Coaching

Your Coach’s Goal for You and the Kids you Love

One crisp September morning, Bob and I settled into our portable chairs on the sidelines of a soccer field to watch our nine-year-old twin grandsons play their first game of the season.

The game had already begun and Aus and Blake were running their hearts out.

Suddenly I heard a barking voice coming from a man in his early forties, running up and down the sidelines.

“Who is that?” I asked my daughter, in an escalating voice.

“The new coach, mom,” she whispered.

“How dare he talk to my precious grandsons like that?” I thought.

The game continued.

At one point, the coach called a player aside, grabbed his shirt collar with both hands to secure an “in-your-face” position, and said, “Are you doing your best, son?”

“No-o-o-o,” the kid said, eyes as big as saucers.

I whispered to Bob, “Couldn’t he be a little easier on them?”

Bob rolled his eyes and sighed deeply.

“Well, get back in there and do it,” the coach yelled, giving the kid a swat on the fanny as he returned to the field. “You can do it! I’ve seen you do it….now do it, again!”

The kid turned around, caught the eyes of the coach, and smiled.

After the game, I re-iterated my concern to our son-in-law, Michael. “Why is the coach being so hard on the boys? Isn’t he being too tough? It’s not going to be any fun for them, is it?”

Michael chuckled.

“Sherrie,” he said, “that is exactly what the boys need. His goal isn’t for them to have a fun time. He knows how to balance praise and toughness so that he can bring out the best in his team. That’s his job and he does it well.”

I thought a lot about Michael’s comments because I also am a coach. Not for nine-year-old young men on a soccer field, but for parents on their adoption journeys with their children, and others whose lives have been touched by adoption.

I realized that the soccer coach’s philosophy and mine are identical.

I don’t coach those touched by adoption with the goal of producing fun in their lives, although fun can and does happen. I coach in order to bring out the best in each person. I use tough talk when needed. Truth be told, at times I have yanked some by the proverbial shirt collar into an “in-your-face” position and asked if they were playing their best. If the answer is a nervous “no,” I send them back into the game with a strong affirmation, but not a swat on the fanny, like the boys’ coach.

Sometimes, they turn around and give me a big smile, which warms my heart.

As an adoption coach, I am dedicated to bringing out the very best in you.

I am committed to helping you reach your goal…whatever it takes.

That’s my job!

Sherrie

What Could Be the Cause of my Daughter’s Anxiety?

Dear Sherrie Eldridge,

I just found out about your book, bought it yesterday, and started reading it today! I immediately looked up your website and am going to tell others about it. I am an adoptive mom of an 11 year old and a 1 year old. The Lord has blessed us with our two precious daughters through adoption and we are so thankful for them!! My question – our 11 year old began having anxiety attacks this summer. To make a long story short, our pediatrician said it was anxiety. I took her to him twice, as well as an urgent care doctor the first time it happened. It was not caused by any medical problem. He said she is not in touch with what she’s anxious about since she can’t give a reason why.

She also struggles with anger and disrespect in what seem like extreme ways to us. We were wondering if it was just preadolescence, but in just the little I’ve read in your book, could it be part of her grieving process about being adopted? We’ve always been open with her about her adoption. Any words of wisdom would be appreciated and I’ll keep reading the book. Thanks so much. We just want to be good parents, godly parents to these two girls we love so much and whom the Lord has entrusted to our care. Thanks so much. I don’t know how you have time to answer e-mails, but thank you for helping all of us on this journey.

From a crying mom who just wants to help my girls.

Dear ______________________,

Here’s a quote by Selma Fraiberg (child psychiatrist and author). “Can a baby under one ‘remember’ this traumatic separation from his original parents? No, he probably will not remember the events as a series of pictures that can be recalled. What is remembered, or preserved is anxiety, a primitive kind of terror, which returns in waves in later life.”

Many adoptees that I interviewed for my second book resonated with the problem of anxiety. Personally, I have had a problem with it all my life, and yes, I believe is loss/grief related. Five years ago my doctor put me on a low dose of Klonipin and it has worked miracles in my life. Anger is a very common problem among adoptees. There is a whole chapter about it in Twenty Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make. I hope this helps.

If there is anything else I can to do help, please let me know.

Love,

Sherrie

How Can we Protect our Daughter from further Hurts?

Dear Sherrie Eldridge,

I have an adopted 15-year-old daughter that was adopted at birth. She’s a beautiful girl, although I don’t believe she thinks so. She has friends at school, but has a difficult time maintaining friendships out of school. She tells me people don’t like her. We have had a problem with her connecting with strangers over the internet and she says that those people like her, but not those in her own community. She’s pretty open with me but I am not sure what to do to encourage the situation. My husband is extremely protective of her and does not want her to go with kids we don’t know. Outwardly, she is the life of the party, but inwardly I believe she is very sad because she does not feel a part of the crowd. She refuses to go to counseling.

Now, her yearbook teacher wants to do an article on “not your typical” family and feature her as an adoptee. I am worried that kids at school will give her additional grief about the article and I love her so much I don’t want her to be hurt…again. A couple of years ago she told kids at her school she was adopted and they really upset her with questions like who are your real parents, where did you come from, and a lot of other negative comments. We talked about it and so did her teacher at the time.

I would really like your opinion on whether I should discourage this yearbook article or let it happen. I want to protect her but I don’t want her to think that there is anything wrong with being adopted. We have been very open about the adoption with our friends and family and my daughter since she was a small child.

I hope you will respond. I don’t know what to do to help this child who is the love of my life.

Thank you for your consideration.

Dear ______________________,

I guess my first question would be, “How does Lauren feel about the request?” Second, I think the teacher needs a little education about adoption and adoptees. We adoptees don’t like to be “different.” We don’t like to be singled out, unless it is of our own choosing (as saying “I was adopted.

That seems like such a negative title-“not a typical family.” What IS a typical family? Why doesn’t she approach it from the positive and ask her if she would like to write an article to write about “The Uniqueness of an Adoptive Family.”? I think the other title just sets her up for more teasing from the kids.

As far as what to do about friends, she NEEDS adoptee friendships. When I wrote my second book, Twenty Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make, I interviewed over 70 adoptees. The main conclusion from them was, “I feel like I’m not alone, anymore”. Being with fellow adoptees will put her in the majority, instead of the minority. We all need that!

One effective exercise for teens that refuse counseling has been for the parent to read Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, write your remarks in the margins about how you did with your parenting, and then give it to her to read. This has opened up many conversations.

If there is anything else I can to do help, please let me know.

Love,

Sherrie

Why does our son have trouble calling us “mom and dad?”

Dear Sherrie Eldridge,

I just found your information on the internet. How wonderful to have somewhere to go for answers and support.

