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A Picture of Priceless Support

J: My name is Jennifer, and I am mother to four children, two of whom came to us via adoption. The adoption process is pretty grueling, and can be isolating. Some friends just didn’t understand why we would risk rocking our little boat, and take the emotional and financial risks involved. Others decided we had enough children. Some voiced there support, but really didn’t know how else to be there for us. I found during our adoption processes that other adoptive parents were really such a huge blessing. But a rare and precious gem, is a friend who is not directly affected by adoption, but who is supportive in both words and action. One sweet friend that really went out of her way to show her support for our family, was my dear friend Nina.  One evening while having coffee at her home with a group of other adoptive mamas, I asked her what motivated her to love on us the way she had.

 

N: It’s on the back of a C.A.L.L. T-shirt. If you can’t foster or adopt, volunteer, donate, or educate. I see you adoptive moms and dads working so hard to love on kids from hard places. One day I saw a picture in my mind of two families. Like two boats in the ocean with rain pouring down, filling with water. Limited time, energy, and resources represented by little cups trying to bail the water out. As the boat filled with trials (doctors appointments, illness, loss, grief, therapy, cooking dinner, caring for more kids, etc.) those two families tossed that little cup back and forth to each other. Then there was me in my boat watching it all go down. If I am honest I have a huge bucket of time, energy, and resources to help. So God told me to get in there and help lighten their load as much as I could.

J: Nina hosted a benefit yard sale to help with our fundraising efforts. She shared other fundraisers, and encouraged others to give to those too. She prayed over me just days before I left for China to bring home our daughter, and she delivered food and groceries to us in the days and weeks that followed. She truly poured so much of herself into loving us well. It still brings me to tears just remembering how these gestures were such a huge relief and blessing to us!

N: When a family is going into the responsibility of financially providing for an adoption, physically caring for a new child, emotionally handling all that comes with adoption and loss, as well as enduring the spiritual warfare that comes with this type of radical obedience to God, this type of support is crucial and a no-brainer. It is every Christian’s job to care for these kids in some way.

To love these families is also to learn from them. To let adoptive mamas educate me about bonding, attachment, expenses and any other issues that are grossly unknown or misunderstood by non adoptive families. To be a safe place to land without so much advice as support and encouragement.

J: Not everyone can adopt, or foster. But everyone that loves an adoptive or foster family can choose to support a family who is adopting or fostering. If fundraising isn’t your thing, there are other ways to help. Supporting a family after that exciting adoption day, or airport day, or placement, is truly a rare gift.  Bringing meals after a child is home, offering to do laundry, gifting a family with groceries or a house cleaning, offering to spend time with the siblings who may be feeling insecure about the newest addition, delivering coffee to a tired mama… these are treasures that help restore a weary parent to be the best mom or dad to their family that they can be to a child who is so confused and grieving.

N: I can’t bond with a newly adopted child just yet. They need mom and dad for that. I can’t rock them to sleep, teach them some adults are worth trusting, or watch them do a trick for the millionth time, but I can support the mom and dad who do.  It is truly a gift to do so and you guys are real heroes.

 

Abiding in Truth

Lucia and I have spent many hours together over the last 4.5 years talking about what love is and is not.  In the beginning it was more me doing the talking and in the early days I had no idea the fear she was living with that I might, at any time,  flip my personality on her and in an instant become to her the mother or caregivers who harmed her.

After the initial days of discovery in our home, I could see apprehension in her eyes and so I tried harder at connecting, and you know what? For a time things became so much more difficult.  Lucia the sweetest love, ever ….said some not so nice things.  And I wondered if the newness wore off and I was seeing her “real” personality.  The answer to that is no.

Her fear was building and so the kinder I became. I tried harder.  Years later she told me that when I told her she was beautiful, incredible anger would rise in her.  I was astonished that the great efforts I was taking were backfiring. I wasn’t “wrong,” I just had to be worthy of trust. Truth is, there had to be times she was seeing me change from the doting mom having to transition back to my regular daily routine.  Was she questioning how genuine I was? Of course she was.  Thats what we do as humans.

