Adoption: Transformed from the Inside Out

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As I watch my adopted daughter heal I wanted to share a moment that reached deep into my heart today. Yet I believe only with true perspective can you understand how we reached this relationship. As the mother of a wounded child I want to give encouragement and hope to each of you who struggles with adoption and the difficulties of “feeling” love towards your child. These are excerpts from my blog over the years.

But love is not a feeling. It’s a choice. Say that with me. Say it again. It’s a choice. If I had to “feel” loving towards these kids (my adopted RAD kids) they would have been booted out a long time ago. (So would my husband, but that’s a different story!) It’s the same choice Eve had with the serpent. Turn away from sin or take what looks good and pay the consequences. Everyday we must turn from the sin of our human nature and love unconditionally, rejecting Satan and his influence. Thank the Lord He wants to teach us this lesson over and over……and over and over. Ouch. My kids and your kids are worth the sacrifice. I believe that. I just have to remind myself sometimes. Okay, a lot of the times. Thank God for second chances, for us and our precious children.

Moved to tears. Filled with awestruck wonder. Heartfelt prayers of gratitude. Why these strong emotions? Today I took my youngest daughter S to get her hair cut for Locks of Love. This organization that makes wigs for sick children needs at least ten inches of hair so she has been diligently growing it out for months. Years actually. Thick, beautiful, long hair.

We drove 25 minutes to the hair salon and enjoyed the kind of easy conversation that in the past would have seemed impossible. She is a very intuitive young woman and she mentioned that time is fleeting. We talked about her older brother Joshua and his call to be a missionary to France. We would only see him then a couple of times a year. Sad to tell her it would not even be that often. I reminded her that one day she, too, would leave home and build a family with God’s chosen mate for her. At age 14, she sees in her older siblings how fast time flies and chooses to see the beauty in capturing these moments. Not only capturing, but cherishing.

But the truth in this situation is that I did NOT make these children this way. Their birth parents, in all their selfishness and inadequacies did. That may be harsh, but it’s the truth. I can’t put these kids in my womb and give birth to them. I’m just part of the healing process. I pray I’m part of the healing process. Because I’ve done everything I know to do and even more. I’ve sacrificed more than I ever believed possible, but the outcome is in their hands. I can’t change anyone but myself. And I’m not going to believe anymore that somehow if I had done one thing, or many things, differently our lives would have been different. I love them, unconditionally. I pray for the strength to love them through the many difficult years to come. I also hope beyond hope that I did enough with my own birth kids to help them see God through the fiery trials. Yet I’m still sad. It’s not fair to anyone, but that’s the ugly reality that is RAD. God, give me strength.

My girl was completely at ease with this stranger cutting her hair. Able to speak clearly and enjoy conversation. Give her opinion and listen to others. Skills that have been years in the making. A polite, caring and kind teenager.

On the way home it rained hard for a couple of minutes and I struggled to have intelligent conversation while maneuvering on the highway. S was giddy with her new haircut but ever grateful for my taking her and spending that time with her. I told her I hoped that if her birth family could see her today they would see her for the beautiful, loving, mature young lady she is. She told me it was because I had invested so much in her. I told her we did it together. But you labored with me, Mommy. 
I was able to look into her eyes and tell her she was a precious gift that I will always treasure. How many years did it take to get to this place? So many that I want to forget but they brought us to this point in time. I truly “feel” that way about her. I can look into her eyes and see life and peace and hope. The years she spent in anger and denial and fear and grief were not in vain. She has such a servant’s heart and I believe she will one day change the world, her world, with her story. She is able to tell me of her fears and allow me to fill that part of her soul.

I’m not sure there have ever been sweeter words spoken to me. Such a recognition of the journey of 12 years. Days, months, years of despair and hopelessness. Barely putting one foot in front of the other and clinging to God’s hand with all of my strength, the wounds of adopted children smothering everything in sight. Never knowing if there would be healing but praying in utter humility and surrender for the strength to continue this journey.


God you are faithful.

But you labored with me, Mommy.

