I’m Not the “Good Mom” I Used to Be

Sometimes the adoption journey can leave us questioning our ability as parents. But the trials may lead to personal growth that we never thought was possible.

I was pouring a cup of coffee when my friend called. She asked if I had a minute to talk and when I answered, “Yes,” her resolve quickly faded and she began to cry. She told me about a conflict with her newly adopted son. Despite her best intentions, she was convinced she had failed to handle it well.

Then she said these words I thought were mine alone, “I used to be a good mom.”

When Russ and I embarked on our adoption journey, we did it with some sense of confidence. We were experienced parents with seven healthy, and reasonably happy kids. We wanted to serve God and, since we were in the thick of raising children, it made sense to expand our parenting to include children who needed families. Besides, we really loved kids and it brought us joy to consider adding more to our family.

I had been a mother for nineteen years – long enough to have made loads of mistakes, and overcome many obstacles. I was nowhere near being a perfect mother, but I was a good mom and pretty confident that my skills, my desire to live for Jesus, and my heart for children would carry me through any challenges that would come our way.

Before we arrived home from Ethiopia with our new children, we knew that our lives had shifted in a dramatic way and we were in for a struggle. Jesus is merciful, however, and we only saw the very tip of a large iceberg.

 As the months passed and we struggled to parent our children, our belief in ourselves as “good parents” began to fade.

We asked ourselves:

  • Should we press on with parenting techniques that have served us well for so many years?
  • In the face of so many challenges, which problems should we focus on first?
  • Is it okay to accept behaviors we’ve never allowed in our home before?
  • Should we read more books on adoption?
  • Should we call somebody?
  • Should we stay quiet and hope that nobody will notice we’re falling apart?
  • What should we do?

We didn’t know the answers, but one thing we did know: we were no longer the parents we used to be and as all of our children struggled, we no longer felt like “good parents” at all.

Lisa Qualls
Lisa Qualls
Lisa Qualls is a writer, speaker, mom of 12, and the creator of Thankful Moms, where she writes about motherhood, adoption, faith, and grief. Lisa is a mom by birth and adoption. Along with her husband Russ, their adoption journey has been marked by joy as well as challenges of trauma and attachment. You can visit her blog here, and connect with her on Facebook here.

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