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I’M NERVOUS ABOUT FINDING BIRTH RELATIVES. Online Adoptee Bible Study

Will My Birth Family Reject Me...Again?

The Story of Moses 

Exodus 4 

Like many adoptees, Moses probably experienced a tremendous amount of anxiety prior to his reunion with his birth brother, Aaron. “What will I say?” “How will I act?” “Will I laugh or cry?” he may have wondered. 

As with all adoption reunions, there is joy as well as pain, blessing as well as a sense of loss. Moses’ reunion with Aaron was probably no exception. 

As he crossed the desert and neared the mountain of God, how his heart must have skipped! Flashbacks of his traumatic adoption day may have occurred or warm memories of his big brother taking care of him when he was a small child. 

As he neared the mountain of God, a tall, slim figure gradually came into view. 

“Moses!” Aaron shouted, running toward him, arms outstretched. 

“It’s so wonderful to see you!” they echoed, kissing one another, first on one cheek and then the other. 

“Do you remember when we used to play together when you were little?” Aaron might have asked as they sat by the fireside that evening. “How are mother and father?” Moses probably said. “Are they still living?” 

As they talked, Moses experienced feelings he had never known before. Feelings of completeness. Of peace. Of connection. 

“Then Moses told Aaron everything the Lord had sent him to say, and also about the miraculous signs he had commanded him to perform” (v. 27-28). 

Following this sweet time of fellowship with his long-lost brother, Moses returned to his father-in-law, Jethro, expressing his desire to return to Egypt to see if his people, the Israelites (which included his birth family) were still alive. 

One can’t help but wonder if a dual-theme began at this point in Moses’ life, where his life calling became intricately woven together with his adoption experiences. Not only was he to fulfill the divine command by demanding that Pharaoh release the Israelites, but in a personal, adoption-related way, he was about to face his cruel adoptive grandfather, Pharaoh. 

What terror must have filled his heart! He was being stretched reluctantly into a leadership role that would require that he face his greatest fears—rejection by Pharaoh and rejection by the people he would be leading, 

God warned that when Aaron demanded release of the Israelites, Pharaoh would refuse to listen ten times. The result would be specific plagues upon the Egyptians. Water would change into blood. Frogs. Gnats. Flies. The livestock would be plagued. Boils. Hail. Locusts. Darkness. The Passover. The death of the firstborn. 

Moses watched as Aaron spoke to Pharaoh eight times, but on the ninth confrontation, during the plague of darkness, Moses spoke alone before Pharaoh. 

How interesting. It is often in our darkest hours that we embrace God’s strength and grace. Moses was proving that those with the deepest fears have the greatest capacity for faith. Finally, he was living out his life calling! 

  1. Do you think the initial conversation between Aaron and Moses was spontaneous, or did it feel a little awkward? Explain.

  1. How do you think Moses turned his fears into faith? 

  1. How do you think it felt for Moses to hold his own flesh-and-blood relative in his arms and to see someone who probably resembled him physically?

How Moses Saw God 

Moses was getting to know God as Jehovah-Rohi, his Shepherd. Like a shepherd, God would feed and lead Moses as he led the people of Israel. “I will be with you,” God said earlier. What music that must have been to Moses’ ears! He took this promise by faith and thus was able to step confidently into his life purpose. “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young” (Isaiah 40: 11). 

How You See God

Please refer to the list of Names for Jesus in Scripture in Appendix B and list three to five names for God that stand out to you. It will be encouraging to look back when finished with the workbook and see how your perception has grown!

You can record your words here:


How Other Adoptees Feel 

Check the statements with which you most agree and explain why on the lines that follow: 

  • When I found out my birth mother’s name and phone number, I was terrified. 
  • I need a break from adoption stuff. I am overwhelmed. 
  • I often wonder if my birth parents are alive. 
  • I am afraid to tell my adoptive parents about my desire to search. 
  • I am afraid that I might seem disloyal to my adoptive parents and I don’t want to hurt them. 
  • I know my adoptive parents would be so upset by my desire to search that I would have to “protect” them…. take care of them emotionally. 
  • The closer I get to the feelings surrounding my past, the faster I run from them. 
  • I don’t know what I would do if I were rejected at my reunion. I am afraid it would destroy me. 
  • I need someone to “hold my feet to the fire” so that I won’t avoid my past. 
  • I need to prepare myself for possible opposition and rejection at reunion. 
  • I need to be reminded often that no matter what the outcome of my search, I will grow. 


