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What Adoptive and Foster Parents Can Do When Kids “Out-Stubborn” Them

When Your Child Resists Talking about Adoption there are ways to get them to open up and share.

All my child says when I try to connect with her about adoption is, “You don’t get it.”

Ouch!

Truth be told, parents don’t “get it” because adopted and fostered children look at life in a totally different way.

I used to think that we as adoptees and fostered had this unique view because we are so gifted (haha).

In reality, we look at life through a lens of trauma. Pre-birth trauma and post-birth trauma.

Here are some tips that may help adoptive and foster parents “get it” and gain access to their child’s world.

What will prevent access to your child’s world?

  • Avoid the topic of adoption as long as possible. Hope that your child will never ask about his or her past.
  • Deny the differences between your adopted child and your biological family. “You are just like us” or “You look just like your daddy” are prime examples.
  • Correct any expression of uncomfortable emotions about adoption by accentuating the positive: “Count your blessings” or “You’re so lucky to be adopted; you should be thankful.”
  • Pretend your child’s life began on adoption day. Don’t mention her birth or birth family—it will only upset her and you.
  • Enforce an unspoken “no talk” rule through your body language. A quivering lip or a clenched jaw speaks volumes.
  • Be sure to take offense if your child uses words like “real parents.” Interpret them as a rejection of you rather than an innocent expression of your child’s curiosity.
  • Foster silent shame about your child’s need to consider searching for his birth family. Say “Why not let sleeping dogs lie?” or “Let bygones be bygones.”

How to Gain Access:

  • Acknowledge the reality of adoption, from day one if you can. When diapering your infant or cuddling your older child in your arms, use adoption language: “I’m so glad we adopted you. I’m so glad you’re ours.” This way, the subject becomes familiar instead of denied.
  • Initiate conversation about your child’s pre-adoption perceptions: “Do you ever wonder about your birth mother? Do you ever wonder if you look like her? I wonder about that sometimes.” Or, if you have adopted an older child who spent part of his life with the birth family, you might say: “What was life like for you with your birth mother/birth father? Whenever you want to share your memories with us, we are always ready to listen.”
  • Validate the fact that your family has been touched by adoption and has special challenges. The definition of the word “validation” sheds a lot of light on what your child needs: “to substantiate, confirm, to make valid, authenticate, to give official approval to.” One adoptive mother of five says that adoption is a daily topic for her and her children, for adoption impacts their daily lives and is not just a one-time event.
  • Create a non-judgmental, safe environment in which your child feels free to express any emotion, thought, or question. Learn to say to your child, “It’s all right to feel as you do. Tell me more about it.”
  • Celebrate the differences between your adopted child and your biological family: “Your creativity brings such an added dimension to our family. How blessed we are to have you!”
  • Be sensitive to your child’s possible unspoken need for a tangible connection to his biological past. One birth mother I know gave her daughter a silver bank on adoption day—a reminder that she will never be forgotten. On every anniversary of their daughter’s adoption, the adoptive parents put a $1 bill in the bank, telling their daughter that the money is a reminder of the gift of life the birth mother gave to them.
  • As your child grows older, respect his need to consider searching for or reconnecting with his birth family someday. Verbalize your support. Even if your child joined your family because of abuse or neglect in his birth home, he may need to reconnect in some way with his first family in order to resolve past trauma. Trust your child’s instincts about what he needs while providing safety and security regardless of the outcome of his journey into his past.

Just FYI, there is a FREE workbook that accompanies the Twenty Things book. It will appear soon on this site as a free download for those that choose to follow the blog.

 

 

 

 

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The Burning Fear Adoptees and Foster Kids Find Impossible to Quench

This is an image of a woman hiding under the covers. She has deep adoption fears and this post shows how to deal with them.

We won’t tell you about this fear.

We just live with it…because just maybe it’s true.

The innermost fear of every adopted and fostered person—Is my life a mistake?.

What is needed for the questioning child, teen, or adult? A spiritual answer.

For me, God settled my heart with Scriptures, telling me the truth about my life.

