October 6, 2012

But for the Grace of God Go I

I found out this morning that a fellow adoptive mama of a child my child knows was arrested for child abuse.

As I read through the articles about the situation I was sick that I didn't know. Or didn't do. Or something. And the other part of me just keeps thinking, "What if it were me?"

We visited online and she would ask how things were for us and then she would ask if my child did some of the same behaviors and I might say yes or no. We'd promise to pray for one another. We'd say God will get us through this hard season. We'd agree that we knew it wouldn't be easy. And I guess I thought her situation was like mine. Hard, but doable, with many sunshiney moments.

Adopting is kind of like bootcamp. It doesn't matter if you would have been friends if you met on the street, you are bound by your experiences. And we adoptive mamas share our experiences. Probably more freely with one another than with others who haven't been there. I have a whole group of them that I would trust with a lot more information than most others in my life.

And I didn't see it coming.

I mean, you say stuff. This kid is driving me crazy. I'm so, so tired. I'm waiting for the beautiful. Can you believe he tried to pull this? When will they learn to use toilet paper? Another meal rejected. When will they eat my food without fake vomiting? I say it. Others say it. But mostly it is a momentary thing and you move on.

I haven't talked with this mom in several months and hadn't really thought about her, I'll be honest. But as I read through the list of stuff charged against her I could itemize most of it against some known older child adoption behavior and wonder....was it simple discipline gone wrong? One behavior, one consequence might not have racked up charges. The compilation of many could. At what point should she have called in crisis management and said, "I can't do it?"

I am fortunate. My children irritate me, but their behavior is generally manageable. And when it isn't, we all go to bed early. I might raise my voice. I might make threats of no playdates ever again or other things that I'll have to reneg on. We might all cry. But my kids are just kids. Some are more hurt emotionally than others because of stuff that happened to them before me, but they are generally emotionally healthy. Generally well behaved. Most rottenness here is just "kid," not "adopted kid."

What if they hadn't been? What if they'd come to me having rages, spitting food, refusing to use a toilet, hitting, kicking, biting, threatening, pulling knives, killing animals, breaking windows, stealing, lying, damaging and who knows what else? You go to conferences and you hear that this stuff happens. I don't know about you, but I hear it and wonder how I would handle it. Would I handle it?

When you choose a child off a photolisting, you have no idea what you're gonna get. You have no idea how your family will react. You have no idea how the chemistry will work out and whether the child will love you or hate you. You are throwing complete dependency upon God and hoping for the best.

Could it have been me?

But for the grace of God go I.

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