What Adoptive Moms Can Do When Their Kids Throw Pie In theIr Face

How Adoptive Moms Can Reverse Their Child’s Misplaced Anger

I’m going to ask you to do something in regard to your adopted child’s anger that will likely seem crazy, but hang tight…it will make sense after you read the prescription for helping your child process misplaced anger and find healing from pre-adoption loss. 

First, think  about your reaction to your child’s outbursts, rages, and rejections. Do these scare you? Do you wonder if you’re doing something wrong as a mom? Do you feel helpless and hopeless about how to deal with it? 

You’re not alone.

 Let’s take a close look at the world of adoption literature for the last few decades and give accolades to Nancy Verrier for her best-seller, THE PRIMAL WOUND. If your adopted child is a teen or adult, he/she may carry the dog-eared book around for quick reference. Why? It’s a validation of not being crazy and proof that actual words can be wrapped around the deeper-than-death loss.

Ms. Verrier’s proposition states that if adoptees are validated concerning their loss, they will heal. That discovery came 20 years ago, yet the majority of adoptees who’ve read it are still stuck and unaware that healing from un-grieved adoption loss is a possibility.

Ms. Verrier took the adoption community a long way in the journey toward adoptee healing by teaching us the value of validation. She validated the wound, but there’s another validation that must follow on the heels of wound validation–the validation of adoptee anger. 

Did you just gasp? Did you wonder if you misread what I just stated about validating your child’s anger? Did you look inside and question if you’d ever have the energy to withstand that additional pressure?

Those reactions are understandable. You may perceive I’m asking you to have an unexpected cream pie thrown in your face in addition to being rejected. No way.

Understand What Your Validation Says To Your Child

First, I’m asking you to understand what validation of your child’s anger means to him. For starters, it means this to many adoptees:

  • You’ve heard my cry.
  • You won’t leave me in my pain.
  • You are for me.
  • You’ve been traumatized…I am so sorry you had to experience that.
  • You won’t abandon me in a crisis.

Let me add here that your child is likely confused about his/her anger, for it seemingly can’t be controlled. It explodes without invitation, like a bomb.

Your child may think that “they are their anger.” They may conclude, “I’m just an angry person.” Or, they may wonder if it’s a character defect passed down from unknown biological generations, or even a spiritual generational curse.

Validate “Flung” Anger

What I’m asking you to do is validate your child’s anger even when it’s flung directly at you. In order to accomplish this, you must be self-regulated, and a gifted adoption-competent therapist can help you develop that skill.

Back to your child’s healing…for healing to occur from Nancy Verrier’s famous primal wound, a scab must form, which gradually becomes like a crusty umbrella protecting the wound.  

Let’s agree that the scab for the primal wound is anger–a God-given emotion to protect and warn us that something needs attention. Does this concept not clarify the next step after validation of the wound?

When your child is healing, the scab will itch, but don’t let it get pulled off. In other words, your child may want to short-circuit your healthy validation of anger by throwing more rejection or  or slipping into relapse.  If this happens, don’t give up.

Another function of the scab is to create such an atmosphere for new growth. The scabby umbrella makes new skin feel safe and nurtured. This occurs where the wound once was. 

As you incorporate your knowledge of the healing process, you’ll also need to provide regulating statements for your child. By regulating, I mean that you’ll validate the flung anger but then help your child bridge emotionally from the past hurt to his present-day reality. It’s basically teaching “that was then, but this is now.” 

Again, sessions with an adoption competent therapist will help tremendously. Check out Bryan Post from The POST INSTITUTE. postinstitute.com/tag/bryanpost.  

Here is a list of Adoption Competent Therapists from the Center for Adoption Education and Support. I think the world of them. https://adoptionsupport.org/member-types/adoption-competent-professionals/

Keep in mind as you help your child regulate his/her emotions that usually the core emotion is fear. The majority of adoptees look at life through a lens of fear. Fear of abandonment. Fear of rejection. Fear of being invisible. Fear of being thrown away.

Now, I’d like you to buckle your seatbelts and read some anger statements that my research proved true of many adoptees. 

  • Hell, yes I’m angry. I have a right to be.
  • It’s not my fault.
  • My first mom kicked me to the side of the road and went on with life.
  • You are a loser.

Next, let’s turn the angry accusations into validation and regulation.