We adopted a seven-year-old boy after he had been a foster child of ours for two years. He is a delight and has been easy to parent. One question we have is regarding how adoptive children address their adoptive parents. When he was our foster child, he always called us by our first names. He knew his birth mother at that time, and her rights were terminated after an attempted reunification. He was grateful to be adopted by us. Although he will refer to us as mom and dad when he is speaking about us to others, he is not comfortable addressing us personally in this manner. He also says he is not comfortable calling us our first names, saying “You are more special than that.”

I have looked through some of your articles, to see if this topic is addressed, but have not yet found anything on this topic. Are there any special words that other children have used to address their adoptive parents, other than mom or dad? We openly talk with him about this, and support him finding something he is comfortable with. We know his love for us does not change by not calling us mom and dad.

Also, I would love to subscribe to your newsletter. Can you let me know how to proceed?

Any assistance or insights would be greatly appreciated!

Thank you for all your good work.

Dear ______________

Thank you for your kind words! I am so glad you wrote. What does he call his birth parents (mother and father, dad and mom)? I wonder if this is a loyalty issue going on in his seven-year-old heart. He may believe that he is betraying his birth parents by calling you mom and dad directly.

Ask probing questions! Explore, until you get to the core issue.

“Do you feel like something inside feels funny when you call us mom and dad?”

“Do those names make you think about your birth parents?”

“Do you think about them a lot?”

“It is fine with us if you do. In fact, we want you to because they are a very important part of you.”

Assure him that you care deeply for his parents and are so grateful that they brought him into this world. This is honoring—and when you honor the birth family, you honor your child. Even if the family history is terribly negative and painful as it sounds this might be, you can still honor the parents for giving him birth. This is absolutely necessary!

I also wonder if he has grieved the loss of his birth family. Does he talk about them? Have you asked him if he misses them? Even though children have to be removed from undesirable homes, they still have a deep allegiance and love for their parents.

I often use a tool called the grief box to help children grieve loss. I am going to include it in this message in case in might be of some help to you. After you have addressed loyalty and grief issues, he may feel comfortable enough to call you mom and dad. If not, ask him what some fun names would be for you and your husband. I used to call my dad, “daddio.” It was a term of endearment.

Here are instructions for the grief box:

Child’s Grief Box©


1. Tell him that you are going to work on an adoption project together.
2. Find a box that can hold several items—possibly 12 X 16 and 6 inches tall.
3. Sit down with him child and ask what makes him sad—about his birth family, about the failed reunification, etc.
4. Select items together that are representative of the loss and put into the box (You can use small items or photos from magazines and newspapers. Go to the dollar store—it’s a great place to find the items. One teen that I worked with from Romania said that she had tears inside that wouldn’t come out. We found round, blue pieces of glass wrapped in mesh, and those represented her unshed tears). Put the lid on the box.
5. Have child take items out one at a time and tell you how he feels about each one– how he felt, where he was, what other people said, the smells, and the sounds. Help him get in touch with his anger. Explain that it is okay to be angry and to “get all the angries out.” Assure him he can say anything—things he thinks are unspeakable. “I hate my mommy for not keeping me.” This has to be done to get all the pain out. It’s not good to remain at the “hate stage,” but I love the verse in Ecclesiastes 3—“there is a time to hate.” Personally, I had to say those unspeakable things before I could heal.
6. Validate his emotions. To validate means “to say that it’s okay to have that feeling.” (“If I were you, I would feel the same way.” “It must really hurt, doesn’t it?” Or, “You have a right to be angry!”)
7. Teach him to forgive each person who has hurt him. (I like to use the illustration of having the person who hurt you strapped to your back. Ask him how heavy that would be. Ask him what awful things that person might say. Ask if he wants to grow up with all that happening. Then tell him that to forgive, means to cut that person loose. You might even want to draw pictures with him around this theme.)
8. Teach him what happens when you are thankful for the things that hurt. (You grow up strong!) Have him replace each item and say thank you and ask how he thinks he might grow strong from each hurt.
9. Teach him to let go. Tell him that you’ll put the box in a special place until he needs to use it again and then at that time, add another item.

I hope this helps! Keep me posted, okay?

Our newsletter is not being published currently but there are eight years of archives to enjoy on the site!

Sherrie

Is continual lying a symptom of Reactive Attachment Disorder or a sin?

Hello Sherrie,

I just recently came across your web site. I am also just learning about Reactive Attachment Disorder. Seventeen years ago we adopted our son where we were serving as missionaries. He was a five-six month baby who had been abandoned at a hospital. Since that time we have gone through some very tough times and I knew nothing else to do but pray, and God has done so much.

Today, our son is almost 18 and going to school to learn computer networking. He is doing well in many ways after a very difficult adolescence. However, he still has a serious problem of lying. He desires to follow the Lord, but this has become a real problem and habit in his life. It affects the trust level between us and he and it will affect all the interpersonal relationships that he ever has unless it is overcome. We have talked about the importance of being truthful and a man of integrity often, yet it continues to be a problem.

Having said all this, my questions is, “Do you think this is just a sin issue or do you think it is something that he needs help with from a professional therapist who deals with RAD. He has seen therapists in the past (Then I knew nothing about RAD), has gone through a wilderness therapy program and we have spent much money. We don’t want to keep out dishing out money if it will not help. But, if it is something that will, we are more than willing to do what it takes, for we love him dearly.

So, I am just asking your advice in this and appreciate so much your time and consideration. Also, he would like to connect with others who have been adopted. It is hard for him being a black in a white family and trying to figure out who he really is. He really has no one who can relate to him. Also, since we have been missionaries much of his life, he has third culture issues to deal with. I am just doing what I can to help him connect with others, so if you know of any connections, please let me know.

My heart thanks to you!!

Hi________________

Thank you for writing!

It sounds like your son has made real progress but I think the continual lying would be a symptom of an attachment disorder. I am not a professional in this area, but Dr. Gregory Keck and Regnia Kupecky, LSW, are! They have written a wonderful book titled Parenting the Hurt Child : Helping Adoptive Families Heal and Grow. I just looked up the subject of lying in this book and there is wonderful teaching on it. I would encourage you to buy the book and read it. I think it may help.

As far as the spiritual side of it, yes, of course it is a sin. But you have a wounded son and before he is able to even realize it is a sin or have the desire to do anything about it, he needs to know that he can pour out his heart about lying (as to an attachment therapist), and know he won’t be judged. He needs to feel safe.

Yes, by all means, I would seek out further counseling from an attachment and bonding specialist.

But don’t spiritualize—look at the wound first, get help with it, and then pray that God will help you to help him deal with it from a spiritual perspective. We all need acceptance in our brokenness, not judgment. Isn’t that what Jesus did for us? When we were dead in sin and he saw us at our very worst, He loved us the most. That is the kind of love that makes us want to leave sin and follow Him.

I’m not condoning the sin, but asking you to look beneath it to his wound that needs healing.

I hope this is of some help.

