Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Phileo 2

Cate's last post is my humble opinion.

An absolutely crucial concept for Christ following parents of kids struggling w/attachment to acknowledge (if present), grasp, and pursue resolution to.

I will never forget the moment of clarity...years into our struggle.... when I realized that what was missing on my end wasn't an agape love....but a (click here)PHILEO love.

That natural affinity towards another person. That "brotherly" love which so often comes organically....and ever so naturally.

It's not that it had never existed.

It was there. For sure. But it had retreated ...hidden itself behind protective walls after being mocked, torn down...spit on...kicked...taken advantage of and abused. Feelings of phileo love had disappeared.

(It was very similar to a dark and troubled time in our marriage when it was as if all hints of phileo love and eros love had vanished into thin air.)

On Girlie's end...both types of love...phileo and agape were missing.

Girlie might've.... possibly.... had a phileo love for me/us...but it was was not manifested, communicated or received as such.

Agape love on her part?????? No Holy no possibility of it's authentic existence.

Yes.... Lord, grant us phileo love when our hearts fail us....all the while supplying us with a never ending overflowing fountain of agape love.

It is our desire that we would love our sons and daughters...those you have entrusted into our You would have us love them. Help us to be good stewards of these good and precious gifts You have given.

Phileo Love

Lord of miracles, give me a phileo love for this child, especially in the hardest moments.

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Identifying Triggers

God's timing is always so amazing. I just posted on defining this Mommy love thing. Then tonight it was the root of a 24+ crazy cycle. I don't know about you guys, but I find it so hard to find the triggers. Sometimes I get "pretty" responses, but there seems to be something below the surface of the answers she has learned get reactions.

It went something like this. . . we were getting ready for bed and she was choosing very inappropriate behavior to communicate she felt the need to be in control. After getting her to a calmer place, we began talking about what was going on. She said it was because she was afraid at our friends' house for dinner. Tempting to believe, right? We were in a new place, maybe someone said something, etc? But then, so gently, I am reminded by the Holy Spirit that she was having the same control battles at lunch today and dinner last night. So I pushed her to go deeper. . . honey, I don't think that is what is hurting your heart. You were having a hard time all time today and last night. Can you think hard and be brave and trust me with your heart? After a very long time and lots of redirecting, she said it was because she fell yesterday. (I knew about this and she seemed ok) She said she was really hurt and wanted me but didn't tell me how hurt she was.

We talked it out starting with how Mommy couldn't have known she was hurt because when little girls are hurt, they cry for their Mommies. Or they use their words to say how hurt they are. Then the Mommies hug and kiss their babies. Awe and shock from the RADling. She wants and doesn't want that simultaneously. Can you tell me what happened in the orphanage when you got hurt? I am so sorry that happened. That must have been scary. But I am not a nanny in an orphanage. I am a Mommy. Your Mommy. And we talked and talked about what that means and things the orphanage taught her and how she was treating me like an orphanage worker. Most importantly how things would be different.

She apologized for trying to be in control of the family and not using her words. After HOURS of pursuing her heart, from tantrums and yelling to playful snuggles and peace, she went to sleep with a huge smile and promise to let me be her Mommy tomorrow.

Long post short? Define love, define family, define Mommy. Try to find the triggers--the first trigger to the cycle. Pray, pray, pray.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Define Love

A few years after she came became apparent to me that our Girlie needed to hear truth from us about her early life.

She was not connecting with the whole concept of a "Mommy." (Nor a "Daddy" / "Family" for that matter)

I remember our first transparent & authentic conversation about this "mommy" thing well. It was intimate. It was loving. It was very, very difficult...for her and for me.

In Girlie's mind...the orphanage workers whom she grew up with.... loved her.

In her mind...her birth mother loved her (red flag red flag red flag!!!!!!!!!!!!before you have a heart attack about the birth mother thing....hear me out.)

In her mind....we....her parents....loved her.

Yet to her, we were no different than the orphanage workers. No different than her birth mother.

It hit me then and there....very a whisper.

She thinks you are just like them.

She thinks they loved her..... but then they either left her or let her go. We say we love her....but what's stopping us from leaving her too or.... from letting her go?

Here's the words I spoke to her....very carefully. With lots of tenderness.

The orphanage workers might have cared for you...maybe they even loved you on some level...but not like a mommy loves you. If they were not paid to care for you....they would not have. They did not take you into their own homes. They did not try to keep you for themselves when we came to get you. Therefore, they did not love you like a mommy loves you.

Your birth mother....we do not know her...therefore we do not know her heart. What we do that she cared enough about you to give you life. We do know that she cared enough about you to leave you in the care of a hospital the day you were born.

