I Used To Be A Good Mom.

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*Editor's Note- This is a guest post by our good friend Lisa Qualls. She is a writer, speaker, mom of 12, and the creator of Thankful Moms, where she writes about motherhood, adoption, faith, and grief. Lisa is a mom by birth and adoption. Along with her husband Russ, their adoption journey has been marked by joy as well as challenges of trauma and attachment. You can visit her blog here, and connect with her on Facebook here.

Sometimes the adoption journey can leave us questioning our ability as parents. But the trials may lead to personal growth that we never thought was possible.

I was pouring a cup of coffee when my friend called. She asked if I had a minute to talk and when I answered, “Yes,” her resolve quickly faded and she began to cry. She told me about a conflict with her newly adopted son. Despite her best intentions, she was convinced she had failed to handle it well.

Then she said these words I thought were mine alone, “I used to be a good mom.”

When Russ and I embarked on our adoption journey, we did it with some sense of confidence. We were experienced parents with seven healthy, and reasonably happy kids. We wanted to serve God and, since we were in the thick of raising children, it made sense to expand our parenting to include children who needed families. Besides, we really loved kids and it brought us joy to consider adding more to our family.

I had been a mother for nineteen years – long enough to have made loads of mistakes, and overcome many obstacles. I was nowhere near being a perfect mother, but I was a good mom and pretty confident that my skills, my desire to live for Jesus, and my heart for children would carry me through any challenges that would come our way.

Before we arrived home from Ethiopia with our new children, we knew that our lives had shifted in a dramatic way and we were in for a struggle. Jesus is merciful, however, and we only saw the very tip of a large iceberg.

As the months passed and we struggled to parent our children, our belief in ourselves as “good parents” began to fade.

We asked ourselves:

  • Should we press on with parenting techniques that have served us well for so many years?
  • In the face of so many challenges, which problems should we focus on first?
  • Is it okay to accept behaviors we’ve never allowed in our home before?
  • Should we read more books on adoption?
  • Should we call somebody?
  • Should we stay quiet and hope that nobody will notice we’re falling apart?
  • What should we do?

We didn’t know the answers, but one thing we did know: we were no longer the parents we used to be and as all of our children struggled, we no longer felt like “good parents” at all.

It’s painful for me to admit, but the struggles I had with one of my children reduced me to a person I did not even recognize.
My heart, which had once been so tender, was quickly hardening as I attempted to hold my family together. I had thoughts that were so foreign to me that I could not even confess them to my husband. I wanted to escape this life we had willingly chosen, which made the guilt even greater.

My identity of being a “good mom” was stripped from me as I struggled simply to get through each hour. The day finally came when we sought professional help for our family and had to trust others to help us find our way. Hope was planted in our hearts and we have not looked back.

We aren’t the women we used to be, but we are the women God is calling us to become.

As we travel the long and winding road of healing, I’ve had to redefine what I believe a “good mom” is. I accept that because I fiercely love all of my children, I must parent them differently.

What I once held as my standard of “good mothering” no longer fits. I grieve these losses, I really do, and I miss the simple days when I thought I knew what it took to be a “good mom.” I now have the privilege of knowing many “good moms” who are being reshaped by their experiences of parenting children from “hard places.”

We aren’t the women we used to be, but we are the women God is calling us to become. He is shaping us through trial and triumph. He is calling us to lay down our lives for the sake of our children and in doing so, I pray that He is making us more like Him.

Have you struggled to believe that you are a good parent? 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.