What Adoptive and Foster Parents Can Do If Short-Changed by Social Workers

When Shortchanged by An Adoption Professional, Parents Can Still Work through Grief with Their Children

My heart broke as I read her message of desperation. Also, my blood boiled because I hear about this painful reality all to often.

Here’s the deal. She’s a mom of four and lives in the Ukraine. While reading my Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew, she suddenly  realized that she didn’t even know what adoption loss was for her children.

The social worker there hadn’t told her a thing about what to expect about her children’s grief.

“I was handed an empty slate,” she said, while grasping for straws and trying to catch her breath between questions.

How would she tell her children? What effect would this lack of information have on her parenting? Would there be long-term repercussions for the children? Could they ever thrive?

This situation doesn’t only happen in foreign countries.

I remember talking to a group of parents for a well-known adoption agency. When I asked them if they had been taught about their child’s loss…their profound loss…they all looked like deer in the headlights.

So-very- sad.

If you’re  parents in that situation, what can you do?

Here are some things that may be helpful:

  1. Forgive yourself. This is not your fault and you must not carry any shame for it.  it doesn’t mean that you are bad parents. I know that you love your kids to the moon and back and would even give your lives for them.
  2. Acknowledge You Got Short-Changed. I believe the children need to know this too and that you all will have some forgiving to do together.
  3. Go to your children and humility. I know you will.Tell them that you had no idea of what they have been through when they lost their first family or second or third family….or when they got passed by again and again in the orphanage or foster care. Tell them you’re sad about this
  4. Invite them to begin learning about unresolved adoption grief and loss.Tell them it can be a team effort and that she will do whatever you can to support them. Be their #1 cheerleader.
  5. Create a safe place. As you shed a few tears over this situation, they will know your heart. You can assure them that they can tell you anything, which means they don’t have to clean things up that they share. Tell them it’s okay to hate.The Bible says that. Tell them nothing is forbidden to say. Assure that you are strong and you won’t be offended or shocked.
  6. Offer hope. Present something concrete that you can work on together, or with a trusted therapist. Years ago I shared”The Grief Box”  with audiences. I hope to share this practical tool for kids to work through grief soon. Let me know if this would be beneficial to you?

So dear parents, take heart and remember that every day of your life was planned before any one of them ever came to be.

God knows about your situation and He cares…and He will equip you to do what you’ve been called to do.

I know that’s your heart’s desire.

For more info on TWENTY THINGS ADOPTED KIDS WISH THEIR ADOPTIVE PARENTS KNEW: https://www.amazon.com/Twenty-Things-Adopted-Adoptive-Parents/dp/044050838X/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8









Why Adoptive and Foster Parents Must Resist Over-the-Top Giving

I was ready to wring that mother’s neck.

While waiting in line at the ice cream shop, she repeatedly bent down to the order window to give the latest detail of her eight-year-old daughter’s order for an ice cream cone.

What kind of a cone would you like, honey? Oh, you want a waffle cone? Okay, sweetheart. Do you want to have it dipped in chocolate? Sure, sweetie. Do you want a single or double dip, or maybe a triple?  Get whatever you want, precious girl.”

Afterwards, the girl took the top-heavy cone and skipped off.

My blood was boiling…for several reasons, one which I discovered while writing this post.

First, the mother believed the lie that love means over- over-giving to growing children and/or adults. She thought she was demonstrating the greatest love, but instead she was harming.

Actually, she was overindulging, which we’ll take a close look at.

But first, let’s apply to adoption and foster care.

Overindulgence is a factor in parenting an adopted or foster child.  You love those kids of yours dearly and know full well their hard-place history. But, sometimes, a thought like this may run through your mind as you’re shopping: “How could it possibly hurt to give them one, or two, or even three extra gifts?”

You may not have been told that the “over-the-top” giving is really overindulgence.

Overindulgence Communicates

  • scarcity in the midst of plenty
  • parental needs are more important than mine
  • the life lesson of contentment will elude me
  • pleasing me is such a task…I must be too much to handle
  • I will never have enough
  • I am neglected
  • I will learn to manipulate
  • I won’t learn the developmental lesson of “Enough”


Overindulging children is giving them too much of what looks good, too soon, and for too long. It is giving them things or experiences that are not appropriate for their age or their interests or talents. It is the process of giving needs to children to meet the adult needs, not the child’s.

Overindulgence is a form of child neglect. It hinders children from performing their needed developmental tasks and from learning the necessary life lessons.”

Types of Overindulgence

The authors say there are three types of overindulgence.

  • Giving Too Much: (candy, presents, excitement, recreation, stimulation)
  • Over-Nurturing (smother love…doing for children what they should be doing for themselves…it may look loving but it keeps child from fulfilling full potential)
  • Soft Structure: (giving too much freedom and license. ..experiences not appropriate for child’s age. It can be not insisting that they learn important life skills.

Parents, I beg you to look at your giving this Christmas. It is extremely easy to believe that love is over-giving.

As I write this warning, I am warning myself. You see, I was like that bratty girl getting ice-cream and my mom and dad gave me e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g.

Now, what rings in my ears is what I say often to my grandchildren when I take them out for a meal: “Get whatever you want.”

Being overindulged gets passed down generationally.

Oh, no!

Let’s all pray for healthy giving this Christmas…myself included.

PS–Treat yourself to a copy of How Much Is Enough? Here’s the link: https://www.amazon.com/previously-published-Enough-Children-Teens/dp/073821681X/ref=sr_1_4?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1512937619&sr=1-4&keywords=how+much+is+enough