By Jill Crewes, Family Support Services Senior Director
As an adoptive mom, I stand bolstered by the mantra that I am “strong enough”:
Strong enough to meet my children’s daily needs;
Strong enough to know what questions to ask and to whom;
Strong enough to teach my children the life skills and tools they need to navigate this world;
Strong enough to nurture strong connections and healthy, secure attachment for my children;
Strong enough to help my son understand, process, and heal from the trauma he has endured;
Strong enough to create an environment that will meet my children’s challenging sensory needs;
Strong enough to advocate tirelessly on my children’s behalves for the educational, social, behavioral, and emotional support they need at school;
Strong enough to help my son heal from the deep sense of abandonment he feels; Strong enough to constantly secure the therapies, services, supports, and resources my family needs;
Strong enough to empower my son to navigate a world filled with challenges he will face because his skin is brown;
Strong enough to weather the many passing storms that bring big behaviors, intense emotions, and judgement from others;
Strong enough to allow myself to be human and make mistakes, big and small, and hopefully learn from them;
Strong enough to mirror back to my children how incredibly precious and amazing they are, even when I am struggling;
Strong enough to take care of myself;
While this mantra of strength has carried me through many challenges, sometimes I am not actually strong enough on my own. This is when I must be strong enough to ask for help.
As adoptive parents, we often place high expectations on ourselves to be able to do it all on our own, despite the fact that we are embarking on a journey to walk into our children’s (and sometimes our own) trauma, and all of the challenges that come with it, in order to help them heal. We tell ourselves, “I was given this responsibility because they said I was prepared” or “because I am able to meet this child’s needs in a way that his or her biological parents could not.” That does not mean that we don’t all need support along the way.
Aspen trees are one of nature’s symbols of resilience: groves of interconnected trees, sharing a complex root system. Their leaves quake, bend and twist providing protection from severe winds, reducing stress, and aiding in each tree’s growth by allowing sunlight to shine on the lower leaves. The grove’s interconnected root system supports each tree, passing along water and nutrients to ailing trees insuring that all will flourish.
Like the Aspen, our own movement helps us grow. We move to encourage the sunlight to shine on us all. We promote connection, knowing that as a whole, we can better handle the challenges we face. Our roots are deep and can withstand a great deal. We are all a part of something much larger than our individual efforts, investments, and goals. We share a common passion to provide safety, permanency, and wellbeing for the children in our “grove,” and through our root system, we support their resiliency and our own. Just as the Aspen trees support one another to aid growth and pass along nutrients to ailing trees, so must we.
The Adoption Exchange offers a wide array of family support services to nurture each family’s adoptive journey. We are strong enough to ask for help, and we are strong enough to know that it is okay to need it. We hope that you will reach out to us!