Don’t Fry Your Adopted/Foster Kid Brain-OK?

Don't Let Your Addiction to Stress Rule Your Day

This weekend is a holiday and then comes September when almost every school in the US will have begun.

Stress city, fellow adoptees and foster kids.

If you’re anything like me with something new, you overshoot the mark.

In other words, you try so hard, work so hard, socialize so hard, do FB so hard….whatever.

Can you identify?

My husband often says…You didn’t have to do that, Sherrie.

He said it when:

  • I accompanied a fellow adoptee up the steps of the Indiana Capitol building when I was just 10 days out of knee replacement surgery.
  • I invited neighbors in for wine and cheese on the day I got home from my second knee replacement.
  • I box the heavy bag so hard that I am in pain the following night.
  • I over-commit at my church…
  • I make promises to demanding friends to avoid feeling rejected or left out

Just about every fellow adopted/foster kid I know has similar desires. My friend,

Jody, and I laughed at ourselves one evening long ago when we gathered for a meeting. We were the only ones that brought a gift and we wondered at the time if that trait is characteristic of many adoptees.

Why do we work like dogs anyway?

Adrenaline….it rushes.

That can be characteristic of addictive thinking…hmmm.

Honestly, in my exhaustion, I get really mad.

Over the years of being an over-giver, I have discovered that when I am in need, people don’t accompany me by post-op hobbling up Capitol steps.  Nor, do they come bringing wine and cheese when I’m a few days out of knee replacement surgery.

They never meet my expectations!

Constantly, let’s remember to not fry our brains. 

So, for these seemingly busy times, let’s choose to remember what Bob tells me, “You didn’t have to do it.”

 

 

 

What Adopted, Foster Kids Must Know About Emotional Abuse

What to Do When A Parent Abuses You

Every adopted and foster kid, no matter our age, must learn about the subtlety of emotional abuse…especially when reuniting with first (2nd, 3rd, 4th…) family members.

I’ve heard that those who lose their first and subsequent families crave connection, like a starving man looking for food.

And, once we find that missing bio family member, we believe all is well in the world.

Many times we enter euphorically into relationships with unhealed moms and dads with unhealed pasts and chronic issues. And, some of them are downright mean.

We all can recognize physical abuse but emotional abuse is incredibly subtle. And, our propensity for connection blinds us to the hurtful elements of the relationship.

FOUR SIGNS OF EMOTIONAL ABUSE

Here are some of the subtle signs of emotional abuse:

  1. Threaten you in subtle ways.  For example, when I met my birth mother, she kept saying, “This is very difficult for me.” At the same time, she would keep me at arms length through her friends.
  2.  Refuses to recognize and affirm your strengths and belittles your accomplishments. In my experience of several reunions with birth family, I’ve found that with unhealthy people, they want to convince me how wonderful they are and don’t ask a thing about me. This is a huge red flag.
  3. Hurtful humor. Making fun of you in a joking way. My birth mother and I had an unusual liking for ketchup. I was thrilled to find this synchronicity but when she share the likeness in a social setting, it was in a condemning way that she thought was funny.
  4. Behavior goes from one extreme to another. At one moment you’re being showered with a generous gift and the next minute, the parent is either silent, distant, or attacking.  My mother gave me a beautiful real gold pin from Tiffany’s the second day of our reunion. By the last day she was saying she wished she would have aborted me.
  5. Rejecting your kindness. During the reconciliation phases, I ordered a dozen roses for my birth mom. Two days later, the florist called to say that the dozen roses I ordered for her had been refused for delivery.  He added that in decades of business, he’d never experienced that.

OUR TENDENCY TOWARD REPETITION COMPULSION 

And, dear ones, even if we’re being abused, oftentimes we have trouble letting go.  We keep trying, and trying, and trying to re-establish connection.

About two and one-half years after the reunion rejection, I was still sending her Valentine cards and a dozen roses for her birthday.

For me, as a Christ follower, I believed in reconciliation.

After all, isn’t that what God asks us to do in conflicted relationships?

Maybe in conflicted relationships, but not in abuse!

HOW TO SAY GOODBYE WITHOUT GUILT

About that time, I was studying about Abraham in the Bible. Remember him? He was 99 when God told him the he and Sara were going to have a child.

Many of us know the story.

Sara set up an intimate relationship between her handmaiden and Abraham. Her name was Haggai and she conceived a son named Ishmael.

