Today’s guest post was written anonymously, giving the writer the freedom to speak openly about post-adoption struggles shared by many whose children endured trauma in their early years. This writer is a close friend, despite many miles between us. I hope you’ll be blessed by her message, as I have been many times through the ministry of her friendship. I applaud her vulnerability and candor here; it is a tender heart that receives your comments.
This post is, at its core, about hope and love, written onto the pages of our lives by God in heaven.
She hates picking up a book.
It’s dyslexia, they said. I don’t disagree, I said. But…
She can barely sit through a television show. Movies are torture for her.
It’s not reading. It’s story. My daughter hates story.
She’s resisted story—in any form—for all of the five years we’ve known and loved her. I can’t blame her. The story of the first four years of her life, shuffled from foster home to foster home, is no cuddly bedtime yarn.
So when a character runs into trouble, she squirms. When the clouds build, she’s done. Outta here. Catch you later, thank you very much.
There are no happy endings in her experience.
Big bad wolves? Yes. Fire-breathing dragons? Most certainly. And much, much worse. Unnamable fears. Dark, unspeakable truths. Deep down in her grown-up-too-fast soul, there’s no room left for child’s play. It’s all about survival now.
Happily ever after is a cruel myth. Hope is the enemy.
I used to try to coax her through the predictable plot of a Disney classic. Stick with it, I’d urge whenever the witch appeared and my daughter grew restless. Everything turns out okay, honey. Just wait and see—the good guy wins! The princess is saved.
I have to go to the bathroom.
I need a snack.
Fast forward to third grade, and real concern at school about reading comprehension. Amongst other, less academic, concerns.
Really, at this point, connecting to a story has fallen way down on my list of priorities. Getting through the week without a meltdown (hers or mine) feels like a more realistic goal.
A survivor craves closeness, yet sabotages even the slightest hint of it.
Fighting for connection with a damaged soul is not a single battle to be won. It’s a long, slow, tactical war. Backtracking, side-winding, indirect… endlessly complicated. Exhausting.
In that weakened state, despair finds an opening.
It’s been five years… five years. And we’re still dealing with the very same issues, in all their charming age-appropriate incarnations…? Well, *#$@.
Depression. Debilitation. Utter depletion. A few words completely inadequate in describing 2012. The year I lost the thread of our story.
The truth is, I’ve been quietly closing the book. Gently placing it on the shelf… and backing away. Settling into the motions of motherhood. Numbed.
Lower your expectations.
Let her go.
Which is how it came to be that when homework’s “independent reading time” fell to me instead of my husband last night, I downloaded an audio file to my e-reader. I plopped her down on the sofa across from me with a pair of ear buds in, and placed the corresponding physical book in her hand. “Read along with the spoken words. Twenty minutes. Silently.”
I won’t disturb you, so don’t disturb me.
We work best this way, you and me.
The novelty of using an electronic device for homework wore off in two minutes. Her eyes wandered around the room, met mine, and lowered back to the page. Scowling, sullen. Knowing I’d start the timer again if she didn’t at least appear to try. I turned back to my own book, internally shaking my head: yet another failed attempt. Yet another battleground.
Ten minutes passed. And then it happened.
A distracted, pure, unmistakable chuckle.
The same one I give when I’ve picked up the portal that is a book, left this world, and stepped clear into someone else’s story.
I lifted my eyes in disbelief, saw her engrossed in the text… and was stunned at the immediate, unfamiliar hope that flared in me.
What was this? Where did it come from? Certainly not from me. I have nothing left.
These three remain: faith, hope, and love…
I have known authentic faith, crystallized into “the peace that passeth all understanding,” at critical pressure points in my life. And I’ve experienced love, agape love—the First Corinthians kind—within the holy work that is marriage. These are priceless diamonds in my memory; minutes and hours set apart and delivered whole, from Him to me. Impossible to confuse the nature of them—gifts—or to deny their Source.
This hope was like that. The moment was short, tiny… matchstick-in-a-starless-night-sky tiny. And yet, to this numb and weakened heart, huge. Divinely sent, humanly received.
Enough to pick up the thread of our narrative, or at least look for it.
It’s never been about learning to read. I yearn for my daughter to experience the magic in story because story is hope, distilled on the page. Endless variations on a single theme:
Yes, things look bad. The storm is on top of us, bearing down. There is no route other than the one that passes by the dragon’s lair. It will be ugly and scary and vulnerable for several more chapters, at least.
But this Author… He is trustworthy. He delivers, in the end. It should be an incredible story.
Stick with it, honey.
Let’s stick with it.