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!