Some of my favorite words for my children:

Mother’s Day  message for imperfect moms

An encouraging letter from my daughter to adoptive moms

Letter to my son on your wedding day

Letter to my daughter on your 16th birthday

Mother to daughter on her wedding day

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  1. Pingback: king's faith
  2. I just clicked over to your blog to see your room makeover, but when I saw your adoption header, I clicked over to this page. I am a foster parent and my husband and I adopted two little girls last year- one of whom has RAD. It’s encouraging to see someone further down the road than I am, and it’s a blessing to hear honesty. It’s not an easy road, but I want to wake up every day and love my kids with the kind of sacrificial love that Christ showed us. Most days I fall completely short, and struggle with what I could have done differently. I really appreciate your reminder that God is working in spite of us, and it is not ours to claim.

    1. Thank you so much for sharing, Laura. Our path through adoption has been a difficult one, yet also one that has taught me the true meaning of the word sacrifice. It is definitely a decision each day to choose to love the child that wants nothing more than to push you away, in the most discouraging ways. I walk a fine line between blogging and saying too much because I want to protect my kids while still giving other moms encouragement because it can be hard to find. I hope you’ll visit my blog and continue to share both the joys and failures. Thank you again for such sweet comments.

  3. I am a therapeutic mom for children with RAD. How wonderful to see how God has walked you through your life with your daughter. Blessings to you and your family as you continue on your adventure.

    1. Mary, thank you so much for commenting. You understand what a journey it has been, and any progress is celebrated and taken notice of. I hope you continue to bless the children you parent and love. It’s the hardest job but I believe it’s what God intended us to do as believers.

  4. What a sweet, precious story of mama love. And your daughter knows it deep within her heart. Thank you for sharing this at WJIM this week.

  5. Just precious! Priceless too! You are making a huge difference in the lives of the children who didn’t grow under your heart, but in it. God bless you in all you’re doing. You must truly feel God-led to be able to cope at times. He is so worthy of our trust!

    1. Thank you so much for your encouraging words. It is at times a thankless journey but one that I know is God-ordained. We will never know what our kids would have been like if God hadn’t intervened but we do know they have had God lived out in front of them. We have to ask for his grace and mercy unceasingly at times, as well as theirs. Your words were what I needed to hear today. God bless you.

  6. You are doing a wonderful work! And I’ll tell you what people told me and my adoptive mother – you look so much alike! (Hopping over from Intentional Me and so glad I did.)

  7. Beautiful story, Marty. I’m so glad you’ve persevered with your sweet daughter. I pray that God will bless her life because of all that you’ve poured into her.

  8. I found your site from the punch recipe (which I totally plan to try soon!) and found all of your posts about adoption and RAD. I am a foster mom and have a blog where we share our stories and talk about RAD too. I’d love it if you check it out. Love your blog! I’ll be back for more 🙂

    ~Jess @

  9. This is beautiful! We experienced a failed adoption but our social worker had all of her families take a course regarding RAD. While we weren’t able to bring our little girl home, several other families in our network experienced RAD and I was touched by the amazing support they extended to their children–that was a true demonstration of love. Thanks so much for sharing this week!

  10. This is what I needed this morning. After 20 months with our little guy home, my husband just asked me the other night (just when I thought we were really making progress) if I could choose to do it all over again would I. I said yes. I didn’t even ask him the question, because I knew his answer by the tone is his voice. I know I need to pray for him and not allow it to bother me, but I feel like he should be further along emotionally by now. anyway, thank you.

    1. Thanks, Cindy. God is so good in allowing us to be part of the healing process. One day you and I will meet and we we will talk and encourage one another in this life. You are a very special blessing.

  11. Beautiful!

    Thanks for sharing the good times and the bad. We mamas who are walking through BAD, really need to hear these stories that give us HOPE.

    Rejoicing with you for all that God has done!!!

    By the way . . . beautiful haircut for a beautiful young lady, too.



  12. Yes, indeed. Thank you for the beautiful reminder that underneath the evil that was done to them, the light of hope still shines…and that if we’re diligent and faithful and fearless and we cling with everything we’ve got to hope, the light will eventually grow bright enough to chase away the dark.

  13. Thank you for these words of healing and hope. I am right now in in the thick of

    “Days, months, years of despair and hopelessness. Barely putting one foot in front of the other and clinging to God’s hand with all of my strength, the wounds of adopted children smothering everything in sight.”

    Thank you for so much for sharing!

  14. I LOVE that you get to share these moments with your S. Fruit of your labor, Momma. Miracles from a lavish God. (((hug)))