  1. How do you feel when you realize that other adoptees have feelings similar to yours? 

  1. How have significant people in your life reacted when you expressed the desire to search for your birth family? 

  1. If you haven’t expressed a desire to reunite, how do you imagine they would respond? Check whatever applies from the following: 
  • Why open THAT can of worms? 
  • That is such an important piece of your life. I understand why you would want to search for your birth family. 
  • I always thought there would be a time for this. Go for it! 
  • Let by-gones be by-gones. 
  • You’re asking for trouble. 
  • You know who you are in Christ…that is all you need to know. 
  • A quivering lip. 
  • I will support you in every way possible. 

Learning about Adoption 

Jayne Schooler writes in Searching for A Past: The Adopted Adult’s Unique Process of Finding Identity, “Denial or rejection stands as the greatest fear for any adopted person who makes the decision to search. Rejection is an opposing response to a shaky, uncertain extended hand. Rejection is the dashing of hope to embrace and be embraced, to love and to be loved by the one person who has existed only within the deep recesses of the heart.” 

  1. Have you forced yourself not to think about your birth family (denial) as well as a possible reunion with them? If so, how? 

  1. How would you deal with the pain if your birth relative rejected you? Have you counted the cost?

  1. What are some practical ways in which you could prepare yourself for a possible search?

Putting my Feelings and Needs into Words 

  1. How do you think it would feel to hear your birth mother’s voice for the first time? 

  1. With your left hand, draw the faces of your birth mother and you. (On your day of birth as well as now). 
  1. Have you learned the art of being gentle with yourself while contemplating reunion—to rest when you feel overwhelmed? What do you do to calm yourself? If you don’t know how to take care of yourself, what are some first steps? 

  1. Do you ever feel guilt when contemplating a reunion, fearing God may not approve? If so, explain.

  1. What are your needs as you contemplate reunion or facing repressed thoughts and emotions about your birth family? 

  1. What do you believe a reunion with birth relatives would do for you? What would you hope to have, if anything, after the reunion that you don’t have now?

  1. How do you feel when you realize that other adoptees have similar feelings?

Writing Letters TO and FROM My Birth Mother, 

My Adoptive Mother, and God 

  • Write a letter TO your birth mother, telling her your feelings about meeting her. 
  • Write a letter FROM your birth mother, expressing how she would respond to your letter. 
  • Write a letter TO your adoptive mother, expressing your desires (if you have them) about reunion with your birth relatives. If you have no desire to meet them, tell her why. 
  • Write a letter FROM your adoptive mother, expressing how you imagine her feelings would be about a possible reunion. Then write what you believe she would tell you after you disclose your desire. 
  • Write a letter TO God, telling him how you feel about facing your greatest fear. 
  • Write a letter FROM God, expressing his thoughts toward you at this time. 
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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: Confessionsofanadoptiveparent.com. 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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What’s With The Silly Cap, Randall?

What's Up With the Ski Cap, Randall?

I couldn’t believe it when This Is Us’s Randall wore a ski cap to the event that Kevin took their mom to!

Of course, he and Kevin were in an all-out battle about who could take better care of their aging mom, as dementia set in.

The scene of Kevin taking his mom to the gala event provided the first glimpse of Randall’s cap. In the midst of Hollywood elites, Randall snuck in, uninvited. Could that be why he wore the silly cap? Did he think he was hiding and no one could see him?

Then, suddenly, when Kevin leaves mom for a couple of minutes and she becomes disoriented in a conversation, Randall appears like Superman to help her…without his cap.

The next scene, when Kevin returns to his mom’s side, there is a stark contrast between the faces of he and his brother. Kevin’s face became sadder and sadder and the emotional bond and shared DNA became clear.

Randall’s face showed no emotion except anger. Why? He is determined that only he has the right answers for their mom’s future. He will do anything to take good care of her.

I wonder if this is a common behavior for adopted adults. I remember back to when my mother suddenly dropped dead of a heart attack and I couldn’t even cry at her funeral because I was so worried about dad. BTW: I was an only child.

Another possible interpretation of Randall’s tenacity was that he sensed he was losing his mom and connection with her was all that he knew. Oh, no…he’d already lost his first mom…now a second?

Another thought about the cap is that Randall may see himself as in a battle–for his mom, but also for himself. And, what do soldiers wear in a battle? A hat to protect their heads.

Randall saw himself in a battle–for his mom, but also himself. You see, many of us adoptees are addicted to connection. We will do anything to maintain it. And, Randall was losing it. How could he survive without the connection to his mom?

