Deciding to adopt my children was easy for me. I have mothered everything around me (plants, animals, other people…) since I was three years old. I knew from a young age that my family would be formed by adoption. I was thrilled when my husband and I were ready to begin the adoption adventure.
I accepted my children into my home with open arms and an open heart. To my surprise, and heartbreak, they did not feel the same about me. It was a jolt of reality that my attempts at parenting and love were rejected. My children came from difficult beginnings which led to mistrust, anger, and fear towards their “forever family”.
For the first time, I was faced with very big feelings of my own. This led to very big reactions and feeling terrible. I was a rotten mom to be yelling at my sweet children that had experienced such terrible times. Why did I ever think I should be doing this? And who trusted me with these kids?
Some people believe the universe hands us exactly what we need to work on in our life. Well, the universe certainly gave me a giant dose of that! Throughout my life, I have always felt the need to be the best. If I made a mistake or did something less than perfect I beat myself up about it. Yell at the kids? Terrible mom. Forget to call someone back? Clearly, I am an unorganized mess. House is in mayhem? Get it together! You get the idea.
Here is my biggest takeaway. My children are an absolute blessing for teaching me this. It isn’t about being a super mom/woman. The goal is to be good enough. With my children, it is impossible to be perfect. With their trauma, big feelings and big reactions there is no way to handle every situation with calm and ease. We yell, curse, throw things, rely on vices, and fight with our spouses because we are human. And we are trying to live a good life while existing in a tornado of trauma. What my children (and all children in the system) need is someone that stays with them. They need people that don’t give up on them. The only way that is possible is to be good enough. Good enough means that sometimes we rupture, that’s part of love. Good enough means that we repair, apologize, try again, get help, and continue to love our children and ourselves.
Laura Stillmunkes is the Executive Director for Capital Adoptive Families Alliance. She was appointed to Sierra Forever Families’ Permanency Quality Committee in June 2018