I had a hundred different very legitimate reasons not to register for Created for Care this time around (despite incredible experiences in 2013 and 2014-A and B). And in the past few weeks I have had a thousand more reasons to give up my spot to someone on the wait list. I'm not sure why it's so hard to commit to this amazing retreat for adoptive moms every year. Taking a few days away at an event like this is self-care, and a very important kind of self-care for introverts like yours truly.
So here I am, chawin' my way through this enormous mountain of emotions and research and revelation that once again this blessed retreat has ushered into my soul. It has been interesting how each of the three years I have attended, God has spoken into a different compartment of my heart and about issues going on with each of our kiddos. Each time it has been just the right message at just the right moment. Manna.
This year, my breakouts included the Enneagram and an Adoption Triad Panel. For my third I opted for a fun little tear-free (this place is an emotional land-mine, man) felt flower crafting session, and I will have you know that I came out of that room with a fun felt flower headband for Pearl, a tiny felt flowery hair clip for Sweet Love, and a pretty little felt flower barrette clip for the Sassafras.
It was all the felt floweryness.
Now, it was TECHNICALLY tear-free but there are, in fact, third-degree burns on my fingertips because that hot glue gun and I got into a bit of a tangle. And the glue was the superhot fancy kind that didn't dry immediately, so when I touched it and jerked my hand away off came hot sticky glue strings, which also melted some epidermis into oblivion. I tried to pull it off, which only made it worse and polluted my pretty felt petals with all that junky hot glue snot. Also, in my haste to get thee away from that satanic hot glue gun, I may have accidentally glued the metal barrette part together on Sassafras's so that it's actually now just a cute flower with a nonfunctional metal stick on the back. And also also, I may have totally mis-folded the petal part of Sweet Love's felt flower, and then I did damage control by just sewing the insides of the edges together. Badly. Aaaand in the spirit of total honesty, I did this weird thing with Pearl Girl's flower and now it sticks up off the band part way too much, so it looks more like a flower head-lamp than the adorable little hair accessory I had envisioned.
It was not my most craft-tastic day. But it was fun.
Now, for one of my for-real serious sessions, first was on the Enneagram. A really complex personality test, the whole purpose of this tool is to reveal your strengths/weaknesses/etc. so that you can know yourself better in order to serve your people well. You take a little test to determine your personality number, which tends to describe the individual pretty closely. If you know you tend to do this thing (insert undesired behavior) when you're stressed, you can recognize it and prevent filling that void by placing unrealistic expectations on your spouse, children, etc. The more you learn about yourself, the more you can avoid projecting your own hot mess onto your people.
I'm a Type 3, apparently, and I'd say the description is mostly accurate. It swerves a bit for me when emphasizing that Threes care a lot about what people think of them, which....is not an accurate description of me. Validation for a job effectively done, yes. But to be eager for people to like me? No. To a fault, unfortunately. And there's an emphasis on competitiveness, which is way off-base. I really couldn't care less what someone else is doing (again, this is a problem), I just want to do MY thing - whatever that currently is - to the best of my ability. Excellence and competitiveness are not the same.
My other "serious" breakout was an Adoption Triad Panel. Moderated by an adult adoptee and counselor, the panel contained three birth mothers and two adoptive moms (one of whom is also an adoptee). You guys, it got REAL in that room, let me just tell you. The conversation was expertly guided and went into some hard places. Birth moms shared how much they love and respect and admire and crave the approval of the adoptive moms, but also kind of hate them because they get to have all the power and the control and the moments and the milestones. They struggle with feeling lonely (outside a maternity home, birth mother culture isn't a thing) coming to terms with the fact that yes, they made an adoption plan for their child and yes, that is a good thing, but dang...it hurts to have to wrap your head around the fact that YOU, the woman with that baby in your belly, cannot be the best and safest place for your child. That's hard, dark stuff. It was such a big moment to listen to these ladies working out their stories today, to come to realizations, to see them spark more questions than answers at some times.
My heart grew three new heroes today watching those birth moms share about their fears and worries and joys and journeys to peace.
The adoptive mothers shared about how it feels like birth moms hold all the cards, that they're the ones with the power and control. They feel like life as an adoptive mom can sometimes feel like you're the half-mom, not ever enough, not ever being wanted. They talked about feeling guilty, almost responsible for taking a child from its birth mother. There was an honest and life-giving discussion about that.
The adoptees talked about how angry they feel that the people who were their first parents didn't stay with them, even when they don't know the reason They have so many unanswered questions, mainly all circling around the word WHY, and this follows them around constantly. It was a good reminder of the heavy burden that adoptees have to bear, and an especially good refresher that adoptive parents have to work toward creating that safe space, welcoming adopted children to talk about their questions, fears, and anxieties regarding birth parents. We can't always give them answers because there ARE no simple answers. We can give them space and encouragement and if we're brave, feel the sting of birth parent loss right along with them.
Heavy, heavy junk.
Between all of this and the power-packed main sessions (Beth Guckenberger again this year, and I just cannot even. That lady is a spectacular fount of Scriptural knowledge and I seriously had to resist the urge to track her down and ask her OT questions all weekend. You will be happy to know the Great Resistance was successful.), I found myself perpetually teary-eyed and just feeling all the feely things. A quick trip through the vendor hall made it better every single time, though. I am still in awe of finding this cool cuff!
Plus also some cutesy things for my girls, "just...not a t-shirt," according to Sassafras.
And The Captain held down the fort, as usual, with complete and utter ease. I don't even have to see his enneagram results to know he's totally a Type 8/4/2, by the way. ;)