Today is the beginning of a new season in our lives – I hope. I’m driving this weekend to Indiana to get our daughter Jamie and her two sons to stay with us for a while. A “hopeful” new season as she has really been struggling with life and this may be a substantial turning point.
Jamie was devastated at the age of 4 when her mother and father separated. She absolutely loved and adored her father. Looking back he was permissive and loving, and Mom, while loving, was depressed and angry. I was 23 and Jamie was 7 when I married her mom, Marie. I adopted Jamie and her younger brother about a year later.
In Jr. High Jamie started acting out. Not excessively, and perhaps normally for that age, I don’t really know. But by the time she was 18 she had run away from home a couple of times, and had also spent a total of a few weeks at a teen safe house in our community (basically a legal way for kids to run away in my mind). She was 7 months pregnant at her high school graduation.
Now Jamie is 29, has a total of three sons ages 10, 5 and 5 months. Each son has a different father and all three fathers are now in prison. There was an additional pregnancy in 2012 which resulted in a second trimester miscarriage.
For most of the last 10 years (and to the present) we have had legal custody of her first son. He lives with us and we have shared with him all the details (appropriate for a 10 year old) about his parents. He knows we are his grandparents but calls us Mom and Dad (like our other kids do). He calls our daughter Mommy.
Jamie has struggled along with her second son for the last 5 years, getting lots of state aid, working for minimum wage, sometimes having her own place to live and sometimes getting help from friends. She spent 6 months in jail herself a couple of years ago because she was with baby daddy #2 (they were in her car) when he was arrested on drug charges.
Now with baby #3, she is struggling a lot more and has asked us if she can come stay with us “for a while.”
What went wrong? Well obviously a lot!
I’m aware of a few things in this:
1) Whatever issues existed that made our relationship with Jamie difficult still exist. I know this is probably true, because we really haven’t identified the specific issues to deal with them.
2) Jamie doesn’t want her life to be this way. No one plans their life, “I think I’ll have babies with three different guys all of whom I think will go to prison after and then I’ll work at McDonalds and sleep on people’s couches.” No one plans this when they are dreaming of life. But there is disconnect between planning and decision making for Jamie that isn’t working out.
3) All the hope and prayer in the world on my part can’t change another person’s desire to make changes.
4) My role is to love Jamie and her son’s unconditionally and at the same time to offer sound guidance and direction.
5) I also must take responsibility to step in and lead my family when I see breakdown occurring. This is particularly referring to interactions between Jamie and Marie because of their seeming inability to have ongoing civil dialogue with each other.
I hope Jamie will stay more than the month originally planned (I think it’s sort of a trial in her mind) and take some classes and let us love her, and offer some stability to her family.
I hope this will be a season where she will begin to THRIVE and not just survive.
I am cautiously optimistic, I am hopeful, and I am praying.