In the adoption world, most of us rightly shun the “savior” label. We began this journey because we wanted a family….ummm, you just keep that halo, thanks. Our children joined our families via a different path, but we’re no more saviors than you biologically multiplying folks.
Of course, some begin stepping willingly and knowingly a bit further into risk with each child. We open parameters, check more boxes, and say yes to more. Then, adoption slowly becomes more than a way to build a family. It becomes a commune with God…one of a thousand ways to answer His call to love. It becomes a manifestation of our faith.
Yet, even for those of us who bring home the older kids, the medically-fragile kids, the special needs kids… we are still not saviors, and we never can be. There is only one Savior, after all, and we are daily thrown to our knees–broken, frustrated, and exhausted before Him– knowing just how ridiculous a notion it is that we could possibly redeem these lives entrusted to our care.
But we’d be lying to say we never want to save our kids….to protect, to guide, to prevent heartache. All mothers long to save their children. We spend our lives doing cartwheels to shield them from skinned knees, stomach bugs, and mean girls (those little “witches” are everywhere, y’all), and then we fret endlessly over some Google parenting article assured we’re shielding them too much.
I think for those of us parenting kids from hard places, it’s an even more poignant desire. We want to save them from the questions, stares, heartache, and loss. We ache to travel back in time, sword in hand, and butcher the horrors keeping them awake at night. We want to save them from current mistakes, future consequences, and all the mess in between.
And selfishly, perhaps most of all, we want to save ourselves. Parenting children from hard places, our entire lives are irrevocably altered. It’s all on the chopping block. It’s easy to find ourselves struggling to save so many things. Our marriages. Our other kids. Our sanity. Ourselves. We pray for shore as our little lifeboats are ripped to pieces by the endless sea of grief, trauma, and survival behaviors.
Thus, the constant challenge is releasing the desire to save….accepting that we can save nothing or no one and letting go of guilt for all things related to our kids. The Great Deliverer provides the saving grace for each moment, and it is sufficient to rescue our children and us.
Of course, all of this is much more easily recorded in a blog post than practiced in my actual life. Over the past few years, we’ve cringed and often cried as each of our older children has made decisions with less than favorable consequences.
We’ve seen all the things: lying, stealing, addiction, depression, poor financial decisions, panic attacks, negative peer choices…. all. the. things.
One made some decisions that made it impossible to continue living at home, and so that child experienced homelessness off and on throughout the past year.
It’s so strange to type those words. No one plans to have homeless children, and we continue to struggle with how to help. Where is the line between enabling and supporting? What do we do next?
Often, we don’t know, and we stumble forward, learning along the way and grabbing the lifelines thrown by those in our community. With each rope, we weave a tribe and remind one another to keep breathing. We escape to drink too much coffee and hear about another kid’s four-hour rages or rehab or property destruction, and breathing is easier, because somebody knows our normal. In the heated moments, we send out social media distress flares to our wi-fi warriors, and responses pour in with names, numbers, books, strategies, and affirming words.
Personally, I find freedom in the reminder that while I do my best, I cannot save. I’m not supposed to. I am supposed to remember that Jesus holds the stories of each of my children, and He is a master of redemption. It’s kind of His thing.