Being Enough–Authentic and Caring

How well I remember the day that I felt pain in my heart for the adoptive mom who asked through tears, “Why can’t I be enough for my children?” She and her husband had expended for nearly 15 years, sacrificially and lovingly, every effort and resource I could imagine for the well being of their trauma impacted children and yet they seriously struggled with behavioral issues. As parents, they had exhausted their financial resources, emotions, and physical strength and understandably she asked, “Why am I not enough?”

Soon after our conversation I saw an article entitled. “Note to self: I am enough” that was posted on the website: I encouraged this parent in distress, as I do you in this blog, to read this most affirming truth from another “not enough” mom who discovered that she is enough. Interestingly, when we posted the article on our Adoptive Families Coalition Facebook page there were immediately over 300 followers who also viewed the message. Obviously, we had hit a tender place with our followers.

As a foster/adoptive/kinship parent or guardian we want to be everything our children need but what if we discover that we aren’t enough to help heal the damage from the trauma they experienced before arriving in our home? What if we are surprised that our love, safe home environment, and even spiritual influence is not adequate to meet the challenges of the child’s big behaviors. They still break things in anger, scream at the family, refuse to do homework or turn it in, push a sibling down the stairs, run in desperation when that is their mode of reacting to frustration, and a host of other acting out examples nearly as varied as the number of children we foster and adopt.

In my own eagerness to help an adopted grandchild with big issues I keep searching for more truths and tools that will help to make me better at being enough to be of help. I’ve released the expectation to be the healer but I never will give up trying to become a better relational grandparent devoted to give all I can within my capacity in support of his needs. In The Gifts of Imperfection, by Brene Brown, her second chapter “Exploring the Power of Love, Belonging, and Being Enough” stresses, “If we want to fully experience love and belonging, we must believe that we are worthy of love and belonging.” As a parent or guardian, I must believe that I am worthy of love and belonging no matter how the child chosen to live in our home is treating me. Brene goes on to say, “When we can let go of what other people think and own our story, we gain access to our worthiness–the feeling that we are enough just as we are and that we are worthy of love and belonging.”

What is your story and what is your worth to your family? I know it is hard to find time for self reflection but making time to review and appreciate the value of your story might be encouraging to you. Something about your story led you to choose a child, not entering by birth, to care for with love and safety in your home. You are one of our community’s heroes. You are giving your best to your child whether they are there with you for hours, years or permanently. Take heart and take a deep breath of peaceful acknowledgment of a worthy mission happening because of your compassionate heart.

In reality none of us are probably enough in the parenting process so it is advisable where possible to seek out trusted family and friends who will help provide wrap-around support in all kinds of ways for our foster and adoptive families. Professional counselors, support groups in person and online, web based blogs, books, webinars, videos, seminars, and more resources are available in the areas that challenge and create crisis that families face. The wealth of resources available today helps to expand our ability and gives us possibilities to be enough.

We are all imperfect. It’s okay. We want to be enough but being authentic and loving, wholehearted and devoted is possibly the best measure that will give us peace. Believe in your story and love wholeheartedly.

Carol Barger
Adoptive Families Coalition

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