Turn Angry Accusations into Validating and Regulating Statements

The old axiom that “practice makes perfect” applies here. I’ve concocted these examples to help you practice your validations and regulating statements: 


  1. I HAVE A RIGHT TO BE ANGRY.

Yes, you certainly do have a right to be angry. You have experienced the greatest loss anyone ever could–the loss of your first parents in the parenting role. This all happened before I ever saw you and I want you to know that I understand and am here for you whenever you want to be angry about it.

    2. IT’S NOT MY FAULT.

Of course, losing your first parents in the parenting role is not your fault. You had    absolutely no “say” in the decision. You were an innocent child and your voice couldn’t even be heard. No wonder you’re angry about that. Remember though, that my voice for you will now will always be for the best possible outcome. 

Moms, be sure to not tell your child that he/she was placed for adoption because the first mother loved her. Remember that your child, no matter how fancy the adoption ceremony and no matter the age of your child, sees the disappearance of the first mom as rejection, pure and simple. 

To equate the first mother’s decision with love confuses your child about the possibility of even knowing what love is or how to receive it from others, including you.

3. MY FIRST MOM KICKED ME TO THE SIDE OF THE ROAD AND WENT ON WITH LIFE.

I can’t imagine what that felt like for you. Do you actually see her kicking you to the roadside? Where is the road? What does it look like? And, how did you respond when you were kicked to the side? Did you scream? Did you curl up in a ball? I just can’t fathom what you felt then. Right now, though, there is no road or anyone that will kick you to the side of the road. In fact, I’m at the side of your road now and I’m you’re number one cheerleader. I will never, ever abandon you.

4. YOU ARE A LOSER.

I know that is what you’re seeing. You see me as the mom you didn’t want, for all your body wanted was to be close to the mom you lost. I can’t imagine how mixed up inside you must be that I’m now your mom. I want to assure you that as your mom, I am willing for you to think I’m a loser if that will help you let go of that confusion and anger. Know that I will always love you no matter what you call me.

Moms, please know that when your child calls you a loser, he/she is really saying, “I am a loser.” That hatred is basically toward self.

Put On Your Yellow Rain Slicker

The last topic here is a tool for your own self-regulation. It was shared with me on my FB page–What Parents Can Do When Adopted Kids Reject Their Love.

When your child flings rejecting, hateful, and angry statements at you, imagine putting on a yellow rain slicker–your yellow rain slicker.

When the hurtful remarks come like pelting rain, they will have no power to hurt you. They will roll off you, like raindrops.

And so, looking back over the decades of adoption literature, thank you, Ms. Verrier for validation of the adoptee wound, but moms and adopted kids are moving on now–toward creating new growth beneath the scab of anger.

We now know that the secret ingredient for reversing misplaced anger is validation of “flung anger.”

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I Wish My Adoptive Mom Wouldn't Blab About My Adoption Without Asking Me

How Parents Can Instill Healthy Boundaries in Adopted Children

While openness in adoption is a healthy foundation, your child needs to know that you will not reveal his adoptive status indiscriminately. We’ve already discussed the value of acknowledging and appreciating your child’s uniqueness as an individual, but you’ll want to be careful not to set him apart from the family or make him “different” in the eyes of others. All kids long to be just like the other kids. In their minds, being “weird” is the kiss of death.

I recently had an encounter with an adoptive mom, a casual acquaintance who I knew had adopted a son four years before. When I greeted the two of them in a store, she unabashedly announced, “We are really open with Josh about his adoption. I tell everyone I know that he’s adopted.”

My heart sank. I’m sure the mother never dreamed that she could be fostering negative feelings and beliefs in her little boy, and I don’t know for sure that she was. But to a child, such a public, almost cavalier announcement of his adoptive status can cause him to feel uncomfortable, exposed, and different in a weird sort of way. The parent’s disclosure can unintentionally translate to the child as, “You are different from the rest of the family members. Because you are different, you don’t really belong.” It can also put pressure on him to perform, be “special,” and live up to his “chosen child” status. 

Beverly, an adult who was adopted as an infant, said: “I was never introduced as their adopted child, but if I would have been, I wouldn’t have liked that at all. I don’t like being special, different, or singled out.”