Here are a few gems:

1.God’s heart was the place of our conceptions. Our lives began, not at conception, not at birth, not on adoption day, but in eternity past-in the very heart of God Himself. He is our Creator!
Jeremiah 1:5: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you” Ephesians 1:4-6: “For He chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in His sight. In love He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ, according to His pleasure and will-to the praise of His glorious grace, which He has freely given us in the One He loves.”

2. God is the only One who gives life-not birth mothers, as many believe. Birth mothers give the gift of birth and we are very thankful for their gift, but God receives the glory for all life. He is Life!
John 1:3-4: “Through Him all things were made; without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men.”

Psalm 139:13: “For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb.” Esther 9:6b: “You give life to everything, and the multitudes of heaven worship You.”

3. God originated adoption, but human adoption and spiritual adoption are not the same.

He wants to adopt us!
Ephesians 1: 4-5: “In love He predestined us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ.”

 

4. God says we are all orphans because of our sin (not loving God with our whole heart and soul, every minute of every day). We will be orphans for eternity without Him! Isaiah 59:2: “But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.”

I John 1:10: “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.”

5. God provided a Way when there was no way for us to enter His family. He sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our sin by His death!
John 3: 16: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

6. God requires personal trust in Christ’s finished work on the cross to enter His family.

He invites us!
Romans 10: 9-11: “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you confess and are saved. As the Scripture says, ‘Everyone who trusts in Him will never be put to shame.”

7. God knocks on human hearts, wanting to adopt us. He has a divine appointment with you. It is not by chance that you are reading this!
Revelation 3:20: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone opens the door, I will come in and eat with him, and he with me.”

If God is knocking on your heart’s door, you can pray this simple prayer: “Jesus, I realize that my sin has separated me from You and that I will be an orphan for eternity without You. Thank You that for paying the price for my sin when You shed your blood and died on the cross for me. It’s hard to believe that if I were the only person in the world, You would have come for me, but I take Your great love by faith. Please cleanse me from sin and fill me with your Holy Spirit. I take Your gift of my adoption into your forever family by faith. In Jesus’ Name, Amen!”

8. God validates the emotional realities of abandonment. He doesn’t tell us to bite the bullet and go on as if nothing happened. He is compassionate!
Ezekiel 16: 4-7: “On the day you were born, you were dumped out into a field and left to die, unwanted.”

9. God comes to us in our abandonment. He is our Helper!
Ezekiel 16: 4-7: “But I came by and saw you lying there, covered with your own blood.”

10. God calls us to Life and declares His opinion of us. He values us!
Ezekiel 16: 7 “…and I said, ‘Live! Thrive, like a plant in the field!’ And you did! You grew up and became…a jewel among jewels.”

11. God planned who our biological and adoptive parents would be. He is Lord!
Psalm 139:16: “All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.”

12. God’s love is deeper than any rejection life can throw at you! He engraved our names on His hands!
Isaiah 49: 15-16: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will never forget you! See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me.”

13. God experienced rejection. He will walk with us if we are rejected! John 1:11: “He came to that which was His own, but His own did not receive Him.”

14. God holds unanswered adoption questions in His loving hands. He is trust worthy! Deuteronomy 29:29: “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.”

15. God offers adoptees an awesome legacy. He wants to be our Father! Psalm 68:5: “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in His holy dwelling.”

16. God promises to hear even the faintest cry of the orphan. He is sensitive!
Exodus 22:22-24: “Do not take advantage of a widow or orphan. If you do, and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry.”

17. God preserves the orphan’s life. He is our Protector!

Jeremiah 49:11: “Leave your orphans; I will protect their lives.”

18. God has a unique plan for the orphan in human history. He is Sovereign! Esther 2:15: “And who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?”

19. God thinks highly of those who help orphans. He considers it worship!
James 1:27: “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.”

20. God gladdens the orphan’s heart with the bounty of Providence. He is our Provider! Deuteronomy 24: 17a, 19: “Do not deprive the alien or the fatherless of justice…” When you are harvesting in your field and you overlook a sheaf, do not go back to get it. Leave it for the alien, the fatherless and the widow, so that the Lord may bless you in all the work of your hands.”

