at the age of 27 i never would have dreamed that i would have a 13 year old son. i know my family was completely written by God because he allowed me to journal on the exact day that each of my kids were born. when my teenage son was born in a hospital in the southern US i was half way around the world at a boarding school in west africa, a freshman in high school, sitting in geography class with mr. nuss, talking with billy and john about how much i hated that class. that just sounds ridiculous. but it's our story and that makes it totally God!
being an instant mother to a teenager has come with more challenges than i could ever imagine. on one hand he is 13 in physical form but mentally, socially, and emotionally he is much younger. so it's hard to judge when he is having a teenage moment and just needs space or he is having a moment when he needs his mommy. both look the same but require different responses. being in tune with my teenager takes more work than reading my toddler. it also helps that my toddler has attached to me and has learned to trust me to some extent. my teenager and i had a really rough start. it really wasn't until a few months ago that he would finally talk directly to me or have nice things to say to me. there was a time when i assumed that we would never truly have a relationship and he would just live in my house till he graduated. thankfully, God had a different plan and we continue to bond more every day.
i've grieved a lot over my teenager and all that i have missed out in his life. he came to me thinking he knew who he was and didn't need anyone's help. i became (and still sometimes am) the victim of everything that has ever happened to him. but God's grace has been more than sufficient for us both. i've not always given my teenager the grace and mercy he deserves. some days i didn't want to even be in the same room with him. i couldn't stand his behavior and the way he treated me. this is where it is so important to have a loving relationship with your spouse. i think it is because of brian's amazing love for me and fighting for me every day that my boys are learning to love and respect me. i remember one of the first days this summer when we had a really intense moment, my teenager came to see if i was ok and to ask what he could do to help. that was a total 180 degrees from before. it blew my mind. i was so grateful.
adopting kids around those teenage years comes with a lot of baggage and "unteaching". they remember their birth parents and home and everything will always be compared to that. nothing will ever be "home" no matter how bad "home" was or how good the forever family is. only through God's grace and healing will that come. and for teenagers of sibling groups they probably spent most of their life being the "parent" to their siblings. that is a hard role to give up or see others try to fill. for several months after the boys came home i felt like our oldest thought i was an awful parent and did everything wrong. it takes time and lots of love to convey to them that they were doing the best they could and that it was safe to let us parent. they can jump into "survival" mode at a moments notice over the silliest thing. we have a phrase in our house called "in your animal brain". it's when you jump into survival mode and every word or action is based on a life or death situation (even though nothing really happened, no one is being hurt, and nothing is going to happen). it sounds silly but it's real life. they have to come out of that survival mode before any further action can take place, such as having a conversation or something as simple as breathing. some days it is still a big deal for him to be corrected or guided to do anything else. it's all very personal. he has done some things a certain way for so long that he can't imagine their being any other way. at times there is a meltdown and other times he rolls with it.
BUT with all the challenges there have been sweet SWEET moments. it's incredible to have a child who you get to really relate to. my teenager has the gift of service. he knows that is something God gave him and he has always had and that can never be taken away from him. we talk about it all the time. we talk about God's plans for his life and that satan will do everything he can every day to steal, kill, and destroy who God has made him to be. my teenager understands the importance of listening to the voice of Truth over the lies of satani love my teenager and can't imagine my life without him.