Just as you would not introduce a child of divorced parents as “a child of divorce,” or a child of a single mom as “a child of a single parent,” identifying the child who has joined your family through adoption as “the adopted child” can be damaging. It can reopen scars and slap a stigmatizing label on a heart that may already be fragile.

Mary Watkins and Susan Fisher explain in Talking with Young Children About Adoption: “When a preschooler shouts, ‘I don’t want to be adobeded!’ the parent must remember that she is not attacking the institution of adoption or criticizing her parents but is telling us one of the central facts of her preschool world: that she does not want to be different from her peers in any way (unless, of course, the difference enhances the way she is seen by her peers–for example, if she is the only child with a pony!)”  

Reverend Richard Gilbert, adoptee and bereavement specialist, said in an article for Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News: “Whenever I am introduced to a family, and the parents single out one child as ‘the adopted one,’ I cringe, and wonder what scars are floating in the heart of that child.”

So what can you do to make sure your child’s differences are valued without “marking” him as adopted in a way that might cause damage? Secrecy for secrecy’s sake is not the answer; that just plays into the dysfunctional cycle played out in many adoptive families for generations. But privacy is definitely in order. Your child’s adoption is not something that should be announced without great sensitivity to his need to be a full-fledged member of your family and his right to confidentiality where his history is concerned.

Respecting Confidentiality

Confidentiality implies privacy, intimacy, and trust. To say that confidentiality between an adopted child and parent is vitally important is not an exaggeration. Upon this foundation is built trust, honest communication, and freedom to express personal thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.

I believe the reason most adopted children feel discomfort when they are introduced as adoptees is that there has been an overt violation of their personal boundaries. Being adopted is a very private matter to most, and many share it with only a chosen few. It is my personal belief that the only people outside your extended family and circle of close friends who need to know about your child’s adoption are her physician, psychiatrist, or counselor. Her teacher need not know unless a special project about families, such as a family tree, is assigned at school. 

Here are some specific ways you can communicate your respect for your child’s privacy regarding her history: 

• “You have my word that I will not tell others that you are adopted without your permission.” In the case of transracial adoptions, you could say that you will not discuss the fact that she is adopted or the details of her adoption.

• “You call the shots about who you want this information to be revealed to.” 

If your child’s adoptive status is obvious because of her appearance, you can still assure her that the details need not be. Your child is still in charge. Remind her often of this.

• “I will tell your doctor about your adoption. He/she needs to know so that you can talk to him openly about adoption. I would like your permission to share this with him/her ahead of time.”

• “I promise to never introduce you as my adopted child. We cherish the day you became our child, but we don’t want to make it sound like you are any less our child than a biological child would be.”

Making these promises to your child ahead of time will give him confidence about himself when you’re with others. He will be able to trust you, knowing that you have settled the issue of confidentiality where his history is concerned. After all, you are his journey mate and a tremendous source of comfort and encouragement to him each step along with way. He needs to be able to trust you on every level.

What Parents Can Do

Talk About Adoption in Safe Surroundings

Teach your child that there is a time and a place for everything. Help her learn the places that are most appropriate to bring up adoption. “It’s best that we talk about adoption when we can be alone together.” “Let me know ahead of time that you want to talk about it and I will make some special time just for us.” Teach your child the concept of privacy by modeling it for her.

Handling Inappropriate Questions

You may have already discovered that it is not uncommon for your family to be on the receiving end of insensitive or overtly cruel remarks about your child’s adoption. “Was she adopted?” “Is she the adopted one?” “Is he the one you got from Ecuador?” How you handle these remarks will model to your child how to set boundaries with other people in the future.

Below is a Q and A chart that will give you comeback ideas for inappropriate questions. Model them and teach them to your child. 

Question:  Your child accompanies you to grocery store and an acquaintance comes up and asks, “Is she the adopted one?” 

Answer:  Instead of acting offended and defensive, remember your promise to your child to keep confidentiality. Demonstrate to him graciousness in the midst of brashness, boundaries in the midst of pushiness. In a kind and gracious way, you may say, “Why Mrs. Purdee, why do you ask?” Then simply change the subject. 

Question: A secretary from the church calls you about your baby’s upcoming dedication. After getting your child’s birth date, she asks whether or not you want it announced that your child was adopted. 

Answer: Politely explain to her, “Thank you, Mrs. Smith. We appreciate your sensitivity, but we would like our child’s announcement to be just like the others.” Use such conversations as opportunities to teach others about adoption through your attitude and response.

