Adoptees Can Grow Amidst COVID-19-Bible Study 1

How Can COVID Have Anything Good About It for Adoptees and Foster Kids

Because this COVID-19 quarantine gives us more time to think in-depth about life and relationships, many of us may be having disturbing thoughts we believe we can’t share with anyone.

As an adopted person, I have felt all these things and a friend of mine has definitely experienced them. His name is Moses and he lived in Biblical times. You may wondering what he has to do with quarantine and hard things in life.

When we study his life, you’ll see that even though he lived in Biblical times, his struggles were much akin to ours today. All these struggles indicate that we need to be healed from our painful past….and present-day quarantine.

In order to study Moses and what we can learn from him, we must remember that his struggles were evidence of something deeper that must be dealt with. We’re going to look at the first part of his life prior to adoption and discover that his painful past doesn’t surface as memories of the past, but reactions to current life events.

Usually, the reactions are OVER-REACTIONS to current day events. As a friend of mine says, “Adoptees have an exclamation point after every sentence.” For me, I have a huge startle response. If anyone just touches me, I jump. If I sleuth that behavior, I know that as a baby, I was placed in an incubator for ten days after birth and likely didn’t receive much human touch.

I challenge you to be a sleuth as you read each chapter. Ask yourself: 1. What is the present-day event, the over-reaction? And, 2. What pain from the past could be triggering this?

Now, let’s put on our sleuth hats and go hunting for overreactions to present day events. Underline them. High light. Make a 3-ring binder to hold all your insights. I will highlight in this first chapter to show what I mean..

What the Bible Says About MosesBirth and Adoption: Exodus 2: 1-9

1 Now a man of the tribe of Levi married a Levite woman, 2 and she became pregnant and gave birth to a son. When she saw that he was a fine child, she hid him for three months. 3 But when she could hide him no longer, she got a papyrus basket for him and coated it with tar and pitch. Then she placed the child in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile. 4 His sister stood at a distance to see what would happen to him.

 5 Then Pharaoh’s daughter went down to the Nile to bathe, and her attendants were walking along the riverbank. She saw the basket among the reeds and sent her female slave to get it. 6 She opened it and saw the baby. He was crying, and she felt sorry for him. “This is one of the Hebrew babies,” she said.

 7 Then his sister asked Pharaoh’s daughter, “Shall I go and get one of the Hebrew women to nurse the baby for you?”  8 “Yes, go,” she answered. So the girl went and got the baby’s mother. 9 Pharaoh’s daughter said to her, “Take this baby and nurse him for me, and I will pay you.” So the woman took the baby and nursed him.

Sleuthing for Pain from Moses’ Past

CRYING (V.6)

FEELS=bashful, guilty, ashamed, inferior, bored, inadequate, miserable, totally overwhelmed, sad, inadequate

Do you think Moses’ hurt from when he was screaming would be buried, or surface someday? Perhaps, with the feeling of “something’s not right inside?” Perhaps with crazy anxiety he couldn’t calm?

Do you ever feel so overwhelmed that you can’t stop crying? Does it ever feel like you’re crying on the inside only? Do you ever feel anxious for seemingly no reason?

SHE PLACED THE CHILD (V.3)

FEELS=fear of abandonment, unexplainable anxiety, rejection

As he was placed in the basket, all that was familiar disappeared. For the first time in his life, he might have felt like an orphan. He had no awareness of Jehovah–the Being who is absolutely Self-Existent, the One who in himself possesses essential life and permanent existence. Even though his mother wasn’t there with Moses when he was floating on the Nile, Jehovah was. Jehovah’s strong hands were holding him up and keeping him safe.

What disappeared from your life when you were placed in foster care/adopted? Do you ever feel afraid of going to new places? New school, new friend’s house, new activity at school?

Sleuthing for Moses’ Overreactions Later in Life

Exodus 5: 29-30 where God asked Moses to go to Pharaoh with a message, but Moses said he couldn’t because he stuttered? This, and many other passages in Exodus show overreactions.

Remember to look for the exclamation point in present-day life.

Do you ever lack in self worth? Do you feel inadequate and inferior to others?

(copyright, Sherrie Eldridge, 2020)

How Other Adoptees See Life

I am adopted! Someone didn’t want me. This became my story, my scar and my struggle. When I learned of my adoption, compounded by dynamics in my family life, I ‘heard’ only that someone DIDN’T want me. I was rejected somewhere and somehow, I was now different. All of this became the energy force that kept me, motivated me and often controlled me on a lifetime course of anger, debate, searching and stubborn determination to prove that ‘they,’ whoever the natural parents were, were wrong to give me up. 

-Dr. Richard Gilbert

What I discovered  is what I call the primal wound, a wound which is physical, emotional, psychological and spiritual; a wound which causes pain so profound as to have been described as cellular by those adoptees who allowed themselves to go that deeply into their pain. I began to understand this wound as having been caused by the separation of the child from his biological mother, the connection to whom seems mystical, mysterious, spiritual and everlasting.

