It’s Mothers’ Week: To Mothers of Unattached Children

We are sisters, you and I.You know who you are.  We have a bond even closer than blood.  And even if I don’t know you well, even if I don’t know you at all, if I knew you in the past, or will meet you sometime in the future…even if I will never again lay eyes on you this side of heaven, our lives are intertwined.  We are sisters.We are mommies.  We are foster moms, biological moms, adoptive moms;  but we are bound together by more than that.  We are bound together by a common thread.  A broken child, or broken children, that we have been called to mother.

We are heart healers, which is so hard to be when we ourselves are broken.  Our hearts are broken, too…often by the same children we are trying to heal.

We’ve been the recipients of abuse, emotional and verbal and physical.  We’ve had to turn the other cheek, put up a brave front, treat others the way they would want to be treated even though they refuse to do the same for us.  We have had to show love–real love, yes, but mostly fake love and somewhere-in-between love–to some of the most unlovable people imaginable, all in the name of healing.

We have the same secrets, sister. We’ve lost our tempers. We’ve parented in anger. We’ve said and done things we regret. We’ve tried, at our most broken, to make our children understand just how unlovable they are. We’ve hated a child.

We have the same fears and the same questions, too. Will I ever love my child for real?  Will I ever look at her without seeing a monster?  What kind of a person will he grow up to be?  Am I making a difference at all?

We are tired. We are weary. Some days, we want to give up altogether, beat ourselves into the ground. And yet we persevere, sometimes because we want to, sometimes because we’ve been asked to, sometimes because there is simply no other choice.

We have good days and bad days. Days that we feel like we can change the world, make a difference, and days when we wish the world would swallow us up. End the turmoil of our lives. We are filled with guilt for the damage we’ve sometimes allowed to fester by not being perfect moms. By being selfish. By being human.

Once upon a time, my sister, you were a girl with a beautiful dream, and so was I. We were going to be mommies. We were going to share a lifetime of love and laughter with bright-eyed, dimpled children that would thrive under our care. We were going to foster or adopt and give a future to a child who had no future. Our hearts were loving, our motives were pure, we just didn’t know then what we know now. We didn’t know that damaged children take more than love and security and structure to heal. More than food on the table and a roof over their heads and clean clothes and new toys and a good education and piano lessons and band aids on skinned knees.

Our damaged children need to be loved perfectly, unconditionally, and completely. No matter what.

And herein lies the problem. We can’t do it, can we?  We’ve tried and we’ve failed time and again. Our kids need the love that only Jesus can give, and we must wake up each day and surrender our mothering to Him. Or fail.

I used to feel entirely alone as a mom. Mothers of normal children simply cannot understand the depths of pain and shame and heartache and anger I have felt. The utter hopelessness. I still feel alone sometimes, but I’ve begun to hear whispers from other places…other mommies that are destitute in their despair, too. I know you are out there, sisters, somewhere under the veil of secrecy and guilt. And I need you to know something.

You are not alone.  I understand exactly how you feel. You don’t even have to tell me, but I will listen if you need me to. I won’t judge you. I won’t hate you for how you feel. I won’t even be surprised. You are not a horrible mother for how a damaged child has changed you. Good days and bad days aside, you are and always have been one of the special, the few. The mommies that haven’t given up on beautiful even though it’s covered in ugliness, even though you sometimes wish you could run the other way.  You have allowed yourself to be put into a place where God can use you to do miracles.  And He will, if you let Him.

Your dreams are still beautiful. You are beautiful, my sister.

Once upon a time, I had a beautiful dream. I wanted to rescue children who had no hope and no dreams of their own. Be their mommy. It hasn’t worked out exactly as I’d planned or expected, but it has brought me here, to the point of surrender. And I’m discovering that this, in and of itself, is far more beautiful than anything I ever dreamed up on my own.