Question:  Twelve-year-old child comes up to your child in the school cafeteria and asks, “Were you adopted?”

Answer:  “What an interesting question! Where did you come up with that?”

If your child does not want to let this particular child into his private life, then he can draw an emotional barrier and refuse to talk further about it. If the other child pursues the topic, then your child can remove himself geographically. 

Question:  A peer asks your child, “Who are your real parents?”

Answer:  “The same as yours–the ones I live with every day with.” 

This response  would be appropriate for the adoptee to use with acquaintances/strangers, or others he doesn’t want to share his history with. The adopted child doesn’t need to shroud his experience in secrecy and innuendo unless he chooses to in certain situations that don’t feel safe or appropriate.

Question: Kindergarten children in the school yard have formed a circle and won’t let your child in. They taunt, “Jill is adopted! Jill is adopted!”

Answer: “What’s that to you?” Jill may respond as she simply opens the chain of hands and joins in the play.

Question: Your child’s second-grade teacher asks him during a class lesson in social studies if he would like to share his unique family tree with the class. (Your child has already told the teacher about his adoption.)

Answer: “I don’t feel like I want to talk about it today, Mrs. ____, but thank you for asking me.”

Honor Your Child

Adopted children feel different because they are different than you, biologically speaking. They are also different because of the way they became a part of your family. These are facts of life–facts you cannot change and facts you cannot fix. Your child is not the same as you, no matter how you slice it. But accepting, honoring, and appreciating her differences is a far cry from broadcasting them to the whole world. 

Modeling healthy boundaries will be a treasured gift to your adopted child. You will be saying to her:

• “I respect your privacy.”

• “I am considerate of your boundaries.”

• “I will be there for you in the painful times when you feel like you don’t belong.”

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“I Need to Know the Truth About  My Conception, Birth, and Family History, No Matter How Painful the Details May Be.”

Betty Jean Lifton, author of Lost and Found: The Adoption Experience, describes the adoptee’s growing awareness of his desire to know more about his biological family as an awakening: “The act of adoption puts us under a spell that numbs our consciousness. When we awaken it startles us to realize we might have slept our lives away, floating and uprooted…The adoptee awakens when he or she realizes that not to know (who gave them birth) would be to live life without meaning. The curiosity has always been there, waiting to be released.”

Awakenings happen at various times for adoptees, sometimes and to some degree during childhood, often to a greater degree as the adoptee grows older. My greatest awakening was at mid-life, when I enrolled in a college writing class and was assigned to take a few facts, weave them together with historical data, and create a story. Since I only knew a few details about my birth family, I chose that as my topic.

I remember sitting for hours in the library,  my head buried in the study cubicle, pouring over tattered, musty books describing maternity homes in the 1940’s. I learned of the awful stigma and shame society laid upon women experiencing untimely pregnancies. I learned about the vulnerability of married women whose husbands were off at war. Dark thoughts and emotions stirred in me and my heart began to weep for the birth mother I never knew. 

For many adoptees, the need to find the birth family becomes all-consuming and an actual search begins. I grew relentless in my search for more information. I interviewed elderly nurses and found out what procedures were used during births. “What was my birth like for my mother…and for me?” “Was anyone there for my birth mother?” “Did she ever get to see me or hold me?”

I thought for the first time of the excruciating pain of having to give up a child, leave the hospital with empty arms, and go on with life as if nothing had happened. I longed to tell my birth mother that she had done the right thing. I wanted to let her know that I was all right.

Little by little, my birth family was coming to life in my psyche. Finally I realized what I had been searching for all my life: a connection to my “real” life–the real me–before I was adopted, and the whole truth about my past that would enable me to live my present more honestly and fully.

Going Through Home Again

As a parent you may be wondering, Why is it so important that our adopted child know the truth about her origins? What good will that do? Why put her through all that?

Author Carlye Marney, in Achieving Family Togetherness, once suggested that there are at least 80,000 generations behind each one of us, and that we are incapable of blessing ourselves or giving blessing to others until we are first able to bless our origins. Marney terms this process of blessing one’s origins “going through home again.”

Going through home again is no easy process for an adoptee, for her origins are often shrouded in secrecy. Secrecy about her conception, secrecy about her birth, and secrecy about her family history. How can she bless her origins if she doesn’t know what they are? 

