Wednesday, May 24, 2017


2014, David and me with all of our children, including Sarah,
after the Lord brought us through years of healing.
Left to Right Back row: Lana, David, me, Sarah,
Front row: Kyle and Robert
Parenting is a bumpy road, especially if your family is blended in some manner through adoption, or divorce and remarriage, or any other number of life stresses.

But when you fail—and believe me—you will fail, the worst thing you can do is wallow in guilt. What your children need, no matter what their age, is that you forgive yourself. With this caveat; learn from your mistakes to become a better parent.

My parenting skills were put to the test when I began to search for my birth-daughter, Sarah, my baby girl I gave up for adoption in 1979. Sarah and I never saw each other again, until 20 years later at our adoption reunion. The intense emotions of the search, during and after the reunion put me as a woman and as a mother through the emotional ringer. I failed my children; my daughter Lana and her two brothers, including my birth-daughter Sarah.
Below is a slightly abridged excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me that focuses on our journey as a family back to wholeness This scene takes place in 1999:

Lana and the boys are so ready to accept this shift in their family orbit. But as much as I love their biological sister, Sarah, if for one minute I thought meeting her would hurt the kids I’ve raised, I’d stop everything. The paradox hits me between the eyes. These are my kids. But Sarah is my firstborn, and the distance between us is creating a constantly widening rift in my soul. Still, as much as I crave a relationship with Sarah, I can’t even meet her if it risks hurting the children who live safely beneath my roof.
Relief shores me up—my kids are reacting positively to the reunion, and the appointment is set. I don’t have to make that awful decision, which is good because I’m not sure how much more shifting of my orbit I can take, or how much longer I can deny my maternal feelings for this daughter I relinquished. I’ve often wondered how God managed to properly love the ninety-nine sheep he left behind to go out searching the hills for that little one that was lost.

Is my love for my “lost sheep” starting to overshadow my love for those safely within my fold?

The excerpt above shows the cracks in my mothering. As I focused much of my attention on my birth-daughter, I didn’t realize that I was laying the foundation for great pain in my daughter Lana’s heart. Years later, Lana would exhibit that sadness in ways that would break my heart as much as losing her sister to adoption had. 

So often, we can pay great attention to a prodigal child, or the child who suffers from severe health issues, or just simply the more needy, demanding child. The quiet—seemingly unruffled child—can be quietly suffering, and we as parents have no idea.

In the following excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me, I realized my failure as a mother:

My fear stretches across the expanse of my desk toward the woman from Student Life as she says, “Lana is in the hospital. She took an overdose of pills last night.”

Boys don’t always notice when Mom isn’t all she should be. Daughters are different, as though they’re looking to their mothers as a rough sketch of what it will mean for them to be women, rejecting and incorporating aspects of us as they grow.

During the search and reunion with Sarah, the boys were too young to notice my struggles for stability, especially since they had a great dad who made up for it all. In the years after the reunion, with good therapy and a renewed focus on God’s Word, I returned to the mom I used to be, even striving to be better.

But off and on during those two or three years of Lana’s impressionable teens, I’d let depression, poor self-esteem, and my own suicidal thoughts filter in to my children’s lives. Lana took emotional refuge at her friends’ houses, friends who often only added to her confusion. No matter how much I’ve changed since then, the damage was done.

Is there a way back from that kind of failure as a parent?
Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes.
In the next excerpt you can read the the beginning of Lana’s and my journey back to wholeness, and the joy that we experience today. Another excerpt from Finding Sarah Finding Me:

Lana looks up and starts to cry as I near her hospital bed. Even from a few feet away I see her tremble. Something deep inside me dies. I have done this to my child. She lifts a hand to wipe her cheek like the little girl she once was, as vulnerable as when I used to hold her hand to cross the road. Vulnerable but alive! It could so easily have been otherwise, but God protected her. We both still breathe, our hearts still pump. Though we’re both bruised as crushed reeds, there is hope. I’ll give my all to see her find joy.
Sitting down beside her bed, squeezing her hand, I weep as I tell her, “I love you. More than life itself.”

She nods, tears streaking her pale and tired face, and whispers, “I know, Mom. I know you love me.
One of my favorite photos of Lana. She and I traveled to Ireland in 2006. One of  the
many things we did to bring us both back to wholeness as mother and daughter.


You will fail as a parent, but there is hope.

·         Admit your failure to yourself and to your children. 

·         But don’t remain there in a wallowing state of sorrow and shame.