Nice plan Sara.

Only problem?

Sara arranged it HER way…not God’s.

When Haggai’s child, Ishmael, was growing up in the same household, he and Haggai caused much discord between Sarai and Abraham.

Finally, God told Abraham to send Haggai and Ishmael away.

WHAT?

Yes, He told this birth father to send away the contentious one.

GET OUT.

REALLY?

That was enough for me!

If Abraham could send her away, I could send my mother away, without guilt.

And, when we finally come to say goodbye to abuse, it is just the beginning of tremendous personal growth.

PS–I’m not a theologian.

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Can Adopted and Foster Kids Grow In Spite of Parental Rejection?

I Wish My Adoptive Mom Wouldn't Blab About My Adoption Without Asking Me

News flash: Adoptees and Foster Can Grow in Self-Esteem in the Midst of Parental Rejection

My heart breaks for fellow adoptees and foster kids who are being rejected. It doesn’t have to a monumental, in-your-face rejection, but it is rejection nonetheless.

For example:

  • Teen waits for birth parent to pick up for movie date but parent doesn’t show.
  • Child fantasizes on birthday that first mom will come to party but she doesn’t show up.
  • Adult reunites with birth siblings who only want to meet once and then ignores any desires to meet again.
  • Birth parent can’t deal with own loss and grief and outwardly disses her child.
  • Adopted child not told  truth about birth family (Life begins at adoption approach).
  • Adopted adult learns that sibling thinks her weird and blasts opinion on social media
  • Teen or adult gets “unfriended” on social media

You may not even want to read on…but you must, for something really positive can come from such an experience if God allows it to happen to your child.

KNOW THAT GOD HAS ALLOWED THIS FOR YOUR GOOD

Rejection from my birth mother years ago was devastating, but it was also life-defining. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, for God has used it to enable me to reach others who are experiencing similar rejection.

EMBRACE  YOUR WORTH IN SPITE OF PARENTAL REJECTION

Reverend Ron Nydam, author of WISE ADOPTIVE PARENTING ( https://www.amazon.com/Wise-Adoptive-Parenting-Struggle-Parents/dp/1387748475/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1535052902&sr=1-1&keywords=wise+parenting+by+ron+nydam,) specified how to do rejection well from a Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News article (Winter 1999): “Doing rejection successfully means opening the door to a full life as an adult who can do self-acceptance and intimacy in spite of a parent’s negative opinion. Our self-esteem can never be something that someone else is in charge of.”

REMEMBER THAT GOD CAME TO YOU IN YOUR HARD PLACE

“On the day you were born, you were thrown out into an field, unwanted. But I came by and saw you lying there, and I said, “Live, thrive, like a plant in the field. And you did! You became a jewel among jewels.” (Ezekiel 16:4-7 LB)

 

RECALL THE HARD PLACE AND AFFIRM THE PRESENT

What adoptee or foster kid doesn’t love recalling the past and then affirming the present. Affirming that yes, the past was incredibly painful, but I’m not there anymore. I’m living in the present with an awesome future ahead of me.

Our painful past does not define our future…but it does make us stronger and wiser.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you Want to Heal from Adoption Wounds? Here’s How.

Why Those Touched By Adoption Need One Another

Have you ever had trouble understanding the sentiments and perspective of another person whose life has been touched by adoption (first parents, adoptive/foster parents, adoptees and foster kids)?

Or, have you ever sat in an adoption support group and felt your heart racing, your anger surfacing, and your blood boiling?

I certainly have.

For years on my adoption journey, I could only listen to stories of fellow adoptees.

I couldn’t hear, nor did I want to hear about the pain of others. I had enough of my own…thank you very much.

For example, I used to fantasize that my first mother thought about me on my birthday. When I reunited with her nearly 20 years ago, I discovered she didn’t have a clue about my birthday.

Crushed!

Later, after working through the majority of my adoption issues, I became aware of how all parents involved in adoption feel.

Having read everything available,  I learned that issues for each person touched by adoption are common even though circumstances are different.

Here are some of the common threads that run through the tapestry of adoption.

COMMON THREADS FOR EVERYONE TOUCHED BY ADOPTION

  • Brain-changing trauma.
  • Loss deeper than the ocean.
  • Grief that shattered a heart to smithereens.
  • Shame that erased our self worth.
  • Joy that made struggles worth it.
  • Guilt that followed like a watch dog.
  • Rejection that forced us to our knees.
  • Euphoria that sprung from hope .
  • Abandonment that made us hate goodbyes.
  • A life sentence of anger.

