Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Loving the Hurt Child... Part One

Deep pain amidst great hope 

I read a book this year, "Parenting the Hurt Child," by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky.  I could not put it down.  It was written for my daughter.  I was written for us.  It was written for so many.

I have sometimes shared the heartbreak, challenges, and joys of parenting, loving, and fighting for Abby.  It is the single most thing in my life that has aged me, stretched me, depleted me... and strengthened me.  It is the very single most thing in my life that has driven to and kept me going to the foot of the cross.

As I have been thinking about "Abide" lately and walking with and resting with her... I have come to see that my walk with Abby has been the first thing to pull me away from "Abide".  It should have been the first thing to keep me there.  I think the timing of things God reveals to us is simply fabulous... purposeful... sovereign.

"Parenting the Hurt Child" not only drew an almost identical picture of my child and her struggles, it offered ways to help her... real ways that are effective.  It offered hope.  It offered tools.  I have been begging the Lord for the right tools for years.  My tool box arrived in this little book.  And I am now attempting to use some of them... even though they rub against the grain of my soul sometimes.

You see, parenting a child with deep rooted pain, fear, and insecurity is not like parenting a child without those things.  Some people wonder why we don't just do this... or this... or that.  They see it work on other children.  It worked on their children.

The answer is what works for one... many... does not work for all... especially a wounded child.  In our effort to discipline and love them... so often we reinforce the pain already there... instead of "changing" them or their behavior.

For years my effort has been to get to her heart.  I felt if I could get to her heart, I could get to her... the real her.  But Abby has a high wall around her heart... and she often guards it at any cost.  We have tried so many parenting techniques, reward systems, natural consequences, and even spanking.  Nothing has penetrated that wall if she didn't want it to.

It has exhausted me... caused me to doubt and blame myself... and damaged our relationship.  

One of the things Abby would do for years is act like a baby.  She would crawl into the kitchen while I was cooking and say, "I'm a baby... feed me."  It would make my skin crawl... irritate me... because she was eight... nine... 10... even 11 years old.  My response would be, "No, you are not a baby.  You are a big girl.   You are eight years old.  You are nine years old.  You are 10 years old for crying out loud.  You are 11!  Get up off the floor and act like an eight year old... a nine year old... and 10 year old... 11 year old!"

You see... my response was out of fear and lack of knowledge.  Oh... it saddens me deeply... that lack of knowledge.  And fear... Abby lost all abilities at three years old.  She could not walk... could not talk... could not eat... could not hold her head up.  She was in a vegetative state and often having 30+ seizures a day.  When God so generously restored her, healed her from THAT... I worked so hard to teach her to walk again, to talk again, to dress herself again, and to learn.  This FIGHT instinct became engraved on my spirit and I spurred her forward... always forward.  "You can do it... you can do it... you can do it."

But I was missing something so crucial.  It brings my spirit deep sorrow to know I had it so wrong in my effort to have it so right.

Abby was abandoned on a table in a cafe in Kazakhstan at the approximate age of 9 months.  Then she was taken by the police to a hospital.  A nurse measured her head... took that measurement and gave her the age of nine months.  She was a "foundling."  "Foundling" is a term for abandoned children.  They found her on March 18 and gave her the birth date of July 18.  Breaks my heart we don't have her real birthday.

Abby stayed in that hospital, on her back, alone, barely touched, barely nurtured... for three months.  This is what is done in her birth country so the child can be found if family members come looking for them.  No one came looking.  Think of a baby you know who is nine months old.  Imagine them being left in their car seat on a table... in a cafe... and then taken to a hospital where they lay for three months.  The development stage here for attachment is crucial at nine to twelve months old.

Devastating.  Tragic.  Deeply damaging.  

We have no idea what her life was like before she was abandoned.  But for those three months... her little baby brain, heart, and spirit were broken.  She found out way too early that people leave.  She found out way too early that people would not meet her needs.  She found out way too early that she was all she had.  She had to find a way to survive.  And she did.  Without even knowing it... she started building a tiny little wall... around her tiny little heart.  She would protect herself since no one else would.

She was giving me the "signs" for so long.  And I just didn't see them.  I just didn't know.

But we have had break through.  And I praise the Lord God on high for His mercy... His patience... His faithfulness... and His love.
I know what I have learned is helping us... helping her.  And I know it will be helpful to other parents out there.  I hope you come back... for part two of this beautiful story... as it unfolds.  I am so glad you are here.

More on Abby and her struggle HERE.

Psalm 91~ "He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.  I will say of the LORD, 'He is my refuge and my fortress; My God, in Him I will trust."  

"For He shall give angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.  In their hands they shall bear you up, lest you dash your foot against a stone."
"He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him and honor him.  With long life I will satisfy him, and show him My salvation."


  1. I have that book on my "to read" list. Glad it has been helpful!

  2. Blew me away. Could not believe I had not gotten a hold of it sooner. MUST read for adoptive parents... number 1 on my list... and I have read a LOT of books on adoption!

  3. I needed your post today! Think I will be looking for that book!! I want to write a blog post but have yet to had the courage to do it for fear of man.. fear of the letter writers whoever they may have been and fear that people might think - you knew she was special needs - you asked for this - and YES YES I did ask for this - I even prayed for this and NO I would not change my asking or my praying or even my current situation and YES I am doing it all over again, fear of being misunderstood - well - I think I will write my post and maybe hang on to it - so at least I got it out of my mind!! Thanks for the post friend.

    1. Yeah! Those are some of my favorite words to see here... "I needed your post today!" God is good.

      It saddens me deeply... the attitudes of people towards issues adoptive parents face... like "you asked for it." Mercy. We don't adopt for a simple easy life or ease... we adopt to save a child's life... to love them for the Lord, to shatter a little darkness. We adopt because they sit/lay there and wait for someone to come along and love them. If not us... then who? And MANY of us adopt out of obedience. Can you EVER... in a million years... see someone telling a new mother who just birthed a child with a problem that she asked for it? Glory.

      The truth of it is... not much of anything wonderful is easy. God is glorified to new heights when a child who has BEEN THROUGH THE RINGER is healed through love, grace, and hope. Fight the good fight... for His glory.

      You have a safe place here friend. There is no mother anywhere with a perfect child, parenting the perfect way, and getting the perfect results. Period. You are not alone. Everyone has issues with their kids... adopted or birthed.

      There is no judgement here or condemnation... just encouragement, laughter, some tears, and plenty of truth!

      THANK YOU for sharing. Thank you for taking the time to share your heart. I so look forward to reading your post. Stick around... I think you might be blessed with this series!

  4. Anonymous3:15 PM

    Hurts me to my core to think that any child goes through that, especially Abby. But, it makes me all the more grateful that God sent you to her, and that she has you to love and nurture her now. Thank you for sharing. Can't wait to hear more about her progress. -Jennifer

    1. Thank you Jennifer. Light shines brightest against a darker canvas. God gets MORE glory from a heap of ashes turning to beauty than a garden of roses. I know He is revealing Himself in all of this. It is exciting. And I am humbled to share it with other women, mothers, and daughters.


Thanks for sharing your thoughts!