When I Discovered I Was Part of The Problem

Ours isn’t the usual superhero story.

When I brought my daughters home from foster care I anticipated grief, health issues, tantrums (they were both toddlers, after all). But I didn’t think that 7 years later, one would be healthy and well-adjusted while the other seemed to fall apart emotionally and physically in spite of interventions. I never would have imagined that after thousands of hours of time and care, I’d be walking my daughter into a residential treatment center, and walking out without her.Raising special needs kids feels like a job for supermom... but is it?

Even more than the stress and challenges of raising a child unresponsive to intervention, is the realization that my own supermom tendencies made it worse. This fact accosted me in her psychiatrist’s office, when he looked at me – the tearful, discouraged heap across the desk from him – and said:

“This is an unusual situation we have here. Your strengths have prevented everyone from seeing your daughter’s weaknesses.”

I had no words. It knocked the wind right out of me.

We spend our entire special needs parenting lives unswervingly dedicated to advocacy and care for our kids. Countless hours, sleepless nights, careful days, vigilant moments. We read everything we can about their condition. We try everything the therapists and other professionals recommend. We live our lives leaping over tall obstacles in a single bound.

But sometimes, our heroism becomes our child’s biggest hindrance to growth.

I’m beginning to feel it now. The effects of this reality-check. First brutal, stinging, angry. Then grief-filled, aching, broken. The truth breaks the heart in waves of realization.

Am I scared to, for a season, let my girl go after everything we’ve been through? More scared than I can ever remember.

But a strange peace creeps in as I take off the cape and mask and let go of being supermom long enough for my little girl to heal. For her to face and find freedom from her adoption and emotional challenges – all on her own. For the effort I’ve invested to germinate and produce fruit in her life.

It took 7 years, hundreds of hours of specialists, therapy and respite, and 2 hospitalizations in a month’s time for me to notice my cape.

What about you?

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