Sherrie

Need for Literature on Fetal-Alcohol Syndrome in Adoptees

Dear Sherrie,

I’m sure you get lots of mail, but I thought you might appreciate fan mail from a fellow author. I’ve written two books (not on adoption topics) and articles for the NY York Times Magazine. I’m also the mother of three adopted children. All three of our kids were adopted from the state and have traumatic histories.

I just finished 20 Things and want to say how much I appreciated it. It really validated much of what we have done and continue to do, such as having contact with birth family members when possible, and being honest and forthright with our children about their painful pasts. It is a relief to read your book because most support systems are not educated on adoption and think you are “making a big deal” about adoption, or harming the child by allowing them to visit birth family. But we have found that guided openness has led to much forgiveness and healing for our children.

At any rate, it would be wonderful if for future editions you could address the intersections between adoption issues and special needs that arise when a child has been exposed to drugs or alcohol in utero. Such children have lots of grief, anger and loss to address, which can be all the harder when they are neurologically impaired.

Also, I think there is a heavy strain of rescue mentality among some adoptive parents, especially those that go overseas, and I think this needs to be combated if children are allowed to experience their own anger. After all, a child who is “rescued” from an orphanage or third world country and often reminded of what saints his adoptive parents are is going to feel even more silenced.

I love my children with a passion and am thankful for them everyday. I have found them to be incredibly empathetic, aware and sensitive children.

Good work on a great book. Thanks.

Dear _______________,

Thank you so much for your encouraging words.

You are brave to take on kids with traumatic histories, but I am glad you are one of those adoptive parents who are willing to look at the realities of adoption loss in addition to other abuse, etc. Many adoptive parents run in the opposite direction when the word “loss” is mentioned.

Dr. Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky, MSW., have done wonderful work and writing on parenting children with traumatic pasts. You may want to check out their stuff on Amazon.com.

How interesting that you would mention “victim mentality” among adoptive parents. I agree that a child would shut down emotionally and relationally if told they had been rescued from overseas. I have noticed lately that when many adoptive parents tell me about their child, they always add, “And we love him/her so much.” I doubt that would be said about a bio child-it is just a “given.”

There is an interesting book called Post Adoption Blues: overcoming the unforeseen challenges of adoption, by Karen J. Foli, Ph.D. and John R. Thompson, M.D., married and newly adoptive parents. The book deals with depression that adoptive parents often experience after adoption, but no one talks about. Maybe that contributes to the victim mentality?

How about YOU writing a book on special needs children? It would be great, I am sure.

How an Adoptee Can Prepare for a Reunion?

Hi Sherrie,

Thank you for your ministry!

I have read several of your books and found them to be extremely helpful. I am an adoptee and my husband and I are beginning the adoption process. I believe I will have a unique look on adopting a child.

My question is: How should I prepare myself for a possible reunification with my birth mother? I was adopted at three months of age and had no history about my birth family or adoption until two years ago when I requested non-identifying information.

I recently requested a search for identifying information and medical history. I received a call last week that it won’t be long until the state agency will have contact with my birth mother for the first time and ask her if she will give out medical history.

I wrote her a letter and she will be asked if she wants my letter to her. Obviously, I am scared and excited that this will all happen very soon. I have no idea how she will respond.

How do I prepare myself? I have prayed that God would prepare her heart and possibly use this as a way to witness to her.

Thanks for your input!

Hi___________________,

You are probably excited and scared to death at the same time! Been there, done that, got the tee shirt.

I would encourage you to go to our web site at www.adoptionjewels.org and read the articles on rejection. Prepare yourself for the very worst because there is always a chance that it can happen. When and if you meet your birth mother, she will not be meeting you, but facing her painful past for possibly the first time.

Looking back, I wish I would have gone very slowly with my mother. In spite of excitement, allow yourself time to feel prepared on every level, including spiritually. Get a group of friends to pray for you.

Congratulate yourself that no matter how it turns out, you are incredible because you have the courage to face your greatest fear, which is rejection from your birth mother. Even if she should reject you, with God’s help, you will come out eventually as a stronger woman. And if she does receive you, that’s great too.

God bless you as you walk toward that door!

Adoption Disruption and a Broken-Hearted Mom

Sherrie,

I noticed on your site that you spoke of adoption mourning as well as praising.

Our family has experience both–one wonderful domestic adoption and one tremendously difficult disputed foreign adoption.

Is there an average time for healing for the family after disruption? I know it will be different for all families, but wondered if there is a usual time.

Also, is that average different for men and women and other children in the family?

Thank you for your time.

Many blessings to you and appreciation for your work.

Dear __________,

I don’t know of an average time it takes to get over a disruption. The best place to find statistics is at the Evan B. Donaldson Institute. www.adoptioninstitute.org

I would imagine that it would always be with you, to some degree. Not in the crisis sense of the word, but there would be triggers to your memory, triggers of loss.

It has taken me 12 years to get the point of, I believe, healing from the rejection by my birth mother. I just don’t know a specific answer to your question.


Sherrie,

Forgive me for not thinking about “mourning” as possibly referring to an adoptee’s feeling of loss.

We have an eighteen-year-old adopted son that has been such a light to our family. Things are still fresh with us as our daughter’s adoption by another family just took place April 9th. She was in so much pain. Even when I look at pictures now that I had thought were happy for her, I see much sadness.

Anyway, thank God she is in a home with a sister also from Russia that looks so much like her Russian sister that she begins to heal and bond with a family. I am glad I could hear her misery and help get her to a sister.

I know I was not enough to mother Elena. She appeared to hate me. My husband said it was probably much referred feelings for her birth mom, but it was horrible around here with me feeling she would kill me as I slept for a year and a half. She screamed her grief here daily and our home felt like a war zone with sadness and anger circling all around.

Even when I look at pictures now that I had thought were happy for her, I see much sadness. I’m sure she felt rejection from her mother, but was left as the oldest of five to care for her brothers and sisters in Russia while mom and step-dad went out to drink for weeks at a time. Her siblings had all been adopted and she was in the orphanage and they wanted her to have a family and we wanted to love her, but she would have preferred they let her stay in her home country as close to her siblings as possible.

There is joy for her now. Her new mom and I e-mail and I try to encourage her. She does a great job and is ten years older than me and many times wiser. She gave Elena a sister where Elena felt I had taken her from her sister.

I know that I began the search for a sister for her here, but her new mom gives her what she needs everyday and for that I cannot tell you how very grateful I am.

Thank you!

Dear ________________,

I am happy for you that things seem to be going so well for your daughter in her new home, after the disruption.

However, things may APPEAR to be well, but inside is a little girl that sees only abandonment. Her cup of abandonment is so full that she is probably on her best behavior because if she does something wrong, the new parents may abandon her as she perceives you abandoned her. It is just not as simple as replacing one family with another. When you e-mail the new mother, talk about the realities of adoption-don’t let her stay in denial that everything is “peachy keen,” when there is a child with a broken heart. Encourage her to find professional help-the intensive kind, such as is offered at The Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio in Cleveland. It may be a long way from their home, but it would be well worth the effort for everyone involved.

