Overwhelmed. It’s one of my least favorite emotions. The one that really gets me and brings out the parts of me I hate to admit are even there. It reminds me of my still sometimes oh-ye-of-little-faith-ness. It’s the gut-sick feeling that screams, “You are not enough!”
Once again I’m wrestling this faithless liar of shame that seems to personify itself with taunting and causes toxic thoughts to swirl in my head. I know I am not alone as I hear of parents’ struggles.
All parents wrestle with overwhelming thoughts regarding their children at some point, but let’s face it….on a parenting journey with a high-risk adopted child, the needs are huge and we can only do so much. We can build trust. We can empower their bodies and brains to work in a healthier manner. We can correct with connecting strategies. We can seek professionals in areas of learning, attachment, neurochemistry, and sensory processing. For more information on any of these strategies, check out the Trust-Based Relational Intervention® model that was so helpful for us.
But the harsh reality, with trauma and organic brain damage is that we can’t fix everything. God directs our steps and leads us to answers, but it can still feel like there is so much more we need to know, do, or be to help our children heal.
Many parents that we work with are so overwhelmed. They get so much conflicting parenting advice, particularly concerning the severe and confusing maladaptive behavior strategies their children use as a means of survival. The acronyms alone in the special education, therapeutic, and medical fields are enough to make you run hide. Do these labels define our children? No. There is a real boy or a real girl in there who longs to fit into a forever family.
Even as we trust God, the unanswered questions list often outweighs the answers list. The answer is sometimes that we have to wait or we have to accept or we have to grieve significant losses on this journey.
We work hard to teach our children to trust us, and our heavenly Father longs for us to trust Him fully with every aspect of this journey. Commit to just doing the next right thing and trust God with all the rest. Because He is enough!
A new definition pops in my head: Overwhelm– the distance between what I can do and what I can learn to entrust to my Abba Father.
He is the One who can calm me. He is the One who sends an encourager just when I need it most. He sees all the brokenness we so desperately want to be healed. The more I can learn to trust, truly trust at the first hint of overwhelming feelings, the more I can be fully emotionally present to parent in a connected way.
Keep trusting, keep loving, keep up healthy self-care, and keep saying no to those feelings of overwhelm that can consume us.
When my spirit was overwhelmed within me.
You knew my path.
What is it that helps you most when feeling overwhelmed on a tough parenting journey?
By Debra Delulio Jones, M.Ed.
Wife of Alan Jones, Mom of one biological daughter, one adopted son
1 Corinthians 13 Team Member
Parenting Adoptees Can Trust Director