Nancy Verrier, THE PRIMAL WOUND: Understanding the Adopted Child

The loss inherent in adoption is unlike other losses we have come to expect in a lifetime, such as death or divorce. Adoption is more pervasive, less socially recognized and more profound.

BEING ADOPTED, The Lifelong Search for Self, by David M. Brodzinsky, Ph.D. and Marshall D. Schechter, M.D.

Can a baby under one year ‘remember’ this traumatic separation from his original parents? No, he will probably not remember these events as a series of pictures which can be recalled. What is remembered, or preserved, is anxiety, a primitive kind of terror, which returns in waves in later life. Loss and danger of loss of love become recurrent themes or life patterns. What is preserved may be a profound moodiness or depression later in life, the somatic memory of the first tragic loss, which returns from the unremembered past even, ironically, at moments of pleasure and success. What is preserved is the violation of trust, of the ordered world of infancy in which love, protection and continuity of experience are invested in people. The arbitrary fate that broke the first human bonds may damage or shatter that trust, so that when love is given again it may not be freely returned. And finally, what is preserved is likely to be a wound to the embryonic personality in the first year which may have profound effects upon later development.

EVERY CHILD’S BIRTHRIGHT, by Selma Fraiberg

Wrapping Words Around Unspoken Feelings 

  1. Can you put your feelings into words after reading this chapter? Any new thoughts? Strange thoughts? Scary thoughts?
  2. How do you feel as you embark on this journey of talking about adoption in-depth? Check the statements with which you agree and explain why you checked them on the lines that follow: 
  • I really don’t want to be doing this. 
  • Adoption is no big deal to me. 
  • I am terrified. 
  • I am nervous. 
  • I doubt this book is going to help me. 
  • I am afraid my adoptive parents will be hurt. 
  • I feel a fierce loyalty to my adoptive parents and would never do anything to jeopardize our relationship. 
  • I look forward to this because I have a need to be with other adoptees and hear their experiences. 

3. Can you identify any personal over-reactions amidst this quarantine? Record them here. Congratulations. Now, dig into your life story and see if it ties to a past hurt, or loss.

Write Letters TO and FROM Your First (2nd, 3rd) Mother 

  • Write a letter TO your birth mother.
  • Write a letter to yourself FROM your birth mother, expressing thoughts and feelings you think she would want you to know about her reasons for placing you for adoption and how she feels about what you have just said in your letter to her. 

Friends, share this with whoever might benefit. Just give credit and the link to buy the workbook at https://sherrieeldridgeadoption.blog/shop.

Let’s chew on these truths for the week? Please share your thoughts and insights here vs on FB or social media? We need to hear one another’s voices.

Be sure and sign up here for next week’s study.

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Love to all of you!

This photo of three young people illustrates three adoptees living through COVID-19. They are having strange thoughts and emotions. What they don't know is that they can grow in self-awareness through the quarantine. Eldridge uses the life of Moses as a springboard.
SherrieEldridgeadoption.blog

Announcing New Online Bible Study for Adoptive, Foster Parents, and Kids

What Adoptive and Foster Parents Can Do To Connect with Kids Amidst COVID-19

This week, I’ll be launching a new, online Bible study for adoptive, foster parents, and adopted kids.

The study was first published in 1999 and has been available on amazon.com for many years. Today, I’m dusting it off and offering it to an audience that is desperate for connection, truth, and wisdom.

The blog will provide a space for you to read the chapter and to dialogue with others who are also following.

BTW: My workbook has been translated in Spanish. If that would better meet your needs, please let me know.

You can order the workbook, whether in English or Spanish, on amazon.com.

Sign up for the online study through my blog here:

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Helping Adopted Kids With Overwhelming Feelings Amidst COVID-19

It's Not Okay To Act Out In Covid19

Adopted children need to be given the freedom to express “obnoxious” feelings, like anger, hate, rage, loneliness, hostility. However, they also need to learn that while unpleasant feelings are permissible, obnoxious behavior is not.

Some adoptees, when they feel overwhelmed by the feelings, choose to act them out in destructive ways. Some set fires to their homes or break their stepfather’s ribs. Others try to commit suicide or kill others. The only way adoptees like this can be reached is through professional intervention. Adoptees who behave in extreme or destructive ways often suffer from serious attachment problems as well as from the conflicting emotions common to many adoptees in general.

Whatever the case, the adoptee needs to know that you will always be there for him–will always love him. It is music to any adoptee’s ears. You can’t say it too much. He will never tire of hearing it. But don’t make the mistake some adoptive parents make. Once they know their child has “special needs” that require a sensitive response, they begin to handle their child with kid gloves. Effective discipline goes out the window; indulgence, pity, or capitulating to the child’s manipulation replaces wise parenting.

For example, Laura’s parents were extremely permissive. There were few boundaries set–little clear teaching of what is right and wrong. Laura rarely had to experience the consequences of her own actions. She wasn’t forced to return the clothes she had stolen or repeat the courses she had failed. Her parents equated this with love. Her dad often bragged that he only spanked his daughter once when she was growing up.