Loving my sweet Lucia is not hard.  But learning to live out love how she needed it, well that was challenging.  Honestly I still feel a bit of pressure not to cause fear to stir.  I know I will have bad days – those days where sleep was sparse and juggling many things causes me to give to a flip flesh reply and then I see the disappointment in her face.

Our love has grown through the connecting, that thing she was so afraid of.  And my words of praise and affirmation, they certainly build her up. It isn’t those things though that have actually knit this bond.  It’s that after she saw me flub it, she saw me acknowledge it.  She saw my sorrow.  She experienced being valued and a new sense of power when I asked for forgiveness.  It is so true, that when we are weak, we can be strong.

I knew that my disappointments, my flub ups landed on her very differently than they did my children I gave birth to.  Abandonment and abuse was very real to her.

“Lucia, I wish so much that I will never hurt your feelings but I know there will be times I do.  I need us to pray to God together for our relationship. I know we both need His strength and to trust that we can love well.”

That conversation wasn’t once or twice but weaved throughout our lives.  Loving can be hard.  It requires surrendering and it means bearing honesty.  It risks that it won’t be accepted.  And when my love isn’t accepted, my flesh wants to remove it. It’s the nature of man sadly.  But the nature of Jesus is love.  Only when I live from my abiding, clinging to the branches, will I bear fruit. If man rejects me, Jesus still receives me.

Our feelings don’t make us evil. No need to beat yourself up.  Thankfully we don’t have to live out of our feelings. We do however have the freedom to speak truth to them and surrender them.  Forgiveness is the sweetest gift and the key to developing long lasting relationship.

Lucia has developed into a true hero. She not only prays for our relationship, but she prays intentionally for every heart she meets!  Amazingly, God has walked her through forgiveness and healing towards those who have hurt her in her past. Not only that, God grew affection and compassion in her for her them. That is a miracle that only comes Jesus!

“I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

                                                           John 15:5

Loving is hard, but as Lucia always says on her blog, “Love is in the Light!”

Visit her at luciaslight.blogspot.com

By Tina Kacirek

How to Help Adoptive Families without Sabotaging

By Tina Kacirek

When people ask me how they can help us, one of our greatest challenges is how to allow them in to be with our children. I know details they couldn’t dream of. I NEED them to be what my children need, NOT what they think they should be. What every adoptive parent really needs to hear is, “I am willing to be trained to help you connect as a family.”

It’s not that adoptive parents want to isolate and don’t want help, it is that they have learned from prior experiences when well meaning individuals have stepped in and made progress more difficult without even knowing. The last thing I want to do is be critical or negative towards somebody who wants to love on my family. At the same time, I can’t allow unhealthy interactions.

As a friend said it the other day, one size doesn’t fit all. One size still fits one. What triggers one doesn’t trigger another. I may have a good grasp on trauma to know basics, but if I am going to help my friend with hers, I don’t assume I know. I ask for details on how I should interact. Should I touch? What kind of level of communicating is best? Should I stay task oriented? How is it best to bring calm? What things trigger negative responses? I make no assumptions. Just because I see a friendly happy child doesn’t mean they won’t begin eating their shirt and ripping pillows apart if something is processed a wrong way. And I am completely aware that the child in front of me is probably not the same when I am not there.

Here are common interactions that have been confusing to my children and possible ways to remedy.

1. Someone who has only known my child briefly becoming emotional and saying, “I just love you. You are so special, I just want to take you home with me!” Of course the person doing this is wanting to convey a message of acceptance and is truly moved, but it is overwhelming for more than one reason. Children who haven’t formed strong attachments yet with their parents, and have passed the “honeymoon phase” compare us to this idealistic moment. Further, they often take words quite literally so what was meant as a sweet sentiment can turn into fantasies of how much better it would be if they could go live at Susie’s house (or worse become frightened they will be kidnapped). Thoughts like, “Susie wants to be my mom! Maybe Susie will let me eat ice cream all day and let me do what I want. The parents I have are harder and make me do stuff now.” When we are focusing on attachment but still trying to slowly introduce basic expectations of the home, that can be processed as a threat. We are working through training our children at the same time as connecting. Use positive words that are not emotionally charged or that won’t be misconstrued. Reinforce the family connection. “It is lovely meeting you today. Your mom has told me how special you are to her. I hear you guys have been painting. Do you enjoy that?”