Of course, the writers of the mini -series left us all hanging when Randall and Kevin left their mom again…just for a minute.

Upon returning to where she was supposed to be, they didn’t see her.

I guess we’ll all have to stay glued to the tv for next week’s program.

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Validating The Profound Wound of Adoptive Moms

Validation of The Adoptive Mom's Profound Wound

Moms, when you considered adopting, you wanted nothing more than to become a safe haven of love for your child, but instead, without either you nor your child desiring it, unresolved adoptee anger bonded you together in a seemingly impossible situation.

It was that way for my mom and me. She wanted to pour love into me from day one when my maternal grandmother brought me home on adoption day. After Dad held me and declared that “you were so tiny, I could hold you in the palm of one hand,” he handed me off to mom.

Immediately, my ten-day old body arched and cried bloody murder. I’m sure mom was aghast. How could she pour love into this defiant child? She had no idea that I was trying to communicate in the only way I knew that I just lost the love of my life–my birth mom. 

It’s likely that you’ve heard no one talk about this tumultuous, anger-driven relationship between many moms and adopted kids. Without pointing a finger, consider being an adoption agency professional arranging an adoption. Would you not put the upcoming adoption in jeopardy if you shared the possibility of an adversarial relationship between mom and child? And, how could you comfort naive parents who are now experiencing it in real time? 

What message have adoptive and foster parents received? Because there was likely no affirmation of the possibility of this kind of relationship developing, parents were terrified of adoptee anger, for they can’t spank it away, teach it away, woo it away, or love it away. 

And, adoptees fear their tiger-like anger originates from a hidden character flaw, possibly from a missing generation. If they hear others talking about “the bad gene,” they’re secretly paranoid.

This transparency is new territory,  just being plowed as you read this book. I’m  an old adoptee, finally free from anger’s choking grip, and ready to announce that this painful situation between moms and kids is not impossible to heal. 

As you may know, I’m 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 in my life that seem worthy to share. 

Alien thoughts flooded my mind, but at the same time, the last two years have been almost like waking up from surgery, where you vaguely hear the recovery room nurse’s voice in the distance. 

Maybe my brain chemistry changed. You hear all these things 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.

Let me give examples of the unexplainable thought reversals. 

Junk Became Treasure

One day I thought about mom’s wedding rings. Why? I carried them for 53 years without a thought, from geographical move to geographical move, and considered them pieces of junk. Tarnished beyond belief, with all the diamonds missing, I wondered why I hadn’t thrown them away.

However, now I quickly pawed through my messy and overcrowded jewelry box to see if they were still there. Oh, my goodness, they were, lying beneath my custom jewelry.

Why would I be searching for my late mom’s wedding rings when we had a tumultuous relationship? And, yet, the thoughts kept coming. What was it like on the evening that 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? 

With hands shaking, I put the rings on my tarnished rings on my finger and ran into my husband Bob’s office to show them off, like a kid. Just a month ago, while eating pizza at our favorite restaurant, he pulled out a small box. He’d gotten them refurbished without my knowledge. I wear them to this day.

Not only did my junk become treasure, but my painful memories became pleasant.

Painful Memories Became Pleasant

As I shared earlier, the relationship between mom and me was stressful beyond belief for most of my growing up years. Being in her presence was like running long, manicured fingernails over a black board.

But suddenly, is this turn of events inside me, the negativity disappeared and I saw mom’s care for me in a new light. I could smell her best-in-town apple pie, feel her hands gently rubbing oil on my asthmatic chest, and see her carry for Dinny Dinwit, my cat.

The change in memories went all the way back to adoption day.  When the caseworker brought me through the front door, she couldn’t help but fall in love. It was at that moment that one of her rarest gifts surfaced—her non-abandoning heart.

She would reverse the script of abandonment to one of safety and belonging. She would love this baby with every fiber of her being.

And so, over the span of a lifetime, mom gifted me, even though I didn’t realize it until it was too late.

Mom dropped over dead of a heart attack when I was only 36. Because she and dad were in Florida, we rushed to Dad’s side. I’ll never forget how they loaded her casket into the jet three days later.

Mom gifted me with the non-abandoning heart over the years by living by these legacy markers:

  • 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 back story.
  • 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. She refused to leave her offspring even though fire raged around her.  She accomplished her life’s mission and legacy of gifting her babies with a non-abandoning heart.

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

And so, moms, I offer the truths that brought me freedom, not claiming exclusive rights or guaranteed positive outcomes, but simply with the hope that you will be encouraged to press on.

