“I Didn’t Sign Up For This!”

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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The journey started off on a good note, only to come crashing down on you a few months later. When you find yourself whispering, "I didn't sign up for this," where do you go next?

Let me begin this post by first saying, I know. I know, I know, I know, I know and I know! Sister, I’ve been there. Brother, I’ve walked in your shoes. No one told you about the way trauma rears its ugly head. No one told you about the real story behind his bed wetting, or her rage, or his impulsiveness. You jumped into this journey with two passionate feet and a heart to bring light into the darkness of a broken child’s life. And now, you’re exhausted and your kid is holding your entire family hostage.

Believe me, I know. I’ve walked, no, crawled….yeah, mostly crawled, through this same trench you’re in. Lord knows I’ve whispered these words to myself as we’ve had to evacuate our helpless children to an upstairs room while our other child rages and throws blunt objects across the house at them. I’ve looked to the heavens and begged for answers while standing out on my front porch answering a police officer’s questions while neighbors drive past. I’ve wrestled these thoughts in the midnight hour, as I’ve laid awake wondering where we went wrong, or how I could have prevented the secondary trauma my family is experiencing.

Yes, I know. I know the regret you often feel, deep with in you, for choosing adoption. I also know the shame you feel over feeling that regret. I know the grief you go through because the ideal life you dreamed about is slipping through your fingers like snow on a warm day. This child you brought into your home with such love and adoration has pushed every single boundary, and made choices that cause those around you to raise their eyebrows. While you’ve tried to draw them close and love them unconditionally, they continually push you away and pursue relationships that are toxic and superficial.

So you whisper often, “I didn’t sign up for this.” And that has you wondering….is there any hope?

Where Is The Hope?

This journey can often turn out different than you expected. You often find yourself isolated, alone, defeated. We get it. In the past, we’ve even had the church, the one place that’s supposed to accept us for who we are, brokenness and all, turn their backs on us. The nursery director (You know, the one who’s supposed to love babies and have patience with crying) told us they couldn’t handle our son because he cried too much. Cried because he was traumatized. Cried because he was scared. Cried because he had been in 2 foster placements prior to living with us and the trauma went deeper than a cavern.

It leaves you feeling hopeless. And then there’s that thought again…”I didn’t sign up for this.” More hopelessness. More despair. So, where is the hope?

I’ll tell you where. It’s in finding out, you’re not alone. In discovering there are others on this journey who limp the same way you do. There are others with the same wounds, same fears, same voices in their head. I don’t know how, but there’s something oddly hopeful in knowing you’re not alone. Your problems don’t magically wash away, but you somehow find the strength to face another day when you realize there are others.

There’s hope in finding others. But there’s also hope in acceptance.

Signed Up.

I know you didn’t sign up for this. I’ll say it again- I know, I know, I know. Remember- been there, done that, got the t-shirt (or the bill from the psyche ward) to prove it. But, the truth is, you and I are signed up. This is our new normal. Our children have come from trauma so unimaginable and dark that it’s hard to understand it. My child has Alcohol-Related-Neuro-developmental Disorder. It’s permanent brain damage. Nothing will ever change that. He will always need assistance in some fashion. He will always struggle through life. It’s reality. You may struggle to form a genuine bond with your child for a very long. This is the reality my friend. Now, based upon that, we have a choice. We could shake our fists at the heavens and continue to say, “I didn’t sign up for this,” or we could make a choice to move forward, love our children through the trials, work to understand trauma, and live, to the best of our ability, in this new normal.

I can’t go back in time and undo what has been done. I can’t go back and fix my child. I can’t go back and safeguard our family for what was to come. If I could, I would. Honestly, I would. What I can do, however, is love my child for who they are now, and strive to look past behaviors to the heart that beats inside of them. I’ve found that when I stop dwelling on what I wish would have been, and accept what actually is, I find hope quicker.

When I stop dwelling on what I wish would have been, and accept what actually is, I find hope.

I promise, I’m not blowing rainbows and unicorns at you. The reality is, this journey can be extremely hard. And we’ve found ourselves worn out way more than energized, often. We know what hopeless feels like. But we find hope when we connect to others, and when we accept our new normal and choose to move forward. Life was never meant to be perfect. But there’s a special kind of beauty in the imperfection. There’s hope in the new normal. And there’s so many awesome moments on this journey when you open your eyes and heart and look for them.

Have you whispered these words before? You’re not alone. Share your story with us in the comment section below.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.