My favorite Created for Care session

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Carissa Woodwyk at Created for Care in JanuaryOn Saturday morning I was blessed to hear the testimony of Carissa Woodwyk, an adult adoptee who came home from Korea at 3 months of age. She is now a counselor and a momma of two.  The goal of her talk was to be the voice of the adoptee to all of the adoptive mommas in our group.  Here are some of the main points she made.

What the adoptee wants most is to be wanted, loved, needed and pursued.  This is a normal human need, and one that is fulfilled naturally when a child is born into a healthy nurturing family. The brains and hearts of adoptees were derailed, however.  This is true whether the child came to a new family at 2 months or at 10 years.  Adoptees need their parents to fight for their hearts; except due to the loss in their lives, the child’s heart often hides behind a wall.

We as adoptive mommas experience the joyful part of adoption– we’re waiting for a precious little one, and experience great joy when that child enters our family.  But it’s important to remember that for the child there is a devastatingly sad side too– the story of the child’s relinquishment.  Children weren’t created to be given away.  And the happenings that lead children to need a second family are rooted in great loss and sadness.

Adopted children constantly live in the tension between the happiness of the adoptive-parent side of the story and the sadness that led them to be relinquished in the first place.  We as adoptive parents need to be aware of the tension that causes the child.  They’re carrying a lot.  The human body can’t hold it all.  It will be expressed somehow.  (My post here touches on this.)

We adoptive moms want to fix life for our kids, to heal their hearts and stop them from feeling ongoing pain related to their story.  But we can’t do it for them.  Adoptees have to do their own work, experience their own healing.  Some of this healing may happen in childhood, but often some of the healing doesn’t come until adulthood.  Moms need to create a space to heal.  We need to offer our kids a voice.  We need to remind kids that their hearts are worth fighting for.

Another important piece of this is how we moms respond to our wounded kids. Very often when parenting wounded children, a mom’s own issues will also be triggered.  We’re all wounded people living in a wounded world. Sometimes our own brokenness will impact our child’s.  Thus the adoption relationship is a two way street.  When lived with transparency and humility can be a transformative journey for everyone, moving together toward wholeness.  The child is vulnerable, but not voiceless.  We need to show our children Jesus.  But first of all we need to listen to their voice. We also need to be willing to be changed ourselves, even as we support our children in moving toward emotional wholeness.


I was blessed by the reminders Carissa shared in this session.  Through all of it a song kept coming to my heart.  May you be blessed by it as you parent your precious ones.


  1. oh, mary…i’m touched. i’m moved. what a beautiful post. thank you for “listening” and for allowing my message to speak to you. blessings as you create a space for healing in your children. may it be filled with honesty and hope and redemption. grateful for you!

  2. Mary and Carissa,

    Thank you! This is a very helpful post that succinctly puts into words our adoption journeys. It’s somehow very freeing to me as a mom to hear an adoptee say that complete healing might not come until our children are grown and to hear how we can help prepare our children for that time. I love my girls SO much and want them to be at peace with the story God is writing thru their lives. This post helps me as I think about the whole process.

    Blessings to you both in Jesus!

  3. It is just overwhelming to realize God’s beautiful plan for wholeness and freedom for our children, and for us! How good He is! There is such healing in having a voice, in being heard. I love how God is using Carissa to be a voice that gives voice.
    I know with my young adult adopted children that the feeling that we are trying to “fix” them is so offensive. And rightly so! But that we are on their side, we are “for” them, we are partnering with them in the process of receiving Peace and healing– that is a wonderful role to have as a parent.

  4. SOOOO much good stuff in here! Thanks for the recap.

  5. Janey Backer says:

    Love it – great post!!! I am so glad to hear more and more about the necessary aspects of healing and restoration involved with adoption.

  6. Thank you for this reminder, Mary. Having adopted our children as infants, I tend to forget their need to reconcile this tension. And while they are too young to articulate this tension verbally, I can’t let myself forget that the very beginning of their lives involved deep heartache. I pray for the strength and wisdom to embrace their tender hearts with compassion and love!

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this — it’s so important to remember to lean into our kids pain and questions instead of trying to fix them.


  1. […] for Care conference this spring, as well at the Christian Alliance for Orphan Summit. (I wrote my thoughts about it here.)  In my opinion, this is a must-watch for parents, and also for older adopted teens.  Such […]