I believe that beneath Laura’s parents’ permissive parenting was pity for her and fear of hurting her. In addition, there may have been a false guilt of sorts–the kind that whispered, Who am I to discipline this child who isn’t biologically mine?  Little did her parents know that lack of discipline can produce a child who feels like an illegitimate son or daughter, not truly belonging.

As the years passed, Laura’s unresolved grief around the separation from her birth mother combined with ineffective parenting produced a kid out of control. When she was seventeen, she made the announcement every parent dreads: “Mom….Dad…I’m pregnant.”

Of course, not every adopted child is “out of control” or difficult to discipline. However, there are some basic skills that adoptive parents should master as they interact with their children from day one.

How to Confront Obnoxious Behavior

Remind your child that it is all right to express overwhelming feelings. It is not only all right, but it is crucial if she is to be healthy and whole. But as you give your child permission to express herself, also teach her that obnoxious behavior for its own sake is futile. Validate her feelings, but don’t let her “run the show” in your home. Rather, be the parent in a loving, strong way. This will help her to keep moving on toward maturity and not get stuck in her conflicting feelings. 

Dr. Foster Cline suggests a general rule of thumb: “Parents should not validate the child’s ‘favorite’ or ‘most used’ unhappy emotion; it usually overused.” A transcript from one of Dr. Cline’s therapy sessions illustrates this principle.

Stephanie is a moody, two-thirds unhappy, one third pouty, fifth grader. She is a very pretty girl who usually goes around with a downturned lower lip. Her parents are divorced and, in therapy, her mother suddenly becomes aware of her reinforcement of Stephanie’s pouts. Both natural parents, along with their new spouses, are present in the session.

T=Therapist

F=Father

S=Stephanie

M=Mother

T:  “In this group, I don’t think you all realize it, but you are entirely overconcerned about this girl. Every time she starts crying, you parents look around and begin to look agonized. Then you reach out and start exploring the problem. The more you explore, the deeper the problem gets. You know what I mean?”

F:  “As you’ve been mentioning these things through the session, I am giving a lot of thought to them and I think I have a good example.” (To Stephanie:) “You know, honey, every time I call up home to talk with you, I first ask you, ‘How’s it going?’ And you always say, ‘Pretty good.’ And then I say, ‘Why only pretty good?’ And then we get into the whole routine. Honey, I think I’m not going to play that game anymore.”

S: “I don’t think it’s a game! (Said with lower lip sticking two-thirds out).”

T: (With an arms around Stephanie and laughing) “No, Stephanie, it’s not a game; with you its a way of life.”

S: (Returning with a half-smile) “It is not.”

T: “Well, I think your dad is getting pretty darn bright about this. I hope you will give it a lot of thought.”

At this point Stephanie looks over at her mother, who, present in the session, is listening with a two-thirds pained expression on her face. Suddenly, now Stephanie tears up.

M:” There’s no reason for you to feel bad, Stephanie. We’re not saying bad things about you. We’re just saying that sometimes the way you act and the way we react is not good for you.”

S:  (Stephanie starts silently crying.)

M: “It’s going to be okay, honey.”

T: “Now, June, what did you just do?”

M: “Well, I am reassuring her…”

T:  “Reassuring her? …. You are reinforcing the whole routine. There’s no reason for this kid to be told that it’s all going to be okay. She ought to know it’s okay. She knows we all love her.” (Turning to Stephanie) “Steph’, old chum, let’s either dry the tears up or leave the room. When you pull yourself together you can come back. What would you prefer?”

S:  “To pull myself together.”

T: (Smiling and again with arm around Stephanie) “Fantastic! Glad to hear it. Happy to see the smile. Boy, do I ever appreciate a lower lip pulled in. Pure delight.”

S: (Grins at Therapist)

M: “I am beginning to see the light.”

What Parents Can Do

  1. Be A Confident Parent. Remember that your child looks to you for clues about who she is, how she fits into the family, how she should behave, and what it means to be your child. Even when she behaves in obnoxious or destructive ways, here are some things she needs from you.

I might test you about your vital role in my life. You’re not my real parents.  Please resolve any unresolved grief issues of your own so you won’t be a pushover when I test you.

2. Be Affectionate with One Another

I want my parents to show affection for one another. Put one another before me. It makes me feel secure. Don’t let me manipulate one of you to give me affection in place of affection for each another.

3. Maintain a United Front

Don’t let me cause disagreements about disciplining techniques. Have your disagreements later in another room. Don’t let me come between you. That gives me too much power over the family system, which only makes me feel vulnerable to chaos and loss.

4. Let Me Make Choices

Teach me to think for myself. Remind me that it is my life and my responsibility for the choices I make. I may be missing some connections to my past, but I am responsible to become a whole person.

5. Give Me Freedom to Learn from Consequences

Don’t make excuses for me when I blow it. I need to learn to take responsibility for my own behavior. Don’t call the neighbors and apologize when I steal clothes from their closets or make excuses for me when I oversleep for school. If I don’t learn that I am accountable for my behavior, I will cling to a victim mindset and act it out forever.

6. Don’t Discipline Me in Anger

Please don’t discipline in anger or ridicule me. Wait until your emotions are under control and then deal with me in a sensitive, compassionate manner. Reassure me after discipline that you love me dearly and will always be there for me. This will alleviate my fear that I will be abandoned again and will demonstrate for me that people can be disappointed in one another but stay committed.

