When Adoptees & Foster Kids Get Shamed for Depression

One Christian"s View of Depression Is Faulty

I wanted to wring her neck!

In the midst of a book study group for Christian women, the leader informed us why one lady wasn’t there. “So and so is depressed again…just like other times of the year… it just comes on her with no warning.”

I nodded affirmatively, for I have been there and done that…twice.

Then, another member butted in. “It’s a spirit of infirmity that must be dealt with through prayer.”

My blood was boiling.

Why do many Christians think they have to spiritualize depression? They only add insult to injury.

When I was depressed, I lost contact with reality.

When in the Stress Center, physicians wanted to put me on anti-psychotic drugs to bring me back. My counselor said, “Only temporarily.”

It was then that I was told by a friend about two seminary students that had lost touch with reality. One took anti-psychotic meds, recovered, and was able to have a fruitful ministry. The other, well, he refused to take meds because it wasn’t “spiritual” and he never returned to reality. He was permanently hospitalized.

Needless to say, we followed the physicians orders.

I studied quite a bit about depression when I was going through it.

There are different causes for depression. One reason is physical. You have no control over it. That is what happened to me. Someone may be genetically pre-disposed to it also, and with the right level of stressors, depression may kick in.

Another reason is psychological. You can get really depressed after you lose a loved one. Adoptees and foster kids can get really depressed because of the trauma that they’ve been through and the losses that they’ve suffered. Depression may be like a super-highway through our brains.

There is such a thing as spiritual depression and I understand that that means when you are out of fellowship with God….when you have fallen deeply into a hole. We all make crummy choices at some point in our lives, right?

Does God Shame Depression?

But, bottom line….what does God say? Does He condemn?

“Where can I go from your Spirit? Or, where can I flee from your presence? If I ascend to heaven, Thou art there; if I make my bed in Sheol, behold, Thou art there. If I take the wings of the dawn, if I dwell in the remotest part of the sea, Even there thy hand will lay hold of me. If I say, “surely the darkness will overwhelm me, and the light around me will be night,” Even there the darkness is not dark to Thee, And the night is as bright as the day. Darkness and light are alike to thee.” (Psalm 139: 7-12)

So, what can we do to help those who are depressed, especially adoptees and foster kids?

How to Help Depressed Adoptees and Foster Kids

Here are a few suggestions:

  • Don’t quote Scripture
  • Go for a walk together
  • Don’t get on a high horse and judge
  • Ask if you can pray a simple prayer for comfort
  • Remember, for we adoptees and foster kids, when we’re in the dark, our fear of abandonment is shouting at us. Maybe even God has abandoned us? Assure that God will never leave.
  • Remind that it won’t always hurt this bad
  • Encourage to follow physician’s orders
  • Take into physician if there is a loss of reality (hallucinations)
  • Hold tenderly, after asking permission
  • Don’t share how you’ve been depressed…this is not helpful
  • Don’t blame on negative birth history

Well, that’s it, friends.

I made the right choice at the study group last week….I didn’t wring her neck with words or nasty looks, even though every cell in my body wanted to.

I probably won’t continue in this group, though.





I Wish I Could Be Somebody Else

If you’re an adoptee or foster kid, chances are that identity is a huge issue for you.
After all, how can you figure out who you are when you’ve got two sets of parents–biological and adoptive?
Are you supposed to be like one pair or the other? Or, should you just rebel and act out? Many of us have tried that to no avail.
Personally, I believe identity is a travel companion of self-esteem, and many times, self-esteem may be non-existent. The lack of it is incredibly painful and so social skills and relationships are avoided.
Many adoptees and foster kids believe:
  • If I could only find and meet my birth mother, I won’t feel adopted anymore, or like a foster kid anymore.
  • The painful trauma I endured in losing my first family (or multiple placements) will totally heal when I have forever parents.
  • The trauma of wondering if my life is a mistake will dissipate when I am adopted.
  • My birth mother may be a princess. If she is, I will feel good about myself.

The Value of Psychology

There is a place for psychology in an adoptee’s search for identity. I love the book called BEING ADOPTED: THE LIFELONG SEARCH FOR SELF.  Through psychological research we learn from Drs. Brodzinsky and Schechter that adoption loss for the adoptee is deeper than death or divorce.

That helps! At least, we know we’re not crazy.

We could name hundreds of wonderful books with great research and it is all part and parcel of our healing and finding our identity. We can know tons of psychological research, but the emptiness and hole in our hearts is still there, beckoning to be filled.

The Need to Look Up

Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God sets eternity in the hearts of man.  That’s you and me and eternity describes the hole in our hearts. It is God-shaped and can’t be filled by anyone or anything but God Himself.

God will show any adoptee or foster kid his worth if there is an open, seeking heart. And, it is usually in the midst of pain that we can hear what He thinks about us.  For me, it was after my birth mother rejected me after reunion. He showed me in an unmistakable way that I am his “jewel Among jewels.”

Hearing what He thinks about me was life-defining. I rarely, if ever, struggle with self-esteem since that revelation of who I am.

I love this poem from a book called PRINCE OF EGYPT:

A single thread in a tapestry

Though its color brightly shine

Can never see its purpose

In the pattern of the grand design

And the stone that sits on the very top of the mountain’s mighty face

Does it think it’s more important

Than the stones that form the base?

So how can you see what your life is worth

Or where your value lies?

You can never see through the eyes of man

You must look at your life

Look at your life through heaven’s eyes.

Emotionally Absent….An Open Letter to Adoptive and Foster Dads

Dear Dads,

You have a role in your daughter’s life that no one else can fill.

As an adopted person, I believe our sense of self worth is foundational to our relationship with you.

You set the pattern for male relationships for life.

If you are emotionally absent, we will believe that is normal and seek out those that act like this…in dating and marriage. For sure, your daughter doesn’t need such a dad, who looks at his daughter like a deer in headlights…like he’s “home, but the lights aren’t on.”  That daughter will try hard to connect with you and the pressure will grow with every failed attempt. She will end up taking care of you in your old age.

If you see your daughter as a reminder that you weren’t able to have biological children, she will sense that you are disappointed in her, even though you would never say it openly.

If you see her as an extension of yourself, she will feel violated in the most subtle way. She will never learn the joy of authenticity and using her own precious voice.

Because your daughter likely came from abuse or abandonment, it is almost certain that the first father figure in her life gave her a warped idea of fatherhood. So, your daughter comes to you with a gaping wound in her heart that makes her not want to trust any father figures.

However, if you see and her as the Heavenly Father sees her, she will gradually learn that she is a princess. Recently, I read how Mike Berry, author and speaker, called out “here come the princess” to his daughter at Disney. There’s a photo of his daughter grabbing his face and slapping a huge kiss on his lips. Priceless!

In reality, your role is so important, vitally important, because our perception of God the Father comes from our perception of you.

I hope you will get right with the Father and continue in constant communion with Him so that you can be all your daughter needs you to be.

Personally, I didn’t have the kind of dad that was able to treat me like a princess. I don’t hold it against him. The hole in my heart was filled when the Father told me I am his jewel among jewels.