The Best Is Yet To Be

Alzheimers and Faith

This photo represents an elderly wife whose husband suffers from Alzheimers. She says something rather contradictory. Sherrie reveals why and how one can still have hope.

What do you associate with the words “the best is yet to be?”

Is this what we’re to remember when we breathe our last?

Does the best mean heaven?

Is it what we say sarcastically as we age?

Do you say it to someone who has just lost a loved one?

There are few that understand this phrase, including me, until I met a rare woman a few years ago.

The first time I saw her, she was speaking at a women’s retreat. Everyone was dressed to the nines and gave polished presentations. Radiant-faced, she approached the podium, apologizing for her simple clothing and granny shoes.

Her topic?

Suffering.

She shared deep truths about living with her husband who had been stricken with Alzheimers years ago. The world as she knew it had been turned upside down.

Weeks passed, and I happened to see her at Target. Now was my chance to “get the skinny” on what she was really going through. It must be hell.

Nervously, I asked about her husband. He was no longer able to recognize any family member.

How awful! (I didn’t say this to her).

Then, she said, “You know, the best is yet to be.”

What?

How could that be?

How could she actually believe this?

How could her face be radiant and her voice drenched in
love?

Jesus must have been her role model. Let me share why.

John 2:10 says…“but you have saved the best ‘til now.

Are you familiar with the story about the wedding at Cana?

The host of the wedding served the best of wines, but his supply ran out half way through the event. How embarrassing.

Mary, the mother of Jesus, ran to him like any good mom and asked him to do something about it.

Jesus asked the servants to fill the jars with water and then pour for the master of the party.

Water?

Why did he ask for water?

Can you imagine how amazed those servants were when the the water turned into wine–108-190 gallons of the most excellent wine ever tasted—much more than was needed.

That’s Jesus for you.

And so, the phrase “the best to be” is not a death bed wish, but deep assurance that Jesus always shows up and shows off in the midst of crises and suffering, giving us more than we could ever imagine.

I want to be like the lady who knew she didn’t need glitz and glamour–she had Jesus.

 

 

 

 

 

Preparing Adopted/Foster Kids for Possible Birth Parent Rejection

Having your adopted or foster child run away someday to stay forever with birth relatives has to be the #1 fear of most parents.

But, what is the next fear?

The number two fear is that your child will find long-lost birth relatives and ultimately suffer rejection from them.

Am I not right, parents?

My adoptee heart goes out to you.

Don’t despair…let’s talk.

Let’s begin by defining “rejection.” Webster’s defines it:

  • as refusing to have, take or act upon
  • to refuse to accept a person
  • to rebuff
  • to throw away or discard as useless or unsatisfactory
  • to cast out or eject

How about ways your child, no matter his/her age, may experience rejection?

  • Teen waits for birth parent to pick up for movie date but parent doesn’t show.
  • Child fantasizes on birthday that first mom will come to party but she doesn’t show up.
  • Adult reunites with birth siblings who only want to meet once and then ignore any desires to meet again.
  • Birth parent can’t deal with own loss and grief and outwardly disses her child, telling that she wants no more contact.

There are things you can do to help your child “do rejection well.”

  1. KNOW ADOPTEES CAN SMELL REJECTION MILES AWAY

Yes, siree! We can smell it. Just ask us.

Why do we have this “talent”?

Because we perceive we’ve been rejected by our first parents, either at birth, through CPS removal, or through death.

Yes, others say we weren’t rejected, but it certainly doesn’t compute that way to us.

As parents, you probably weren’t prepared for this reality by social workers or adoption professionals. The majority of placements don’t begin with such honesty.

Beginning the parent/child relationship with this foundation will take you and your child miles in growing deeper together.

2. LEARN WORDS THAT AFFIRM YOUR CHILD’S EMOTIONAL REALITY

Here are some examples that should help you hone this ability:

  • Infant arches back, refusing comfort. In cries: waaah! I am sad I lost my mom. Affirming words: “I understand…you miss your first mom…and that you feel sad, mad, scared or angry. (Denial=Parent takes arching personally as if it is a rejection of him/her).
  •  
  • Child withdrawn and sullen. “I feel sad that my first mommy gave me away.” Emotional reality=grief, loss, abandonment. Affirmation=”I understand that you feel sad, to feel given away. Can you tell me more about that?” (Denial=”She really didn’t give you away. She loved you and wanted the best for you.” Child…”if that is love, I don’t want anything to do with it.”
  •  
  • Child clings to adoptive mother. “Me sad I didn’t grow in your tummy, mommy.” Emotional reality=grief, abandonment. Affirmation=”I understand how you’d feel that way. I wish we could have been together then.”
  •  
  • Child lays on bed first day of kindergarten. “I don’t want to go to school, mommy. I feel sick.” Emotional reality=fear of abandonment. Affirmation: “You must feel sad about going to a new place today. Saying goodbyes are hard, aren’t they?”(Denial: “What’s wrong with you, Suzie? Quit moping around..it’s time for school.”)
  •  
  • Teenager withdrawn on birthday. “I wonder if my birth mother is thinking about me today. I bet more than any day, she’s thinking about me.” Emotional reality=curiosity and sadness. Affirmation=”I can certainly understand why you’d be thinking of her today. Sometimes birth mothers remember and sometimes they don’t. Are you thinking about meeting her someday?”

