It’s safe to say that families are like fingerprints or snowflakes. Differences can be vast or unapparent at first glance. Because of this, a one-size-fits-all is approach to parenting is not going to be helpful; especially for an adoptive family.
So, these qualities come straight out of my own family context. I’ve ordered them the way I have intentionally. Each one builds on the one before it. Of course, like anyone our good intentions escape us. Like heat through old and weathered windows. We don’t perfectly embody these qualities, by any stretch. But we are growing into them. Success does follow our failures from time to time, so we celebrate that. I hope this list helps to strengthen your bond and remind you what you’re made of.
Love is an obvious first choice. The unconditional kind that does not need to be earned. It is simply given. This kind of love originates with God. The beauty of love is that is it limitless. It can always flow. It’s important to love ourselves as well. Not just our kids.
I love the quote by Robert Brault, “Life becomes easy when you accept the apology you never got.” It’s been said that forgiveness is more for our benefit than the one who has hurt us. It is one of the best ways we can love ourselves through the hurt. Multiple times a day I am wronged or wounded by my son. I know it’s usually not personal and he is just struggling with his ability to cope. But it’s still hard.
But if we don’t make forgiveness a priority in our family than all we’re left with is resentment and disillusionment. Forgiveness is what enables the process of healing to take hold and allow for something new.
We’ve heard about the importance of openness in adoption when it comes to birth families and sharing our child’s age appropriate birth story. But what I’m thinking about when it comes to openness is something a bit different. Openness is being willing to learn from each other. To consider that my way isn’t the only way. Considering creative possibilities when problem solving has been so important for us. It breathes life into difficult situations and can help take some of the pressure off.
Having joy isn’t about pleasant circumstances. It’s about something inside of us that has the power to reach into our circumstances in a positive way. It’s about our ability to create joy by choosing to have fun and finding something to laugh about.
I was talking with a fellow adoptive mom one time and she mentioned how humor made her feel uncomfortable, especially coming from her kids. To her, discipline was a far more important quality. It’s not that I don’t agree that discipline is important. But our family wouldn’t have survived the past eight years without humor. Laughter has been a lifeline through some extremely dark situations.
When we are going through rough times as a family it’s easy to ask, “why?” It’s easy to wish that things or people were different. If I get on that track for too long, it leads to a deep-seated feeling of hopelessness. It doesn’t help me change what I can. It just weighs me down and breeds discontent in everyone around me. We are better as a family when we choose to trust. Trust that God will direct our path, trust that we will be okay whatever happens. Trust in the bonds we share.
I really like the word fortitude. It makes me think of warriors on the front lines draped in heavy armor. I see walls protected by iron gates and unspoken words, “not on my watch.” In the dictionary fortitude means to have courage in pain or adversity. Other words for fortitude are bravery, endurance, resilience, mettle, moral fiber, strength of mind, strength of character, strong-mindedness, backbone, spirit, grit, steadfastness, or more informally, guts.
This is a fantastic list. All things I’d like to be. But I don’t enjoy the process through which they are developed! There are so many times when I wondered if I could go on as a mother. And certainly, as a family we wondered if we would be able to stay together during such overwhelming chaos. But each time we do. We endure. We reach out for help. Our resolve deepens.
Hope is closely related to fortitude. I don’t think there’s any way someone could go through all that and not have even a glimmer of something to hope for.