21. God opposes unjust laws concerning the fatherless. He is our Advocate!
Isaiah 10:1-2: “Woe to those who make unjust laws, to those who issue oppressive decrees, to deprive the poor of their rights and rob my oppressed people of justice, making widows their prey and robbing the fatherless.”

 

22. God cares tenderly for birth mothers. He is close to the broken hearted!
Genesis 21: 16b-19: “And as she (Hagar) sat there nearby, she began to sob. God heard the boy crying, and the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven and said to her, ‘What is the matter, Hagar? Do not be afraid; God has heard the boy crying as he lies there. Lift the boy up and take him by the hand, for I will make him into a great nation.’ Then God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water.”

23. God wants us to offer our broken lives to Him. He sings over us when we do!
II Chronicles 29:29: “And when the burnt offering began, the song of the Lord began also, with trumpets, and with the instruments ordained by King David of Israel.”

24. God told Abraham to let go of contentious birth relatives. He wants us to press on! Genesis 21:11: “The matter distressed Abraham greatly because it concerned his son. But God said, ‘Do not be so distressed about the boy and your maidservant. Listen to whatever Sarah tells you, because it is through Isaac that that your offspring will be reckoned. I will make the son of the maid servant into a nation also, because he is your offspring.”

© 2018 Sherrie Eldridge. No reproduction without permission.

 

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Must Adopted and Foster Kids Fake A Smile for Gotcha Day?

This is an image of a woman putting a smiley face sign over her mouth. Adoptees can break away and be free from faking smiles and happiness.

You’ve got to be kidding?

Our culture has added one more day on the calendar that adoptees and foster kids have to e-n-d-u-r-e?

It’s called Gotcha Day…and by the way, I hate it. I hate the word itself and the implication it makes…a holiday? A football to be caught mid-air? What in heck does it mean, anyway?

Where does the term come from? And, who thought it up? What’s the purpose of it?

I guess it refers to the day we were handed over to our adoptive or foster parents, when the gavel slammed, or the papers were signed was a happy day for parents. Likely, the happiest day of their lives.

And so, parents often celebrate with balloons, confetti, cake and a party.

But, for adoptees and foster kids, it’s the saddest day of our lives. We have lost all that is familiar and warm. We have been placed into a strange place with strange people who want to nurture and love us. (Is it any wonder that we get triggered when going into strange, new places? Like university, a party, geographical move, etc)

Most adoptive and foster parents now understand that birthdays are extremely difficult for many of us.  We are reminded of the family we lost, the trauma of being removed, and the difficult adjustments.

Let me gently ask, how different is “Gotcha Day?”  We absolutely hate our birthdays and now, in this day and age, Gotcha Day has been added to the list of things we must conform to. It’s just one more thing that we adopted and foster kids have to paste a fake smile on pretend to act happy when everything in us is sad.

Please, don’t do it to us parents!

I know you love us, but celebrating while we’re sad doesn’t work to draw us closer. It does the opposite.

Don’t do it to your kids.

Don’t fail to see our sad hearts.

And, also, don’t do it to yourselves.

What Adoptive and Foster Parents Can Do

Parents, realize that the thing that makes us the most uncomfortable is being in the spotlight, the limelight. When we are in the limelight, we feel our hearts are exposed and if you know how much our heart is hurting, you may reject us.

And, so, you might try:

  1. Recognize the Significance of the Day. Perhaps, “This is the day years ago that we brought you home.”
  2. Validate the Emotional Reality. From the beginning of the day, say something like, “I know this can be a day filled with mixed emotions for you…both happy and sad…and I want you to know I am here for you.”
  3. Forget the Cake and Balloons. Forget the happy, happy, Forget the huggy, huggy. The gushy emotionalism. We don’t want it.
  4. Do Something Fun as a Family. In this way, the adoptee or the adoption is not the center of attention. (Get 5 different candy bars and gallon of ice cream. Gather family together around table after dinner. Talk seriously about how this day was filled with brokennes and hurt for the adoptee or foster child. Pull out a hammer and break the candy to smithereens. Then, say, “But when we stir the broken pieces into the ice-cream, it is something we love.”)