“I will find a way to leave. You are not my mom and dad!” she said. Listening and not responding, we let her continue. “You didn’t birth me. You don’t know how I feel. If you did, you would let me go.”
My heart broke for her that day. All I did was correct her in something she did. That is what all parents do. They correct their children and teens for many different reasons, all for the good. But this wasn’t a normal situation, and for many who have adopted or cared for foster children, they understand this.
Sitting around a table of other women at a conference last year, a parent was sharing how she had to buckle down on her daughter and really let her have it for something she did wrong. I was thinking to myself as she was talking that I could never respond to my child in the same manner. But before I even finished my thought, the woman across from her stated my exact words and she began to tell her own story.
As she explained, her daughter was adopted and came with many complex issues. The smallest discipline or correction sent images and thoughts in this little girl’s mind that she was unworthy, unloved, and rejected. In her daughter’s mind, she was not perfect enough for this parent. This mother would literally have to sit the child in her lap, look intently in her eyes with her arms wrapped around her child and speak ever so softly.
The first words out of this mom’s mouth were, “I love you.” Furthermore, she would give her praise and then slowly correct her in a way to challenge this young girl. Challenge her to have a positive attitude and obedience to what was being requested of her. They would stay this way until the mother was sure that the daughter understood that this disciplined love had changed the behavior. Following this was to remind her about the importance of an apology and to show forgiveness. In the end, this daughter would be hugged and sent on her way.
Abandonment and rejection issues run strong with children and teens that are adopted or who have been in the foster care system. Not all adopted or foster children have a negative impact from their new placement. But there are many whose sense of loss is extreme and pervades every part of their life.
Some of the emotions and behaviors from adopted/foster care children and teens.
• Low self-esteem
• Low self-worth
• Sexual permissiveness
• Grief or deep sadness
• Running away
With some teens who struggle with their placement, they can be severe. Jaycee (not her real name), was a teen girl who despised her adoptive mother. So much so, every woman she met she attached herself to. Her search for a new mother became an addiction and stalking type situation. Jaycee would make every effort to be a part of a new woman’s life, someone she hoped to call as her new mom. She would share the deepest details of her life in hopes to receive attention and love. If the relationship with this woman did not work out, she would find another. Jaycee was determined to find anyone except her adoptive mother that she hated. Her hatred of her adopted mother was so strong, she tried to poison her. Thankfully the adoptive parent was beginning to pick up on what was going on and sought help for her teen.
Several years later, Jaycee did get to meet part of her birth family. It went well, but in the end, Jaycee realized that her true family was in her home. These parents did everything possible for her healing. They prayed, incorporated counseling and found new ways to help Jaycee figure out her broken life.
Although it has been a tough and long road, there is still more to go. However, they are on the right track. Unconditional love can truly provide healing to a wounded soul. It may take a very long time, but everyone, especially the teen, must want restoration.
Because of the large amount of complex issues that are involved in adoption and even foster care, I will be focusing a little more on this area within my blog in the coming weeks. Along with this focus, I will take a look into the world of a teen’s sibling who must deal with the ongoing crisis of their brother or sister in the home.
If there is an issue that you would like me to discuss on this blog, please feel free to comment or email me.
Matthew 18:5, “Whoever receives a child in My name, receives Me.”