Sunday, August 3, 2008

Encouraging Hope while Being Realistic

One of the biggest challenges I face with Daughter is responding to some of her hopes and dreams. One dream she returns to regularly is the dream of adopting a child. When she was younger she bugged me to adopt “another hurt child.” I remember asking her how she would feel when I had to spend time rocking and comforting that hurt child like I had her. She said, “Oh, Mom, I have that all figured out. I’ll sit on your lap and the new child will sit on my lap and you can rock us both!” I didn’t pursue the adoption of a second child. I knew my limitations, and balancing the needs of one hurting child and a congregation full of hurting people is more than enough for me.

Now that she is older, the dream continues, only now she wants to adopt a child. She wants to be a parent. At this point, when I have difficulty imagining her even being able to live independently, there is no hope that she will ever be able to adopt. Yet she is only 21, and I don’t want to take away a dream that is motivating her to do better.

It came up again this week. My response has become routine. “Before you can adopt, you need to be able to be responsible for yourself, have a job that will support you, and be living independently. If you want to adopt you need to begin by showing me you can be responsible.” Each time I go over the list with her, I feel a little guilty. Am I giving her false hope? Am I encouraging an unhealthy fantasy? Should I encourage her to find other dreams?

On the other hand, when I look at how much she has grown in the last year, who am I to say that in 10 or 15 years she might not be living on her own and supporting herself? Who am I to say she is going to live with me on SSI and Medicaid forever?

Several years ago, I gave her a painting of a rainbow. Under the rainbow, it says, “God will never give up on [Daughter].” How can I give up on her? Or worse, how can I let her give up on herself? So every month or so, we have this conversation. The other day she asked me how close I thought she was to being able to move out and live independently. Did I point out that she still doesn’t understand her meds, and still needs my help understanding her diabetes? Did I tell her she needs to be able to wash her own hair, and shower and brush her teeth without my nagging? Did I say that she has to understand money and know how to budget? Did I point out that she still isn’t ready to drive a car? No, in response to her question as to where she was on a scale of 1 to 10, I told her I thought she was about at 6, hoping that wouldn’t sound too discouraging to her. Apparently I got it right, because she was satisfied. “Okay, I have to keep working.”

I hope she will always be working and striving, and I hope that someday I will celebrate with her as she moves into her own place. For now, I’m going to continue to celebrate the little successes along the way.

1 comment:

Jules said...

Sorry for commenting on such an old post but I wanted to let you know that I read this with tears in my eyes. It really touched my heart.