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This post is copyrighted, 1999: TWENTY THINGS ADOPTED KIDS WISH THEIR ADOPTIVE PARENTS KNEW. https://sherrieeldridgeadoption.blog/shop

Discovering God In the Details

It Is possible to see life with different eyes

I bolted out of bed and threw on yesterday’s clothes. I knew the call would be coming, for my patient was in labor earlier. For the twenty mile drive to the hospital, I couldn’t stop thinking about this patient’s history and desire to place her baby for adoption.

 Yes, her husband was fighting in the African theatre of the war and didn’t know about her pregnancy. And, yes, it wasn’t his baby, for she’d been raped and dared not tell him. 

Out of breath, I pushed the delivery room door open and heard her screams, insisting that she talk with me before the baby came. “I don’t want to see my baby,” she said, in between labor pains. “If I see her, I won’t be able to go through with my plans for adoption. I don’t even want to know the sex of my baby. I just can’t bear it.” 

“Soon, the baby came and my patient was whisked away to her private room. Tears flooded when I saw this little one, so tiny, yet so beautiful.”

-Dr. Wells B. Fillinger

Clinton Memorial Hospital

August 4, 1945

I was that baby.  

Warm tears landed on my five-pound newborn body, like spring rain.  I wanted to feel them forever. 

What was it about those tears? Were they saturated with hope and comfort? Were they bright lights at the end of the traumatic tunnel of living my first nine months of life in the womb of a mother who fantasized abortion? Or, were they seeds of hope, planted in secret to produce a great harvest later in life?

Whatever it was, I wanted more.

But then, nurse Muriel bent close to the doctor’s ear and whispered something.  What did she whisper?

Was there something wrong with me?

Was I ugly?

Was I too little?

Is that why she suddenly whisked me off to a dimly-lit room where pleading and  plaintiff newborn cries hovered over me, like sticky smog in LA?

Then, the nurse shoved me into a box of glass-a new fangled device which we would call an incubator today. 

I kicked and screamed bloody murder.  I cried and cried, but the sounds bounced back, like ping pong balls.

Where was the orphan doctor? Why did he not come? If only I could feel his tears again, I’d survive.

It would be decades later, while searching for birth history, that those tears I once felt would be validated. Dr. Filllinger’s granddaughter, during a phone conversation said, “My grandfather was an orphan himself and wept at the birth of every baby he delivered.”

Quest For Freedom from Abandonment

And so at birth, love mingled with loss, like water and oil. This combination waged war inside me, from birth onward. Avoid abandonment at all costs and seek love no matter whom the giver. Loss sent me on a lifetime quest to find freedom from deeply-embedded fears of abandonment that warred against my ability to receive love.

Even though my mother probably didn’t intend abandonment, newborn me perceived her absence in that manner. Abandonment means:

  • To leave in a troubled state
  • To leave behind
  • To cast away
  • To leave completely and finally
  • Careless disregard for consequences

As a person who was adopted, I create abandonment in relationships by pushing others away…others who love me. It is a well-traveled highway in my brain. The resulting abandonment confirms the lie I’ve believed that I am worthy only of such abandonment. 

The best example is that I hated my adoptive mother and during the teen years did whatever necessary to inflict wounds. It was like we were doing a mother/child dance, and we were constantly at odds with one another. I kept stepping on her toes, for I didn’t want her–I wanted my first mother, Elizabeth.

One time, I was invited to go to Texas for leadership training for becoming a Bible teacher and speaker. I’d never been away from my husband and two daughters, and just that would have been enough to get me fearful. We were required to do homework upon arrival and I couldn’t do it-it felt impossible, like Algebra. As the week progressed, my emotions were fragile, like a thread ready to break. At one meal with other leaders, I appeared confident by asking others probing questions, but then, I broke down in tears in front of everyone.

The person who went with me for training was a super star person, and on the opening evening while we were at the CEO’s home, along with twenty other leaders, we were asked to give our “testimony.”

I didn’t even know what that meant and as I listened to her tell her glowing story of perfect parents and past leadership roles, I wanted to disappear. 

Other candidates for leadership observed my inferiority with her and emphasized that I had no reason for lack of worth. This made me even more fearful–they could see my fear.

The coudegras of the training was that each person would have a personal interview with the CEO and be told whether or not they’d be accepted into the leadership role.

I was convinced of rejection. 

Rejection didn’t happen, but fear remained, like a ball and chain around my ankle, as I returned home to do something I’d never choose–public speaking. 

What I’ve learned over the years is: God is in the details by proving:.  

  1. There’s another way that needs are met that far exceeds the human level.

When looking back at my basic need for connection with a fellow adopted person, who better than Dr. Wells B. Fillinger? This is a need that the majority of adoptees experience. When adoptees are with one another, they feel understood and accepted, oftentimes, without even a word.

  1. Visions are oftentimes validated in everyday life.

Just as I envisioned as an adult that tears fell on my newborn body, I learned through an intricate telling of details that Dr. Fillinger cried at the birth of every baby. I believe those tears were sacred, a gift from God that no one could work up or produce. A gift that made me aware of a God who loves me.