3.   UNDERSTAND YOUR CHILD’S UNDYING LOVE FOR FIRST MOM

There was a case years ago when a baby was fried in an iron skillet. The baby was taken to the hospital and when the mother visited, baby reached up in glee with she saw her mom.

There is a strong tie! A DNA tie.

Your child will manifest this tie in the form of fantasies about the lost mom.

With young children, discover the fantasies through play. A doll house with all the characters involved in the wooden people. Or, lego people and possible people and circumstances that may happen.

For example:

-play adoption. Use stick people to represent first mom, first dad, your child. I predict the child will verbalize fantasies about first parent. You could then reverse the play by asking what would happen if the first mom didn’t want child…at birth…at foster care placement…at reunion. What would you say to the child?

These are a few thoughts on how you can begin introducing and accepting the fact that rejection is part of the tapestry of adoption.

Just as the dark threads of a tapestry add depth, so do the themes of rejection and loss.

How Adopted and Foster Kids May Be Triggered Upon Returning to School

Parents, this is a learning curve not only for your child, but also for you.

Standing before you, as school begins anew for your child, you have the privilege of learning to reflect the strong emotions of your child and then teach him how to navigate them.

Even if your child is doing extremely well and you send him/her off with a smiling face,  there are always triggers that parents and teachers must keep in mind for the first day of school.

NEW PLACES

Adoptees have a hard time entering new places.

It is wise for parents and teachers to be aware of this unspoken reality when anticipating a new school year.

Remember our back story and you will gain understanding. This understanding pertains to babies, young kids, teens, adults, and even old ladies.

Many of us were whisked away after birth. Others were removed from existing families by social services and placed (oftentimes, multiples placements) into a foster family.

Here is how we may feel entering a new place:

  • Alarmed, like hearing the blast of the smoke alarm when sound asleep
  • Fear, like want to run and bolt the other way from smiling faces and open doors
  •  Traumatized, like our hearts racing out of our chests while our palms sweat
  • Unworthy, our mouths are dry, like cotton.
  • Withdrawal, like the only safe place is found in withdrawing and welcoming shut-down.
  • Quiet, like going to our personal “safe place” inwardly.
  • Broken-hearted, like knowing others want us to succeed and faking a smile

Parents, you must accept the facts that:

  • You are powerless to change the repercussions of your child’s past
  • You ARE responsible to teach your child how to recognize the unsafe feelings and to regulate his own feelings. We will talk more about this at the end of this post.

PLACED INTO THE CARE OF LOVING STRANGERS

Take a step backward to adoption day. No matter how old the child, it is trauma city. The person we were the most intimately related to–our first moms–suddenly disappeared after birth, or else if later in life, she was taken away from us by the police, drugs, or death.

Let me assure you that we still love our first mommas.  She is our DNA. Her womb was our soft place. Her face was what we longed to see for nine months. And, we love her even if she has fried us as babies in a skillet. Our arms will always reach for her.

Moms and Dads through adoption, you are just as important. I believe in God’s sovereign plan for each person’s life. It is no mistake your child was born and it is no mistake that you are this child’s parents.

However, when we come to you, you are strangers…no matter how much you love us.

What comes to mind immediately is the popular advertisement of a grandparent with shingles welcoming a grandchild. Instead of the grand parent’s face, technology imposes the face of a fox.

For the non-adopted person to get a feel for what this dynamic, imagine a bride and groom on the night of their honeymoon. They fall asleep in one another’s arms, but upon awakening, they are shocked to see that a stranger is in bed with them instead of the spouse.

Accept the sovereignty of God here, parents. God can and will do anything to bring glory to Himself and good to His children.

WHAT PARENTS CAN DO…DON’T FEAR…TEACH REGULATION!

When child is demonstrating either melt-down emotions or “melt-in” emotions, don’t run from them. Embrace them as an opportunity to teach your child how to deal with his painful past and move and grow into his future.

Here’s how to teach the basics to your child:

  1. Parent identifies emotional present….you’re feeling angry…..and it’s okay
  2. Assurance of parental presence: I want you to know that I am right here with you.
  3. Remind child of past trauma: Remember that you’ve been through a lot of hard stuff.
  4. Parent gives verbal reminder of the past and present. That kind of stuff isn’t happening now, though. 
  5. Parent reiterates safety: Now you are here with me and I will keep you safe.

 

cafo