Adoption bring challenges that are unique. There is much to work through for both the children and the parents. There is much conflict and counseling is a must for families that adopt. We have found that the best kind of counseling for our family is, well, family counseling. One-on-one has been very ineffective with our twins.
Our counselor was creative, and most importantly, shared a very similar worldview and faith to our own. She was great with the kids and us. I am having to write "was" because due to a situation in her life, our counselor had to change jobs and could no longer see us. But, she left us with some great directions...
She brought a 20 x 30 drawing pad to our sessions with plenty of markers. At one session, she asked us as a family to come up with a "Recipe for a Happy Family." We were to write things on the sheet of paper as if it were a large recipe card. We were to include things each of us thought was important for a happy family and how much of it we needed, just like the ingredients and amounts for a recipe.
Right off the bat, our daughter suggested love. However, it must be understood that what our twins think love is can be very different from actual love. Her understanding almost always centers around getting something she wants. If people give her what she wants, then in her mind, she is loved. If they refuse her, they are mean.
So, with the guidance of our counselor, the kids offered up ingredients like "more mommy and daddy time." Before long, we all offered up ingredients and amounts. So our family recipe is as follows:
5 - Honesty
5 - Listening to one another
5 - Trust
5 - Respect
5 - Alone time
More mommy & daddy time
Discipline (both rules and self-control)
Then, along the entire side of the sheet, our son, Michael, wrote X's and O's.
Our daughter kept insisting that we write love as one of the ingredients, and we did, but we were able to share that love was already on the page. Our recipe is a recipe for love.
Looking at our ingredients, I was able to point out that "love is patient. Love is kind." Love respects because "it does envy or boast, is not arrogant or rude." Love listens and practices discipline because "it does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful." Love is honest because "it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with truth." Love is committed because "it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, and endures all things."
Love is not limited to a evanescent flutter of emotion. It is the day-in, day-out commitment to others. It doesn't always feel good. It is the commitment to work through the conflict instead of run away from it.
We have posted this recipe in a very prominent place in our house and have referred to it multiple times during struggles. It keeps parents and children alike accountable to what is best for our family. When I am angry and frustrated, I must remember that patience and kindness are choices, not emotions. I can still show love in spite of my anger. I can still show respect in the midst of my anger. I can still choose to be a listener in my anger, as difficult as that may be, by the grace of Christ I can. In other words, I can choose to love even when I am angry, and that is only possible through Christ, because it is His love.
Try writing your own family recipe. Let it be a recipe for love. True love. God's love.