Don’t Leave Me

Do you ever have one those days when you wake up feeling cranky? You can’t really pinpoint the exact reason why, but everything rubs you the wrong way.

I never, rarely ever, occasionally have a day like that, and when I do – you better watch yourself! Especially if you are a member of my family. Doesn’t it seem like we save our worst behavior for the ones we love?

Even as adults, we often have a hard time understanding or expressing our emotions.

Imagine how hard it is for a child. Especially a child who has never had a stable family environment, or a role model for good behavior, or a person to talk to when their emotions overtake them.

Now take that child and move them to a new country, leave behind everything that is familiar, and make them learn a new language.  How well would you expect them to express their emotions?

My heart hurts as I see my children struggle. I wish I could erase all of the pain and help them to see themselves as we see them – treasures.

We have had a delightful time with Leah the past two weeks. The progress she is making is so very encouraging. We have had more good days, more laughter and more hugs. I think the main difference I have seen is her ability to reign herself in when she is upset. Instead of her anger or tears taking over the house and lasting for hours, she has been working on strategies for calming herself and stopping the behavior before it escalates.

And then, last Friday, we had a rough day.

And Saturday – disobedience, hurtful words, early bedtime.

Sunday – eye rolls, crossed arms, big sighs, disrespectful attitude.

Monday – Leah came home from school at 1:00. I asked how her day was and if she wanted a snack.

“Mom, why you always ask me how is my day? Why you care? No one care about me! In Ethiopia, no one ask me how is my day! I no want snack. Everyday you make me eat snack. No one give me snack in Ethiopia! And I no want to talk to ANYONE!”

Okay. Deep breaths. Calm voice. Happy eyes.

I load Leah in the car for her usual Monday afternoon counseling appointment.

On the way, Leah sits with crossed arms, eyes averted. I rub my fingers along her tense arm. I talk to her about how it is so hard to understand our feelings. I talk about how time, and counseling, and prayer, and love will help her heart to heal. I remind her that I am leaving in only a few days to take some classes to help both her and I improve at this journey we are on together.

And that is when I see the tears squeeze out of her eyes and silently roll down her cheeks. And she breaks the silence to ask me, “When you leave? How many days? You no leave while I sleep, Mom. You wake me up and tell me you leave. You need to say goodbye.” We walk into her counselor’s office and I sit in a chair. Instead of sitting in one of the other chairs in the office, Leah slides to the floor next to me and lays her head on my lap.

You know, one of the hardest things about parenting children from hurt places is looking past their behavior and seeing into their heart. Yes, Leah was exhibiting bad behavior in our home since Friday. But, the real problem wasn’t the behavior, it was the WHY. Why was she acting out? Why was she treating me with such anger?

Because on Thursday we told the kids that I am going to be leaving for a 4 day retreat.

What she heard was….

You are leaving me.

Leah told me tonight that she is going to have a bad day every day while I am gone.

What I heard was……

I am attached to you. I feel safe with you. I will miss you.

Seven months of being together leading up to these four days of being apart. She will miss me.


Please pray for Scott as he is a single parent for the next 4 days. He will be juggling all 6 kids, home school, chauffeuring duties, cooking (okay, not really – he will probably order pizza), cleaning (he already asked me if he could hire a maid), and trying to get some of his own work completed in his spare time! He will be doing bedtime and morning time routines and everything in between. He does many of these things on a regular basis, but not ALL of them, and not ALL by himself.

Please pray for the kids while I am gone. Pray that they will not feel any sort of abandonment or fear about me not returning. Pray that they will pitch in and help their daddy. Pray for no fighting between the siblings (or that the fighting would at least be kept to a minimum).

And please pray for me. I have an amazing opportunity to spend 4 days at this conference. Worship, speakers on different adoption issues, special sessions specific to my needs, refreshment for my soul – and, oh yeah, no cooking or cleaning or taking care of anyone else!!!! And, I just want to give some extra credit to my husband here, because he is the one who found this conference and encouraged me to go.

Who knows, when I get home next week maybe all of my gray hair will be gone and my wrinkles will have disappeared. Or, more importantly, maybe my heart will be refreshed and I will be better equipped to mother all six of my beautiful children.



4 thoughts on “Don’t Leave Me

  1. Mom

    Nat, I will be praying the Lord will surprize you in a special way on your retreat AND Scott also!

  2. Tara Bradford

    Hi Natalie!
    My friend Mia sent me this post after our adoptive mom’s group that meets. I have a son from ET who deals with the same issues and states that he’d rather live on the streets in ET than in our home. Oh my the pain of that statement, but yes, just the surface of what is below. I hope you have a great time at the retreat and come back refreshed!
    Prayers and hugs from a comrade in the trenches with you.

  3. Maria Wayman

    Part of what helps kids work through separation anxiety is experiencing that you ALWAYS come back. Babies learn this early on. Leah is having to learn it a bit later in life…but she will learn it. Blessings on you!!

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