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 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:

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.

The Power of An Adoptive Mom’s Non-Abandoning Heart

How Adoptive Moms Can Prevent Fears of Abandonment in their Kids With Their Non-Abandoning Heart

Looking back on my life as an adopted person, I am certain that my Mom gifted me with a non-abandoning heart:

  • I will do everything possible to connect with my child
  • I will still love her even when she rejects me
  • I will love unconditionally, knowing her back story
  • I will love her even though I am afraid
  • I will love her by telling her the truth about her backstory.
  • I will keep loving her even though I receive no love in return.
  • I will go to my grave knowing I’ve done my absolute best for her.

That rare gift of a non-abandoning heart can be illustrated by this story about a forest ranger who was surveying the results of a forest fire in California. 

All the mighty redwoods were but an ash heap. 

Kicking his way through the ashes, he came upon a mysterious clump, which he kicked to the side. Immediately, baby chicks scurried out from their dead mama’s body.

What a mom she was to those scurrying chicks…and what a mom my mom was to me…her scurrying chick.

What Moms Can Do

  1. Place A Bandaid

Place a bandaid over your heart. No one will know it is there but you. Every time you see the bandaid, remember your profound wound and speak a few affirmations over yourself:

  • I am deeply loved.
  • I am this child’s mom and no one can ever take my place.
  • Even though my child can’t receive my love, it won’t be lost.
  • I am more than enough to meet my child’s need for a good mom.

  1. Envision Your Survivor Scar

Enjoy these quotes about scars:

  • Every scar tells a story–a story that you survived.
  • Scars are like battle wounds–they show off what you’ve been through and how strong you are.
  • Scars are proof of healing.
  • Every scar I have makes me who I am.
  1. Good Books. Audio versions ideal:
  • Book: WISE ADOPTIVE PARENTING: When Kids Struggle to Adopt Their Parents, by Ronald J. Nydam. Ron is my friend, colleague, therapist, pastor, and author. He’s worked with adoptive families for years and is savvy about the disconnect between kids and parents.
  • Book:  KEEP THE DOORS OPEN: Lessons Learned from A Year of Foster Parenting, 2019, by Kristin Berry. Moms, you will love this irresistible book by my friend, Kristin Berry. Her writing is engaging and powerful. You’ll end up edified. Available in audio.
  • Web Site: You won’t believe the plethora of services they have for adoptive and foster parents. Best I’ve seen.
  • Book: 20 THINGS ADOPTED KIDS WISH…A Daily Devotional for Adoptive Parents, by Sherrie Eldridge. Available on Kindle.

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Helping Adopted Kids Feel Safe Amidst Coronavirus

The Power of Tents for Adopted and Foster Kids

In the midst of the Coronavirus crisis, I’m thinking about adoptive parents of kids with special challenges, such as ADHD and attachment-disordered. You’re all home…together.

As you scramble to find a new normal for the family, for sure the kids can sense any panic, fear, anger you have, which is totally understandable. Never in any of our lifetimes–parents or children–has there been such a crisis.

It’s such a basic need of adopted kids to have connection, with you, friends, and other family members. But, we’re all called to social distancing, which may be incredibly difficult for adopted kids.

I’m going to share three ideas here that speak to this need. I’m hesitant to share, for it seems terribly simplistic and I’m sure you’ve all not only heard about it but also used it from time to time.

When I was a child, an only child, I found ways to feel safe when lonely, scared. or overwhelmed. My parents didn’t teach it–it simply evolved inwardly from my deep need to feel safe.

So what did I need to be safe from?

  • Sensory Triggers. These activated extreme acting-out behaviors (punching my fist through the refrigerator door).
  • Overwhelming Disappointment. My parents seemed more interested in meeting their own needs, when I needed them. Dad would sit smoking himself to death in front of the blaring TV, and mom plucked her eyebrows incessantly. How I wanted us to connect, but that didn’t happen much.
  • Physical Trauma Responses. I have always been cold and I believe with Bessel van Der KOLK says in his bestseller, THE BRAIN KEEPS THE SCORE. He says, “Trauma doesn’t surface in memories, but in reactions.”

As I began recording thoughts, common elements surfaced from each activity that may be of interest to you:

  • In the midst of chaos. As you probably already know, most adopted and foster kids are terrified of abandonment, so this keeps them safely in sight of parents right in the center of activity.
  • In a designated place. I can’t tell you how many times as a kid that I went to the places where I chose to find comfort. I will share that in a moment.

Remember, of course, that I don’t speak for all adoptees and foster kids. Each is unique with their own story to tell. I welcome other adoptees to share their safe places here so that adoptive and foster parents can benefit from your wisdom.

The first idea of helping your adopted child feel safe is the suggestion of building a tent.

  1. Suggest Building A Tent

When young, I’d build a tent over mom’s 4 X4 card table with layers of sheets and blankets… right in the middle of the dining room.

I still remember how much fun it was constructing it and then entering. There’s just something that makes me feel safe under a roof-like thing over me. Would you believe, even now, I craft my sheets at night to go over my head.

Of course, being a dollie lover, I’d take two or three into the tent so that I could take care of them. Plastic feeding bottles and also room for their bed and blanket.

Being right in the middle of the living probably assured me that I wouldn’t be abandoned–perhaps by my parents.

I know what you’re thinking, parents. “I’d never abandon my child.” Even though that is true, your child may not know it on a consistent basis. After all, he believes his first parents abandoned him/her. Times of crisis may temporarily erase our object permanence.

It felt so warm and cozy and safe in there. I loved it and would have kept it up permanently….but mom didn’t agree.

2. Encourage Designating A Specific Place to Curl Up, or Be Contained

There's something about curling up and/or 
being contained that makes many adopted and
 foster kids feel safe. It may be under a
 stack of pillows, in an empty drawer, 
under the stairs,
 or in a tight corner. 