2. Serving my children food, touching/holding, answering questions to meet their needs hinders connection. Because my children couldn’t trust their needs would be met by caregivers, and I stepped in appearing as another caregiver, I have an extra big job of proving myself. It is so natural, especially in church communities to serve one another’s children affectionately. For those who are not familiar with trauma or attachment challenges, adoptive parents can appear a bit odd when we interrupt or stop another adult from helping. What we are doing is trying to establish relationship with our child and assure them that they don’t have to seek out others to meet their needs. Adding to those difficult moments is when someone becomes insistent with “helping” and doesn’t get it. The helpful interaction would be to redirect the child back to the parent kindly. “Your dad is right there and he will help you.” If you see the child hesitant about going over to the parent (and mom or dad somehow didn’t see them come to you) you can go over to the parent and relay the information. I so appreciate that. Offerings of help are such a blessing to me and even more so is when I know the person understands the delicate work connecting to our children involves for us.

There will come a time we aren’t as hovering, but it will be according to the child’s needs.

3. Excessively gifting my child makes it harder for me. I am a gift giver and I LOVE it so I really feel for those who are generous with my child. When it’s too much though, it begins to interfere and unfortunately can be used as comparison with some of our wounded ones. It’s not the case with all, but for some of my children, gifts equals love and if I am not gifting at the rate someone else is to my child they can skew it and use it. “Susie loves me more because she always gives me things and you don’t.” The best gifts are family gifts. Instead of the toy from that person to said child, hand the gift to mom and dad and say, “I was thinking of all of you today and how much you might enjoy playing this together!”

4. Ignoring some children. When only some children are acknowledged repeatedly, it makes the others wonder if they are important. Another reason why addressing our whole family is beneficial. Sometimes the children who weren’t adopted and don’t have special needs, notice.

5. Asking me if the child can have something or do something right in front of them. It’s a set up for failure. If I say no, then the person asking was the “good guy” and I was the meanie who took it away. Please always ask parents those questions out of ear shot. While ALL parents can probably get this (adoptive or not), the fall out and clean up time later for one of these can painful and unnecessary.

Remember, one size doesn’t fit all, so ask. This is not an exhaustive list but frequent encounters we have dealt with. I can absolutely say that those who sabotage have no idea they are doing it, and wouldn’t want to. More often parents will pull away quietly rather than confront someone doing this because they are already so tired and focused on their child. Some of us don’t want to hurt anyones feelings, too.

If you want to help, convey it to the adoptive parents in a way that lets them know you want to learn and do what they need you to do. They will remember it and be so thankful to hear it.

(Photo of my brother, Uncle Anthony with two my children. He is a blessing because I can trust him to encourage my children and focus them back to family and faith. )

No Guilt, Just Grace

 


– Tina Kacirek

Recently, our family took a vacation. We were a large group of 9, with 3 wheelchairs, traveling in our 15 passenger van. After arriving back home, I felt a little hesitant about posting pictures. I knew most likely somebody would notice that one family member was missing and ask. To be honest, I really didn’t feel like answering to it on social media. There were so many wonderful firsts that happened on that trip and so much to celebrate, after a bit I ended up posting those photos. Soon the messages began coming in. I saw a common thread. All of them were from mom’s like me who were asking how I was able to do it without guilt and wondering how we explained it to everyone. They were sure they would be judged and misunderstood.
Instead of replying individually, I have decided to do exactly what I wanted to avoid, and share publicly. If I can ease another mom’s heart, I want to. So the following are some of the points my husband and I discussed in making our decision. If we are planning a vacation that can only happen very rarely, we want to plan for success to make good memories.
1. We considered what was best for everyone. A tight space, for long distance, with some special needs is not just hard, but in some cases, it can cause trauma to everyone around. The child we didn’t take isn’t able to currently handle the kind of constant transitions and changes in stimulation, without nonstop regulating.
(Others may not understand this because they see her in her “zone” for short snippets of time and after she’s been given much reassurance and direction.)

2. We considered past experiences. Instead of trying to make it work like we had in the past when the outcome was overcoming grief and bitterness, we looked at new options. We have 8 children and taking the one who cannot handle it, just to be together, felt unreasonable and insensitive to the others. After all they have their own traumatic pasts, and deserved to have some fun discovering.

