Raising 6 children is hard. Raising 6 children and 3 of which have been diagnosed with emotional deficiencies is even more challenging.  Now I’m not seeking to have my stay at home Dad ego stroked by telling you yet another of my endless challenges and how my seemingly super human parenting skills have yet conquered another challenging situation. What I’m trying to say is, don’t judge a book by its cover. 

By divine intervention, all 6 of our adopted children look as though they are a direct genetic output of my wife and I. All 6 have blue eyes, a mixture of our hair colors and genuine personalities and interests to match. From birth to the ages they are now most people would never know they were adopted from fostercare and the horrible circumstances that transpired to bring them into our care and finally resulted in our ability to joyfully adopt them all. We just appear to be part of one big natural family. 

From early on I have learned many tricks to navigating public and social situations as to minimize the natural chaos that ensues during our outings. Grocery shopping for example, with two carts, one full of kids (the ones who think Kroger is a playground) and one full of groceries. Early mornings are best. Never ever on Wednesdays, that’s when the cheek pinchers come out. 

There is one place I cannot control. Going to Mass on Sunday mornings. It’s a crap shoot. I never know what I’m going to get. I am here to say that I am absolutely terrified to bring my children to Sunday morning Mass by myself.

Prepping to leave to house is another full post that I can share later, but for now let’s just assume we are sitting quietly in church. Begin the 1 hour countdown. I can fully expect squirming, bits of chatter and some occasional inappropriate laughter. Toys falling on the floor that have been smuggled in because I forgot to do pocket checks before we left the house. It’s all good and I think it’s even expected and tolerated with kids. 

What isn’t probably tolerated is your 8 year old daughter flipping you the bird during a moment of silence for a large portion of the congregation to see in full view. 

I instantly felt like I had been thrown into a hot frying pan. My entire body erupted in sweat and my face was burning with embarrassment. So I did what any person would do in church. I prayed…”Dear Jesus, please help me control all my body parts and help me be still because I just want to tackle her to the floor, Amen.” In my mind I’m picturing myself like a crazed baboon swinging from a vine, swooping down to grab her and carry her off to another part of the jungle. 

Instead I just looked away.

With my mind racing, I began to plot my rebuttal. One thing I have learned in the 8 years my beautiful and loving daughter has been on his earth is that she has absolutely no impulse control at times. This is due to the fact that she was exposed to drug use during the pregnancy of her birth mother. A chemical change in her brain development that resulted in a lack of impulse control and executive functioning deficiencies. 

It’s a hard issue to manage. Especially since I take so much of this issue to heart. It’s taken years for me to realize that it’s not me and to stop blaming myself for these occasional behavioral outbursts. I cannot be held responsible for her actions, but I can be responsible for how I handle my own. 

Moments later, it was time for communion. When we returned to the pew there was a changed look on her face. The anger was gone and the look of remorse took its place. 

She began to cry and I hugged her. 

This little girl who only minutes earlier was waving her middle finger in the air with the other hand on her hip standing tall and proud like the Statue of Liberty, was now a broken and sobbing mess. 

There is one thing about my daughter that is fully intact (all things considered) and that’s her heart. Regardless of what someone may precieve of her tough exterior, she is one of the most sensitive and caring people I know. She was truly sorry for what she had done and extremely embarrassed. Not only to me but to herself. 

I still didn’t have the courage to turn around to see the faces of the parishioners behind me but I know they probably knew something was a little off with my daughter. They saw what I deal with everyday. A roller coaster of emotions that controls her every action. 

The cover of my Daughters book is sometimes tattered. It has messy hair, mismatched socks and sometimes it shouts swear words and gives you the finger.  What really matters are the pages inside. The ones I help her write.  The chapters on loving and forgiveness are the ones I’m most proud of. 

– Dedicated to my favorite 8 years old with skinned up knees, messy hair and a heart of gold.

I love you with all my heart,