Webster’s says to bless means:

  • to bestow good of any kind
  • to honor, to beautify
  • to be in favor of
  • to endorse
  • to smile upon
  • to pardon.

Think about these words in regard to your child. I know you would agree on every point that this is what you want for her. You want her to be able to smile upon herself…to be in favor of herself…and ultimately to pardon others who may have given her a painful beginning. In other words, you want to implant in her a healthy self-esteem, regardless of her past history.

The saying, “When you know the truth, the truth will set you free,” is applicable here. I am reminded of a poster with the above verse and picture of  a rag doll being pushed through an old-fashioned wringer. A good reminder that the truth is often painful.

For example, when Cathy found out that she had been conceived in rape, her heart sunk at the sound of the words. She was one who therapist Dr. Randolph Severson, in To Bless Him Unaware, described as a “child whose life leapt into being through a degrading, terrifying act of sexual violation.” Cathy never imagined in her darkest fantasies that this could be a possibility. Yet it was her truth, and it led her to a greater truth: that something good came out of that terrible violation of her birth mother. That good thing was her. It also helped her learn about her birth mother and all that she had been through in order to give her life.

There may be many truths that will be difficult to tell your adopted child. Perhaps the birth mother was a crack addict. Perhaps there is a history of mental illness, neglect, or sexual abuse in the family.

 Jeanine Jones, MSW, CCSW, and adoptive mother of seven said in an article appearing in Jewel Among Jewels Adoption News: “No, it is not a joyous time when your child wants to see all his information and you’re concerned that what he reads will hurt him. This is a time for honesty, compassion, and relationship building.”

Your child, at the appropriate age, can actually benefit from hearing painful information about his past because he will know that finally you are telling him the honest, gut-level truth. Kids are geniuses at detecting untruths. This giving of information doesn’t have so much to do with the truth about his past as it does with his relationship with you and with himself. He is learning to trust you at a deeper level and he is also developing self-esteem. He is possibly having some of the ugliest and most painful information about his past revealed by you, yet at the same time you are demonstrating that you love him just as he is. 

As this relationship of trust and love deepens, he can decide what he wants to do about the option of searching for more facts or for birth family members. Whether or not he goes ahead with an actual search, the relationship between you and him will have grown tremendously.

How to Know When Your Child Is Searching

Now I am beginning to see the necessity of the adoptee going through home again, as well as the challenge, you may be thinking. Are there any  behaviors I can look for in my child to know if he is wanting to go through home again?

Yes, there will be behaviors that will help you know if your child is inwardly heading in that direction. Learn to listen, as you have been, with your heart. Keep in mind the wise words of Drs. Brodzinsky and Schecter from their book Being Adopted: The Lifelong Search for Self. These doctors have thirty years combined experience in dealing with adopted children. When asked what percent of adoptees search for their birth parents, their answer was one hundred percent. “In our experience,” they said, “all adoptees engage in a search process. It may not be a literal search, but it is a meaningful search nonetheless.”

Sometimes the adoptee’s desire to go through home again is subtle or masked. Following are some ways adoptees may express their unspoken need.

For children:

  • The search begins in their imagination, through the telling of fairy tales and stories.
  • Can show up as early as three years old through play. (Look particularly for themes of loss and rescue–lost animals, lost children, etc.)
  • After you tell her about her adoption, she asks, “Why did it happen?”
  • She may wonder where her birth parents are now. “Where are they?” “Will she come and see me someday?”

For adults:

  • “You can take a dog to a vet and find out what kind he is, but I can’t even find out what my heritage is.”
  • “I wish I could tell her (birth mother) how much I love her for bringing me into the world.”
  • “Meeting my birth father was validating for who I am.”
  • “Now that I have met her (birth mother), I know how to be.”
  • “Knowing your birth family gives you a point of reference.”

The truth can and probably will be painful for the adoptee, but most of us want it all. We want truth on every level–physical, emotional, and spiritual.

What Parents Can Do

At the earliest age possible, introduce information about the birth family. The words “birth mother” and “birth family” shouldn’t be some strange term imposed on the child later in life. Instead, the child’s history should be presented in terms which even the pre-schooler can understand. I am so glad your birth mommy gave you to us to love. Maybe it was your birth mommy who gave you that beautiful curly hair!

