‘I spent all day making this happen for him. But instead of excitement and joy, there was panic, anger, regret, sorrow, and rejection.’: Mom works through the trauma of adoption

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“I love adoption!

And while I celebrate adoption all the time, there’s a part of me that sometimes gets heavy.

I get heavy when I try to carry part of B’s story that isn’t mine to carry.

I’ve tried over the years to carry it for him, but I’ve realized I can’t.

I can sit with him in his story and love him through messy moments, but carry?

Carry out?

Carry him through?

Only One can do that.

I’m not the Savior.

‘Listen to me…You never had to carry me, but I have carried you from birth. I supported you from the moment you left the womb. Even as you grow old and your hair turns gray, I’ll keep carrying you! I am your Maker and your Caregiver. I will carry you and be your Savior.” Isaiah 46:3-4 TPT

Tuesday was heavy.

Big brother moved out recently and the family talked about what would become of his room at dinner one night.

I gave my middle brother the first choice since he’s the senior.

He wanted to keep his current room, so B got to choose to stay in his room or upgrade.

He jumped at the chance to have big bro’s room!

I spent my entire Tuesday making this happen for him.

Disassembling the bed, reassembling.

Closet stuff moved over.

Shelves are rearranged and organized.

The bathroom switched out.

Pictures hung.

Air Jordan’s featured, clock reset, and pillows are stacked perfectly for maximum comfort.

When he got home from school he came upstairs and even though I had hoped and prayed for excitement and joy, there was panic, anger, regret, sorrow, and rejection.

I’ve been on this journey long enough to know not to take this behavior personally, it’s always, always about something deeper, transitions are super hard, and he needs compassion and processing time-not lecture and punishment.

The rest of the night was hard.


He wanted everything moved back to where it was.

He regretted wanting the room.

He couldn’t see the better view from the window and didn’t want his own bathroom.

He only stepped foot in the room to move his toiletries back to the other shared bathroom.

There were things spoken that he felt but didn’t mean.

Frustration became contagious, and I could feel my compassion muscle trembling.

I wanted to carry this for him…but I couldn’t.

It’s too heavy for me to lift.

There’s only One who does this kind of lifting.

I knew that moving his bedroom was a risk to my ‘parent of the year’ title, but I needed to test the waters of the ‘handling change’ part of his brain.


I’m not too proud to say I need more compassion in the midst of big, loud behavior.

He went to bed anxious and angry.

I went to bed disappointed and sad.

And God meets me where I am.

He so gently held my heart and whispered strength to my soul.

He carried me.

I know that there is no need for November’s adoption awareness month to B.

There’s adoption awareness in his DNA.

His body remembers, no matter how much time passes or how much love pours in…that he moved rooms.

Moved wombs.

His comfort, his view, his safety, temperature control, noises, smells, pillows, and blankets transitioned from his first mom to me.

He went through the biggest transition of his life the very day he was born.

And somewhere inside, he remembers.

Most call this trauma.

Have I prayed over this?

One hundred million times.

Have I given him therapies and connection and attachment and supplements and appointments and love and grace and strategies?

Yes, and will eagerly continue to.

Moving rooms was a huge change and a huge trigger.

But let me tell you the best adoption awareness part.

When I went to wake B the next morning, he was facing away from me, because Molly (his puppy) is the only one who loves morning breath, and he reached his hand underneath his body to find mine.

We held hands for a minute and then he inched over and laid his head on me.

As he woke up more and began to sit up, with his hand squeezing mine, he said, ‘Thank you, Mommy. I love you. You’re a keeper.’

And he hasn’t said another word about moving rooms.

God came and did the heavy lifting while we both slept.

Morning mercy.

He carried us.

And that’s how you heal trauma.

In relationship.

With love.

Moment by moment.

Day after day.

I’m so glad adoption is forever and that I get another chance at compassion tomorrow.

Because I need to rearrange the living room to make room for the Christmas tree.”

adoptive parents with their new son
Courtesy of Kierstan Fessler

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Kierstan Fessler. You can follow her journey on Facebook and Instagram. Submit your own story here and be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read more stories about foster care and adoption:

‘He was named ‘Baby Boy’ since his mother left just hours after birth. Could they have the same mother? Something was different about this one.’: Mom ‘miraculously’ adopts children with same birth mother

‘A baby was born yesterday. He may have been exposed to meth.’ There was no doubt in our minds. We turned around and ran to our baby.’: Couple shares adoption journey, ‘We’re meant to be’

‘I was scared. I certainly didn’t want to steal anyone’s baby.’: Mom’s eyes opened to complications on road to transracial open adoption

‘Get those kids out of here!’ They began chest compressions. The pictures showed a happy family. Would I ever have that?’: Foster youth becomes adoptive mom after ‘aging out’

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