3. We considered new possibilities. What if we disappoint that one child for a while, only for her to discover she had a blast without us? We created a vacation of sorts for her too. We brought in my brother, whom she adores, to stay with her and give her one on one attention. She had grandma with her too. She stayed in the familiar place and didn’t have to share attention. For her, that is heaven. She made memories that were new and special to her, and when we returned she was more excited to tell us about her adventures, than to know about the trip we were on.

The one question I kept getting was, “Do you feel guilty?” The answer is, I felt many things. Guilt didn’t come from within, it was an emotion that wanted to creep up when I thought about trying to explain to those who don’t understand. I wish that things were different but we can’t live our lives to the fullest trying to force something that can’t be. I felt incredible relief to do things I hadn’t been able to do in years. And it’s not relief like, “If she were just gone, life would be great” kind of feeling. When you love someone you don’t wish them away. It’s more like my brain wasn’t so full. I didn’t have constant vigilance. I could soak in new ideas, and joke around freely. It was beautiful and pleasurable.

 
Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, he said to them, “Come with me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest.” Mark 6:31

 
To Mom’s caring for children with special needs, from trauma and/or attachment disorders:
You were chosen and being equipped to care for your child. You are not perfect and you have real desires and needs of your own. You are not selfish for feeling like you need a break from your child. You are not mean, unloving or insensitive. You are human, not super human. We become tired too and need rest for our bodies and mind. The rest of the world doesn’t see what we see, and if they walked in your shoes, they would embrace you, hear your heart cry, and never again read you as harsh, controlling, overly sensitive, etc…. They would see what I see: A mom who cares to protect, nurture, love, teach, and lead their children in peace and truth.
“Do not judge by appearances, but judge with right judgment.” John 7:24
I have to choose to understand that people who dismiss my concerns or quickly judge, do so off of their experiences. Most outsiders don’t realize that much of the heartache and trials mom’s like us face come from snap judgments that put us in precarious scenarios that require fast response and sometimes a long clean up with our children later. When they sweetly said, “You are so adorable, I could just take you home with me!” they had no idea what they set off for you to clean up. And so when you try desperately to figure out how to both express kindness in response but know you have to stop the sick thought process developing right now inside of your child who thinks they may be getting a new parent, well, you and I tend to look “off.”
It’s OK.

 

I want to be the best mom, too. I want every single one of my children to know that I am for them, with them, present. The only way I have ever learned to do that, is by getting away from them long enough to become replenished by God. No guilt in that at all. God himself tells us how important resting in Him is. We are still trying to learn this balance ourselves. One thing I have learned though, with all the best of intentions and love in my heart, I will not please everyone. Someone will always be offended. There’s always going to be those who hate you, make fun of you, etc. Just keep going. Those attempts at guilting you that the enemy of your soul takes is because you do something so rare and extraordinary in this world and it is threatening. You live to bring healing to broken hearts. What a precious gift from God you are. And we can only bring healing, when we are living out of the power God constantly fills us with.
Look inward, you will see your lack. Look up and you will see your life – the amazing one your heavenly Father has for you. I encourage you today not to shrink back anymore but to walk confidently that you are precious, important, deserving and created for much needed rest.

Those who look to him are radiant;
their faces are never covered with shame. Psalm 34:5

The Manuel Family – A Home for Henry

We are the Manuel’s, a military family currently living in Missouri.  An international adoption is something I’ve always said I wouldn’t do.  I’m not good with paperwork,  deadlines, writing, etc.    However, after living in New York the last 3 years, we began to hear the voice of God whispering to us His invitation to become part of His plan for adoption.   We honestly hoped it would go away but instead, God spoke even louder and more frequently to our hearts about this.

Once we moved to Missouri,  I called over 20 local organizations to try to adopt domestically.  All of them were a closed door and not one of them pursued us or gave us any hope.  However, the minute we called Great Wall of China, an international agency located in Texas, the door opened so widely that we walked right through!

Since then, we have been matched with a little boy, born in 2015. His name is Henry and he currently lives in China. We are blessed to know he resides in a medical assisted foster home with good care.   We are so excited to bring Henry home, into our family, and for God to use this adoption as a catalyst of change in our own hearts.

