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Put on Your Armor, Part 2

Continued from Put on Your Armor, Part 1

Preparation for helping our kids also applies to the spiritual side.

If, during a professional baseball game, the umpire decided to forgo the mask and padding, we’d think he was crazy.

If a policeman waded into a firefight without his bulletproof vest, we’d consider him nuts.

And yes, if someone ran a marathon in stilettos, we’d be amazed at the reckless (yet fabulous) nose-thumbing at potential bodily harm.

But so often, I neglect to prepare my mind and heart and spirit. And the days I forget, separating my child from his behavior becomes difficult.

My child is not my enemy. 

The enemy is the evil that caused the trauma. I need to prepare mentally to make that separation and help my child heal.

I can’t do it alone.

…put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand.

14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place,

15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace.

16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.

17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.

Ephesians 6:13-17

If I prepare my spirit and mind to do what is necessary, I can focus on the true target: helping my children find healing.

I may not win every fight in this battle for my kids.

But if I remember to put on all of my armor, at the end of the war, I’ll still be standing.

Photo credit: Alexxx Malev
*This statue, The Motherland Calls, is in Volgograd, Russia (formerly Stalingrad). I found her while looking for images of a female warrior and before I saw the title, could almost hear her calling, “follow me, and fight. I will fight before you.” I want to be this brave, to have this spirit, to defend, to protect. She is simply amazing.

Put on Your Armor, Part 1

Do you slip into stilettos to run a marathon?

Would you slather on sweet-smelling lotion before slogging through the Everglades?

Have you ever heard of Mt. Everest climbers leaving all the sub-zero gear at base camp?

A little closer to home:

Do you take Monopoly money to the market, leave your gas tank on empty before a road trip, or forget to feed your kids (or your animals…or yourself) for three days?

Of course not. How ridiculous.

Every day, all day long, we plan our day and prepare for those plans.

How is it, then, that we invite children who’ve experienced trauma into our homes with so little preparation?

In a perfect world, a good social worker will thoroughly understand the child’s case and recommend training or reading material for the caregiver weeks ahead of time.

We don’t live there.

We reside in reality, where wonderful social workers are buried in paperwork and policy, or are overburdened by the number of cases they’re assigned. They’d love to provide training and make recommendations but simply have no time.

Or, as was our case, the workers are less than stellar, burned out, close to retirement and just wants to clear their desks with the least possible effort.

The responsibility, then, falls to us.

We must prepare to become experts in order to defend our children.

What excuse do we have for ignoring available information? 

Read. Learn. Recognize. Advocate.



Adoption = Interview with I.

My new friend identifies herself as “I.” This interview gave me chills.

I. is passionate and strong. She’s absolutely captivating. 

If you’re interested in hearing more of her story, post your questions below and I’ll ask if she’s willing to provide Part 2. 

What’s your adoption story?

I was adopted at birth through a now-disbanded adoption agency. My adoption process involved my birthmother coming to the United States from Russia early in her pregnancy. She then resided here for the remainder of her pregnancy and shortly after giving birth. It was therefore a domestic adoption.

My biological family does not reside within the United States, nor do they speak English. My adoptive family is not of the same ethnic origin as me.

How would you describe your relationship with your adoptive parents?

My adoptive parents are quite close, and are very supportive and loving parents. And yet, neither were present for a great deal of my childhood. My adoptive father worked from 11 AM to 3 AM a day on average, a schedule that continues to a slightly lesser extent today. My adoptive mother had very poor hearing when she adopted me, and her hearing continued to worsen until she became completely deaf. Up until she received her cochlear implants a few years ago, she would spend a great deal of time in bed watching close-captioned television to avoid her condition’s corresponding vertigo. Today, I still have difficulty with social interaction and confiding in them, but it is a process.

Do you have any siblings?

I have one sibling, a brother who is 7 years older than me. He is my adoptive parents’ only biological child. We have never gotten along. He is a very aggressive person, and has physically abused me since my childhood. Some instances resulted in my leaving my home to live with relatives or friends for up to a year. Likewise, he sexually abused me for some time, however an attack of that kind has not happened in 8 years.

What did your parents get right?

My parents have tried their best in bringing me up. They put a great deal of effort into our relationship. It’s very nice to know that my parents are there to help me when I need it, and try their best to understand how I feel about my adoption. In my opinion, It would be ideal if people felt more open when talking about adoption. But at least in my situation, it is definitely an unspoken taboo.

If you could change something about what your parents did, what would it be?

One thing that I wish they had done differently was tell me about my adoption sooner than they had. My adoptive mother told me I was adopted when I was 6. She told me because I was complaining that I wanted to be adopted, because my best friend at the time was adopted. As a child, I didn’t really understood what it meant to be adopted and I assumed that I was kidnapped. But it wasn’t just the delivery or the timing. Even now, they tend to slip out information about my biological mother only when it’s convenient for them, and sometimes what one parent says does not agree with what the other says. They don’t seem to understand the weight of what they say with regards to my adoption, and what I term the ‘vast unknown’ of my biological life.

Are you interested in contact with biological family members?

I have been trying to find my birthmother for three years now, but searchers I have hired have had difficulty tracking her down. Nevertheless, I am only aware of my birthmother’s information, and I am not sure even she knew the information of my birthfather. I would like to meet my birthmother’s family.

What are your thoughts on adoption?