I would really encourage you to stop blaming yourself and beating up on yourself. You sound like you were a very dedicated mother to this child, but she didn’t have the ability to RECEIVE the love that you so longed to give. It’s not your fault!

Should we Seek an Adoption Specialist for our Daughter?

Ms. Sherrie Eldridge,

Your book, Twenty Questions Adopted Kids Want Their Adoptive Parents to Know, touched me deeply. It gave validation on some things I wondered about and illumination about things that had never occurred to me.

Attachment difficulties really stood out as describing our daughter. Our fifteen year old daughter has had numerous problems for years, including depression and drugs. She has been seeing a therapist for almost three years but after reading your book I’m wondering if a therapist with adoption background might be better for her.

I have a list of adoption therapists in my state and there are several in our area. I feel it is important to investigate which therapist would be best suited to our daughter as we are very, very concerned about her and don’t want to move her from therapist to therapist.

Do you have any advice as to what to look for (maybe training or background) or
what specific questions to ask an adoption therapist? We do like the therapist we are with currently and our daughter trusts her.

I gave her your book in hopes it might give some insight into adoption issues but I’m wondering if someone specifically trained or experienced in adoption would be better. I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Thank you.

Dear __________,

Thank you very much for your most-encouraging words about my book, and for writing!

Yes, most definitely, I would make a change for the good of your daughter. Adoptees don’t usually respond to “talk therapy.” We are very well defended and unless someone knows how to break the barriers with us, we can go through therapy and not experience any inward change.
I went through five therapists before I really got help!

How fortunate for you that you are in an area where there are adoption therapists. How to know if they are good? If I were you, I would ask to interview them. Who cares what they think! If they are bona fide good adoption therapists, they will be happy to be interviewed.

An organization that I really respect is ATTACh. (Association for the Treatment and Training of Children). They are a group of bonding and attachment specialists as well as concerned parents, both with much integrity. Go to their site at www.attach.org and get in contact with them and ask if they are familiar with any of the names in your area. They may even have someone else to recommend as well.

What you want is an attachment and bonding specialist. That would be the very best for your daughter. They will have been trained in non-conventional types of techniques that get through to your daughter. I know there has been a lot of bad press about this in the past, but there are good people out there, who aren’t weird and do wonderful work.

My friend and colleague, Greg Keck, Ph.D., an attachment and bonding specialist, adopted his son after 33 placements. When I interviewed him 11 years ago for our newsletter, he told me with tears in his eyes that Brian was soon to graduate from college and go on to be an Olympic wrestler. These kids aren’t sick–they just need the right kind of help, and I am sure you can find it. You may want to go to our newsletter archives and read an article that Greg wrote about how to find a good therapist.

Another thing that has been successful with teens is for you to go through the Twenty Things book, write personal comments in the margins, give it to your daughter, ask her to read it, and then have her write comments. This often opens a wonderful conversation.

I hope this helps! Keep me posted, and if there is anything else I can do, let me know.

With warm wishes,

Can you believe Adoptees when they say, “I ONLY want medical records?”

Hi Sherrie!

I got your book last October and read the first three chapters and then set it aside and did not pick it up again until this April and have just now finished reading it.

Thank you for what you have to say in your book. Someone actually told me about the book when I told them that I was adopted as an infant.

Actually you may find this rather strange, but I have worked in the social work field for about nine years. Now, here I am, beginning the process of exploring my past and how being adopted has affected my life.

I find it strange that it has taken me this long to be ready for this. But I have always said that I only wanted to see what my birth parents look like and to know medical information. I have never wanted to consider meeting my birth parents because they have had nothing to do with my life (i.e. childhood, growing up)….except giving me life 32 years ago. But here I am. If you don’t mind reading a very long e-mail, let me explain a little about me.

I am a 32-year-old adoptee and have always known it. I am the oldest of three children in my family. My parents have one birth child (brother) 21 months younger than me. Then I have an adopted brother that is six years younger than me. I have always known that I was adopted.

Growing up with one adopted brother we never talked about our feelings regarding adoption. Not that conversation was not permitted; I am not really sure why we never talked about. Fear, maybe. I do not have any adoptee friends. I have met people casually over the years who were adopted, but situations being whatever they were relationships did not develop.

I had a difficult relationship with my parents/brothers when I was growing up. I struggled for love and acceptance from them and never perceived that I received love from them. At school, I was not accepted by my peers, had no friends, and little to no social interactions. When I did have friendships they would fail when peers said nasty things about me. I closed up and would not allow people inside and to know me.

It was not until high school that I began to have friendships and peers accepted me for the person I was. While in college, my younger brother began to have serious emotional and behavioral difficulties. They talked about attachment disorder being a cause as a result of his adoption because he was abandoned as a toddler from another country.

When in college, I became a Christian. My parents were not Christians and I did not grow up attending church. All of these life events and new faith in Jesus propelled me into social work arena.

I am not married. I have never been in any type of committed relationship with a man. I struggle with allowing myself to let my guard down. This has been true my whole life. I long to be married and to have a family. So, in exploring my past I am hoping this self exploration will bring about emotional healing and allow me to become freer to explore intimacy.

Connected with my job, I am planning to attend the North American Council on Adoptable Children national conference. Can you offer any suggestions or advice for an adoptee that is going down the path of healing?

Thanks for you patience in reading my very long e-mail.

God Bless you!

Dear____________,

I am so happy for you that your issues have begun to surface. I know what you’re thinking-thanks a lot!!:-) I am on tip toes to see what God is going to do in and through you.

When adoptees tell me they only want to search for medical reasons, I say, “Yeah, sure. Tell me another one.” There is so much more buried deep below but we don’t want to face it or let anyone else know that we may be interested.

Your issue with intimacy is a familiar one for adoptees. If “they” really knew me and what I am like, they would reject me for sure, right? One male adoptee I know divorced his wife, whom he described as “perfect.” When others in our support group asked why he was divorcing her, he said whenever intimacy was approaching, he felt like he was being suffocated and trapped. He couldn’t stand the feeling. It was too painful. I would recommend that you read The Art of Intimacy, by Drs. Malone. I don’t know if it’s still in print, but I bet you could find it in your library.

Another book that has helped me immensely, and it may you, is Patterns of Relating: An Adult Attachment Perspective, by Malcolm. L West and Adrienne E. Sheldon-Keller. I think of this because of difficulties in attaching to others in meaningful relationships. I love this quote: “The securely attached adult can acknowledge felt distress in a modulated way and turn to supportive and trusted relationships for comfort. Particularly during times of emotional upset, comfort often needs to be expressed in concrete attachment behaviors that reassure the individual. Put simply, felt security at these times has a lot to do with having someone available who will respond to our feelings and often take supportive action. The special warmth that accompanies attachment comes just from these tangible reassurances that one is understood.”