·         Pick up your feet, and with God’s help learn from your mistakes and become the parent your child needs, even if they are 3 years old or 30.
Finding Sarah Finding Me is a braided memoir that focuses on the various angles of adoption and parenting when we start out as parents with an extreme sense of loss, such as my own as a birth-mother, that of adoptive parents who felt the loss of infertility, and the myriad of emotions that are part of the whole adoption scenario.

And as in all my books, there is a happy ending. You just have to read the book to find out how we all got there. The reason there is a happy ending to all my books is because I believe in Jesus Christ. He is the answer to all my wants, needs, and prayers.

For more about Finding Sarah Finding Me Click HERE

Wednesday, May 03, 2017

ADOPTION or "NORMAL" ISSUE...That is the Question -- by Adoptive Mom Melissa Corkum

My guest today is Adoptive Mom, and Adoption expert Melissa Corkum.

We have six kids. The first two share DNA with my husband and me. Next we adopted a toddler (younger than both of our first two children) who was born in Korea. Our last three are all from Ethiopia, unrelated, and are older than all of the other kids. That’s the short version. Click here for the longer narrative. I’m not sure about you, but I’m a visual learner, so here’s what I would need to see to understand our family :) October 2012 Between all of the kids we have individuals who have special needs, are neurotypical, from hard places, young and fun, teens, young adults, securely attached, and every combination in between. When it comes to navigating challenges with the kids, it’s easy to get bogged down in analyzing whether the challenge is due to how they joined our family, an age and stage, or some other mitigating factor. Back in 2012, before we traveled for our Ethiopian adoptions, we became parent trainers for Empowered to Connect which is a trust-based parenting paradigm that was designed for children from hard places. It recognizes that kids from hard places have altered brain chemistry that changes the way they process the world. Additionally, it puts your relationship with your child as the priority and provides practical tools for guiding children to a place of nurture, safety, AND respect. It gives them the benefit of the doubt that often they are defiant because they can’t rather than won’t, but does not give them permission to disobey or be sassy. While the parenting principles we learned were specifically designed for kids from hard places, we think that the principles are actually great rules to live by in all relationships. We started seeing people’s actions as communication about their anxiety, stress-level, or relational history. This paradigm shift has actually changed the way we see and relate to everyone around us—not just our kids from hard places. Once we established this foundation for how we view relationships, the distinction between adopted or not, special needs or neurotypical becomes a non-issue. Before we handle any situation with any of our kids, we try to tease out what the underlying emotions and feelings are and plan to respond in a way that supports them and demonstrates that we’re on their team as a family against the situation rather than pitted against each other as parent vs. child. So what does all that mean?!?! Or look like in real life?!?! It means that we see “bad” (I prefer “maladaptive”) behavior as communication. Rather than punishing it and hoping it changes, trust-based parenting challenges you to dig until you understand what is going on at the root of the behavior, problem-solve and create structure to support your child, and compassionately guide your child into a healthier way of communicating. Whenever possible, we try to use humor and playfulness to de-escalate a situation (or prevent it from escalating in the first place). 20130416upsidedown We use the script, “You may repeat and obey or ask for a compromise.” If a child flat out refuses to do something, we just remind them that disrespect isn’t an option but they may use words to ask for a compromise. The key here is to be able to let go of your idea of how something was going to go long enough to entertain a compromise. I found that I was demanding my kids stop what they were doing to do a chore because I was afraid that I would forget if it didn’t happen right then. When we started letting them compromise on when the chore would happen (for example, after their show was over or when they hit a check point in a game) and setting an alarm so we wouldn’t forget, we solved a lot of control battles over chores. When a child is guilty of an act of commission, we try to use the wording, “Tell me the story of what happened when…. Promise to tell me exactly what happened?” This phraseology seems to be less likely to put a kid on the defensive where they are tempted to lie. I often have to say, “What happened before that part?” to get more of the full picture. Then we brainstorm ways to support our kiddo so it doesn’t happen again. Usually it’s a form of more supervision, so they can have more practice making the right decision. Consistent poor decision making in a situation tells you that your child is not ready for that situation…even if the world seems to think he should be. I won’t lie. This was a HUGE paradigm shift for us, and one we’re still battling. However, as counterintuitive as trust-based parenting is against how hubby and I were raised, we’ve seen it work again and again. Additionally, our first neurotypical child is soundly in teen territory, and we can already see how trust-based relationship tools are paying off. WP_20160718_09_54_26_Pro We’d love to connect with you at our blog, or on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. For more practicals on trust-based parenting, check out ᐧ