Lies and the Truth: Part One

September 16th, 2015


LIE:  What we gave Tommy was pitiful, insufficient to meet his enormous needs.  Our best wasn’t good enough.

TRUTH:  The neglect Tommy suffered for so long was not due to a lack of a big house with impressive decor, trendy new clothes and cars, or the latest kid stuff.  We gave Tommy what he needed most and had never been given–love, nurturance, acceptance, and belonging by his own daddy and mama and many siblings whom he loved.  

Our family gave Tommy’s needs top priority and they were met more than adequately at great cost to ourselves.


LIE:  We didn’t love Tommy enough.

TRUTH:  We sacrificed immensely due to our love for him.  We gave and gave and gave and didn’t give up in spite of enormous challenges.  He learned to know what home meant, and he loved coming home and being home.  

He knew he belonged to us and that we loved him, and this love and belonging gave him joy.


LIE:  If Tommy wasn’t happy 24/7, and if all my other children and husband weren’t happy 24/7, I was responsible; it meant I was failing at my job.  I had better be able to present our entire family and lifestyle to the public in perfect order, looking socially acceptable to every strata of society, and of course with beaming smiles on all our faces (and possibly bubbles and rainbows about our heads) at all times so outsiders wouldn’t draw the conclusion that we were failing as adoptive parents.

TRUTH:  Having an adopted child feel happy and look cute 24/7 is not what makes adoption successful or worthwhile.  It’s an unrealistic and unjust burden to put on any human being to expect him or her to feel happy and look cute 24/7, or to make someone responsible to make others feel happy and look cute 24/7.    


LIE:  God took Tommy because He decided we weren’t taking good enough care of him.  We should have been able to do more than we did for him.

TRUTH:  God knew exactly what we would be able to give Tommy, and He wanted him to be with us.  Tommy was loved more than he had ever experienced or could imagine.  He loved being with people more than anything else, and was given his own family full of people.

Because we loved Tommy, his world grew so much bigger.  He grew bigger, stronger, more mature, and more capable.  He got to be proud of himself for mastering new skills.  Coming into our family meant that he was cared for by those who were fully committed to him for life.  We made sure that he was only surrounded by those who valued him as a person.  

He got to experience as much of normal family life as he could tolerate.  He got to live in his own family with a unique family culture that suited his needs.  

In the thirteen and a half months he was with us, he got lots of hugs and kisses.  He got to have a birthday with his own grandpa and grandma, balloons, candles, singing, a special dessert, and presents, celebrate other holidays in special ways, watch little fireworks at home and big fireworks at the ballgame, play in the sprinkler and sandbox and ride on the teeter-totter, get rocked to sleep by his own mom, be a barefoot little boy outdoors in the grass and dirt with his brothers, have an affectionate and accepting baby brother to play alongside him, be bowled over, wagged at and licked by a pet dog he adored, go on walks in the country and meet different kinds of farm animals, go to the playground, pool, and creek, sleep in a big boy bed with a pillow, surrounded by the brothers who were the light of his life, be at a family campfire, go on picnics, go on vacation to a cabin in the mountains with his own family, play in the autumn leaves, go to the zoo and aquarium, ride a school bus and go to school, receive the very best medical care and therapy, travel and meet lots of special people.  

We did our utmost to give him many special experiences, in spite of tremendous obstacles at every turn.  Doing more than we did with him might have been stressful for Tommy.  Doing more than we did was impossible due to unforeseen circumstances which were outside our control.  They weren’t outside God’s control, which means He chose every one of those specific circumstances.  

God’s plans can be very different from our ideal.





Coming up–Lies and the Truth: Part Two


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20 Responses to “Lies and the Truth: Part One”

  1. Melissa says:

    I know that the whole point of these posts is to let us know what was happening in YOUR head, but on this side of things, one would never, ever have thought that your family was anything but extremely loving, giving, and trying your very best to help Tommy heal, learn, and grow in his new home. Every word just breathed love.

  2. Anon says:

    Though this is part of your therapy, please know that all you and the family did for Tommy and all the love, support, nutrition and even the clean up necessary through the bouts of diarrhea was visible even before you enumerated them.

    The blunt truth is so many people, even Christians and even those who adopt would not have chosen to adopt Tommy because of his age or diagnoses. But you and your family did. You were also prepared. You may have perhaps gone into it with no knowledge prior to Katie, but with Tommy you had more than an idea than most through actual experience because of Katie. Yet you chose him, especially with a large family and pregnant.

    Few would have blamed you if you had walked away when you first became pregnant with Ben. Fewer still would have blamed you had decided to disrupt because it was apparent you and your family were drowning, yet you never gave up. You taught me so many lessons just by being Tommy’s mom. I have so rarely seen unconditional love in action. I saw it with you and Tommy. I have no answers why God chose to take Tommy home, but I like to think God wanted Tommy to know love, real, true love where he would be chosen and loved at his absolute worst not just by a mother and father but siblings who do not complain about difficulties which most adults would do, but seemed to love their brother a lot. Your life and especially the example of your children is better than many sermons. That is the truth I saw.