Being a social worker must put you in an uncomfortable place about these matters you have listed, but I think that if you could find a counselor who specializes in adoption and attachment, that you could surely overcome the difficulties and go on to have the kind of life you have dreamed of.

Glad to hear you are going to NACAC. I won’t be there this year, but maybe sometime we’ll get to meet face to face. I am glad you enjoyed the book. I wish you God’s blessings as you go forth. Make some adoptee friends and NACAC and read all you can get your hands on. I would suggest The Primal Wound, by Nancy Verrier.

A Reunited Birth Mom Wants to Help her Distant Daughter

Hi Sherrie,

I have a question…a big one 🙂 I am a birth mom in an open adoption. The adoption was opened when my daughter was 14 (previous to that it was closed). The only reason it was opened was because my daughter was acting out badly (cutting, running away, sex, drugs…you name it) and her mom and dad thought it might help her to meet me. Both the adoptive parents and I are Christians and have spent hours praying for her together.

Shortly after I met my daughter, her mom and dad chose to put her in a lockdown school for teenagers. She has been there 16 months now. The only contact I have had with her is letters, and I have written a LOT. Her dorm mom and her counselor say that she LOVES my letters, but I have only gotten one from her in return. Her counselor says she is afraid to write because all of the letters go through her mom and dad and she doesn’t want to hurt her mom’s feelings by writing to me.

Recently, she started talking about being adopted and how she feels abandoned. Here is my question:

I have read so many books (close to 30) on adoption and have read many things about how adoptees can work on their own healing and how adoptive parents can help in that healing. I have found NOTHING on what a willing, able and emotionally-healthy birth mom can do to work through the abandonment feelings with an adoptee. I was, after all, the person who relinquished her. It seems that there must be a way for me to help her work through that.

My daughter’s counselor is considering bringing me to the school for a therapeutic visit. I am willing to do whatever it takes. Any ideas, book recommendations–anything that might help me to know how to approach my daughter and her feelings on this subject. I would like to start addressing some real issues in my letters to her, but I am struggling with where to begin.

Thank you very much!

PS– My dad is a licensed counselor (although not experienced in adoption). He is currently counseling with an adopted, Christian man. I gave him the name of both of your books as a balanced perspective on adoption and healing. So thanks! 🙂

Dear ______________,

You sweet thing! What adoptee wouldn’t DIE to have a birth mom like you! And good for you that you are reading so much. We must never stop educating ourselves about the complexities of adoption.

I think you are doing all the right things. Remember that we adoptees are a lot like the tortoises you see in the zoo-we are so well defended! Once in a while we poke our heads out to see if it’s safe. This is my explanation for the one letter you have received from your daughter. Take heart-she will poke her head out more and more as she learns to trust you. Trust, I believe, is the core issue for adoptees.

One of the first things that came to mind when you described her lack of response to you was the issue of loyalty. The majority of adoptees that I know believe that they are being disloyal, or ungrateful to their adoptive parents for all that they have done for them. The adoptive parents must assure her that her interest (and love) for you is in no way a threat to them and they support your relationship.

One technique that has been unusually effective with teens and parents in getting a response out of the adoptee is to take my first book-Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew (it is also for birth parents) and have the parent read it first, make notations in the margins, and then send it to the teen. Then the teen is then invited to read it, along with the recorded thoughts, make notations, and then send it back to the parent, Great openings for conversation usually happen after that.

For you to get a good idea of adoptee recovery, my second book would be a big help. Gee, I hope I don’t sound like I’m just trying to push my own work, but I think it would be beneficial.

Over 70 adoptees participated in the project, and it may be really healing for you too, as the first chapter tells about the BIG importance of our birth parents and how we have an innate need for connection with you. Experts say that for the adoptee, it is equivalent to starving.

We also will have workbooks on our site. My favorite for adoptees is Under His Wings…Creating a Safe Place for Adoptees to Talk about Adoption. Experts say that the best way for an adoptee to surface repressed feelings is to write letters TO and FROM the birth mother. I have seen amazing results in our all-adoptee support groups here in Indianapolis. You might want to work through it together.

But you know what I think melts an adoptee’s defenses more than anything? When a birth parent is repentant. When he/she apologizes for the pain that the decision to relinquish caused for the adoptee. It is RARE when a birth parent will do this, but I have a feeling that you are one of the rare ones.

God bless you!

A Birthmother’s Bittersweet Story

Hi Sherrie,

I am a birth mother with a wonderfully amazing but sad story. I’d love to share it with you sometime.

I wanted you to know that I bought your book, Twenty Things, today and am on a new mission!

My son’s “mom” died when he was 17 and he and I are growing in a glorious way. I called him today and talked to him about your book and asked if he wondered about his medical history. I told him about the man who said he always felt different when he filled out medical forms. My son said that he had felt different, and yes had wondered. So, tonight I am emailing my/his medical history to him. I have decided to go through your book and answer all the questions it addresses…sharing all along.

I have just started reading it, but what a wonderful, albeit regretful, place I am in. The first conversation I am going to have with my son about this book is to tell him that he was very much loved and nurtured and cherished for the first nine months of his life.

It’s strange, but after reading the part about the lady who was in the hospital mostly for unwed mothers and her comments about the cries…I could so relate. My son cried when he was born and I didn’t hear him cry again until the nurse took him from me the next afternoon. I remember thinking, “He knows.”

Hmmm, now I believe he did.

Thank you so much for writing this book. I know it will help in the truly awesome journey I now find myself on.

Sandra

Dear Sandra,

Thank you for writing and for your kind words about my book. I am thrilled that it is helping you and your son. That is always my prayer for those who read it. Many parents, whether birth or adoptive, have used the margins of the book to make notes for their teens and then send the book to them and have them read it. It has opened wonderful dialogue between parents and children.

Just a suggestion!

God bless you as you continue on your healing journey!


Dear Sherrie,

I just wanted to tell you how awesome I think it is that you have e-mailed back and forth with me this morning.

Even though I’m on the other side–being a birth mother, it’s amazing the insight I am finding in this book. I’m 43 years old and the decision to place my child with someone else the day after he was born was the single most heart-wrenching decision I have ever made. I have another son (full brother to the one I placed) and it’s truly a wonderful thing to see the similarities in them, even though they were not raised in the same household. It was a no-words-to-describe experience to see them actually comparing toes and hands. I can’t wait to see where their relationship goes!

As for my own, there is a profound sadness that I will never meet the woman who was the mother to my son all those years, the woman whose letters gave me great comfort and a sense of security, the woman who loved my son only the way a mom could. Your book is helping me in my own grieving process–something I don’t think I’ve ever allowed myself to do except on a very superficial basis.

Thanks again so much for the validation of my feelings. I wonder if you have written anything from “my” perspective, or know of anyone who has. Like, “It wasn’t that I didn’t want you, but rather I knew someone else could give you the life of peace, security, and comfort that I didn’t think I could at the time.”

