One week from today, we will be graduating our daughter, S, from high school. I am still in shock over this.
There's a lot to do this week, too. The house needs to be readied for the celebration, we'll be picking up my mom at the airport Thursday, making lists and schedules to be sure it all comes together as well as possible. We definitely don't want to be late to the ceremony!
It's all very challenging. I'm also on a last minute cram to finish up transcripts for her and my, oh my, what will we give her as a graduation gift?!
In the meantime, she's nearly 18 and so she's feeling really freaked out about that. If history reveals anything, it's that when she's freaking out a little bit, she closes herself off from her family and starts making really drastic and impulsive (unwise) choices.
All of this comes from her attachment issues, really, and it reminds me a lot of what I know about her birthmother and the ways she coped with freak-outs. S did live with her till she was seven, so some of that was instilled in her as a coping mechanism at an early age.
Anyway, we are starting to see some of this bubbling up right now. I'm certain it's stemming from her fears about graduating and starting a new phase of life and her fears about being 18 and feeling like then she's completely on her own.
Her father and I continue to reassure her that it's not like we're tossing her on the street on her 18th birthday. We don't want her to do as she's threatened so many times: have her packed bags by the door the night before her birthday. We want her to know that once our daughter, she is forever ours and we will love her into adulthood and marriage and motherhood and grandparenthood -- if we should live so long.
She still has not acquired a job and she keeps contacting random people and setting up possible landing spots for herself once she turns 18 since she has no savings. These places may or may not be good choices for her, but she can be very secretive about them, which makes us distrust them. We advise her about this, but she rebukes our guidance as stupid advice. Typical teen.
Now, I, for one, moved out of my parents' house just after I turned 18. I left on less than good terms and I regret the way I left home. I struggled a lot after that, but by the grace of God, he turned things around for me and now I have a very good relationship with my parents.
I realize, that this may be the only path for S. She may have to leave here and find out in some very hard ways (that I don't want her to have to face alone), the reality of life and the blessing of family. But I still pray that it doesn't come to that.
In the meantime, we are doing our very best to trust the Lord's plan in her life and to know that she will never truly be alone in life. She may turn her back on family and on God himself, but He will never turn His back on our daughter. He will be right there with her. Never far.
For a long time, I questioned our parenting and were we too controlling or restrictive as she claims, but you know, I don't think we were. I believe we've extended abundant grace to her when she's messed up or gone down the wrong path. I believe we were just as "controlling" or "restrictive" as we needed to be for someone like her. For her.
In the end, however she departs our home and everyday care, she will stand. We have raised her into a courageous, bold and problem-solving young woman. We have given her the backing of her faith and knowledge about the one true God. We have prayed over her for nearly ten years. I was praying for her before that -- even before I knew she existed in this world.
She may have many knock-down days ahead of her, but I know she has the ingrained strength to get back up and keep on going. The Enemy will not keep our girl down for long. I will be praying for her forevermore. Whether near or far. I believe in her and I am confident in the way we have raised her. There are days when she reminds me of what I know of her birthmother, but there are a lot more days when I see myself and C in her words and actions. There is good to be found in her taking after all three of us. It made her who she is.
This is not to say we haven't made mistakes or that we are perfect parents. This just means that we have constantly consulted our Lord along the way and I can see the fruit of our obedience to Him. That is all He asks of us, right?
Our children will make their own choices in life and there will be times those choices will crush us as parents beneath the weight of it all. But remembering that our children were never really ours to begin with -- not just because of adoption, but because God created all, God owns all and everything we think we have here in the world is just on loan from our Generous Father -- will help us keep some perspective.
God knows and loves us and He knew from the beginning just how we would parent these children. Yet He allowed us stewardship of them anyway. I know we have let Him down over the years, but like we try to do with S (and all of our children), He extends bountiful grace for us to mess up and find our way back to our feet again and again.
At this point in S's life, that is the most we can do. We are here for her -- near or far -- and she will take our hearts with us wherever she goes.
In the meantime, please pray for these remaining weeks until she wakes up at age 18 and realizes that in a lot of ways, 18 is just another day. She will still have a family who loves her. She will still have a God who loves her more than we could ever imagine. She will always have a home that welcomes her. Pray that whatever comes through her process of freaking out a little bit, we are wise in our handling of the situations and that our younger children only benefit from what they witness. And pray for all of us to stand on our Foundation firmly, through any storm that shall pass our way.