In the years that followed, while studying about first moms and their particular pain, I realized that my first mom didn’t intentionally forget my birthday. Instead, she was too traumatized by her untimely pregnancy and delivery to remember the date.

With this realization came the desire to “look her in the eyes” and forgive.

Not only does our pain cause us to be oblivious to the trauma of others touched by adoption, but it also twists our understanding of what others touched by adoption may say.

For example, when my first mother screamed, “You don’t know how hard it is to give up a baby…I have thought of you every day of my life,” she was verbalizing her pain.

My adoptee pain interpreted those words as, “Because she said it was hard to give me up, she must have loved me!”

I responded, “That’s the best news I’ve ever heard…I thought you forgot about me.”

Her pain translated my words as, “Now, you’re happy that I’m sad.”

Even though interpretations were twisted, basic love was there.

We all need to work hard at understanding and having humble compassion for those who have been touched by adoption in a different way that us.

Exposure to the feelings and beliefs of all touched by adoption is essential if we are to come to terms with our own adoption experience…whether we are first parents, adoptive/foster parents, or adoptees.

HEALING STEPS

And so, the steps to healing are:

  1. Admitting your pain and inability to hear another’s pain
  2. Being aware of the common threads in the tapestry of adoption
  3. Forgiving yourself and others
  4. Begin connecting with others in the adoption triad.

Where I Found My Missing Adoptee Face

This photo depicts our journey throughout Israel. Many game-changer events had already happened. Another hint was about to be revealed.

Being adopted is a life of adventure, constantly unfolding.

My perspective doesn’t dismiss the pain, but sees it not as an enemy, but as a catalyst for growth and redemption.

Most who have lost their first family would agree that we are forever searching for their missing faces.

But, could there be an additional dimension of this dynamic of finding the missing face?

I believe there was for me.

With all that transpired before this moment (Tito saying I am Jewish, discovering the significance of my ancestry’s name), I believe this was another touch from God that only I could understand.

He’s like that, you know?

He will go to any and all extremes to make His love known to His children.

On this particular day, our group was visiting the Museum of the Righteous–Vad Vashem, The Museum of Remembrance.

Please take a few minutes and see what was unfolding before us. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BsJqKdN9B3A

Established in 1953, Yad Vashem was on the western slope of Mount Herzl on the Mount of Remembrance in Jerusalem, 804 meters (2,638 ft) above sea level and adjacent to the Jerusalem Forest. The memorial consists of a 180-dunam (18.0 ha; 44.5-acre) complex containing the Holocaust History Museum, memorial sites such as the Children’s Memorial and the Hall of Remembrance, The Museum of Holocaust Art, sculptures, outdoor commemorative sites such as the Valley of the Communities, a synagogue, a research institute with archives, a library, a publishing house, and an educational center, The International School/Institute for Holocaust Studies.

After the Western Wall, Yad Vashem is the second-most-visited Israeli tourist site. Its curators charge no fee for admission and welcome approximately one million visitors a year.

 

museum-wall-photos-best

Upon entering, the first thing realized was the circular, multi-level museum. Tiny lights ascended the huge cone-shaped edifice and black netting draped the entirety.

A core goal of Yad Vashem’s founders was to recognize gentiles who, at personal risk and without a financial or evangelistic motive, chose to save their Jewish brethren from the ongoing genocide during the Holocaust. Those recognized by Israel as Righteous Among the Nations are honored in a section of Yad Vashem known as the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations. One of them is Corrie Ten Boom.

Finding My Missing Face at the Museum of the Righteous

After finishing the last level of the museum, we came to the children’s museum where there were photos of Holocaust children. I couldn’t stop staring at the little girls with dark, shiny bangs and brown eyes.

Here is a wonderful YOUTUBE where you can see them: https://youtu.be/kU-siyNDp18

“Margaret,” I said, to my Godly friend who walked beside me. ‘Those little girls look just like me as a child.”

sherrie-jewish

 

Margaret wrapped her arms around me.

I couldn’t stop sobbing.

“You are one of them,” she said. Then, she put her arms around me and gave thanks that God made it so clear, once again, that I am Jewish. “You are one of the chosen,” she said.

I got to see Margaret again last summer.
I got to see Margaret again last summer.