The Young Family Farm »

Masthead header

“Mommy. I love you.”

Yesterday, I had a mommy moment.

I tried to explain it to Rico Suave. I think he got it…but I really think it was a mommy moment…and I’m not sure anyone else would understand unless you are or have been right where we are.

Our youngest has been going through what I call a little power struggle since the day we met for some time now. It starts when he wakes up–and it seems to last until he goes to bed. If it hadn’t been for the insight and teaching I learned through Empowered to Connect, I might have just wanted to put my foot down and show him who rules the roost.

I get emails from parents starting the adoption process who are frustrated as they have started the home study journey and their coordinator has begun sharing with them that they may have to make some changes to their parenting strategies with children who have experience hard changes. Well-meaning parents want to do the SAME thing they have with all of their children without realizing what trauma to even 10 month old does to the brain. Babies, toddlers and older children who have experienced trauma or caregiver change can create a lack of trust and fear of using their voice that presents itself as a power struggle–and personally as a parent–my first reaction is often the wrong one–to stand firm on what I want because I want to show the child I am the parent INSTEAD of stepping back to see what is really happening.

Watch this video by Dr.Purvis on voice…

As an adoptive mommy, I have to step back and really listen to MY CHILD. The world will tell you what you need to do–and unfortunately there are few parenting books that address how to help a child heal rather than how to make him behave, be quiet and sleep through the night. You have to really tune the world out–some times even extended family who don’t get it. I have had the MOST hurtful (truly awful) things said to me by family about our adoption, how I talk about adoption and the choices we make in helping our child heal. The best advice I can give is this: LOVE YOUR CHILD. TUNE THE WORLD OUT–ESPECIALLY CRAZY PEOPLE…FORGIVE THEM AND LOVE THEM (so not be discouraged when you have family say wacky stuff to you–we all have them!)–I have learned that some can’t help that they are crazy or cruel…many of these were the ones who were hurt or experienced their own trauma as children and are still searching for a voice–so they want to make sure you and everyone else hears theirs. Hear their voice and love them…although it can be really hard. AND then…do what you are called to–INSTEAD–LISTEN TO THE LORD. FOLLOW HIM. And LOVE YOUR CHILD OUT OF HIS LOVE tossing all advice and books aside.




Every day is an opportunity for me to give my child voice and to build trust. We still struggle hourly with food issues and trust. EVERY single hour. I often get woken at 3am–now I know it is simple to see if I will come. And I do. Truly, it is so different that what this mommy knew before–and it is good, hard and refining…and eye opening. And more good than the other.

Yesterday, we were having an “almost 3 year old moment” (because 3 has always been harder than 2 in our house)…and it was centered around food having just had snack. I know it shouldn’t have frustrated me–but when it seems it’s every hour of every day…some days it does make me cross eyed. I ran my little bugaboo upstairs to give him some other choices in play rather than food–and to be honest, I wasn’t being authentic or sincere. I felt tired and very fake offering the choices…there wasn’t love in my voice–just fatigue. I laid him down to change his diaper and our eyes met–and he smiled at me…and my heart melted.

I asked him to forgive me for being tired–for being unauthentic–for not always knowing what to do…for not always being the best mommy. Not knowing if he was understanding any thing I was saying–he kept his eyes on mine and smiled. He got up and ran to the door to go play with the other children…and I sat there on his nursery floor with my hands over my eyes asking for strength and wisdom in parenting in a new way that is new territory for this mom. There are still new behaviors I’ve never seen…yet each day…there is more wholeness in my babe’s heart and I see more and more trust and less and less fear.


I looked up to see my babe peaking in the door way. “What is it baby?”

“I love you.”

He said it first.

I’ve said it a MILLION times..and he has smiled. But yesterday…he said it first.

In the last year and a half, I’ve seen some really hard and yucky places in my heart and as a mommy I’ve often struggled quietly with the unexpected and new territory. Yesterday was a reminder for me to continue to trust the Lord in this journey…to love as He loves…and to step back and be creative in seeing things in a new light…to not trust in my own strength or what I have experienced or think I now from parenting in the past–but to be open to learning new ways from those who have gone on this journey before me–and most importantly listening to my child and following the Lord’s lead in how to love him best. The rewards and fruit may take years to come–but when they do come…on their own and with authenticity–how great they are.

“Mommy…I love you.” I pray I never forget that tone…the sweetness…the realness–said from a place of trust and love. Help me Lord to do the right thing each day in my parenting and to love each of my children deeply out of YOUR love and not my own. Amen!

