Adoption Support and Training in the Church

(Michael and Amy Monroe)

Knowledge and understanding is key. We need to dig deep, become learners. Remember, compassion for our children shouldn’t have a shelf life. “They’ve been home 3 years” is not an excuse for losing our compassion for a hurting child.  Default strategies are often not helpful. What worked to successfully parent other kids may not work with a child who’s had major trauma.

Some people shut down when they hear ‘compassion’. They’re afraid it involves letting a kid run roughshod over your life. No. When you see Purvis working with kids, she is ruthlessly consistent in rule-setting. But kids are being engaged in a totally different way. And it works.

We need to come to kids with double vision. Look at it from their perspective AND ours. With that compassion, all new strategies take on a new life. When dealing with these kids we need to avoid minimizing their history. But we also need to avoid maximizing it. We need to find a balance, and deal with the child holistically. We are aiming for trust-based intervention.

Empowering and connecting principals:

• Meet kids physiological needs: nourishment, sensory integration, etc
• Use healthy connecting principals. Their history puts them at risk for relationship-based issues. Kids don’t feel safe in relationships. Connect to meet those needs.
• Use good behavioral tools: ideal response (more on that tomorrow), choices, consequences, shared power (sends chills up and down some people’s spines “I can’t survive if I’m not in control”) But the key is to balance between structure and nurture. Christian parenting models that we get from church often tend to be: high structure, low nurture. Our kids actually need high structure and HIGH nurture. We must BUILD relationship first.

We need to think honestly about our own motivations.  There are all sorts of reasons to adopt. Some unhealthy ones that adopted kids have verbalized about their parents:

• Mission project
• Souvenir
• Badge of honor
• Cool Christian thing
• Impulse
• Void-filler
• Distraction
• Adopting out of need and not want
The best reason to adopt? Because you want to give to a child, and are willing to sacrificially love that child. Real love is wanting what is best for another and being committed to pursue it no matter what.

What expectations do we as parents bring to adoption? If you could do nothing other than to get parents to really see their own expectations, that would be a worthwhile goal in mentoring parents. Recommended book: Wounded Children, Healing Homes: How Traumatized Children Impact Adoptive and Foster Families – worth purchasing for Chapter 2 alone.

Often when we heard information, we filter it in the way that we want to believe, which creates unrealistic expectations. For example, many people believe that babies adopted as newborns won’t have issues. When our flawed expectations are not met, we feel like a failure. Often parents who have parented successfully before feel like adoption is NOT what they bargained for.

Hints for families
• Have mentors who are real families, willing to share their failure AND success with you.
• Expect to be frustrated by parenting.
• Keep communication going between husband and wife, even in regard to unmet expectations. Share. Be on the same page.
• Connect while correcting your child. If (when!) you mess up, be willing to apologize.
• Balance nurture and structure. Unlearning is harder than being a blank slate and is often one of the hardests tasks an experienced parent faces. Giving up old ways of parenting, even if it is for more effective tools, is hard.  But look hard at what you’re doing:  is it working?  If not, then you need to do something different.  Remember, these kids are behind– they need way more nurture than you might think, regardless of their age.

{ 5 Comments }

  1. Thanks for sharing the adoption posts. We have three biological children and two adoptive. It has been so hard to be flexible with our parenting styles but I realized early on that we would have to be. I still second guess myself everyday with each child. But God is faithful to give wisdom when we ask. I love your blog!

  2. I feel that at some point we will adopt or foster. The right time for us in not right now – but I think soon after my husband graduates. It hurts my heart when I think of the many children that don’t have a family to love them and show them they’re infinite worth! At the same time, parenting our own is not easy, and it’s sometimes scary to think about the time and attention they might need. Would we be up to the task? I just pray God will lead the way for us to know which way we should go.

  3. Thank you for all the adoption advice. I need all I can get!!! In our family my hubby and three of our 6 kids are adopted. We are also finding out that our son, who God dropped into our lives at 4 weeks old, does suffer from some of the same attachment and security issues as our much older when adopted, kids.
    In our foster to adopt classes, one couple felt if they adopted an infant, they could mold that child into what they wanted. It does not work like that at all!
    Blessings to you!!!

  4. I am loving these posts from the conference, Mary!
    Keep them coming & circle around & re-discuss the topics as God brings you through the process. I know it takes a while to digest everything you hear at these things, so thanks for taking time to share it with us!
    ~

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