Vicky remembers her mother’s anxiety about the subject of her birth mother. On the night before she was married, her mother nervously revealed her birth mother’s name and the few facts she knew about the birth family’s history. “Not only did it seem awkward and out of place, but it felt like a betrayal,” Vicky said. “Why didn’t she tell me earlier? Why did she withhold something so vital to my well-being? It also created feelings of shame. Was there something awful about my past or  me that made her so nervous?”

It wasn’t until many years later that Vicky learned that her birth mother had been raped.  She was confident am sure her adoptive mother was aware of this because her grandmother was the social worker who handled her private adoption.

“If my mother had shared that information with me earlier in life, I am sure I could have handled it,” Vicky said. “Yes, it would have been painful. Yes, it probably would have created more questions about my history, but it would have empowered me to be able to trust and love my adoptive mother more.”

Vicky realizes the toll it took on her. “Because I was not given the painful details of my conception until I was forty-three years old, it took me a lot of time and energy to be able to separate the circumstances of my conception from who I am as a person. For years after finding out the circumstances, I said that ‘I was conceived in rape.’ Whenever I said those words, my soul flooded with shame and sadness. One day I realized that I was carrying the pain and shame of my birthmother. After that I learned to simply say ‘my mother was raped.’ That removed the incessant shame from me and enabled me to love my birth mother more.”

What a gift you would be giving to your child by sharing all of his history with him as the time arises. You would be able to help him work through the complex task of separating the painful circumstances from his who he is as a person.

I am not advocating that you sit down with your four-year-old child and share the negative aspects of his conception and birth, but I am advocating answering his questions honestly whenever the opportunity arises.

 Let the child lead. You will know when the time is right because he will begin to ask questions. Expect questions about his birth mother as early as age three. Adoption may seem like a wonderful thing to your pre-school child, but when he reaches school age, he will begin to realize that to be chosen means that he was first rejected by someone. Why didn’t my birthmother want me? Where is my birthmother now? Did you ever meet her? Do you think that she would like me if she knew me now? 

I cringe when saying the word “rejection” because it sheds an unfavorable light on the birthmother and her decision to relinquish. This is not my intent. However, it is important to realize that relinquishment translates to the adoptee as rejection no matter how much the birth mother loved him. This is the adoptee’s emotional reality and probably the point at which his  questioning will occur.

Think through possible scenarios of how you will answer your child’s questions before he becomes curious. When the time comes, your confidence and serenity will let him know that it is okay to ask questions and express his true feelings. 

 You probably will not have all the answers to his questions, especially if you adopted internationally. Nevertheless, he can learn to have a settled peace about his origins knowing that in this life there will always be unanswered questions. 

Learn to listen to your child’s spoken and unspoken messages. This will clue you in to what part of the information upsets him. “You’ve got to be kidding?” “Oh, no way.” “That is horrible.” “I don’t want to hear any more.” These are indications that he has digested all the information he can at this particular time. What are the non-verbals? Remember that this is your first avenue of communication before words. Does he throw up his hands in utter disbelief? Does he get a far-away look in his eyes or drift off into a catatonic stare? Does he swallow hard? Does his body stiffen? If so, pay close attention. If he stares, he is likely frozen in fear. If he is swallowing hard, he may be overwhelmed. If his body stiffens, he may be communicating that he just can’t tolerate any more.

Remember that adoption is a life-long journey. Questions about his birth and birth family will surface at each developmental stage of life. Times of change–going to high school, leaving home for college, getting married and having children of his own, mid-life, old age–will often be the precursor to history issues resurfacing. However, the information you have already given him will not be a millstone around his neck; rather, it will provide him with a context to learn deeper lessons about what it means to be adopted. Ultimately, growth will occur.

You probably would agree that “going through home again” by learning birth history is not an easy task for most adoptees. Some adoptees have no desire to learn anything beyond the adoption story. However, when your child expresses his need to go through home and learn what he can about his past, no matter how painful the details, trust his instincts.  The end result may well be that he will finally be able to look back on his past with pardon and upon himself with favor.  

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Should Adoptive Parents Share Painful Pre-Adoption History with Kids?


What If Mom Would Have Said This?

What I Wish My Adoptive Mom Would Have Said

Emblazoned in my memory is mom sitting up til the wee hours of the morning, waiting for me to arrive home from a date.