If you’re ever in Arizona I’d love to have you over for coffee!

Dear ___________,

Why wouldn’t I write back to you right away? I LOVE hearing from folks like you!

It must be a bittersweet experience-seeing your two sons bonding so closely, yet grieving for the fact that you will never meet the mother of the son you relinquished years ago. What a beautiful attitude you have about her!

You may want to check the newsletter archives for the article on “How to Construct a Grief Box.” It is a practical way to get all the repressed feelings out and find peace about your experience. I teach it in a talk I give at seminars and it is usually the favorite because it can be used for any kind of grief.

You asked about someone who has written from your perspective. There is a wonderful, classic book by a birth mother by the name of Carol Schaefer. Book title: The Other Mother. Because it is such a classic, I am sure you can find it at a local library.

I love your expressions about why you placed your son for adoption. Maybe you should consider writing a book along those lines! I’ll help you.

Distraught Relative that Doesn’t Know What to Do

Dear Sherrie,

I am not an adoptive parent — I’m a relative who believes that despite his struggles, he really is a good person.

My concern is with my nephew. He’s 18 and has really had a difficult time his whole life. He’s been in trouble and angry, acting out confirming what he believes people think of him. If anything goes wrong with friends or family, he always seems to be the scapegoat.

To give you some background, as a child he was teased and picked on in school. One kid in school kept bullying him. After walking away many times the boy “sucker-punched” him and he now has a metal plate in his head.

His relationship with his parents is strained and they don’t know what to do for him anymore. His parents recently moved to another state so his childhood house is no longer his which I think adds to everything.

He’s in such pain, it just breaks my heart. We have a good relationship and I’ve tried talking to him about seeking professional help, but he won’t. He saw someone as a teen and was told not to take things so personally and that he needed medication (which he won’t take). His parents recently moved to another state so his childhood house is no longer his which I think adds to everything. He told me that he has recently looked over his life and feels he has nothing to offer, that he’s a failure. He thinks he’s anti-social, that people judge him all the time, and he doesn’t want to work.

I told him that he does have something to offer the world, that God does have a plan for him, that his choices are his own to make and they can either be either positive or negative. What I’d like to know is if you have any suggestions on how I can approach him about getting professional help, talking things out. I know he needs to be ready and make this decision himself, but is there someway I could guide him toward that without sounding like I’m telling him what to do? I have read your book “Twenty Things……” and loved it. It really opened my eyes to his point of view of adoption. We were all so enlightened from it, never realizing the depth of feelings with some adoptees. Anyway, thanks for being available and if you have any suggestions or comments, please write me back.

Dear ___________,

My heart goes out to everyone involved!

I know it’s so hard to see your nephew in such pain, but you can knock on someone’s “psychological door” until you’re blue in the face, and if they’re not ready to deal with their problems, there’s not much you can do. That is, unless you are a person of faith. It says in the Bible that the prayers of a righteous man or woman accomplish much.

At least he has you-it sounds like he is open to talking with you about himself and his issues, even though his parents have kind of given up on him. I don’t mean that in a judgmental way, but parents who are “in the trenches” with their kids oftentimes get burned out. They are not to blame. I am sure they have done everything they know how to do to reach and love him.

The problem is that adoptees have a wounded, grieving heart, and until they are willing to acknowledge their need for help, they aren’t able to give or receive love.

Since he is still talking with you but refuses the thought of professional counseling, I would ask him if he would be willing to spend a couple of hours on a weekly basis with you and “go through a workbook that would help him feel better about himself.” That is what you can tell him. We offer it here on our site. The title is Under His Wings…Creating a Safe Place for Adoptees to Talk about Adoption. He may not want to go through it word by word, but it may be a starting place for him. It is my favorite book for adoptees!

You may also want to check out my second book: Twenty Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make. If he refuses the workbook time with you, maybe he will read this on his own. Over 70 adoptees contributed their fresh, often-unspoken feelings about adoption. Many of them said, “I finally feel like I’m not alone!” Others said, “This is like therapy!”

I hope this helps!

Why Do I Feel So Sad and Afraid after Meeting my Birth Daughter?

Dear Sherrie,

I had a question. I have just been reunited with my birth daughter, who is at that sweet age of 16. Anyway, she is not real keen on the fact that she has 3 siblings. Is this normal?

I’m also feeling such a loss right now and a part of me wants her back. I thought I had dealt with all of the loss issues, but now I just keep crying and I don’t know why.

I asked my b-daughter if she would like to go and talk with someone and she informed me that she doesn’t talk to strangers. However, I think it’s me who might need to talk to someone.

Her mother and I were talking about what would happen if our daughter became pregnant and the adoptive mom said that she would encourage her to place the baby. I know I’m jumping the gun here, but I couldn’t handle that. I feel like that is a reflection of “me”. I told her mother I would raise that baby, so that our daughter doesn’t have to go through what I went through. The years of hurt and feelings that no one cared. It would just be a vicious cycle.

Dear ________________

I would guess that your daughter is having enough emotions to deal with in just having met you. I remember when my birth mother told me that my half-sister and step-sister were going to meet me when I stepped off the plane to be reunited with her. I was terrified! I wanted her to myself and it also felt like “overload.” I think it is very normal for her to feel this way and very healthy that she told you.

What you are wanting back is that beloved baby and that is never going to happen. Meeting her has brought you face to face with realities that you didn’t know were there when you relinquished her. I have a birth mother friend who was reunited with her 38-year-old-son and she says what she really wants to do is put diapers on him. She wants to go back and start all over again and I would guess that’s what you are referring to when you say “part of me wants her back.” This is the deep, dark hole of loss.

As far as counseling, she probably hasn’t learned to trust you yet. For many adoptees, trust is our core issue. So, expecting to go with you and talk about all this with a stranger is probably overwhelming. She needs to feel safe with you first. I think it is very normal for her to feel this way and very healthy that she told you.

Do you need counseling? I think you’ve hit the nail on the head! That is the fear that you need to start with in therapy. A good place to begin!

Hope this helps!
Sherrie

My Daughter has Difficulty Maintaining Friendships

Dear Sherrie,

I have an adopted 15-year-old daughter, adopted at birth. She’s a beautiful girl, although I don’t believe she thinks so. She has friends at school, but has a difficult time maintaining friendships out of school. She tells me people don’t like her. We have had a problem with her connecting with strangers over the internet and she says that those people like her, but not those in her own community. She’s pretty open with me but I am not sure what to do to encourage the situation. My husband is extremely protective of her and does not want her to go with kids we don’t know. Outwardly, she is the life of the party, but inwardly I believe she is very sad because she does not feel a part of the crowd. She refuses to go for counseling.