This post is a wake-up, hope-drenched, revolutionary strategy for healing the adversarial relationships between adoptees and moms. 

Without a doubt, your level of fatigue is off the charts and I don’t want you to feel like these 20 strategies are one more thing you must do. Far from it. Read a few pages, or even just one, even if you have to seclude yourself from screaming kids in the bathroom.

I promise to meet you there but I must warn you that this book will not be a feel-good read. No warm fuzzies or heart-shaped emojis. No steaming bedtime tea and cookies. After all, you’re desperate for hope, right? And, I’m desperate to give it.

Let’s lay the historical groundwork from the world of adoption that will enable us to be thrilled about participating in such pioneering work with your adopted child. 

Adoptees love the seminal work of  Nancy Verrier in her best-selling book THE PRIMAL WOUND: Understanding the Adopted Child. Verrier’s wisdom teaches that without acknowledging and validating deep wounds, healing can’t begin. 

Since publication more than twenty years ago, many adoptees have dog-eared it’s pages, quoted it, and carried it around, like a security blanket. 

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

However, twenty years later, many adoptees are stuck in the validation phase of healing. The majority are stuck in tumultuous relationships, rage, and passive hate. We don’t know if there’s any next steps that we may take to be free of our painful past.

The majority of people in the world of adoption give kudos to Ms. Verrier, including me. But, it’s time to move on toward healing for your adopted child and your relationship with him/her. 

It’s time for you to have your own “aha book,” don’t you think? Time to have your deep wounds validated, time to bring you into contact with other moms with similar experiences, and time to gain hope that your child can heal from the adversarial relationship with you….which by the way, you don’t deserve. But, we’ll talk more about those dynamics in next posts.

Validating the Profound Mom Wound 

Not only must you understand the depth of your child’s wound, but also your own. Rejection from your own beloved child hurts. I don’t pretend to understand, but I do know what it feels like to be rejected by your first mom. 

Not only did she send me away after birth, not wanting to know anything about me, but she rejected me twenty years ago when we were reunited. What began as a fairy-tale reunion ended in gut-wrenching rejection.

When I think about you and your challenging calling as a mom, I remember the story of little Jessica McClure, who fell headlong down an abandoned well shaft in Midland, Texas.  The shaft was only eight inches in diameter and twenty-two feet deep. 

Can you imagine how Jessica’s parents must have reacted? Maybe they couldn’t eat, or refused to? Maybe they slept outside by the excavation site? Maybe out-of-control emotions drove them to a huge dose of valium, or several swigs of whisky?

Finally, after fifteen hours, a highly-trained worker gained access into the shaft, untangled Jessica,  and put her in the arms of her waiting parents, who sobbed uncontrollably, as did a vigilant country. 

Is this not reminiscent of your story too, moms? Your child fell into a deep hole when she lost her first family. You can barely stand to think about what was happening in that hole. If only you could take her place in the hole. You’d gladly offer.

Just like Jessican’s parents, the incredibly frustrating part is that you can’t do anything to help your child. She’s inaccessible. She’s “lost” to you. 

Could it be that this a place in your heart that’s so humbled by your child’s pre-adoption suffering that produces such helplessness that you don’t know quite where to turn or what to do with yourselves? Could this be your primal wound?

Just like Jessica’s hours in the shaft, your child suffered prior to adoption. It may be the orphanage workers who tied her down with ropes onto her bed because she was a “wiggly one.” It may be the suffering of a toddler fried in hot oil by his mother. Or, the pre-birth suffering inflicted by a drug-addicted mom.

Even though many moms may know the particulars of their child’s pre-adoption sufferings, there is still that deep agony in your hearts for the unknown-to-you trauma your child experienced. The part that may shut off access to your child’s heart.

After all, what would they say about the accident to a young child? Would they act like it never happened and that everything was fine now that they had her home again? Would they ask her directly what it was like to hardly be able to breathe in that dark hole? 

Those thoughts have likely entered your mind also. How can I connect meaningfully with such a wounded child?

Thus, we’ve thanked Verrier for her contribution to adoption literature, we’ve verbalized your profound wound as a mom, and now we must push on to the exciting part–the next steps. Next blog!

I love you, moms, and am in your corner.

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The Deadly Secret of Adoptive and Foster Moms

What Adoptive Moms Can Do Instead of Cracking UP

What do many adoptive and foster moms suffer intensely from that they keep secret? What causes them to push themselves to the hilt, unable to think of anything but caring for their child while never caring for themselves?