  1. There’s something bigger than fear–love. 

It’s taken me a lifetime to see that other way, but now that I can, in looking back, I can see that my embedded fear of abandonment has disappeared. 

I discovered the presence of someone who is alive and communicative in the littlest of details. He is masterfull–He will make His presence known in a way that only the individual recognizes His presence. He will bend over backward to show His love to His children.

  1. It’s possible to be free from a painful past.

Within the last year, I’ve experienced a myriad of changes inwardly. 

What was going on inside my head and heart? The people in my relationships hadn’t changed, but my attitude and perspective about them definitely had. Where were these warm thoughts coming from? Why was I remembering mom’s best-in-town apple pie, her gentle hands smoothing oil on my asthmatic chest, or her affectionate care for Dinny Dinwit, my tiger kitty?

Maybe I was experiencing a brain change? After all, you hear in adoption circles about how the brain is damaged by trauma, and yet can heal. So I rummaged through all my books about the brain..in vain. 

Then, I wondered if I was cracking up. Maybe I was hallucinating?  I’ve been known to do that when clinically depressed, but the hubs assured me I was fine.

One day I thought about my late mom’s wedding rings. A rather bizarre thought, right? It was bizarre for two reasons. First, mom died nearly 30 years ago and second, we had a tumultuous relationship during the growing-up years. All I remembered over my seven decades of life was negative and painful.

For 53 years, I’d unintentionally carried them from geographical move to geographical move, from California to Canada. To me, they were worthless pieces of junk that should’ve been tossed decades ago. 

Moments later, I rushed to my jewelry drawer, like a gold digger. And, there they were–one prominent band and a delicate eternity band, all lacking the diamonds that originally graced them. 

Then, my mind flooded with new thoughts. What was it like on the evening Mom and Dad were engaged?  Did Dad get down on his knee to propose? And, was she the blushing, soon-to-be bride, dreaming of a house, children, and happiness forever?  I slipped the tarnished rings onto my finger and ran to husband Bob’s office, like a kid.

Just a month ago, while eating at our favorite restaurant, Bob pulled out a small box with the same rings that had been totally refurbished into glistening silver and diamonds.  

This experience with mom’s rings convinced me that healing my painful past is not something that can only happen in heaven, but it can occur also in everyday life on planet earth. I have never felt happier or more whole than I do today, and I’m so thankful.

5. I need magic eyes to see God in the details.

Since then, I’ve discovered the presence of someone who is alive and communicative in the littlest of details. He is masterfull–He will make His presence known in a way that only the individual recognizes His presence. He will bend over backward to show His love to His children.

Just ask him!

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Daily Meditations for Quarantined Adoptive Parents and Kids

Family Devotions for Quarantine

Dear parents,

It seems as if the world has flipped upside down with the Corona crisis. What makes this a doubly- critical time for adoptees and foster kids is that this crisis reflects one of our basic losses–from the time our first, or second, or third parents relinquished parental rights–everything familiar was lost.

More than anything right now, adopted and foster kids need to be reminded that even though the world changes, the love of their parents never does.

I’m sharing a month of devotionals from my devotional book, in hopes that they may bless you as a family. I’ll include link for purchasing entire book at the end of this letter to you. You may want to use thoughts to prompt creative activity (making a braid bracelet, discussing at dinnertime as a family, chalk art on your sidewalk).

Imagine this! Your doorbell rings. Quickly, you open the door. On your porch step is a large, square gift box wrapped in white paper and tied with black ribbons.

The box and white wrapping is representative of your child’s life, given to her by the Gift-Giver himself.  The black ribbons are the pre-adoption losses you must help your child process in order to find and experience all God has planned.

As you work through the twelve months of this book, you’ll see the black ribbons transformed into sparkling white as your child’s emotions are healed by the Lord.

 You can expect to: 

Move to the Next Level of Parenting

I love the verse that talks about God making our feet into hinds feet that can traverse high places. That is what I envision for you. You might:

  • Embrace your vital role and not be nervous about the birth parents
  • Prepare realistically for adoption and not be frightened during the first days
  • Become your child’s number-one cheerleader by understanding special needs
  • Teach your child how to have healthy relationships 
  • Know how to gain entrance into your child’s world
  • Help your child let go of misplaced anger
  • See the flip side of the profound wound
  • Show your child  how to grieve loss
  • Diminish defenses of your strong-willed child
  • Comfort your child in a way he can receive 
  • Parent like Jesus so that your child see herself through God’s eyes
  • Launch your child into the incredible future God has planned for her

Now, imagine that inside the box are twelve envelopes, one for each month. Each has the name of a metaphor. The twelve metaphors will help you remember the inspirations, Scriptures, truths from the book Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, and insights from one adoptee…me! 

Share Metaphors with Story Telling

The metaphors (the first reading from each month) can be used as a base for story telling with your children. It’s always more effective to tell the story, rather than read it. Read the metaphors and ask God to energize you as you share with your children before bed or at the supper table.