She was there waiting…always.

I tip-toed in, acting like I didn’t see her.

Of course, all I thought about then was me, me, me.

How I wish she would have told me the truth about how she felt in various situations, especially loaded ones.  Not in a manipulative way that would cause guilt, but in a loving and firm manner, that would increase my emotional awareness and intelligence.

Emotional intelligence is the ability to competently process emotion-related information and use it to guide thinking and behavior.

Emotions play a large and vital role in our lives. Being aware of emotions and able to manage them is related to success and happiness, something you want for your children. Children (and adults too) who have emotional intelligence are able to better understand themselves and others.

Parents, I know how challenging it is to speak truth to your kids about their behaviors, for you are terrified that you’ll further injure your child.

Your heart bleeds when and if he brings up pre-adoption trauma, and you want to be like a mama bird, wrapping your protective wings around him. You may be:

Unhealthy Emotions

  • Fearful: Believe that emotions like sadness or anger can be harmful.
  • Controlling: See it as your responsibility to quickly change painful emotions in your child.
  • Minimizing: Feel your child needs to be made aware that such emotions will pass and they aren’t important.
  • Punishing: When child refuses to act happy, punish.
  • Interpreting: They see child as demanding and that they must fix.

Healthy Emotions

Or, you may be completely healthy emotionally, having done your own work so that you can be a coach for your child. You may:

  • Be aware of emotions in yourself and your children.
  • See their child’s negative emotions as a chance to become closer, or to teach.
  • Validate, by acknowledging and supporting, their child’s emotions.
  • Help give verbal labels to their child’s emotions.
  • Problem-solve, in partnership with the child, by setting limits about acceptable behavior, and talking about goals and strategies for ways their child can deal with the situation that gave rise to negative emotions.

How I wish Mom would have told me how she felt on those late-night dates:

  • “It’s hard for me when I don’t know what’s going on.”
  • “I get anxious when I hear nothing.”
  • “I like to get texts when plans aren’t laid out ahead of time. Let’s lay out a plan next.”

Avoid Shame

Whenever I teach parents how to speak the heart language of their adopted children, I emphasize that the best way to remove shame from an emotion-laden topic is to not refer to the child directly, but to children in general.
For example: “Your first mother wasn’t able to care for ANY baby when you were born.” This is in contrast to “Your first mother wasn’t able to care for YOU after you were born.”
So, who knows whether I’m shooting into space with this idea of sharing tough truths with your adopted/foster kids. It seems good to me, for adoptees, just like anyone else, must to learn to read the body language and voice tones of others….not just ourselves.
Challenge Yourself This Summer
Parents, what can you do to increase your own emotional intelligence this summer:
  • Counseling
  • Begin a parent support group?
  • Ask someone to be your prayer partner?
  • Read “Jesus Calling” Devotional every morning?

Fellow adoptees and foster kids, what can you do to grow healthy emotions?

  • Journal daily
  • Draw stick figures to go with your journals–date them and they will be part of the unfolding of your story
  • Sit under a “heavy blanket” before bedtime
  • Read a memoir about being adopted. I recommend ALL YOU CAN EVER KNOW, by Nicole Chung. https://tinyurl.com/y5udtpap

Let me know what occurred to you while reading?

And, after you do, don’t forget to sign up for emails from me on the right hand corner, just below the publicity photo. I would love to keep in touch with you.

Blessings to all of you!


Who Am I, Anyway?

Confessions of An Angry Adoptee

While the hubs and I were waiting for youngest daughter to arrive at the restaurant, i suddenly saw her and enter.

I stood enthusiastically and waved.

My hand went up so fast that it careened over a glass of water, throwing it a foot from the table, and spreading underneath the chairs and onto the menus.

Of course, it was no big deal….we all laughed about it.

But, that incident reminded me of my anger, which can be forceful, spewing itself in damaging ways over every person I love.

We feel emotions more intensely than many non-adopted humans, for we have pre-adoption traumas that affect us right down to the cellular level.

But, isn’t anger supposed to be a good thing?

Yes!  Our emotions are a gift, meant to help us.

But, anger can become toxic if not processed.

Anger Can Be Connected to Another Emotion

Anger is often connected to another emotion, such as sadness or fear.

Sadness leads to depression, and I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

Insomnia took over and for five nights I was wide awake. Walking and exercising didn’t help. It was hell.

