February 14th, 2007
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Shallow men believe in luck. Strong men believe in cause and effect.
Ralph Waldo Emerson

This is a concept I’ve struggled with mightily in our family. Again, in the adoption of older children, I wasn’t there during many of their formative years, when the odds seemed to be stacked against them, and when they were in survival mode, struggling each day just to get basic necessities, protecting themselves against abuse, living in resignation, with the neglect.

It’s hard enough for the general population to maintain a positive attitude for many reasons, not the least of which would be the resultant sneers from the everyday naysayer, and the joy stealers that seem to surround us. It’s all the more difficult for children like mine.


Like the proverbial Bozo doll, I get knocked down emotionally on a steady basis, yet I spring back twice as often, ready to try again, discarding what didn’t work, and trying to find what will do so, individually for each child of mine.

Overall I take the same ‘positive expectancy’ approach to child raising, yet I have to fine tune it, often daily, to meet each child’s unique needs and reasoning abilities.

Common denominators of parenting include impressing upon each child several universal truths such as personal accountability and responsibility, honesty, goal-setting and natural consequences.

They often come into our family with a ‘victim’ mindset; a deeply held opinion that this can’t be changed, that nothing good will ever happen to them, but now they’ve encountered a mom who deeply believes that good things can, and often do, happen to those who simply believe it can be so.

It takes me decades to demonstrate this to them, and even I noticed years ago, when in my thinking, I switched over to the words ‘decades’ rather than ‘years’, when explaining the adoption versions of trust and improvement.

It’s probably taken me that long, as well, to truly begin to comprehend internally how deeply hurt my children were by their past, both physically and emotionally.

Our family had one of the most stressful years on record, 2006, and this New Year has dawned on us with blessings at every turn. Even I, Pollyanna, have been suspicious on some level, hardly daring to trust this wonderful turn of events, even with my sunny disposition and positive outlook.

A grown daughter remarked, “Welcome to our world, Mom. See why we have trust issues? See how hard it has been for us to understand that a normal family life can be ours? That you really do love us forever?”

That staggered me, as it did allow me a perspective I hadn’t realized before. The understanding of this fear did strengthen me and enlighten me, allowing me to continue parenting them all with my usual enthusiasm and hope for their futures.

Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

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