The answer is Compassion Fatigue, which is a state of extreme distress and preoccupation with the suffering of their adopted children. It is now being called a secondary trauma stress disorder.

This is no small thing. A friend once said that her physician warned that she’d die if she didn’t start taking care of herself.

The first thing that comes to mind when I read the words “Compassion Fatigue” is PTSD–the horrific psychological trauma soldiers experience during and after battle. Adoptive and foster moms aren’t on duty overseas, but they’re at home, battling for the welfare of their adopted and foster kids. They’d do anything for those kids, including being rejected repeatedly by them. They just want their children to thrive, discover, and enjoy the life purpose for which they were created.

Is it really any wonder that adoptive moms suffer from Compassion Fatigue? Research proves that adoptive parents invest more time and financial resources in their children compared to biological parents. The study, by sociologists at Indiana University Bloomington and the University of Connecticut, found that two-parent adoptive parents not only spend more money on their children, but they invest more time, such as reading to them, talking with their children about their problems or eating meals together.  Society often tells people that adoption isn’t normal,” said IUB Professor Brian Powell, who focuses on the sociology of the family. “When people make the decision that they want to have children and then use unusual means to have them, they compensate for the barriers.”   https://www.asanet.org/galleries/default-file/Feb07ASRAdoption.pdf.

With this is mind, with the raw reality being exposed, let’s take a close look at Compassion Fatigue, and then learn something new that may encourage beyond belief. You will also be able to take a test to see where you’re at in dealing with Compassion Fatigue.

What Really Causes Compassion Fatigue

What causes compassion fatigue is a boldfaced lie that the enemy of mom souls relentlessly whispers, “You are not enough. Not enough as a mom. Not enough to meet the needs of your adopted child.”

I know for a fact that my Mom (Retha) believed the lie. How could she not have upon learning that her daughter was a failure to thrive baby? How could she not have upon watching her best friend who was a nurse, bathe her baby? How many nights did she cry herself to sleep, wondering why she couldn’t me to eat formula? How many nights did she weep over my loose life style?

This is partly a spiritual battle, moms. If the enemy of your soul can keep you in fear that you’re not enough, discouragement is sure to follow.

Please read this illustration about discouragement: It was advertised that the devil was going to put up his tools for sale. On the day of the sale, the tools were placed for public inspection, each being marked with its sale price. They were a treacherous lot of implements–hatred, envy, jealousy, deceit, pride. Laying apart from the rest was a harmless looking tool, very well worn but priced extremely high. What is the name of this tool, asked one of the shoppers. Ah, said the devil, that is discouragement.

When asked why he priced it so high, he said, “Oh, because it’s more useful to me than all the others. I can pry open and get into a man’s heart with that, and when I’m inside, I can make him do whatever I choose. It’s badly worn because I use it on almost everyone, but few people know it belongs to me.

The devil’s price for discouragement was so high that it was never sold… and, discouragement is still his tool today.

Please note that I’m not saying you have a spiritual problem–I’m saying that lies are often aimed at the most vulnerable part of you–your mothering.

What Characterizes Compassion Fatigue

 When a mom is suffering compassion fatigue, she can’t stop trying to help her child. It’s like banging her head against a brick wall. It hurts, but she can’t stop. This is called repetition compulsion.

This mom may say, “If I try again, surely my child will respond.” And so, these moms operate out of fear. What if I can’t meet my child’s needs? Will he/she have to be sent away to residential care? What if my child keeps lying at school? Will she ever be able to graduate? What if my child is so miserable that he kills himself? What if my daughter won’t quit cutting?

My mom sat up til the wee hours of the night, waiting for me to return from “sketchy” dates. I can still see her slumping in the chair when I pushed the front door open, trying to hide wrinkled clothes. Perhaps she thought, “If I am here when she comes home one more time, maybe she’ll stop parking with her boyfriend and doing the unmentionable on county roads.”

In addition, moms may feel like a gerbil on a wheel, relentlessly spinning and going nowhere. Try, try, try, with no response. In fact, the child may regress. The baby keeps arching, the lying child delights in covering up and screams hateful words, and the sleeping-around teen now smokes marijuana. 

What Compounds Compassion Fatigue

What intensifies compassion fatigue is judgmental outsiders. They have not a clue of what moms is endure.

It’s the school counselor who declares the adopted child acts just fine at school. It’s the religious lady who gossips to other worshippers that the father has no problems parenting. It’s the goody-two-shoe fellow adoptive parent who says her kids never act like that.