Everything that came out of my mouth were words of condemnation—at myself. I couldn’t stop myself.

When I was 47, I was hospitalized for depression. The depression was chemical and I was helpless to overcome it. I couldn’t even talk. I spent ten nights and days in the hospital’s lock-down unit.

Never, ever will I forget my husband and adult daughter going through those doors at the end of the day.

I ran after them and learned that the doors were locked.

The orderlies, dressed in professional whites, stood stone-faced.

In desperation, I ran to the nearest sofa and curled up in a ball.

Is it ever hard telling all this. This is the first time I’ve ever shared these details. I do so in hopes it may speak to you if you are depressed.

Because I lost touch with reality, I was given strong anti-psychotic drugs that made me feel like a space cadet.

So, I spent ten nights in lock down, with way-out people. A schizo patient took off her clothes every night and ran circles around the unit.

Why was I put with all these crazy people?

All I needed was a good night’s sleep.

The meds the nurses gave before bed didn’t work.

Finally, I let out a scream.

Nurses came running.

A strong shot enabled me to drift off to sleep.

In the nine days that followed, humiliating group experiences filled my days.

Why, oh why, would they require me and others to play with building blocks?

A man who sat next to me owned a prosperous car dealership in Indianapolis.

Depression can befriend anyone.

Anger Can Kill

While in the lockdown unit, I passed the rooms of patients who were on IVs.

When I asked what was wrong with them, the nurse said that they were suffering from depression.

Say what?

Isn’t depression just being sad? Isn’t it something everyone gets over?

No, depression can take your life.

How awful.

Did that mean my life was in danger?

What was causing this?

I had to know.

How sobering to read these stats:

    • Emotional issues may place us at risk for developing heart problems (American Heart Association)
    • Anger precedes and can actually trigger a heart attack
    • People who harbor their anger are twice as likely to have a heart attack, die. (Circulation, May 2000)

There was not a clue at the end of the ten-day stint what the cause of my depression.

The only thing I could concentrate on was: “one foot in front of the other.”

Leaving the hospital, I was determined to find out the cause through weekly counseling.

My personal experience with depression makes me passionate to pass this vital information on to you, fellow adoptees.

Anger Can Be Assessed

We’ve got to make self care a priority, which requires making an anger assessment. Not for anyone else, which is usually our focus.

It’s time to take care of ourselves.

Here are some symptoms of anger.

How many can you identify with?

    • My cup is half empty most of the time
    • Others are intimidated in my presence
    • That bottle of wine isn’t enough to numb my pain
    • I use drugs to escape my problems
    • I smoke like a smokestack
    • I  feel guilty all the time and constantly apologize
    • I’m can’t lose weight and I’ve had it with diets
    • I’m out of control and don’t know what to do
    • My anxiety, especially in social situations, cripples me
    • I have physical symptoms, but docs don’t give diagnosis
    • It’s impossible to get to sleep and stay asleep
    • It feels good to cut myself
    • I am a people pleaser
    • I am loyal to a fault
    • I’ve had several speeding tickets
    • I use inappropriate humor
    • I am sarcastic
    • Suicidal thoughts
    • Conflicts in primary relationships
    • Anorexia or bulimic
    • Chronically late to important functions
    • My temper flares easily

Anger Can Numb

Months after beginning counseling, questions about my adoption surfaced.

Who was my birth mother?

Would she ever want to meet me?

Where in heck were these questions coming from?

Was I totally losing it?

Guilt flooded me for voicing such curiosities.  After all, it wasn’t all supposed to be a secret?

And, no, my mom hadn’t hid things from me.

I was told about my adoption as a young child, along with enticing facts about the people involved in the saga. The doc who delivered me stopped by every week after my homecoming to check on me and there was a soldier who walked by our house everyday, peering in the windows from a distance.

If someone said my anger  stemmed from my losing my birth mother at relinquishment, I would have blown them off, like dandelion fuzz.

How crazy is that?

I didn’t even know her.

Just hearing that suggestion was incredibly irritating.

Maybe this is where you’re at…and if so, let me assure you that it’s a good place to be.

The pot has been stirred for the revelation of your incredible life purpose.

Someday, all this will make sense.

I promise.

Just be willing to work with me, okay?

We’ll talk about that in the next blog.

Stay with me?!

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