We also know that she did not come to the orphanage to inquire after you for 4.5 years. When ads were run in the local paper...telling the community of your pending adoption....she did not come. She might've loved you on some level...but she did not love you like a mommy loves you.

Mommies do not say, "I love you "....and watch as complete strangers take you away. Mommies scratch out the eye balls of strangers who try to take their kids away because we love you.

She let all the info sink in. I saw her little mind processing. Her wheels were turning. After a while she started to cry...heartbroken. Utterly heartbroken.

"So who loved me, then?"

"Jesus loved you, Honey. The whole time you were in the orphanage...those long 4.5 years...Jesus loved you and He never left you or gave you away.

Girlie was wounded. And angry. And sad.

This is so important listen......

If our children do not grieve their losses....they will be stunted. They cannot grow in a healthy manner without working through their grief.

We do not help them by ignoring their losses or by glossing over them. We help them by acknowledging and processing through their losses with them.

I went on....

"As soon as Mommy and Daddy knew about you....we started the paperwork the very next day and came to get you the minute we were allowed. We flew all the way across the world...just to get you. To bring you home. Our daughter."

Believe me when I was as if a huge burden was lifted from my little girlie's shoulders that day.

Without being able to articulate it...she had been walking around with a warped idea of what love is.

In her didn't mean much. So WHAT!?!?!?!?!? love me? Big flippin deal!

Parents.........define love.

Monday, July 6, 2009

What is a Mommy?

I talked a bit last year about the seemingly emptiness of the word Mommy as it rolls off a little RADtastics lips.  At times it feels like everything is so fake.  So I started asking my little darling the same question every couple of months:
What is a Mommy?
For a very, very, very long time the only answer I got was "gives me clothes" or "makes me food."
Now I don't discredit that answer completely.  (especially if your child was malnourished or worse--food could = love)  BUT it was clearly incomplete.  Your social history may be different, but for us, I was able to say, "Hmm, but the nannies in the orphanage gave you clothes to wear, right?" or "the nannies at the orphanage gave you food, right?"  "What does a Mommy do?"
Over time and hearing her siblings answers, she will now say "gives me snuggles, kisses me, helps me, teaches me, etc.  I don't know how much of it has really sunk in, but at least floating in her mind is the truth that there is something special about our relationship.... about having one of these Mommy-deals of your very own.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Talk it out

My kiddos came home around preschool age from an international orphanage.  All of them have vivid memories.  Some have more of them than others.  As they shared pieces of them, I was beginning to see that their memories, dreams and thoughts of that place were impacting our relationships at home.  We've had to have some very straightforward discussions.  I think what is most important in talking with these wounded children is truth. The beautiful and the fuzzy right along with the ugly.  The truth of what they've been through so that the Truth can be applied for healing.  Some awesome starters for your older kids:
Do you want to talk about (country/orphanage)?
What do you remember?
Do you have any questions?  I may not have the answers but I'd be happy to talk it out with you.

I am not good on the fly all of the time.  So I always have a few replies at the forefront of my mind before initiating a conversation.  (how did that make you feel?, that must have been scary, what did you do?  who else was there?  do you want to know more about that?  If I was there, I would have...., let me think about that and let's talk again later).

If they seem aloof or disinterested, just follow up with a:
Okay, if you ever want to talk about it, just know I am here.  Talking about (your birth country, birthmother or O) does not make mommy scared or sad.  I am your mommy and I care about what goes on in your heart!

I think very often there are big feelings just under the surface.  The anger is coming from somewhere.  They need to find a safe place in you.  A listening ear is a good place to start.

Praises & Prayers

"I am really excited to use the talent that God has given me. Please pray. I am a bit nervous because I am worried that I will mess the dance up. I am a bit stiff with the moves, please pray that I will loosen up. I know I have danced in Worship services, Veteran homes, Retirement homes, and Recitals before. This is a little bit more advanced, and I am struggling with pride, because I don't want to make a fool out of my self. What my goal is to do is focus on God through my dance."

The above is a blog post from Girlie, now 13.

She came home at 4 1/2. After settling in a bit....we thought it would be fun to expose her to dance lessons. Intimate setting...w/her sister and friends. Me present at all times.....worship church. Casual. Relaxed. Ideal.

Not so much.

It was a disaster. Utter power struggle from Day One. Week after week...month after month... she attempted to gain control by ripping holes in her tights...while maintaining eye contact w/me from across the room (at this point in time...I was not getting eye contact anywhere else.) I think she thought her ripped tights would embarrass me...causing me to rethink dance lessons.


She was showing me that she needed dance lessons....for many, many reasons.

I just shrugged. No biggie. I've always had a thing for punk.


Tomorrow, she has a Worship Recital. If you think of it, please lift up praises & prayers on her behalf.