My opinion of adoption: It’s a very kind thing for people to do. I see parents who adopt as very loving and strong individuals. Exceptional bravery is involved in the lengthy process of adoption. Likewise, the idea of taking in someone else’s child, potentially from a different culture, with a different language, personality, and different interests is a daunting task – but adoptive parents often do it so beautifully, with only the intention of love and respect. In this way, I think adoption is a very remarkable thing.

However, there are many scenarios where adoption results in distress for the child. Whether it’s the separation from parents, siblings, or a culture – the child can be affected negatively. I would not agree necessarily with separating a child from their country of origin.

But even beyond that, what makes me feel most uneasy about adoption is, in some cases, the assignment of monetary value to a child. That I had some raw sum attached to me freaks me out a bit. My adoption cost a great deal more than most adoptions: 70 thousand dollars. Most adoptions are less than half of that. I understand that a great percentage of that money is for lawyers and transportation, hospital fees and care.

In your situation, the adoption cost was a little different, correct? 

In my case, my mother was compensated (which doesn’t often happen, I don’t think). My adoption agency was compensated. Third party groups were compensated. And that was all predetermined. It makes me question what other factors determined the price. Did my gender determine it? My genetics?

And when did these people sit in a room and say, “yes. This child seems like she’s worth that much.”… or even an extended question, “biological mother, is this percentage of the whole enough for you?” …presumably yes. Or maybe it wasn’t about the money. But that’s just it. It comes back down to the whole ‘causing distress in the child.’ The unknowns, again. It’s like a rabbit hole.

I’m ranting now because I don’t know how I feel.

What advice would you give adoptive parents?

Adoptive parents should be more open about adoption with their adopted children. Most of the time, when we ask questions, we don’t intend to hurt you. Additionally, asking questions doesn’t mean that we’re dissatisfied or angry, that we’re thinking of running away or we’re dreaming of a different universe where such-and-such may have happened. We’re asking questions because we don’t have the answers. But we deserve them.

And just like adoptive parents are brave in the act of adopting children, so adopted children are brave. We ask questions when we’re equally worried that everything we care for might crack under our feet, just because it’s a ‘touchy subject.’ Adopted children deserve the truth. Straight-forward, honest truths. Because in the end, those missing truths, the weirdly-shaped and hard-to-solve puzzle pieces, are the only parts left – the parts that we need to complete ourselves.

 I. is 19 years old. She is currently attending college as an undergraduate in the Northeast.

The Unexpected Result of An Unexpected Choice

In response to a challenge from this guy and this gal regarding this post. (Fiction)

“‘scuse me, dis is not my car.  It tis my son’s car and I cannot open dis.”  I finally get his attention.

These Americans. So busy. I know he can see me try to open stupid little gas cap door.

I muddle accent on purpose. Doesn’t matter. Americans all think they know where we are from by our talk. Other day, this redhead, she said, “So, I bet you are from Czech Republic?” Sure, sure. Why not? No one can ever place my speech, but I move a lot. So. I pick up a lot of the accent.

Soon I will get rid of this rusty bucket. My son says car is jalopy. I think jalopy is pepper. I like rusty bucket better. Once mission is done, I go home.

Busy Americans never want to help or it would be over already. Finally. We have winner. Coming to rescue immigrant grandma. Eblan.

I wrap coat tighter. You think it’s cold here? Try Siberia. Ukraine. Minsk. Moscow. I watch him scan my face for…what? My age? Ha. He will never guess. No one does.

I watch him watching me. He is tall. American food makes tall boys. Tall but not big. He needs potatoes. Stiff Moldovan wind would blow him down, I think.

He looks at driver door. Door? Why would gas cap be in door? I don’t know. He folds into car. Almost in half, I think. Ha, this balvan will hit his head. Well, that’s nothing. Just wait.

Then I notice. His foot, outside car. Tapping. This moodozvon likes my music. This is problem. How can I push button if he likes Nikita K’s Best Party MixTape 2? I think I have to push button. Walk away. Quick. Push button.

But no, he hums. He taps wheel, looking. I can not decide. Push button? Don’t push button? He grins through open window.

“Hey, this unicorn air freshener is great. Where’d you get that? I know a guy who really needs one for his handlebars. D’you remember where you bought it?” He laughs. Handlebars? I sigh. He likes unicorns? How can I push button now?

He finds gas cap lever. Finally. I thought we would stand all day, not pushing button.

He even pumps gas for me. Only a little, I say. Not much money. He nods.

He walks away, back to car with bike rack. Oh. Handlebars. Wait. He didn’t like unicorn. Thinks unicorn is joke. Chort tzdbya beeree! Swine. I should have pushed button.

But. He likes music. Okay. You live today. But tomorrow. Tomorrow is different story.

Vlad say, we have to get noticed. We don’t have to take it. I put detonator back in little box. I drive. I look for next mark. I sing with Sisters, bang on wheel.

Yep. Next time, before I push button, I pull Nikita K’s Best Party MixTape 2 out of car first.
Nikita was good boyfriend. I should keep mix tape. I sing loud.

We’ve got the right to choose and

There ain’t no way we’ll lose it

This is our life, this is our song

We’ll fight the powers that be just

Don’t pick our destiny ’cause

You don’t know us, you don’t belong

We’re not gonna take it

No, we ain’t gonna take it

We’re not gonna take it anymore

p.s. All Russian expletives are, as far as my research took me, mild. If you look them up and they’re really awful…my bad.
p.p.s. you can find LittleLearner’s response to the original post here. I like hers, too. Great characterization.
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