(courtesy of Red Letter Ink, click image to see more)


Lisa Barry

I’m married to a man that makes me laugh so hard that I usually end up in tears. He was saved four years into our marriage, and then we turned our union over to God and His plans. God took our offer and blessed it with four children in two years (two through the foster care system and two through good old-fashioned baby-making), and then (surprise!) gave us another little biological squirt three years later. If you did the math, that’s five children in five years. Did I mention I’m insane? No seriously, God is good. He’s gently leading me down the paths of mothering, partnering with my incredible, Godly husband, dealing personally with impulsive ADHD, homeschooling, and helping our adopted kids overcome Attachment Disorders. I’ve got a long way to go, and most days I wonder how God could possibly love me with the absolute abandon that He does. I’m so thankful. I’m so blessed. I write about my life and my journey to overcome the worst of myself. Feel free to visit, but don’t expect perfection…the only good in me comes from Him.

20 Responses to It’s Mothers’ Week: To Mothers of Unattached Children

  • This is drop-down gorgeous. I’m off to share it with everyone I know….

    • Renee says:

      Thanks for sharing, Shannan. I shall now do the same!

      p.s. I AGREE. This is lovely, and kind, and wonderfully comforting to those who usually feel far too alone. Thank you!

  • AmyE says:

    This was beautifully written … and I relate to so much of it. Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • Jerusha says:

    Thank you. Beautiful.

  • Lisa says:

    Wow! Needed to read this. I don’t feel so alone for the moment. Thanks!

  • ldw says:

    Only missed one mother, birth mother

  • Lori says:

    We are sisters. You are not alone. I want to share with you that He has made something beautiful of all the pain that was endured in our daughter now 12 and doing so well. There is always hope.

    • Lisa Barry says:

      Thank you for sharing! It’s great to hear of the success stories, when so often we hear about the horrors instead. Our daughter is 9 1/2 now, and we have seen great strides this year…mostly since I’ve started homeschooling her. And you are absolutely correct. There is always hope! Blessings.

  • E says:

    I think I will print this and read it every morning before I wake up my kiddos. It is beautiful. It is right. It is true. My feelings are so tempermental and untrusting….but this….I can cling to it as I cling to Him. Thank you.

    • Lisa Barry says:

      I should probably do the same! It’s easy for me to write how I feel and what I know to be true, but so much harder for me to live it. We’re all works in progress, aren’t we? One day at a time, Sweet Jesus…

  • Tami says:

    Thank you! It is always comforting to be reminded I am not alone! Bless you!

  • Kim Rudasill says:

    Thank you so much for sharing this. It is beautiful.
    Mom to 5 blessings adopted from China.

  • Kristin says:

    What a powerful post. You spoke to my heart tonight and it lifts me up to know and remember that there are others who do understand. Thank you so much for the blessing of this post!

  • JF says:

    This articulates so well what I have been experiencing as an adoptive mom and have been fearful to say out loud. Thank you!

  • Denee says:

    I have been this foster mommy and thought that I was alone. The more I read and learn, I know that I am one of many. Thank you for your honesty!! May God be with all of us attachment mom’s. Happy Mother’s Day!!

  • Brenda says:

    Thanks for this. I as so many others needed this. Even more this Mothers day then others as my child has been in a psyic hospital for 3 weeks and will be there for 2 more weeks in another state and we are on the verge of out of home placement.

  • Roxanne says:

    THANK YOU… I say that with tears in my eyes… sometimes I feel like I am frozen in place while the rest of the world is moving forward… hearing this helps. Blessings.

  • jenn says:

    Thank you so much.

  • willIsurvivethis? says:

    thank you for being so honest.. We adopted two older children four years ago, and more often than not, I hate who these children have turned me into. I was a FUN mom to my previous biological kids, but I don’t get a chance to be with these two. We’re just working too hard at surviving a day at a time. I often feel like God brought them to us, and then abandoned us all, but deep down I know that isn’t true, or we wouldn’t have made it this far.

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