The twelve metaphors are: 

  • The Beautiful Braid 
  • The Grafted Tree 
  • The Invisible Race 
  • The Pearl of Intimacy 
  • The Sandcastles of the Heart 
  • The Red Lizard 
  • The Song in the Night 
  • The Butterfly 
  • The Tortoise 
  • The Good Shepherd 
  • The Child of the King 
  • The Eagle 

Create Family Projects

Creativity will flow between you and your children as you begin applying what you are reading to everyday life. You might: 

  • Discuss the project as a family
  • Make the box and celebrate who gives life
  • Get white paper, black ribbons, white ribbons, and twelve envelopes which your child can label.

In my book closet, the top shelf contains well-worn books that are my favorites because they’ve helped me know Jesus more. I pray this book may be on your top shelf.

With warm regards,

Sherrie Eldridge

Indianapolis, Indiana

With a keen awareness of what the adoptee’s original parents should be called, I chosen to call them “birth parents” in this work. “First” sounds so impersonal and birth is honoring the gift they gave.

January (The metaphor to share with the children is “the beautiful braid of adoption.”

“The Lord reigns, the Lord is robed in majesty and is armed with strength…you are from all eternity.”(Psalm 93:1-2, NIV)

Long, long ago, in eternity past, the Lord God created a beautiful braid and named it “Adoption.” The braid wasn’t a second thought or plan B for families. It was his idea before you and I ever drew a breath on planet earth. 

Can’t you just see him smiling as he created each cord in the braid?

He chose you to be a part of his braid.

Me, too!

I’m an adoptee…all grown up…at least physically!

My late mom and dad experienced challenges similar to yours. I was a handful, to say the least.

If they were alive, they’d love meeting you.

I’ll be writing in the first person, as an adoptee, but not presuming to speak for all adoptees.

Just one voice, praying this book will bless you like crazy.

Let’s get started by learning where you are in the beautiful braid!

January 1

There are three colored cords that comprise the beautiful braid of adoption. The cords themselves are made from the finest of silk. To the eye of faith, they are shining, gleaming, and lustrous. The green cord represents the birth parents, the purple, adoptive parents, and the red, the adoptee. Around the three cords is a thicker, wider cord, woven within, around, up and down. This is representative of our Sovereign God who controls all things for his glory and the good of those who love him. 

Your life has been touched by adoption for a purpose…his purpose.

January 2

“When she saw that he was a fine child…” (Exodus 2:2)

The red cord is the adoptee–a unique weaving together of nature and nurture into one marvelous human being, with unlimited potential. Each loss experienced is an invitation from the Creator to grow. You longed to parent this child more than life itself. You loved him long before his face ever appeared. You delight in his uniqueness. You anticipate that God-given speck of potential in his eyes becoming a reality. Revel in the fact that you are instrumental.

January 3

“Then she placed the child (Moses) in it and put it among the reeds along the bank of the Nile.” (Exodus 2:3)

Green represents the first parents, like Moses’, who protected his life both in and after the womb. First parents sacrificially let go of the parenting role, trusting God with the bigger plan for their child’s life. Like Moses’ mother, who asked God how to save her son’s life, first parents voluntarily embrace bitter grief and loss for the good of the child.

January 4

 “I prayed for this child, and the Lord has granted me what I asked of him.(Samuel 1:27) 

Purple is for royalty, distinction, eminence, greatness and nobility. Did you realize on adoption day that you were stepping into the throne room of the King instead of a hospital room? Did you realize the social worker who held your battered child’s hand as she was removed from abusive parents was the hand of God? You couldn’t sense God’s presence? That’ okay. He abides even in numbness. 

January 5

 “Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? if I make my bed in the depths, you are there.” (Psalm 139:7,9, 12)

The gold cord represents God Almighty–strong, unconquerable. He will never leave or forsake you. After all, this is his braid.  Even when we blow it, when we think thoughts that we’ve determined no good parent ever has, he hears yet doesn’t condemn. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus!

January 6

 “Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” (Joshua 1:9) 

Lengthening the braid requires speaking truth about adoption from day one. It may feel uncomfortable, but this is the way to provide an environment for child and family growth. As you tell the truth at age-appropriate times, her once-shattered trust will mend and she’ll grow closer to you. Remember…you were made for this.

January 7

 “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.” (Mark 11:25) 

If the green in your braid is stained with negative and shameful birth history, the first parents need your forgiveness. Only through your forgiveness will your heart be an unshackled conduit of unconditional love for your child. We all must forgive because we were the ones who pounded the nails into our Savior’s hands and feet. He forgave the unforgivable in us. Dare we do less?

January 8

 “Now choose life, so that you and your children may live.” (Deuteronomy 30:20)

The green cord, the choices the first parents made, may be twisted.  Assure your child everyone has the privilege of choice and that the tendency to make unhealthy choices is not genetic. With a big hug, remind her that she is her own person and separate from her first parents’ choices.  Tell her that you will help her make great choices. Give hope that her first parents may learn to make good choices in the future. God has a great life ahead for your child.