Thank you for praying for Henry and for our family.  This support means so much to us.

Blessings,
The Manuel Family

2/20/2017 – Just under $3,000 has been raised for far of the $10,000 need.  Praise God for an amazing outpouring.  Keep praying and sharing through February!   Thank you, GH Family

DONATE to the Manuel Family
 

5 Things to Know About Adopted Children From Hard Places

5 Things to Know About Adopted Children from Hard Places

  1. Lack of healthy affection creates confusion and fear surrounding touch.  It may feel invasive or threatening. As adoptive parents build new paths to trust by faithfully loving on their children through gentle touch, children begin developing new brain connections, helping them to positively experience relationships.
  2. Children with inconsistent care, learned they couldn’t depend on others to keep them safe.  Often, if care did come, it was unpredictable, and from multiple people.  In adoption, parents are establishing themselves as reliable primary caregivers and working to distinguish their role separate from other roles. Thus, they need reinforcement of these relationship boundaries from friends and extended family. This can be done by redirecting the child to the parent to have their needs met, even in situations that may seem natural and normal to help.
  3. It’s important to understand that due to the issues discussed above, children may behave differently for their adoptive family than they do for others.  This can end up being one of the top reasons families go into isolation.  Well meaning, positive comments can have the opposite effect on parents.  Adoptive parents long to have safe places to talk about the real things going on at home.
  4. In general, a child’s developmental age can be less than half their chronological age. For example an 8-year-old child may realistically operate emotionally and socially like a four year old.  Physically, they are often smaller in stature, and learning disabilities are prevalent.   It is important to keep this in mind as you interact, and not have expectations based on their age.
  5.   Applying traditional discipline methods to these children can actually be harmful.  Common discipline methods are based on the assumption that the child is operating with a typical brain consistent with the abilities of their chronological age. Relating to them with an understanding of this and the other factors listed here will help create a stronger bond and better affect change.

“You are the God who sees me”…   Genesis 16:13

 

Meet Lucia Kacirek

Lucia was born in Donetsk, Ukraine and became an orphan at 6.  She spent a decade in a mental institution where she witnessed and experienced abuse.  At 16, she was adopted and began her journey to healing.

She has a heart to explain to others the conditions that orphans are facing when no one is looking and sees the great pain in adoptive families as parents try to connect to their children.  Past trauma often comes out in behavior.

Read more from Lucia on her blog, Lucia’s Light

– http://www.luciaslight.blogspot.com/

Bringing Moses Home – To Stay

Moses is ten years and was originally adopted 6 years ago from a baby’s home in Uganda. He had been there since right after birth until the time of adoption. Stories were told to the family regarding the giving of his name by the caregivers at the baby house. The area where he was found as an infant was marshy, and they believed that location coupled with his being rescued was significant. They believed him to be a special boy, like the baby spoken of in Exodus 2 and Hebrews 11, so they named him “Moses.”

Per his family’s report, the only special need initially disclosed was a speech impediment, but as soon as he arrived in Louisiana (his first home), it became clear more was going on. Moses has not been officially diagnosed with autism, but he displays many typically autistic behaviors. After our team’s time spent with him and learning his story, it is more and more clear that there are many things going on with him that are a result of early-childhood deprivation and trauma. The need for consistency, stability, and conscientious care are paramount for his success. However, up until recently, this wasn’t able to happen. Due to a variety of very significant changes in his world over the 5 years he spent in Louisiana, Moses was unable to remain there and was ultimately left in need of a new home and a permanent family.

