First, let me say Happy Birthday to my youngest son, Richard, who I have been blessed to have as a son for 3 years now.
Tomorrow not only marks my youngest son’s 12th birthday but also the 2nd anniversary of his official adoption. Before 3 years ago (he lived with us a year before being legally adopted), I already knew that parenting taught a person more than almost any other experience in life, and I already knew that being a parent helped create a fuller understanding of how God feels about His children.
But not until we adopted our son two years ago did I begin to grasp the idea of what adoption really means. You can read more about this in How to… Celebrate Adoption.
Adopting and raising an older child has also taught me many life lessons, and that is where we focus for today’s post. With that, the following 6 lessons stand out from the past 3 years.
- There will always be baggage. Even after forgiveness, consequences can linger. Communication is necessary for working through and managing the impact of these consequences.
- Consistency. Consistency. Consistency. One caseworker after another kept telling me to be consistent, and they were right on the money. Consistency helped my son heal from his past and embrace his future.
- Baggage often needs repacked. At various stages of growth, we need to address our son’s past and help him to understand it as much as is possible. This often means re-explaining something to fit his social, mental and spiritual maturity.
- Love really is a choice. Loving my oldest son comes naturally because I gave birth to him. Loving my youngest son, while just as strong, comes through choosing to do so no matter what. Before we even met him, we committed to loving him as if he was our biological son. God gives us grace abundantly to help us do just that each and every day.
- Patterns provide clues. When he first came to live with us, patterns of lying and stealing were cries for help. They were clues telling us that he needed security and consistency. These and other clues still pop up from time to time, and we talk about them and help create self-awareness. We try to always consider and deal with the root cause when this happens.
- Your child needs you to be an advocate. This doesn’t mean agreeing with bad behavior and poor choices. It means making sure your child receives the best chance at a successful future. For our youngest son, this requires regular contact with teachers and other authority as well as addressing any problem areas before they get out of control. Being an advocate means giving extra help where necessary and realizing that you know your child better than anyone, and you need to fight for what he needs to grow and mature in a positive way.
With each of these lessons, not only has my relationship with my son grown, but my relationship with God has as well. God has used this process to stretch and refine me in profound ways, and I would never trade it for the world even though it’s also one of the most difficult things I’ve ever done.
I realize that challenges lie ahead in the teenage years, but I also am confident that God will guard and keep my son in Christ Jesus. So, I have faith and release my son to God, but I also stand guard. Just as Jesus continues to pray and advocate for me, I will continue to do so for my son as well.
DISCUSSION: How has God used parenting to show you more about Him?