What Adoptive and Foster Parents Can Do If Short-Changed by Social Workers

When Shortchanged by An Adoption Professional, Parents Can Still Work through Grief with Their Children

My heart broke as I read her message of desperation. Also, my blood boiled because I hear about this painful reality all to often.

Here’s the deal. She’s a mom of four and lives in the Ukraine. While reading my Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, she suddenly  realized that she didn’t even know what adoption loss was for her children.

The social worker there hadn’t told her a thing about what to expect about her children’s grief.

“I was handed an empty slate,” she said, while grasping for straws and trying to catch her breath between questions.

How would she tell her children? What effect would this lack of information have on her parenting? Would there be long-term repercussions for the children? Could they ever thrive?

This situation doesn’t only happen in foreign countries.

I remember talking to a group of parents for a well-known adoption agency. When I asked them if they had been taught about their child’s loss…their profound loss…they all looked like deer in the headlights.

So-very- sad.

If you’re  parents in that situation, what can you do?

Here are some things that may be helpful:

  1. Forgive yourself. This is not your fault and you must not carry any shame for it.  it doesn’t mean that you are bad parents. I know that you love your kids to the moon and back and would even give your lives for them.
  2. Acknowledge You Got Short-Changed. I believe the children need to know this too and that you all will have some forgiving to do together.
  3. Go to your children and humility. I know you will.Tell them that you had no idea of what they have been through when they lost their first family or second or third family….or when they got passed by again and again in the orphanage or foster care. Tell them you’re sad about this
  4. Invite them to begin learning about unresolved adoption grief and loss.Tell them it can be a team effort and that she will do whatever you can to support them. Be their #1 cheerleader.
  5. Create a safe place. As you shed a few tears over this situation, they will know your heart. You can assure them that they can tell you anything, which means they don’t have to clean things up that they share. Tell them it’s okay to hate.The Bible says that. Tell them nothing is forbidden to say. Assure that you are strong and you won’t be offended or shocked.
  6. Offer hope. Present something concrete that you can work on together, or with a trusted therapist. Years ago I shared”The Grief Box”  with audiences. I hope to share this practical tool for kids to work through grief soon. Let me know if this would be beneficial to you?

So dear parents, take heart and remember that every day of your life was planned before any one of them ever came to be.

God knows about your situation and He cares…and He will equip you to do what you’ve been called to do.

I know that’s your heart’s desire.

For more info on TWENTY THINGS ADOPTED KIDS WISH THEIR ADOPTIVE PARENTS KNEW: https://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Things-Adopted-Adoptive-Parents/dp/044050838X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5 comments

  • I do love your book. I often suggest it to friends that ask us about our adoption story. It’s beautiful but also tragic.

  • It amazes me that as much as we know, as many resources as are available, as many of us try to “get the word out,” it is never enough. There is so much more to know and learn and share. And so much more is needed…for kids, for parents, for teachers, for public awareness, and hopefully at some point for programs and policies. Not a day goes by I don’t come across something “adoption related,” and my mind swims with “what is truly needed and how can we get it out there?” I know a lot is being done, just trying to find my place in it all too.
    Thanks, Sherrie, for your work and life, for your sharing and vulnerability!

  • Thank you very much for sharing this. I was in a similar situation, not knowing about grieving adoption loss and your writings helped me greatly to open my eyes.
    A hopeful mom from overseas

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