January 9

Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” (John 1:4)

The red cord, your child’s sense of worth, may be hanging by a thread. He may secretly believe that his life is a mistake because of circumstances and/or secrecy surrounding conception, removal when older by child protective services, or adoption disruption. It’s not prudent for parents to openly discuss, but extremely wise to have awareness of the possibility of this secret shame. Repeat often that his life is God’s idea.

January 10

 “The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever…. (Deuteronomy 29:29)

Your braid’s green cord may be missing due to international adoption or secrecy. A certificate of abandonment is your only document? Your child can still develop a healthy identity, for there’s information available. Encourage her to put the unknown things in God’s big, loving hands, and assure her that the green cord isn’t missing to him. He sees it all, even though she can’t. 

January 11

“…I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things.…” (I Corinthians 13:9-11)

Braiding the cords with your child has diminished your stress. Openness and honesty always do that! You’ve learned to weave the reality of adoption into your family’s braid.  Not every parent has your boldness and authenticity.  No quivering lips or tears when your child’s first family is mentioned. No nervousness from keeping secrets, either. Your child loves you for that.

January 12

“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.” (2 Corinthians 3:17)

Celebrating your child’s differences makes your family’s braid grow like crazy. “If your birth mom hadn’t given you that talent for playing the piano, this would be a boring place.” To a teen in open adoption, you might say, “I wonder when your birth dad looked in the mirror and saw pimples on his face. You’re going to see him this weekend and can ask him!” Kudos to you, savvy parents.

January 13

For I will pour water on the thirsty land, and streams on the dry ground; I will pour out my Spirit on your offspring…” (Isaiah 44:3)

Sometimes, braids need mending. The silk required for mending can’t be bought. It is heaven-sent and God promises to mend your braid with his Spirit. He delights in taking broken things and making them beautiful. Like Elijah under the broomstick tree, he wants you to take good care of yourself because many good things await you. Eat healthy. Don’t live on a tight schedule. Lean hard into him. He won’t fail you.

January 14

 “My heart is stirred by a noble theme as I recite my verses for the king….” (Psalm 45:1)

Someday, your braid may be ultra-shiny. Your child may have an opportunity to tell about adoption! With God-given confidence, she might say, “Nobody knew I was alive, except God.  He planned my life before the world began. Like a potter with clay, he knew he’d need a little bit of this and a little bit of that to make me into exactly the person he had in mind.”

Pray for that wonderful day.

January 14b

 “….you are familiar with all my ways.” (Psalm 139: 3)

The red cord, your teen, will pull away and leave home for university, a job, or independent living. What will you yell as he pulls out of the driveway? “I love you….take good care of yourself!” Children learn self-care from their parents. They’ve been taking notes on how you care for yourself under pressure, change, conflict, and challenges. Thank God for grace. 

January 15

“I will repay you for the years the locusts have eaten…” (Joel 2:25)

There may be tear stains on your child’s red cord due to negative, painful, or missing birth history. Assure her that God redeems loss and will make up more than she could ever imagine. There are no lost years or experiences in God’s economy! He uses everything and everybody to make us into the people he wants us to be. There is no loss without a gain. Focus on gains.

January 16

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.” (Ephesians 3:14-15)

The red cord sometimes feels torn between the green and purple cords. Which parents should she be close to?  How can she be close to both? This is a loyalty issue. Your child doesn’t want to hurt you or imply ungratefulness. Yet, her love for her first family is bone deep. Whatever set of parents she is with, she will likely avoid talking about the other parents. Express your love about her other parents often. Applaud the extended family.

January 17

 “Honor your father and your mother….” (Exodus 20:12) 

Both the green and purple cords, the adoptive and first parents, must honor one another’s lives. This is the key to entering the world of your adopted child. You can honor their position even if their performance isn’t commendable. “God knew that he needed the influences of all four of your parents to make you into the incredible person you are today.” By honoring each member of the extended family, the adoptee will experience unconditional love.

January 18

The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.” (Isaiah 40:28)

Before the world began,

You had me in your hand. 

Created to be loved,

My purpose is in you.

Everything, absolutely everything

Above and below its purpose you know

The visible and invisible

Everything was started in you.

I found my purpose in you, Jesus,

Created to worship you forever.

I’ll worship you my Savior,

My life is yours forever.

(Copyright 2013, Heartland Church, Indianapolis, IN)

January 19

Love is patient, love is kind… it does not dishonor others..”. (I Corinthians 13:4,6)

Which parent is real–green or purple? Eventually, the “real parent” question surfaces. The real parent puts the child’s needs first. The first mother and father are real because they chose life for the adoptee. If your adoption is open, they continue to be real, for there is an ongoing relationship. Adoptive moms and dads, you’re real. Oh, yes, you’re as real as can be… in the trenches every day.

January 20

…the truth will set you free.” (John 8:32) 

A torn red cord is clearly the result of trauma prior to adoption. Unresolved past trauma triggers infant screaming, teenage rants, and school-age tantrums. If you tense up, your child will pull away, go within, run away, or pout. However, if you speak truth about the current event that is triggering a painful memory, she will calm down. Assure her it won’t always hurt so much and that you’ll always be there for her.

