this IS what I signed up for (autism, adoption, and all of the above)

this IS what I signed up forLast week I shared what fun has been going on here. After sharing this with a friend, she said, “It’s not what you signed up for is it?” (A little background if you haven’t been around for long: Justin and I adopted two children from foster care, Payton is seven, and Jeremiah has non-verbal autism and is five. You can read more about Our Story.)

My friends words broke my heart, and shocked me. The strange thing is I share both the positive and negative with her, and before the last few weeks, Jeremiah and Payton had been doing really well, and most of my complaints center around how much pain I’m in, or how our family isn’t getting support.

What she said was also a reflection of how she feels about her life. Life has disappointed her, and she feels it’s not what she signed up for, but it’s not how I feel. I think she feels that if she isn’t happy with her life, which doesn’t have near the complications mine does (and that’s okay), I couldn’t possibly be happy or satisfied with mine.

However, I do love my life. Yeah there are hard times, but that’s a given with what our family is made of.

So, this IS what I signed up for. I signed up to be a parent. 

I didn’t sign up for the expected, I signed up for the unexpected. Especially when I adopted two children from foster care. But frankly, most of the time life doesn’t go exactly as expected, and if it does, it’s probably fairly boring. Ha, when I hear people complain that their life is boring, I want to yell, “Come visit me! I’ll help you out with your boredom!”
No, not every day is sunshine and snowflakes
I signed up for love, and I got it a million-fold.
Jeremiah was crying last night when Justin put him to bed. He would cry a little and stop, cry a little more. This is odd, he usually stays in his room and plays until he falls asleep, so Justin offered him some crackers and water (that’s normally the only reason Jeremiah cries at bedtime – he needs something else), but he wanted neither. He wanted to watch a movie. Odd.

I asked Jeremiah what he wanted, he went to the movie again and picked it up, I sat it down and told him, “No movie, it’s bedtime.” He cried again. I laid down with him on his bed and held him, but he kept circling in and out of crying. I asked, “Did you have a bad dream last night?” It was the only reason I could think of for him to not want to go to bed. He stopped crying and looked me in the eyes. This is sometimes his way of saying, “Yes.” I responded, “I’m so sorry you had a bad dream or nightmare. I’m here and Daddy’s here, you’re safe.” He wiped his darling eyes and began to drift off into sleep.

I’m so glad I was there for him, even though it might not be what I planned on doing for those twenty-five minutes (I had laundry, and watering to do). Love, I do it because of love, and I loved those moments we had together, when he knew I would keep him safe, I would push away those horrible, scary feelings, the connection when I understood what could not be spoken. 

I signed up for a child who could have a mega-ton more problems than he does. Frankly, we’re lucky he only has autism, it’s nothing compared to what it could’ve been.

I signed up for learning a whole new rulebook on life. 

I signed up for the unexpected challenges that have changed me forever, and hopefully have made me a better person. 

I signed up for really seeing humanity, viewing those people who are different in a whole new way.

So, yeah this IS what I signed up for.

No, not every day is full of sunshine and snowflakes, but without bad days, we wouldn’t appreciate the good. Without hard ones, we wouldn’t appreciate the easy ones (or the laughs). Without struggle, we wouldn’t know the gift of love when it arrives. I wouldn’t know what I do about humanity if it weren’t for what I chose. I chose two kids, I chose what I couldn’t see, but now my eyes have been opened. I choose autism.

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what do you do with expectations?

what do you do with expectationsYou can listen to a recording of this post – just scroll to the end. 🙂

I’m surrounded by people who think they are living their life right. Though I have to admit, I felt the same way before I entered the world of foster care, adoption, Autism, disorders, and my disease. I thought I had it together, thought I knew how to live life, thought I knew how to raise a child. I was wrong.

Do you feel judged for the way you’re living your life? Do others make suggestions, do they offer you alternatives? When you foster or adopt, so many of life’s regular routines and expectations get thrown out. You realize they don’t work. You live life, and for you, it might be wonderful, but that’s not how others see it.

It’s like you live in a fish bowl with all you can handle and others are plunking little stones into your precious habitat, and you have to heave each one up and out over the side. Those stones (expectations) are heavy, they give you more emotional work than you can carry.

It’s super easy to say, “Ignore them, it’s your life, do what you have to.” But what if it’s family? What if that family doesn’t live across the country?

I have a chronic illness, a rare disease, and no matter how much it’s explained (with physical evidence even), it’s never understood. I don’t clean my house enough, my husband does much of the cooking, and in the yard, there are weeds where there isn’t grass.

It should be enough that we adopted from foster care and have dealt with multiple disorders and diagnoses. It should be enough that our son has nonverbal Autism and needs a lot of supports. People should understand that my husband is self-employed, and built his business from scratch. These aren’t enough reasons to not have the perfect life.

But, the fact is, I don’t WANT what looks like a perfect life. I don’t need to live life like everyone else around me. See, I have riches they can’t even grasp.

I have found this hidden treasure, called my family. They are so much more important things than being able to say I bagged twelve loads of grass, or mop my floor daily.

I have to take care of myself so I can be the best mom I can be (and yes, sometimes I fail). People don’t see how great my son is doing, the progress he’s made – well they see it, but then their expectations for him and I rise. If they would take time, they would also see how much Payton has changed since we brought her into our home. Strangers can acknowledge it, but not those closest to us – or if they do, they don’t say anything.