Now, her yearbook teacher wants to do an article on “not your typical” family and feature her as an adoptee. I am worried that kids at school will give her additional grief about the article and I love her so much. I don’t want her to be hurt…again. A couple of years ago she told kids at her school she was adopted and they really upset her with questions like who are your real parents, where did you come from, and a lot of other negative comments. We talked about it and so did her teacher at the time.

I would really like your opinion on whether I should discourage this yearbook article or let it happen. I want to protect her but I don’t want her to think that there is anything wrong with being adopted. We have been very open about the adoption with our friends and family and my daughter since she was a small child.

I hope you will respond. I don’t know what to do to help this child who is the love of my life.

Dear ___________________,

I guess my first question would be, “How does your daughter feel about the teacher’s request to write the article?”

Second, I think the teacher needs education about adoption and adoptees. We adoptees don’t like to be “different.” We don’t like to be singled out, unless it is of our own choosing (as in saying “I was adopted”).

The proposed title seems negative-“not a typical family.” What IS a typical family? Why not approach it from the positive and ask your daughter if she would like to write an article about “The Uniqueness of an Adoptive Family?”

I think the other title just sets her up for more teasing from the kids.

As far as what to do about friends, she NEEDS adoptee friendships. When I wrote my second book, Twenty Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make, I interviewed over 70 adoptees. The main conclusion from them was, “I feel like I’m not alone, anymore” Being with fellow adoptees will put her in the majority instead of the minority.

One effective exercise for teens that refuse counseling has been for the parent to read Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, write your remarks in the margins about how you did with your parenting, and then give it to her to read. This has opened up many conversations.

If there is anything else I can to do help, please let me know.

Love,
Sherrie

My Toddler Is out of Control with Temper Tantrums

Hi Sherrie,

I just learned today that my son is possibly suffering from infant rage. He is 21 months and he came to us at 15 months and was removed from his birth mom at 3 days old and placed in one foster care home until he came to us. His rage is characterized by high-pitch screeching, thrashing around on the floor or jumping and throwing things, hitting people etc.

Anything can trigger these tantrums. Simply putting him down so I can take off my coat or saying no to him for any reason can send him into a tailspin. If he stumbles, but does not fall, he will go into a tantrum. If someone picks him up after a stumble or fall, he will settle and cuddle. If my husband or I pick him up after he stumbles or falls, he freaks even more and lashes out to hit, pull, etc. It is as though it was we who caused him to stumble. He whines a lot, too. I try to handle these tantrums differently depending on the cause. If he has hit someone or thrown a toy, after a warning, I will put him in his playpen without toys as discipline, telling him he is not to throw, hit, etc. If he throws a fit simply because I put him down or said no to do something, I will ignore the tantrum until he settles. Then I talk to him and he will usually settle in under my authority…most of the time and after a short period of time he will go right back and challenge me again on the same thing I just said no to. If this happens and another fit occurs, he will go to the playpen to endorse the fact this is not acceptable behavior. If he has a fit because he has stumbled or fallen, I will pick him up and hold him even though he is fighting to get away or to strike out at me. I try to comfort him from his fall and after a short period of holding him, he stops the struggle and will cuddle briefly before he wants to get down and go back to what he was doing.

I would like to know what you think about all this. Am I doing the right things? Should I adjust anything I am doing? Will this be something he can grow out of with proper parental love, care and attention? Will he require counseling, as he gets older?

I certainly appreciate you taking a moment to comment on this.
Thanks Sherrie.

Hi!

Thanks for sharing your story with me!

I just got back from Montreal, where I and learned some fascinating interventions for children from adoption specialist, Domenica Labasi.

You may want to try her techniques with your baby. There are two basic principles to remember: You must contain him so that he can learn to contain himself. Second, always combine discipline with attachment. So, when he throws a tantrum, sit down behind him, grab both hands in yours so that they cross over his chest, tell him gently that you will sit with him until he quiets down, and just hold him until that happens. I am not a therapist, but this made a lot of sense to me. Just a thought.

Sherrie

Hi Sherrie!

It has been almost three weeks since I have been following the technique you suggested to me. Nathan has not been in the playpen since. I have been holding him during his numerous tantrums throughout the day and it has been very successful. I hold him close facing me, cupping his face in my hands to gain eye contact and I talk to him about the situation surrounding the tantrum. I let him know I am holding him until he settles and until I feel calmer, too. Usually he gets rather angry and attempts to bite, kick and hit, but I continue to hug him close to me, restraining his hands and legs and gently talk into his ear asking him to relax and reassuring him that he is ok. Slowly, he begins to settle.

Now he handles himself much better and the tantrums are less severe and less frequent. Previously, he would throw a tantrum if he stumbled or dropped a toy. Now he will stop and call me or look to me. I let him know he is a good boy and everything is ok. Then I give him a quick hug or kiss whatever he bumped and encourage him. He is much happier and I can see that he is more secure.

Thank you for responding to my “distress” and for the valuable advice.
God Bless you

Do I have the Same Place in God’s Heart, even though I wasn’t Adopted?

Hello Sherrie,

God Bless your heart…..

I have just started reading your web pages…..I was placed as a foster child at age 3 with a family, never having known my own birthparents. I was told I was adopted….but I never was…not legally. That makes me someone who has gone through long-term fostering but never having been adopted, even though I fit the bill in every other respect.

When I read your pages and info and advice….it makes me wonder…..do I have the same place in God’s heart as a child/adult who was in foster care? Where do I fit into this whole adoption scene?

I answered your request for people to answer a survey but I never heard anything. Would that be because I’m not adopted……I mean I don’t have the piece of paper?

If I was raised adopted, but then find I’m not, I’ve had a hard time believing that God means what he really says…..we are adopted…..and it is secure.

Thank you for all that you do and speak about. I have learnt a lot from your site….Bless your heart…….

Shefalie

Dearest Shefalie,

Thanks so much for sharing your heart with me!

Yes! You have the beautiful legacy of an orphan, just like those that are adopted. I would think that the fact that you were never officially adopted definitely makes you fall into that category! Go to our site listed below and go to the “Newsletters” link and then to the Fall 1996 issue. Read the article: The Awesome Legacy of the Orphan, and you will see how dearly God loves you.

It’s important to remember that being an orphan from the human standpoint and spiritual standpoint is different. So many people think we are all God’s children. It’s only when we accept and believe that Jesus has seen our sin, forgiven us completely by his work on the cross, and accept his wonderful gift of forgiveness and life eternal (the life of God living in us beginning at the point of trust through all eternity)…that we are really His child.

For years, I struggled to understand the adoption stuff in the Bible and also that I was secure. I think it is because of our emotional baggage. But finally it dawned on me that when Jesus said on the Cross-“It is finished!”-HE MEANT IT! If you have placed your faith and trust in Him, NOTHING can separate you from His love and life. When that happens, you will know it because you will have a desire to know Him through His Word, the Bible, to be with other Christians, and to know Him in a personal way. I would be happy to chat with you about this if this hasn’t already happened in your heart. Just give me your phone number and a convenient time to call.

