Seeking Grace

When our daughter Grace was a baby, she was diagnosed failure to thrive. Being born prematurely at 33 weeks and exposed to alcohol during pregnancy, had left her body struggling to gain weight. We were not sure of the extent of physical deformities, so she was subjected to many tests.


One test was a barium swallow. For this particular test, Grace could not eat for several hours before hand. She was then strapped to a papoose board to keep her absolutely still. Then a foul tasting formula that had a metallic compound was placed in her bottle. The technicians wanted her to drink so they could x-ray the solution as it passed her esophagus into her stomach. This would allow us to see if there was physical problems with eating.

Well, that was the ideal. This is how it went: Grace freaked out at the sight of all those technicians and doctors. She refused to lay still. She refused to drink. She arched her back and screamed the moment they placed her in the papoose board. They couldn’t strap her in because she was so strong. She continued to refuse to drink. She wouldn’t hold still long enough to x-ray her. My other child, Lia, hearing Grace scream began to scream. I tried to calm Grace, as four of us (technicians, the doctor and me) struggled to hold her down long enough to get an x-ray. Sweating, anxious, and stressed, I was close to tears as well.

As I walked out of the hospital that day, love for Grace’s birth mom was not how I was feeling. Yes, I was grateful she placed Grace with me. However, I was angry. Angry at her for drinking. Angry at her for Grace’s fetal alcohol syndrome. Angry at her for the stress, anxiety and worry she was causing me. Angry at her for the damage she had done to Grace’s body and mind because of alcohol.

Grace EEG testing
I don’t have a picture of the barium swallow test (too crazy of a day) but this is a few years later taking an EEG for possible seizures.  She was kept up until midnight, and woken at 5 am so she would hopefully sleep during the test. Again reality: she didn’t. And she cried the whole time.

This same anger flares during IEP (Individual Education Plan) meetings when test results from a MET (multidisciplinary evaluation team) have come back with low IQ and test results; when it has taken over 3 years of teaching subtraction for Grace to master minus 2’s; when I feel like Grace’s needs are not being met. It is after those meetings that I am angry, because if Grace’s birth mom had chosen not to drink, perhaps none of this would be necessary. Perhaps I would have a neuro-typical daughter, sitting in a typical classroom, reading on grade level.

I know we’re not supposed to talk about this part of adoption: the anger and resentment that comes from choices made by birth moms. It is kept quiet, not talked about because it is difficult to untangle the conflicting emotions.

I love my children’s birth moms. I am grateful because without them, I would not be a mother. However, I also feel anger towards their addiction and how it has affected two of my children.

Resolving these emotions became easier when I realized how strong the addictions had to be for both mothers to not be able to stop during pregnancy. I met both of these women. They loved their children. They made careful choices of where they would place them. I know that if they could have quit during pregnancy, they would have. So my anger is redirected to addictions and it’s hold on them. Addiction is frightening and I am sure they wanted the best for their children. But addiction won this battle.

So I pray. I pray for grace, the kind Christ offers, for them. That he will help them recover from their addictions. I pray for my children, that Christ will make up the difference of what they cannot do. And I pray for grace for me; that I will be forgiven for my anger. That when I fall short (and I do) that Christ, the birth moms, and my children will forgive me. Because I am not perfect either. We named our blog Grace Full Parenting because we all need grace, each one of us.

Grace LaRhonda


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