning in all the change how do they trust you will save them, pull them up and not let go? Well, maybe they don’t. Or maybe they are trying, but you have to do your part. Which is: be there, hang on, get over yourself (Now don’t get all worked up and think I’m judging, I am totally typing about ME here), and don’t let go.

Sounds easy. It’s not.

But as you do it, you both are reaching a bit toward each other. Even the silly kinds of trust make such a huge difference. That you can tease and just be a little silly, for fun not hurt. And that really ice cream seems weird but is wonderful, try it. And that if mom says she will come in and kiss you goodnight when she gets home, she will. Heck, even that, just like a small child needs to learn, I always come back.

And just that effort, that repeated reaching, I think {and continue to hope and pray}, brings you (ok, me) all a bit closer, laces your heart to the other….a tiny bit at a time. It may not feel like it at all. And trust is really something that doesn’t feel like much except a sort of sureness, an absence of fear. But it is the grounding for the feelings that feel like everything: happiness, love, joy.

So, really, I would love someone to hand me a shiny big ol’ turn key to all this, to precisely fit this one critical lock. And then to open the door to a deep firm trust, for all of us. Trust in each other, trust in love, trust in the time and effort, trust in the good, trust without hurt, trust without doubt or question or fret. But I guess this particular turn-key is crafted from the clay of our (OK, my measly) hearts, bodies, and just plain old presence, again and again and again – for the whole family, old and new. But this key, once its made, will be one to treasure tight.

9 thoughts on “>Turn-keys

  1. >Watching you build this level of trust into your family is like watching a sculptor, or a weaver of an intricate cloth, or a landscaper or farmer … I can see the sweat on your brow, but I can see what you're making, too.I think every stage of that kind of creative work is beautiful, and besides … what's the first thing we learn about God in the scriptures? That, in the beginning, he created. That's what you're doing. You're creating. It's quite a thing of beauty to watch – thanks for showing us the process.

  2. >Thank you so much for this post. Devin and I just agreed to receive our twins' older sister as an adoptive placement, please God, and I am trying to prepare myself to make her transition, and ours, as smooth as possible. She is 2 1/2, so should have a bit less trouble bonding than an older child, but I know will come to us with many hurts and fears. Thank you for reminding me that relationship rules still apply, that playing games and learning to enjoy each other go a long way in fostering trust. I will do my best to be very patient and generous and merciful with myself, my husband, our twins, and this new sister, as we all get used to each other and become a new family.

  3. >This is one of the greatest needs for prayer because it will only come by divine intervention. How hard it must be for them to trust again. How unbelievably scary it has to be. Oh that we may be steadfast in showing we are always trustworthy.

  4. >So true!! Still struggling with trust (may for a long time) and sadly with getting over myself! Will continue to follow your journey and hopefully glean much wisdom from your experience and example!!!

  5. >Wise, transparent, vulnerable – thanks!Trust was absolutely HUGE with our twins, and they were half the age, with most likely half the heartache and trauma of your daughter. Yes, it is an IMMENSE challenge, but like wolfemom said, with divine intervention, it IS possible. I see it with the twins. Not that trust is complete yet, but soooooo much deeper.She so needs a mom like you!!!!!

  6. >So insightful…so much to comment on, but so little time. I'll leave it at this: you nailed it big time….TRUST is the key……and it's heartbreaking to see them testing you, asking, probing, checking to see if you really mean it, if you'll really stay and never leave them. It breaks my heart, but you are right…..I have to get over it and realize it's not me….and when I'm really tired, or stressed, sometimes it can be a bit overwhelming. In those moments, God yanks me back and reminds me that He's right there with us, weaving us together as a family. And like all tapestries, it takes time……


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