It's that fetal position...perhaps remembering 
our time in our first mom's womb?

I had a clinical depression at 
age 40 and was put in the lock-down unit, 
and when my family left and the steel doors 
closed behind them, I ran to open the door. 

I pushed on the steel door,
 only to be told it wouldn't open. 
I ran to a nearby couch and curled up 
in a fetal position.

Mom and Dad owned a modest bungalow house and back in the day, registers were placed in the wall. Their register was in a cozy little place in-between the a room divider in the dining room and next to their Duncan Fife blonde dining room furniture.

I loved it there. Again, it was in the midst of all that occurred. That close space and the constant heat was incredibly comforting.

Heat continues to be my “go to.” As I write this post, a small room heater blows heat on my feet:-)

Remember, adoption is a lifelong journey:-)

That register became my place and I’d not be able to count how many hours I spent there, right up until the time I left home for college.

3. Sleep Under A Weighted Blanket

Weighted blankets make you feel like you’re being held closely. The brand of mine is Hiseem.

And so, adoptive and foster parents, along with fellow adoptees and foster kids, let me know how your child finds comfort, and adoptees, please share your thoughts here.

Press on, my friends. We will all make it through the crisis.

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Ending the Unwanted War Between Adoptees and Their Moms

Why Does My Adopted Kid Hate Me?

It used to be that being in my mom’s presence was like running long fingers over a blackboard. There was a war going on between us–a war neither of us wanted, but one that we couldn’t escape.

It’s scary, like climbing Everest without ropes. It’s also lonely, as most moms don’t know that this is a common dynamic. The challenge is to accept the fact that some relationships in life are non-intentional, unplanned, unpremeditated, or unconscious and that the world of adoption is filled with these relationships.

However, this reality is rarely made public. It’s kind of a secret, or a hot potato amongst those touched by adoption. Put yourself in the shoes of an adoption professional arranging an adoption. Would she/he have the courage to share this unwanted relationship? Would she ruin the adoption with such knowledge? What would he/she say if the parents returned four years later reporting that their child has out-of-control anger? Would she/he have any answers for the distraught parents?

This mom/child adversarial dynamic must be clarified and normalized for the sanity of the majority of adoptive and foster moms. Someone must validate the wounds adoptive moms suffer from rejecting children. Someone must verbalize that adopted children wonder what’s wrong with them. Why the intense anger? Is there a biological tie to an unknown relative?

How I wish mom and I would have known that the unwanted, excruciating war between us could end. Mom was at such a disadvantage, for nothing back in the day, absolutely nothing was discussed amongst those adopting or the institutions that carried it out.

Anger was the last thing I would choose today as my part in the mother/child relationship, and I’m sure my mom wouldn’t choose to feel fearful and inadequate. We both would choose that ultra-loving mother/child relationship, where no words are needed and where we could gaze into one another’s eyes, knowing we’re loved. It would be a relationship where we could savor hugs and girl-busting laughs. A world of truth telling and healthy boundaries.

Nancy Verrier grabbed the hot potato in 1993 when she wrote her 1993 best-selling book titled THE PRIMAL WOUND: Understanding the Adopted Child. She validated the adoptee wound and ever since, adoptees have dog-eared pages, quoted it, and carried it around, like Linus with his security blanket. 

And, rightly so. This indeed, is the adoptee’s “aha book.” In essence, it says, “Yes, it hurts like h__l to lose your first family. Yes, you have a right to be angry. Yes, your cry is  heard.”

Even though Ms. Verrier brought the first healing step of validation to adoptees, many are stuck in that phase. We are stuck moaning about the repercussions of adoption. We just can’t remain in that sadness and brokenness forever. It’s time to move on.

The majority of people in the world of adoption give kudos to Ms. Verrier, including me. She’s led us miles, but now it’s time to move on toward next steps for healing adoptee anger and how it affects  the mother/child relationship.

Please know that I am just an old adoptee who is finally free of the angry chains that held me and I declare that healing is possible for adoptee anger that pulled mom and me apart for decades.

As a veteran in the world of adoption and as an author, I thought I’d written every book I ever wanted to. However, radical things began happening within me that seemed worthy to share for the benefit of adoptive and foster moms, and kids of all ages. 

I must warn you that this post will not be a feel-good read. No warm fuzzies or heart-shaped emojis. No steaming bedtime tea and cookies. After all, many of you are desperate for hope, right? Hope that you’ll be enough for your child? Hope that your child can heal from his painful past?

Hard, gut-wrenching, instrospective work is required for healing. What I will share here is the narrow path, the secret ingredient, the key that opens the possibility of healing for every relationship–forgiveness. 

How I wish mom and I knew about what will be shared . We would have been freed from the war between us and enjoyed an intimate parent/child relationship that only comes from tough self-examination of both child and parent.

The path I took looks like this:

  • We hurt
  • We hate
  • We heal ourselves
  • We come together again

Let’s add here that not all adoptees and moms experience a strained relationship. There’s no evidence of adoptee angst. Instead, there’s an openly loving relationship. This is often attributed to level of resilience, DNA, brain development in utero. Babies that are told during by first moms that they were loved during the intimate nine months of life, are sure to begin life as an adoptee with a sure foundation. Just ask Dr. Thomas Verney, MD, and author of THE SECRET LIFE OF THE UNBORN CHILD. 

Parents, if your child displays no angst, remember all that he/she experienced. That can’t be buried. Your child will have to process it someday. So, enjoy the love, but realize that it may be a defense against being further rejected…by you.

You are not alone, moms, in the stressful relationship with your adopted child. There are many engaged in the war with children, but let me assure you that the war can end. 

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