May He guide each of you as you love your children deeply today…


Shelly Roberts - April 17, 2012 - 11:19 am

LOVE this. I so get it. May we ALL trust the Father to help us walk this journey. He is such a faithful teacher. I am so thankful.

beth - April 17, 2012 - 11:27 am

This is so true! I can still remember where I was and what I was doing when my oldest attachment resistant child gave me a real hug. Not a “I need to control the situation” hug…but a real genuine “I’m glad you are my mommy” kind of hug. That 3 seconds of real has carried me through 3 years of difficult. I keep it in my back pocket and meditate on it on a heavy day. Glad you are “treasuring these things in your heart.”

Beth Templeton - April 17, 2012 - 11:27 am

Oh my– what a significant breakthrough! That was one GOOD mommy moment for sure Andrea. The fruit of your constant love being poured out, even when you felt like your weren’t being authentic. But you were being consistent in what was True, and that is something pretty valuable! I can’t tell you how many times we have seen breakthrough after we asked for forgiveness of our children– such a powerful thing. Loved this post!

Elizabeth - April 17, 2012 - 11:30 am

When I tell Eliza “I love you”- she often says, “okay”-
I long for these words to spill out of her mouth and I pray that one day they will. Thanks for constantly encouraging all of us!

Deena - April 17, 2012 - 12:57 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this Andrea! I totally understand the “yucky places” of the heart! It can be so hard to connect when we don’t feel the bond is as strong as we imagined it would be. As adoptive moms, we also feel pressure to be thankful and feel totally blessed by the child we brought home, even when their behavior doesn’t feel like a blessing. Thanks for your honesty. I was at the C4C retreat last month, and my friends and I had a fabulous time. The one thing we wish we could have had, was a session to discuss attachment from the parents’ side. I was thrilled to talk with and hear many women express their challenges with bonding and adjustment at the retreat. By far, this was the most valuable part of the retreat for me. It is so nice to hear that I am not alone in this area! Thanks again for all of your hard work to put on such an awesome conference!

Kari - April 17, 2012 - 1:14 pm

I came to your blog today via SixtyFeet’s Cupcake Kids blog, and I am so happy to have found it! Our family is starting the process to adopt an older child from Uganda and I’ve already had a relative react to the news in the most hurtful way imaginable. The level of vitriol was totally unexpected and completely broke my heart. But after a weekend of processing, I, too, realized the same thing you said here–my job is to follow God’s direction for MY household and love the children He’s led me to love. And that’s it. 🙂 Thank you SO much for the Empowered to Connect link–I had no idea that existed. Blessings to you and your family!

Alison - April 17, 2012 - 1:15 pm

WOW!!! What a precious, God-given moment!

Katie F - April 17, 2012 - 3:09 pm

Brought me to tears. Jesus is so real, so alive, and so actively helping His children even in the hardest of times. May the Lord continue to give you wisdom for each moment. He is faithful!!!

jennifer - April 17, 2012 - 8:28 pm

I so hear what you are saying! Thank you for putting words to it — words that I have found difficult to put together and explain.

Katie - April 17, 2012 - 8:29 pm

Thank you so much for sharing this. So thankful for your example of faithfulness!

Ashley - April 18, 2012 - 11:23 am

How do you speak to a friend who hasn’t adopted, about parenting your adopted child differently?
And when you see a young mother of a newly adopted toddler ignoring all the research and parenting purely by a ‘biblical’ parenting book not taking much note of the child’s adoptive history how do you (if at all?) gently explore with her why parenting THIS precious child is different to her biological child?

Kristin - April 18, 2012 - 2:12 pm

As I sit here with tears streaming down my face I want to thank you once again for your words in this post. To just know someone out there is going through the exact same thing as me and my little 21 month old son is huge. I needed to read this and be reminded of all of these truths. My little guy from day one has wanted his way. It’s only getting worse the older he gets. We adopted him at 9 months. The screaming, the hitting, the tantrums are all too much some days…most days. The food issues…I had no idea this was an issue for others with adoptive toddlers. I’m not a part of a huge adoption community like you are. He wants to eat all the time but only things like crackers. He says “more cracker” probaby a thousand times a day at the top of his lungs. How do I find the balance? I can’t give him crackers all day long. I needed to be refueled today. This post gives me the encourgement I need to carry on throughout this day. Thank you. What a great reminder! What a sweet reminder of just how much God loves us. The words “I love you” are huge! Thanks for sharing….I totally get it!

Traci Collier - April 18, 2012 - 3:00 pm

Thank you for sharing that! I really needed to hear it. We recently adopted two girls from Russia and like you I am struggling with a mysterious health issue that wipes me out. My four children really get the short end of the stick some days. Adding the bazar behaviors that the trauma the girls have experienced….well, somedays I just wonder what God was thinking when he picked me. It is never fun to see the deep, dark pockets of our hearts. Mine have been a real surprise to me. I keep reminding myself that I am being refined by the fire. Sometimes the fire really, really hurts! Thanks for being so transparent. It is such an encouragement to others.