Enter Jody and Mandy Stewart, a family from Texas, who at the time of Moses’ need for a home, had just moved to Oklahoma and were regrouping and starting a “new life.” They are no strangers to needs like Moses’ nor to adoption. Mandy shared with our Grace Haven Team:

We adopted 2 sibling sets in 2015, through foster care in Texas. We moved to Oklahoma in the summer of 2015, in pursuit of a God-sent job, home, and land for our large family of then 13. It was during that transition that we heard about this boy named Moses. When I caught wind of his story, it took deep root it my heart. My concern for him wouldn’t fade. I followed his story and shifting of residence for a few months, and then I couldn’t stand the thought of him moving indefinitely yet again. Not sure we were equipped, but willing to do whatever it took, we made arrangements to bring him into our home. His story is unique in the fact that he has been in desperate need of solid medical/therapeutic team around him for so long, and he just has not had that. Since he has been in our home he has moved mountains improving in areas. He was nonverbal upon arrival, and he now not only speaks but can carry on minimal thought provoking conversation. He has learned to ride a scooter and a bike really well. He can write his name and knows a few sight words. He still has so far to go, and the biggest hurdle we have is getting him a formal diagnosis. As we are walking this adoption road, we want to be very careful which paths we pursue because we are trying to gain the most benefits for him. He is a happy, loving, sneaky, very smart boy. He is amazing. And we love that God picked us to be his family.

Some of our team who have had the joy of meeting and working personally with Moses have come to love him, too! They say:

He loves to swing, he loves Cinnamon Toast Crunch, he likes to bounce and dance; and he has an obsession with shoes. His smile is infectious, and it only takes about two seconds around him to totally lose your heart!

He has now been “indefinitely” in the Stewart’s home for almost one year. As Mandy reported above, he has grown immensely in multiple ways. He is successful in school, has siblings whom he loves and who love him, and he is learning about Jesus and enjoys praying with his family. This family is bound and determined that he will never move again. They are hoping to make him a permanent part of their family by beginning the adoption process. In doing this, though, they can put him on their insurance and ultimately begin getting him plugged into that medical care and those support therapies and teams that he has desperately needed for years. Mandy is a strong, resilient, picture of grace, making her the perfect person to advocate Moses through these channels. God knew this and clearly orchestrated his path to this family who would see him with the same heart as his Heavenly Father. The Stewarts are excited to see how Moses will continue to grow and prosper under a covering of love and the nurture and care God intended for him ALL ALONG!

If you would like to encourage or help support Moses in his care, or bless the Stewarts in their effort to make him a forever part of their family, CLICK HERE.

On behalf of Grace Haven, Moses, and the Stewarts:
Thank you so much for joining us on this journey!

Making Matthew Smile!

Meet Matthew Whitten!  At 15, this courageous young man has undergone multiple surgeries to help him live to the fullest.  He was born with Aperts syndrome which means, his skull bones, cervical spine, fingers, toes, and shoulders were fused at birth.  Thursday, August 25th, he will have his 25th surgery at Children’s Hospital in Little Rock to help him breathe easier.  Currently he stops breathing many times each night which can often cause seizures.  Matthew is feeling a bit apprehensive about this upcoming surgery  so after visiting with his mom, we thought we would make his heart leap with joy by surprising him with something he really enjoys – getting mail!  That’s right…  He loves to get homemade pictures and cards in the mail and when we heard that, we thought, THIS WILL BE FUN!

We want to shower Matthew with love when he gets home from the hospital!  This is a great opportunity for you to enlist the help of your children to bring a smile to this boys face.

You may send cards to:

Matthew Whitten
5887 S. 45th St
Rogers, AR  72758

Some interesting facts to know about Matthew!

  • He was adopted at 3 months old.
  • He loves riding horses and playing baseball
  • He prays for people in disasters that he hears about
  • He loves to praise to Jesus in worship songs
  • He dreams about playing an instrument in a band and even got to join the Arkansas Razorback’s Marching Band on the football field!
  • Loves spending time with his family and wants to make more friends

Jesus in a Grey T-shirt

A few days ago, one of my children, adopted after many years of neglect and damage, hurt another child when we were in our town. While that type of behavior has been decreasing over time, it can still happen. Because our child has very limited ability to communicate, that type of behavior has been exceedingly difficult for anyone to get a handle on, and while much effort has gone into teaching, training, AND prevention, we are not fully successful yet at helping her to completely end the behavior. Normally, our profuse apologies and the fact that it’s easy to see our child has special needs, usually puts an end to initial irritation or anger on the part of the adults of the child who has been offended.

