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!

2 responses to “What I Wish My Adoptive Mom Would Have Said”

  1. Sherrie Eldridge, Adoption Author Avatar

    Dear Sherie,
    I was so sad to hear what you experienced as a child, yet I visited your site and can see that you are the kind of person who doesn’t get bitter, but better, because of suffering.
    My conclusion is that you were “used” by religious people to prove their “spirituality” by adopting.
    So sad.

  2. Sherie Kirven Avatar
    Sherie Kirven


    The part that really stuck with me after reading this wonderful article was “It’s hard for me when I don’t know what’s going on.”

    My little brother and I were adopted when I was 12 years old and we had met the family only once before flying to another state and moving in.

    Things started out ok, but later it ended up not working out and they returned us to The Children’s Home of Lubbock.

    I know for some it is difficult to adopt older children. I assume that was part of the issue.

    I’m now 34 years old and every once in a while I think about our failed adoption.

    While reading your words I kept thinking if our adoptive parents would have just took the time to ask why my behavior changed, or why I wasn’t happy..

    The answer(s) were actually very valid, I felt hurt that we had to leave our two siblings in care and we were so far away. I was sad I couldn’t give my siblings a hug or go visit them each day like before. My brother and I felt they were also moving too fast in the beginning with showing us off to all the church members (he was a pastor at a new church), putting their arms around us in front of anyone they introduced us to, but not hugging us at home or when we weren’t on display. I was confused as to why my adoptive parents didn’t seem like the people they came off as “in our one visit” prior to adoption. I also didn’t like me introduced as “the two adopted children from Texas”, weren’t we just now “their children”?

    There were a few other things but those were the main things.

    If they would have sat down and talked to me about this I think we could have worked this thungs out or at least come to an understanding as to what was going on.

    I was still a child and didn’t really know how to fix things or express how I felt using my words. All I knew was that I wasn’t happy and I wanted to go home and to get there I would just push them away as much as I could. I knew they weren’t wanting us there anymore anyway, so I guess I figured I would just speed up the process.

    I thank you for sharing your experience.

    Sherie Kirven

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