January 21

“Children are a heritage from the LORD, offspring a reward from him.” (Psalm 127:3)

The red cord wants to be close to the green. Your child may scream one day, “I am not like you.” He may be crying out for a reunion or more time with his first family and for deeper closeness with you. Your child wants close connections with both but probably doesn’t understand how to integrate his dual identity (nature and nurture). Pray, celebrate differences, and get counseling.

 January 22

The description of the beautiful braid is adoption from God’s perspective. Wouldn’t we love to be perfect and to live up to its description? In reality, our cords are torn, tattered, stained, frayed, and sometimes ready to break. Where is God, the author of adoption, in all the hurt and challenges? In the prison sentences, the disruptions, the arguments, insecurities, dashed dreams, special needs,and broken promises? He’s in it with you. Remember…he said he’d never leave us?

January 23

“Then he lay down under the bush and fell asleep. All at once an angel touched him and said, “Get up and eat.” (I Kings 19:5)

If your cord or braid is well-worn, you may feel like the great prophet, Elijah. He had been greatly used in God’s kingdom and chased by wicked queen Jezebel. After blessing comes battle. Are you battling discouragement, like Elijah?

Satan would be delighted if you are because it’s one of his favorite tools. Ponder all you’ve been through lately. You haven’t failed in your faith walk. Even the greats get exhausted. Be like Elijah. Rest, eat well, and expect a touch from God.

January 24

“Can a woman forget her nursing child and have no compassion on the son of her womb? Even these may forget, but I will not forget you.” (Isaiah 49:15)

Some red cords, adoptees searching for first parents, often are met with rejection. We’d like to think that all mothers want their babies or children, but God tells us the painful reality. First mothers have the choice of working through post-adoption loss and becoming healthy or taking the well-worn path of self-protection.  God makes his presence known in special ways to these adoptees, proving that the love of Jesus is deeper than any of life’s rejections. Your child may experience this. Let it happen and remain available.

January 25

 “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” (John 15:16)

Both green and purple cords are vital! Not sure? According to your child and God, there is no need for competition or comparison between parents. There’s no such thing as the “preferred parent.” Each time you are tempted to doubt your worth, return to the Cross. The ground is level there. Remember you were chosen for this.

January 26

“I have revealed you to those you gave me out of the world…I pray for them…for those you have given me…” (John 17: 6, 9)

Who holds your family’s braid?  God himself. Our pastor reflects God’s care for his own by rising early to make daily breakfast for his kids. He talks with them about their day and how difficult it is to live a Christ-honoring life in this fallen world. He reminds them that they are leaders, not followers. His last words to them: “Remember who you are.”  High fives and they’re off. Remember whose you are today…and then remind your children that they are God’s kids.

January 27

“His talk is smooth as butter, yet war is in his heart.” (Psalm 55:21)

Red cords, adopted children, can get slammed through bullying. It can happen at school, a sleepover, or with a comment from a well-intentioned relative or friend. Words like “illegitimate” hurt adoptees deeply. Consider purchasing The WISE-UP Power Workbook, by Marilyn Schoetle. Your child needn’t be victimized by bullies. She can take her power back and you can be integral in helping this happen. 

January 28

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world…why do you submit to its rules? (Colossians 2:20,22)

Rules have their place, but for the child who’s been traumatized, he may believe that the only way to know God or be accepted by him is by rule-keeping. 

Help him steer away from a performance-based faith. He may not know what it means to have a personal relationship with God. You are the key person to live that reality out. What an awesome privilege. You go, parents! Grace trumps rules. 

January 29

“…I have made you, you are my servant; Israel, I will not forget you. (Isaiah 44:21)

Knots in the red cord…your child and his beginnings. Adoptees raised in the closed adoption system were usually not told their birth stories. Some say, “I feel like an alien who was dropped out of the sky into my parents’ home.” To help your child discover when his true identity began, take him back to eternity past, to the heart of Father God. This is the place of shameless beginnings. The lifeline begins here and continues consistently even in the broken places. Peace to you, friends.

January 30

 “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling.” (Psalm 68:5) 

If the red cord is searching for the green, unexpected and painful things may occur. One adoptee entered a counselor’s office for the first time and was asked if her mother tried to abort her. Years later this adoptee was reunited with her first mother who boldly announced that she would have aborted her if possible. Many adoptees have this story. This is when we must turn to the legacy Jesus left for orphans. A father to the fatherless. 

January 31

“For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.” (I Corinthians 13:12)

I envision a huge Maypole with your children each holding onto different colored cords in the braid, and it is beautiful. They are celebrating that their lives were touched by adoption. However, for now, praise God that he gives grace to see the finished picture. Someday, in heaven, your braid will be perfect. No knots, no tear stains, no rips or tears, no missing cords. Until then, we walk by faith in the Son of God who loves us and gave his life for us.

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TWENTY THINGS ADOPTED KIDS WISH–Daily Meditations for First and Adoptive Parents: https://sherrieeldridgeadoption.blog/shop

Parents, the kindle book is highly recommended. Read it in carpool lines and while waiting for the kids in the dr.’s office..

Copyright, 2014.