It is shame that forces moms to not share their pain with anyone. There must be something wrong with me. I’m a mess of a mom.

And, with all this pressure, what is a mom to do?

The sad fact is that she isolates herself, usually with no support whatsoever.

This breaks my heart, moms. I have created a FB page just for you where you can encourage one another. @adoptedkidsrejectlove, or What Parents Can Do When Adopted Kids Reject Their Love.

What Calms Compassion Fatigue

  1. Learning About Your Child’s Longterm Memories

So, if a mom is being constantly rejected by her child, if all her efforts to help are like pouring into a bucket with a hole, she wonders if the foundation she’s trying to lay will ever set.

My backstory is that I had absolutely no warm memories of mom, nor of almost anything she did for me…until her dying day. Whenever I shared the process of how healing occurred for me, moms would ask, and rightly so, “What is it that made the change? How can I know that my son or daughter will have what you got?”

Even though mom didn’t understand what I’m about to share, she must have kept on. laying a foundation for me. What she didn’t know about, nor did I until recently, is that memories can be lost. Those are called long-term memories. They’re like a lost glove. You still own it, but you can’t use it.

Let’s get heady for a moment? Let’s discuss how long-term memories are made in your child’s brain. Longterm memories are like the hard drive on your computer. These memories have an actual physical presence in the brain–in the hippocampus. 

When a new long-term memory is being made, neurons make physical connections and synapses with each other, and encode information. For example, as a child, the smell of mom’s apple pie was encoded in my brain repeatedly, with each apple pie.

So, moms, take heart that your loving deeds are not lost. Your child’s brain makes them into memories and embeds them for further use. Is that not comforting?

Reflecting on my relationship with Mom, I can now smell her essence, like a fine, expensive perfume. Even though the bottle is empty, I can still distinguish the fine fragrance.

 If I would have been handed the full bottle of perfume as a kid or teen, I’d either grab it and throw it to the ground, stomp on it while screaming, or plug my nose and run in the opposite direction.

Was I just a character-flawed kid? Were the genes stacked against me? Was there no hope for me to someday be able to cherish the fragrance of the perfume?

Of course not. I was one kid whose brain was telling her to move and attack, to rage, and to shut the world out completely.

The second thing that will surely calm Compassion Fatigue is self-care–the thing you need the most, but usually ignore.

2. Practicing Self-Care (Honoring Yourself)

Moms, think years ahead to the day that your child will say goodbye and go off to college, marriage, or total independence.

Imagine him jumping into the car in trashy clothes, pulling out of the driveway, and non-chalantly waving goodbye. What words would you say? “Bye…take good care of yourself….I love you?”

How can you ever expect and hope that your child will take care of himself? Where is he going to master the skills of self-care? Are they even on his radar screen? And, what about the “love you” part? How can he love others when he can’t love you, when he absolutely rejects love?

It is entirely possible for self-care and love to be on his radar screen because self-care can be modeled by you in the midst of the chaos and brokenness. And, your loving mom actions will show him how to love others.

As important as it is to make sure you are learning about what your child will need from you, it is equally important to tune in to your own heart; learn to recognize your needs; take time to honor yourself.

 What Moms Can Do

  1. Rest! Can someone help you take a “mental health day?” A spouse or friend? I do this often and I stay in bed and watch something that I’ve loved, like Call the MidWife tv program.

2. Go on a Mom Retreat. What an incredible experience to be with those who parent in the trenches, like you, and with speakers that know where you’re at and what ministers most to you.

3. Asses the level of your compassion fatigue: Symptoms of Compassion fatigue are listed here by @stress.org (The American Institute of Stress):

– Affects many dimensions of your well-being

– Nervous system arousal (Sleep disturbance)

– Emotional intensity increases

– Cognitive ability decreases

– Behavior and judgment impaired

– Isolation and loss of morale

– Depression and PTSD (potentiate)

– Loss of self-worth and emotional modulation

– Identity, worldview, and spirituality impacted

– Beliefs and psychological needs-safety, trust, esteem, intimacy, and control

– Loss of hope and meaning=existential despair

– Anger toward perpetrators or causal even

4. Take a bubble bath.

5. Find an adoption-competent therapist. Check with Center for Adoption Support, or Heather Talbot Forbes.

6. Identify a sport that you really like and sign up for a class.

BTW–I can not only smell Mom’s best-in-town apple pie, but I can make a mean one myself.

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