  3. Lisa says:

    Just want you to know that I am nodding my head and saying, “Yes,” to every truth spoken. I’m so thankful to see those truths in bold print – loud and clear to drown out the lies.

  4. Susanna says:

    Melissa and Anon, thank you for your strengthening words. I have no idea what would have been in my head if I hadn’t ever heard any unkind judgments of others against me and our family, both before and after Tommy died. I have had to learn the hard way that it does real damage to me simply to read or hear their words, whether out of curiosity or even carelessness. I can see when folks from the hate groups are clustering around my blog, but their words do not reach me, because what they have to say is based on ignorance of the facts as well as of the transcendent truth.

    “…whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

  5. Esther Paris says:

    As Elizabeth would say to me so often, “Well, go ahead and make me cry whydoncha?” Your ending your last comment with her favorite verse is like she just sent me a HI-HUG straight from Heaven. I’m sure she and Tommy both send you HI-HUGS straight from Heaven regularly too.

    But I do have one comment – being barefoot in the grass is just plain wrong!! Ugh, just THINKING about being barefoot in the grass gives me the heebiejeebjes! Even YOUR grass in beautiful New Providence! Even YOUR grass, at Haven Central. Nope. Uh-uh. Barefoot is just plain NOPE. The person who invented shoes has saved many lives and yet gets no credit. The person who invented the wheel just made life easier but gets credit on a regular basis. It’s INJUSTICE, I tell ya! The person who invented shoes is a HERO! That person ensured no one has to walk barefoot anywhere ever again. Barefoot, ugh. Yuck. Ew.

    You and yoir whole family blessed Tommy here and even still bless him. Your TRUTH posts continue to call attention to the fact that suffering children still need loving, giving, God-centered, life-affirming homes and families.

    Amd it’s a darn good thing my motherhood isn’t judged based on whether my little brood are happy 24/7! I’d get an F- on that report card!

    Hugs to you! Esther in RI
    (please generously forgive any typks. It’s 5:48 AM and my eyes can’t focus yet.)

  6. Blessed says:

    Amen. Amen. I can’t wait for Part 2, and pray that this is liberating to post.

  7. Thank you for these raw thoughts. My best friend’s adopted daughter collapsed, seized, and never recovered this summer. She had been with them for only ten months. I sent this post to her this morning, and she has felt every single one of those lies press upon her. Thanks for sharing the truth.

  8. Lynn Jerguson says:

    Tommy was loved. Tommy felt that love, which he had never experienced in his entire life. HIS family adored him, played with him, held him, fed him, cleaned him up, schooled him, hugged him, swam with him…a child that had been thrown away and mistreated for his entire existence got to FEEL love. He was also prayed for and became a covenant child of God. His life was short, in earthly terms, but his time with your family was the best shining part of it. What a blessing all of you were to that one small boy. And now he is experiencing the beginning of eternity with our God. You blessed him here on earth. Now God is blessing him infinitely more in heaven.

    My mama used to say “haters have to hate”. It is so hard to ignore them, but that is what has to be done. What other people say is hurtful. But be assured that when God looks at your family and what you have done for Katie and did for Tommy I truly believe He smiles.
    Lynn in Georgia

  9. Mary says:

    Thank you Susanna. Thank you for sharing with us the truth of the lies that the enemy wants us to believe and be majorly tripped up by. Thank you for taking each lie one by one and denouncing them! I already knew they weren’t true just by your shining light for the Lord and your family’s testimony for Him, BUT, it’s super important still to bring what is in darkness into the light and you have done that powerfully in part one of this segment! I’m encouraged and excited to read part 2! Again, thank you for living your life in a transparency that allows us to be a small part of it. We sure do love you in NH! I’ve been praying this for your family: :”Lord, I pray that the Mussler family would continue to live in Christ, rooted and built up in Him, strengthened in the faith as they were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” Colossians 6-7, and “Lord I pray that the Mussler family rooted and established in love may have the power, together with all of the saints, to fully grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses ALL understanding, that this precious family would be filled to the measure of all the fullness of you God.” Ephesians 3:18-19.

  10. KT says:

    I can’t understand why willingly and eagerly choosing to do something good and right, but hard in life gives people such license to voice mean, nasty, ignorant opinions about us. In days long past, people who choose to do something right were applauded and supported, the harder it was.

    From all you’ve posted on your blog, Susanna, the pictures of Tommy’s frail body growing, filling out, his smile lighting up my computer screen, to see his skin glow with good health, and his happiness, it’s insane that anyone would dare even hint that you didn’t give Tommy excellent care. Did caring for Tommy take time away from your other children? Of course it did! Just like having a second or third or more bio child means a parent has less time for the first ones that come along. That’s life. That’s how it works on this earth. No way around it.

    Any one individual can always, always do more or do better – but we can’t be perfect. If only I had more patience, more time, didn’t need a single moment to myself, could plan more ahead of time, I MIGHT be a better mom to my girls. But it’d surely run me into the ground, then where would they be?