As far as the book project and no response, I want to thank you for volunteering. The reason you didn’t hear back is that I had an OVERWHELMING response. I thought maybe 60-70 people would respond, but there were over 300! I tried to set up a database and completely messed it up, lost addresses, etc. So the web master and I decided that we will set up one through her and send out another letter as soon as the book gets purchased. Forgive me for not responding personally to you. That was happening and I have been sick on top of it. It had nothing to do with you and your sweet spirit of response.

Much love to you!

Sherrie

Dear Sherrie,

That email and your other one was so nice….thank you very much. I am going to read what you have put on your site to help me in this journey.

I really wish I could talk to you in person, but I am not living in America. I am in the UK, so we can’t talk. But its really nice of you to say you would that means a lot.

If you don’t mind, would you take the time to explain to me what you mean when you said about realizing that when it dawned on you about Jesus saying “IT IS FINISHED”–He meant it?

Can you tell me what that meant to you, or what it means in everyday terms, please?

What was finished for you then…all your years of insecurity about being adopted? Do you mean you had no more issues with it?

Sorry if I don’t understand that part….I am a Christian, but have only in the past few years begun to ask God to help me in this area of adoption stuff.

Thank you very much.

If you don’t have the time…then I understand. I don’t want to be intrusive by my questions.

Shefalie

Dear Shefalie,

You are not being intrusive! I love the conversation we are having.

When Jesus said, “It is finished!”-to me it means that every one of my sins, past, present, and future have been atoned for. I no longer have to go to heaven, fearing that He may change His mind, based on MY performance (which most of the time is pathetic). My acceptance by the Father and entrance into heaven is based solely on Jesus’ work on my behalf-His life, death, burial, and resurrection.

Knowing this didn’t take away all my adoption triggers that surface from time to time, but it takes away my fear of not being acceptable to the Lord now and for eternity. Does that help?

Love you,
Sherrie

Dear Sherrie,

We don’t have much info like you share so openly in the UK and I have not found any Christian support things for adoptees, etc. This where I must find my help because you give such a different perspective on life situations.

Shefalie

Dear Shefalie,

Love to you….across the many miles.

Our hearts are knit by Christ and by adoption!

Sherrie

Dear Sherrie,

Thank you again for writing me and yes, our hearts are knit together– that is true…and this time by adoption. And the truth is that I am actually adopted like you are…..God does not lie to us, does He?

I hope I was not a bother in asking.

Bless you very much.

Shefalie

Dear Shefalie,

You’re right….you ARE adopted, and NO….God doesn’t lie! You’re His!

Your sister in Christ,
Sherrie

Is there a Time to Stop Searching even though our Hearts still want to Know?

Question to Sherrie:

At the Adoption Truths link on the Jewels site you say there is a time for everything under heaven and you quote the Bible verse that says there is a time to search and a time not to search (Ecclesiastes 3).

You said that for you there has been a time to move on. I read this Scripture this weekend for first time and I thought about how I have been searching for my birth parents for so long but there are no doors opening for me. I am thinking this isn’t possible now because it’s been so long.

So, do you think there is also a time to stop searching even though our hearts still want to know? A time to relinquish the need to search then even when we have no answers? To let go of missing genetic information?

I think this Scripture is important to adoptees and foster children……it’s a direction from God to us, is it not?

Answer:

Yes, I do believe that the Scripture you are referring to has direct application to adoptees and foster children. We can seek, and seek, and seek, to no avail.

That is what happened to me in the search for my birth father. I turned over every stone imaginable. I didn’t want to get to the end of my life and ask myself why I hadn’t done something in order to find him. I have done all possible. For me, there came a time to “let go.”

I decided eight years ago that the truth of Deuteronomy 29:29 applied to my situation. “The secret things belong to the Lord.” The knowledge of my birth father is a secret. My birth mother will take it to her grave. I have forgiven her and trust that if God wants me to know who my birth father is this side of heaven, He would have no trouble arranging it. Since He hasn’t, I can leave it in His loving hands, knowing that someday, I will know who my birth father is.

I imagine on that day, when I see Jesus face-to-face, the importance of knowing my birth father will fade into oblivion, however.

My Birth Mother was Raped and I Feel Responsible

Question to Sherrie:

I a man adoptee who is in reunion with my birth mom of about 2 years now. What a coincidence because I am currently reading your book Twenty Life-Transforming Choices Adoptees Need to Make! I really liked your section about how adoptees need to stop playing the role of victim to people who have had power/control over us for so long. I was wondering about your present relationship with you birth mother. Has she ever told you any more information as to who your birth father is? And have you tried anymore to search for him on your own? I know that meeting our birth fathers completes the circle. Unfortunately, mine ended up at a gravestone, but at least I can now mourn and grieve that void.

Answer:

I have no idea who my birth father is and probably never will. My birth mother will take it to her grave, if she hasn’t already. No contact with her whatsoever, which is fine with me. I’ve worked it all through and know that the secret things belong to the Lord. If He wanted me to know my birth father, it would be no problem for Him (Deut. 29:29).

Question to Sherrie:

My birth mom was gang raped at age 14. She later conceived me with my birth father when she was 16. My birth father was a trouble-maker with the law, etc. Not very nice stories that one wants to hear about one’s own biological parents. I’m sure that Mother’s Day and other holidays are tough for you as they are for me, too, – especially, Father’s Day. So, I understand that pain. I’m glad you found your necessary peace with your birth mom. But are you really OK with it?

Answer:

Without sounding arrogant, I really am fine with the way my life is. Mother’s and Father’s days are not hard for me, as I have learned to concentrate on what I have, not on what I don’t have. Having been overindulged as a kid, I grew up thinking everything should be perfect. Life just isn’t that way and I have SO much to be thankful for. My mother was raped too, and for years I felt so much shame. “I was conceived in rape,” I would say and it was as if a black cloud enveloped me. Then I realized I was carrying HER pain and shame. She was raped. I had nothing to do with it. I believe that my conception happened long before my birth parents ever met, in the heart of God. I believe that any two people can make love, or be raped, or whatever, but only God can create a life. He created me and you.

Note to Sherrie:

Thanks for sharing your story with me. I, too, have felt that my conception was somehow related to my birth mom being raped. And I had a feeling of disgust to think about what happened to her before I was conceived. I thought if she had told someone about it then maybe my conception could have been prevented. But I agree with you in that God has a plan and a purpose – and no life is a mistake! Just look at the way God has allowed our paths to cross.

Reply:

But you are not responsible for the acts preceding your conception. Your mother is. Yes, it’s horrible the way birth mothers were treated, and are treated in many cases today, but that’s no reason for you to carry her pain. That compulsion of wanting to re-connect with my mother is gone. I’m at total peace with it all. I only hope and pray that she comes to know the One who can forgive sin and give true life.