Posted on 4 Comments

Remember This When You’re Labeled Bastard or Illegitimate

I was adopted on planet earth by my parents, and I became a child of God at age 27, yet many influential Christians label me as illegitimate and a bastard child.

You find this hard to believe?

Let me share two instances here.

Shamed by Christians

Adoptee shame is believing something is wrong with me.  It’s something adoptees and foster kids hide at any cost, even with one another.

This first time I was shamed was  when a female Christian speaker spoke about “illegitimate and bastard children.”

My heart pounded, like a drum.

Every part of me became alert, like a smoke alarm just started ringing.

My throat felt blocked….I couldn’t swallow.

Was she referring to me?

Was I illegitimate and a bastard child?

Was my life a mistake?

With childlike innocence, I waited in line to ask if she believed those awful words were true of me.

If looks could have killed, I’d be dead.

Where was the love of Jesus she pontificated?

Jesus would have immediately embraced me, saying, “It’s okay sweetheart. They didn’t understand or welcome me either.” (John 1:11)

Using Scripture to Label

Another time, while listening to a Christian music station,  the preacher talked about illegitimate children in the context of Psalm 139.

Say what?

How could this be?

I just looked at the Psalm again. I can’t see those two awful words anywhere.

These experiences sunk deep into my adoptee shame, like water gushing into a sponge. In fact, I believe they were instrumental in a midlife breakdown.

So what is the answer for adoptees and foster kids of all ages?

What Adoptees and Foster Kids Must Do When Shamed

  • Remember, you’re in good company. Jesus was shamed to the utmost of the Cross.
  • Ask God to show you who you are in His eyes.
  • Memorize where your life began: Not at conception, not at birth, not on adoption day. Instead, your life began in the heart of God the Father. He loved you way back in eternity past…before the world began. And, when He created your life, He smiled.
  • Make a picture about this: “If you were the only person on the whole earth, Jesus would have come to earth and died for you so you could belong to Him.
  • Pinpoint the source of all forms of life. Did you know that not even a blade of grass or a little bird exists except by the power of God? Read John 1:3
  • Develop a strategy: When you are labeled as a bastard child or illegitimate, embed this in your mind: I AM GOD’S IDEA
  • Become an adoptee/foster kid warrior:  Pray like this: I am a blood-bought child of the Living God and Jesus is my Lord and Savior.
  • Develop boundaries. We need to get used to the fact that people will not understand adoption, nor have the skills to speak respectfully to us. When someone at church says, “Oh, we’re all adopted,” just smile and don’t get involved in conversation.

I love you, fellow adoptees and foster kids of all ages.

Contact me anytime if I can help, okay?

What To Do with Adoption Bullies
This is a photo of an adopted or foster teen that has just been taunted by a bully…you are illegitimate and a bastard child. How devastating for adopted and foster children. What can they do? Sherrie offers suggestions that will bring growth on every level of life.



Posted on 2 Comments

Why Adopted and Foster Kids Believe They Don’t Belong Anywhere

How Adoptees React to Others Trying to Help Them Belong

Adopted and foster kids would prefer hiding under pillows than believing they “don’t belong” in the family, school group, university, or place of worship.

They might describe “feelings of not belonging” like this:

  • Uncomfortable: A square peg being pushed into a round hole.
  • Judged: A tattoo on my forehead that says: “Weird.”
  • Unknown: An alien who was dropped into my parent’s home.”
  • Mixed Up: Fingernails over-the-blackboard feeling.
  • Confused: Spontaneous sense of belonging with bio relatives but not with mom and dad.

Of course, adoptive and foster parents cringe at these beliefs. They will do anything to comfort their children and convince them that they belong. Here are a few parental attempts:

  • Clanging Bell Approach: Mention as often as possible to the child that they belong, with an affectionate tap on the head.
  • Silent Approach: Just ignore anyone talking about the fact that child may suffer with this. It will go away in time.
  • Quivering-Lip Approach: If I cry, maybe my child will know how much he/she means to me.
  • Educational Approach: Find a book on Amazon called “You Belong.”
  • Gift Approach: Buy a necklace that says, “You belong.”

None of these approaches work.

In fact, they hurt rather than heal.

The Roots of “Not Belonging”

The root cause not belonging is genealogical bewilderment, which is articulated by the late Dr. Betty Jean Lifton in her best-selling book, LOST AND FOUND. Order here:

Lifton says genealogical bewilderment comes from the fact that adoptees are confused about their origins.

In other words, “Who am I?”

She then adds another component: technical bewilderment, which means that adoptees are not able to cope with the confusion arising from the genealogical bewilderment.

What Parents Can Do

I know that the material above might be upsetting to parents. You never want to wound your children.

So, what is a parent to do with this information?

These are a few suggestions:

  1. Open an intentional conversation about common adoptee issues.  Your child will probably resist…but keep on…through prayer and time. We adoptees and foster kids don’t want to do anything to hurt or disappoint you, so we will clam up.
  2. Explain adoption dynamics in child-friendly terms. “Adoptees often struggle with things like ‘Who am I?’ and ‘Where did I come from?'”
  3.   Use visuals to facilitate teaching: I have an illustration…the Braid of Adoption that would be sufficient. With this, you can explain everyone’s place in the adoption triad.  –
    1. Red=adoptee or foster child (an amazing creation of nature and nurture …with incredible potential, rolled into one awesome person.
    2. Green ribbon= represents the first family, who provides first home (womb) for child and all the DNA gifts.
    3. Purple=adoptive/foster parents who nurture that gift of the bio parents.
    4. Gold=God’s power in and through all of us…for our good.
  4. *Braid for blog
  5. Clarify the two sources of identity: Bio family and adoptive/foster family
  6. Assure that you understand child’s confusion…who do I belong to? Who am I?
  7. Affirm love and respect for first family, thus giving him/her permission to talk with you about them in the future.
  8. Challenge: recognize feeling, remember not alone, choose to celebrate uniqueness of life.

For more in-depth information about the adoptee mindset, consider my third book: TWENTY LIFE-TRANSFORMING CHOICES ADOPTEES NEED TO MAKE