    That 24/7 happy smiling adopted kid doesn’t live in my house and I did lose a friend who questioned my parenting ability. But I know what she doesn’t – I know MY KIDS. I know their abilities and disabilities and their hearts and habits and, usually, their intentions. I also know they’d do just about anything for anyone’s attention and when I rein that in, I’m being a good mom, not a mean or bad one, though it’s nearly impossible to get anyone not living with this issue to understand it.

    Susanna, I am thrilled that J is going to live with you. It’s a triple blessing – your family, her family and J will benefit greatly. I’m thrilled that you are able to get your home set up to facilitate living easier and more comfortably.

    Hold your head up high. God sees into your heart and knows your sorrow over Tommy’s death. My heart can imagine your sorrow. Sorrow and happiness can reside together in one heart. How that happens is individual and private. No one has a right to judge you and I’m so sorry that they are.

    I don’t know what else to write. My heart is full, but there doesn’t seem to be words to express it.

    You are a choice daughter of our loving Heavenly Father. He chose you exactly as you are, strengths and weaknesses, and is guiding you through this difficult moment in eternity called Life on Earth.

  11. Deanna says:

    Preach the TRUTH Susanna! Tommy was loved and adored and he knew it!

  12. Louisa says:

    Your transparency is beautiful….you have walked with such grace and you are my mama hero. Don’t ever justify anything when you loved that boy more than he had ever been loved….it was so apparent to see him blossom. Trust God’s truth—you can never go wrong!

  13. Becky says:

    Amen and Amen!! Having seen MUCH of this personally I couldn’t agree more with the true statements. You couldn’t have loved Tommy any more if you had tried. Both in the sense of the verb, you loved him….and emotionally, you loved Tommy. As did all who met him. He was just so joyful even in the midst of his challenges. I’ll never forget those eyes and the million watt smile.
    Can’t wait to see him again on the other side.

  14. Dana says:

    I do not understand the adoption critics. Should you have left him there to be in a crib? No.

    The line from the Sidewalks Prophets song is going through my mind now, “Was I love when no one else would show up?” That’s what you all were, love, freely offered when no one else was offering it to this child.

    Praying for you.

  15. Maureen says:

    Beautiful, wise, and such needed words of wisdom.

    I love that picture. Miss him terribly. (((hugs)))

  16. Amy says:

    So glad you are finding truth in this situation. As a Mom to five kids with SN who are all adopted, one lie I often subconsciously think without realizing it is that I need to be a perfect Mom to make up for all my kids lacked prior to coming home to us. Another lie I believe is that it is my job to fix all my kids issues as much as they can be fixed. Those two lies really leave God out of the equation and put all the burden on me where it doesn’t belong. I am so glad Tommy got to experience 13 plus months of family, acceptance, and love!

  17. Cassandra says:

    All of us can agree that Susanna and Tommy had a mutual love affair going on :).

    We’ve commented on how well Tommy was loved but it is also true that Tommy loved them right back. Real courage. By human (rational) standards Tommy had every right to fear his new family but instead he chose courage.
    That’s the kind of legacy I’d like to be said of me.

    Not that anybody asked but here are my thoughts on anti-adoption ppl. Sweeping generalization, of course. With every unkind word I can see their wounded-ness more clearly. Everybody has a story. Or will. You can be pretty sure such unseemly conduct suggests early unmet needs and a mother who did not cherish her child. Because happy people just don’t act that mean. They just don’t.

    That said, although they are in the minority, there certainly are adoptive parents who were not equipped to parent an exceptional child. Disruption rates prove that. I’ve been able to sift through the fighting words and learn a thing or two about unmet needs and lies adoptive children might believe, by reading an anti adoption blog.

    It is obviously nearly evil to harass a grieving mother which is what Susanna is. She is Tommy’s mother. No qualifiers (ie., Tommy’s adoptive mother). Probably less than three generations from now the way Tommy joined the family will be unknown, forgotten. As it should be. Because he was her son and he mattered and that’s all anybody needs to know.

  18. Jane says:

    Amen, Susanna.

  19. anon says:

    There will always be people who attempt to relieve their own anxiety and insecurity by blaming people who experience suffering and hardships- saying things like “You had it coming”, “You were at fault”, and “You asked for it”. This is a well known psychological phenomenon called “Just World Hypothesis”. Since this derives from their inner needs, telling them the “truth” will likely have little impact – since their needs remain the same. Put simply, they do not want to accept that sometimes children die – that would mean that the children they love could also die and that is too frightening. They cannot tolerate the thought of struggle and suffering, so they diminish the victim and consider them somehow wrong or unworthy. This, sadly, makes them feel better. You can read about this psychological concept:

    So please share what you need on your blog, as always, but I don’t want you to be hurt by continued attacks from people who feel the need to maintain their position of blame and condemnation.

  20. Susanna says:

    anon, that article is fascinating to me; I had never come across that theory before. Thanks for sharing it.

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