Parents on a Healing Journey

This session was co-led by Michael and Amy Monroe, who have a church ministry that encourages adoptive families.  They also have four children, two of whom were adopted.

Michael reminded us that parents are the agents of healing for adopted children.  To do that effectively, you have to be healthy yourself.  There’s nothing that can point out your own weaknesses as a parent than a child who has issues.
We as adoptive parents often approach adoption with false notions.

Love is enough. Nope, at least not the way we as humans love.  Only God can love perfectly.

It’s all about the child. Actually parents bring baggage too.  And your own past can be a formidable barrier between you and your child.  Remember, the goal is connection, not behavior management.   Always, you address behavior, hold kids accountable.  But the main goal should be connection, because only in connection is there real healing.  And examining your own baggage goes way beyond what the average homestudy offers.
Amy said that parents often don’t understand their past plays a role in ALL their relationships:  with their kids, with their spouse, with God.  We talk about attachment as a feeling.  Really it is more like a dance, a relationship.  Kids are waiting for us to ASK them to dance.  We need to learn to be in sync. We need to be fully present to allow our kids to attach.

Families often don’t realize that 85% of adopted kids arrive with a disorganized attachment style.  This applies to ALL adopted kids, not just older kids.  Yup, even newborns.  Grief and loss also comes with adoption.  If we don’t heal our own past, we can’t help our kids heal.  You can’t lead a child someplace you haven’t been.   Parents’ attachment style plays a huge role.   It can’t be ‘the family’ vs. the child.   It has to be parent and child together vs. the child’s past. Secure attachment is where trust is built.

As adoptive families in the middle of challenges, we are sometimes afraid of sharing the truth about how challenging it can be.   Don’t be.  We need prepared parents, parents who have gone into adoption with eyes wide open.  Preparation is hugely important.  We want people to adopt and be successful.  We also need to be brave enough to face our own pasts to be successful adoptive parents.

It’s not about perfect parenting.  Remember:  families in the Bible didn’t have it all together either.  We are broken people in a broken world.   The unexamined life can create great risk in an adoptive family.  We need to prepare families early in the adoption journey for the challenges that lie ahead.   We’ve been shown the way of the suffering servant, Jesus.

Recommended books:
Parenting Is Your Highest Calling: And Eight Other Myths That Trap Us in Worry and Guilt

The Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society


  1. So thankful God gave us each other as we journey on this road together. Love you!

  2. Can you explain what “disorganized attachment style” means?