This time? No way. There was screaming. There was horrible cussing. There was terrible name calling directed towards my daughter (who understood) and the parent involved did not want to hear an apology, nor explanation. What made it even odder? This parent claimed her child had special needs and therefore was beyond furious–“How DARE your child pull my daughter’s hair when she has autism?!”   Given that her daughter was speaking and behaving quite typically given what had just happened to her, it is quite probable that sadly, my daughter’s special needs are likely far more of a hindrance in her day-to-day life currently than the girl with autism. And I don’t say that to discount her daughter’s struggles. I well know the challenges a child on the autism spectrum can and does face on a regular basis! And surely, you think that another parent of a child with special needs would be the most understanding and forgiving of another child with special needs? But not this mother.

She would not listen to an apology, nor an explanation and any attempt on my part to do so was met with yelling and some very vile cussing, along with screaming that my daughter was a “freak.”  Not only was the mother yelling, but her son had now joined her.  My child was sobbing, the child who she had hurt was traumatized and sobbing, and rather than the mother directing her attention to her hurting child, she whipped out her phone and began dialing while screaming, “I’m calling the cops! I’m calling the cops!”   “Go ahead,” I said calmly.  After all, given her state of mind, I figured the cops might not be a bad idea.

“Get back to the hole you crawled out of and never come back out, ” she screamed in a rage. “Go! Leave NOW!”

I grabbed my kiddos and walked away.

We drove home and I spent the next several hours shaking and crying. The evil hatred and venomous curses she spewed at us totally triggered some strong emotions in me from previous times in my life where I was a victim of verbal, physical and emotional abuse.   Even though I was keenly aware that was what was going on, it did not make it much easier to bear. I was shaken to my core at the anger directed towards my hurting child, and Satan began to try to plant fear, doubt and many other negative emotions into my heart. “You will never be able to go out in public again! What if they see you and start screaming again at you?! You live in a small town! What if they see you again and call CPS?”

My head knew what was going on, and with the support and prayers of friends, I got through the weekend more or less OK. But during the hours of Sunday night, the night mares began. I crawled out of bed, groggy and feeling the strain. A dear friend decided that she needed to come over and be with me for a few hours, and after she arrived, we realized that my only chance to grocery shop before visitors came later, was to go and get it done while she baby sat my kiddos and gave a hand with a few things around the house.

Reluctantly, I went to get groceries. Driving past the location where it happened to get to the grocery store was hard. The whole time I was shopping, I kept having to battle anxiety and being jumpy and nervous when others in the store would look at me. It was tough for me to give my usual happy smile when someone glanced at me, although I did try. The shopping drug on and I kept speaking truth to my emotions, but they kept wanting to bubble up in a panic.

After I was finally out of the store, I was able to feel a trifle less anxious and  I was fully focused on loading my groceries into the car when I heard a gentle, cheery voice call from a short distance away, “Would you like me to help you load those water jugs into the trunk?” I looked up, startled, to see a man standing a few yards away with a pleasant smile on his face. My startled brain took in a grey T-shirt and some cargo pants. It was no one I knew, that much I knew. “Thank you, but I can do it” I said briefly back.

“I’m sure you can, Ma’am,” he said in the same gentle voice, “but I’d like to do it if you will allow me.”

“OK if you are sure,” I agreed, wondering to myself what he wanted to do that for!

He walked over and capably put the heavy jugs in, making sure to arrange them so the trunk lid would latch. I thanked him, and then as he walked away, I said, “Your Mama trained you well.” He turned around and threw a cheery smile my way. “She sure did!” he agreed. “I give her all the credit!”

I continued to finish loading the last few bags of groceries into the car, finally smacked the lid down and began to push the cart towards the cart holder. Suddenly, he materialized again, with the same gentle voice and genial smile–a kind of shy one, I noticed this time. “I can take that for you if you like,” he said as he reached out a hand. I handed the cart over to him after thanking him a little more profusely this time. “I don’t have anything else to do” he said in response to my thanks and walked off with the cart.

Back in the car, tears stung my eyes. “God, you sent “Jesus” to me just now, didn’t you?! You knew I needed to have someone treat me with human kindness and decency. Please bless that guy!”

He will likely never know how he ministered to my hurting heart. But God knew what I needed and sent him.   Let’s look for ways to be “Jesus” to our family members and others. Let’s make a good difference!

— An Adoptive Mom