broken hearts

February 23, 2010 at 1:55 pm | Posted in adoption issues, Prayer, secure relationships | 1 Comment

When the cupboard is empty, I go to the grocery store and within minutes, I’ve fixed that problem.

When a kid needs their school uniform ready, I get it spinning in the machines and …. Voilà!…. it appears folded for them shortly.   Problem fixed.

When the teenager is running errands and realizes her bank account is empty, a few clicks online put her back in shape.   Problem fixed.

From rides to project-poster-boards, from bake sale brownies to late night counseling sessions, I’m the go-to person around here.   And, frankly…. I deliver just about all the time.

But I’m finding that there are some problems that I just can’t fix.   Specifically:  Broken, fearful little hearts.

Children who have experienced early childhood risk factors (such as neglect or living in an orphanage setting, etc)  sometimes come with lingering issues that are very present and real.   So real, in fact, that these kids are classified as ‘special needs kids’ by developmental experts.   They’ve been harmed by their early circumstances and they’ve suffered losses.   Even if a child was pre-verbal at the time of the harm, the impact of these risk factors is profound on his brain chemistry.

Tender hearts learn the unspoken rules about what it means to live on this planet very early on.

We see this often as tears and frustrations continue to be part of the daily rhythm of our son’s life.   Without being able to articulate why,  disappointment lands on him like an avalanche of pain and distress.   He wails and seemingly overreacts to almost every situation.   There’s a ‘sense’ of uncertainty in his experience, even though he IS secure now.     There’s a ‘sense’ of danger, even though he IS very safe and very loved.   There’s a ‘sense’ of helplessness that informs his perspectives and shapes his responses to the regular stimulus of daily life.   He gets these inaccurate, but powerful perspectives from a deeper place that imprinted on him long before we ever met.   It’s a message that repeatedly tells him, “Life is not safe.   Life = despair.   It’s hopeless.”

How great it would be if I could just go to a psychological ATM and withdraw the amount of security and confidence that he needs.  Or if I had the right pills or better yet, a time machine to go back and eliminate the issues to begin with!    How I wish I could fix what ails him.

What I can do, is coach and reassure and walk with him through it, praying that the ‘sense’ he has will eventually shift to one of peace.  I need to be reminded often that God:

“heals the broken-hearted and binds up their wounds.”  Ps 147:3

I can’t fix my little guy’s problems.   (and I’ve been trying for a while now..)   But my maternal heart rests more knowing that even as I type this, God is on the case.   He’s healing and He’s binding up the broken, cracked emotional and psychological places deep below the surface.    There’s hope in that.


are they twins?

February 17, 2010 at 2:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments


We get that question surprisingly often.   When Haley and Kelsey were little, I don’t remember people asking me that.   They were pretty close in age (only 25 months apart).    They were both blond and fair and had similar smiles.   But – I really don’t remember being asked if they were twins.

I live with Philip and Zachary and see them every day, so maybe I just don’t see what everyone else sees.   But when i look at my boys, they look so very, very different from one another.   Yes, they are pretty close in age (21 months apart).   But Philip is a whole head taller than Zach.    He moves like an older child, while Zach bobbles and toddles.    Their facial structure is different.    Their hair lines are different.   Philip’s eyes are very round and poetic.    Zach’s eyes are twinkly and can be crescent-shaped when he smiles.    Their body types are different.    The only thing that makes them look a little alike is that they’re both black.


merciful balance

February 6, 2010 at 11:44 am | Posted in family | 2 Comments

  • brand new prescription glasses, warped and bent with a lens precariously hanging in the rim
  • the shredded pages of a favorite book lying on the floor – evidence of a lost battle with a toddler
  • pizza stains on the carpet after a forbidden feeding of the vulture-dog below the high chair
  • orange lips staining the upholstery and cheezits scattered throughout the house after a renegade raiding of the pantry
  • the surprise, yucky feeling of wet socks after stepping in the puddle of water poured from the dog’s dish
  • a brother wailing and holding his throbbing skull while the offender stands, guiltily still holding the heavy wooden block in his chubby hand
  • the pure inability to sit in a high chair without a 3 point harness secured
  • the walls and blinds behind the high chair spotted and thinly coated with spaghetti sauce and oatmeal
  • the new toy train, inoperable due to fat hands crushing the wheels against the floor with the full weight of a 30 pound body
  • the TV rendered useless due to fingers that willfully poke buttons until the poor appliance gives up the ghost
  • the dvd player shall rest in peace as well
  • the frightening THUD of a small person jumping off the dresser in the nursery, late at night — when little people should be asleep

and then…..

  • the soft patter of pajama clad feet, scuffling across the bedroom floor in the dark hours of the morning.
  • standing at the side of the bed saying nothing… and just the whites of his eyes visible in the shadowy room.
  • chubby thighs straining to climb into the bed next to mama.
  • snuggling down in the warm covers with stillness and affection.
  • quiet, sloppy kisses freely given.
  • even deep breathing as he dozes.

The awareness of his goodness restored.

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