It’s so hard being judged. I would love to throw it aside and accept who I am and what I do. But, I still find myself looking for others approval, or at least their acceptance of my life. It’s something I need to work on, but I have a feeling I’m not alone. Especially when I know others are struggling with their foster or adopted children, or living with Autism. People don’t understand why you can’t join them for dinner in their home, they want you to be available, they want your children to be perfect. Expectations.

So, we set our own expectations for our family. We do what works for us. We do it that way because we know it’s what we can maintain. I sleep in because I have a disease that wears me out intensely. I don’t take the kids grocery shopping because I’m blessed with a husband who does it for me (with the kids). He gets it. We do this because it works. The world may disagree, but it’s what allows me to be me, and it’s the best outcome for our family.

What about you? Do you feel judged by others? How do you deal with it?

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my child’s an individual (Autism/special needs)


This post was inspired by Musings of an Aspie’s post, I Am Not Temple Grandin. Please check out her post, it’s well worth the read.


When someone finds out your child has Autism, do they drop famous names such as, Albert Einstein, Bill Gates, or Temple Grandin, or do they reference the movie Rain Man? Maybe it’s better they relate your Autism experience to these examples than just stare at you, because that’s the reaction I receive the most when I mention my son has Autism.

I’ve also heard references to the above famous names when I tell others about my son having Autism. I’ve also been given blanket statements like, “People with Autism are SO smart.” Yes, they are, but intelligence looks different for every person on the spectrum.

My son is nonverbal, we see glimpses of his intelligence at times, but in other ways life is difficult because he doesn’t understand our world. We have to live in his, which has taught me so much, and try to bring him into ours continually so he can function in life.

I love the post I Am Not Temple Grandin by Musings of an Aspie, she so eloquently describes the diversity in people with Autism, addressing marriage, jobs, and personalities.


People on the spectrum are just that, people.

They are unique individuals just like everyone else. Problem is everyone else wants to put them in a box. If they’re high functioning or have Aspergers, they’re like those famous people I mentioned earlier, and expectations are placed on them, as if they presume they’re a savant. If someone is low functioning, people want to associate them with someone, albeit non-famous, who is lower functioning.

I don’t think it’s so bad for people to make associations in Autism, but they need to be careful to not place those expectations on others. Also, mentioning the Autistic Greats to parents may make them feel discouraged. We don’t need to be reminded of the awesome geniuses related to the Autism name (we already know all about them – I think Temple has some great insight), we need to be able to focus on our child’s individual greatness. 

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your likes DON’T = their likes (adoption/foster)

your likes

Do you have expectations that your child will have similar likes as you, or they will be interested in the same hobbies? It’s natural for a parent to want their child to have these ideals, yet it doesn’t always work that way does it?


When parents have biological kids, they sometimes expect that their child will have the same interests they do. A mom who runs will expect her child to go with her, a dad who likes star-gazing will assume his son will climb mountains and gaze through telescopes. When it comes to adoption, some parents take genetic comparisons out of the picture, but expectations still exist that a child should be interested in the same hobbies as the parent.

Parents can also assume that a girl should like Barbies, playing house, and making memory books, and boys should like playing basketball, watching football, and driving remote control cars. Times are changing, but it still happens.

If a child is adopted as an infant, a parent might think the child will adapt to their likes. If a child is adopted or fostered at an older age, and has been in the home for a few years, the parents may expect the child to alter their interests so they match the parents’. This can happen, but…

we all have our individual preferences for activities and hobbies. 

We can argue whether this all comes down to nature versus nurture, but I definitely think both play a part, as well as a persons own predispositions based on their opinions. For example, I love writing, but I don’t come from a family of authors, nor did my parents try to instill in me a literary upbringing.

I’ve seen immense division enter parent/child relationships when the child doesn’t enjoy the same pursuits as the mother or father.

This can happen in biological relationships, but obviously since you’re here, I’m focusing on the adoption and fostering connection.

When attachment issues are already in play, even more division happens between child and parent when hobbies aren’t enjoyed together, when free time is wrought with animosity. Parents become bitter because they feel the child is acting against them in not wanting to spend time engaging in their activities. Children become resentful because they feel their interests aren’t important to their mom or dad.

We need to appreciate and support our child’s interests.

When we accept a persons interests and likes, we are in essence, bondadjustingaccepting who they are, and they feel loved. If your daughter likes to mountain bike on a dirt course, take her, and focus on the fact that she is involved in something and it makes her happy. If your son likes to play the piano, give him time to practice, and don’t badger him about not playing baseball.

It’s okay to encourage your child to be involved in activities they don’t love, such as the child or teen going on a bike ride with the family even though she doesn’t like to. This teaches the child that the world is not ALL about them, how to be a good friend, and it may expand their interests, (and might get them to MOVE). Yet, there needs to be a give and take, where the parent does something with the child that they may not enjoy. Such as a mother playing catch in the backyard with her son.

Bonding means adjusting, and we need to adjust our parenting expectations to what is reality, and reality is that we’re all different.

Have you held any expectations about what your child’s favored activities and hobbies? What can you do to make your child’s interests more of a priority? My wish is that you would be able to enjoy your time with your kids.
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