Why I didn’t send my internationally adopted children to counseling fresh off the plane


In the book Solomon Says, a young girl named Tracy is removed from the home for sexual abuse at the hands of her father. She is labeled ‘sexual abuse’.  Tracy says of a foster home she liked,

“The only problem was they put me in a sexual abuse program. We had to drive about sixty miles every Monday to get there. And I was feeling, ‘Why am I getting punished for this crap?” They’re preaching at me all the time about how this isn’t my fault. That’s what bothered me. They’re all saying, ‘This isn’t your fault.’ And I’m —‘Fine, I think I got that point now, I know that.’ Every time I said anything, ‘This isn’t your fault.’ ‘GOD, i know. Would you just tell me something besides that all the time?'”


  1. Adopted children need time to feel secure.

Kids don’t need to feel like there is something wrong with them. Many of them already feel that way because of past abuse and neglect.

My kids were fresh out of the orphanage where they had spent the better part of two years. For the youngest minus the five months in the hospital it had been his whole life. There was a natural therapy going on. It was a new set of suppositions. We will eat meals regularly. There will be food available all the time. Mom will bathe me. I have clothes to wear. Mom and dad are in charge. They read me stories and tuck me in. The kids didn’t need anyone to tell them that orphanage style living wasn’t the highest on the food chain. They knew it. Instinctively. They didn’t want to go back there. The children wanted roots. Stability. Yes, survival mode reared its ugly head daily. Regressions came and went. Triggers sent kids off the deep end. But, here’s the thing- my kids were raised by ‘social workers’, doctors, etc, professionals were high on the fear factor list for my children. The last thing they needed fresh off the plane was to be embedded once again in the social system. No, they needed time to be part of a family with a mom and a dad. Those wounds were fresh and they needed the salve of security not probing questions to open them up again.Kids don’t need to feel like there is something wrong with them. Many of them already feel that way because of past abuse and neglect.

  1. Counseling is good. However, it is not good for everyone, all the time.. There is a time and place for everything.

To everything there is a season, and a time for every matter or purpose under heaven:

2 A time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to pluck up what is planted,(A)

3 A time to kill and a time to heal, a time to break down and a time to build up, Ecclesiates 3

My face went numb. My arms tingled. I looked in the mirror at my scarlet blotched neck and splashed water on my face.I was at  high school at a basketball game with friends. My parents were bowling nearby and I got stuffed into an ambulance while authorities tried to get in touch with them. (No cell phones). And then asked questions about my drug use. I didn’t use drugs. I didn’t drink. I was having a panic attack, my first.

My first counseling session was during my freshman year of college. Panic attacks reappeared. Mom put her foot down. I only went once. My face red with shame. Anxiety ruled the session. I wasn’t ready to face what ate at me. I needed time and maturity before I was. So I took my proverbial shovel and buried it. During the college years, I had several healing baby steps. And some relapses- a bout with an eating disorder and a few more panic attacks.

15855532426_bef22c648a_oCounseling is great at the proper time. When someone needs help and asks for it. Recognizes the need. I didn’t recognize my need, not yet. I only recognized the problem which I thought (as many hurt children do) was me. It never occurred to me that it was circumstances that had happened to me.Thankfully, God, in His omniscience, knew my suppositions and he put me in a group of gals who had a hunger for the Word and prayer. We dug deep into the Word together, talking and counseling each other for hours on end. That intense time was another chapter in my healing journey. I had begun to believe that all I needed to heal was God, me and some friends (which is true sometimes). But, God shot that belief out of the sky. I ordered a book Healing is a Choice: 10 Decisions That Will Transform Your Life and 10 Lies That Can Prevent You from Making Them after a friend suggest it. The first lie? “All I need to Heal is God and me.” I threw the book across the room.

“You are willing to acknowledge that there is something that needs attention. You admit there is smoke, but you balk at the notion of fire. You admit to something, but deny that it needs attention from others. Rather than stay isolated inside your own solitary cave, you hole up there with God, expecting God to meet every need and heal every pain. It does not happen, because that is not God’s plan. God’s plan is for us to connect with each other to facilitate healing in our lives.”

I didn’t want this to be true. I wanted to work it out with God in my own home. I didn’t want to open up, to be vulnerable. Problem is, I stuffed until there was no room left in body, soul and mind. Then fear. Anxiety ruled. I didn’t want to drive. I didn’t want to leave the house. When I brought up memories with siblings, theirs were different or they were still so deep in denial they couldn’t relate. So, I made the call, hand shaking, sweat pouring, clenched hands, shallow breath. If you are not sure if you need to see a therapist check out this post by Marty Walden here.

Wait, you say, I thought this was an anti counseling post? No, it is when the time is right, therapy is good. It is good to have someone to walk beside you on the healing journey, not to be dragged along kicking and screaming the whole way. Then it does more damage than good. Healing is only healing if the wounded is ready.The woman with the issue of blood had to find Jesus and touch Him. She went out of her way. She wanted to be healed (Matthew 9:20-22). Two blind men followed Jesus ‘shouting loudly, Have pity and mercy on us, Son of David’ (Matthew 9:27) .  Often we adoptive parents must cover our wounds and parent while we watch our children suffer with their own. They lash out at us verbally knifing those scars of ours, but they don’t see, they don’t recognize their need. So we wait. As I said, two of my children went to the same therapist i currently go to. As teens, they were ready. Also, they are bios. The children who were adopted may take longer to recognize the need. Be patient. Don’t push. Another option, get some counseling for them. By that I mean go to a counselor in lieu of them going and then quietly  put into practice what you learned for them.

This is not a therapy bash. I had a steep learning curve when it came to counseling outside of my own comfy home or safe in the confines of the church pew. God can use your friends. He can use the Word, but, if you, like me think you can do it alone, He may challenge that. At the same time, remember your adopted children may not be ready or willing to relive the trauma just yet. Therapy at the wrong time can cause more trauma. A child with a shame based nature needs some time to attach to parents and become secure before he examines the chapters of his former life. When he realizes the first few chapters are getting in the way of his right now, he is ready. But, he must come to you in one way or another, grab the hem of your t-shirt or yell loudly in the street,’ I NEED SOME HELP HERE!’


*I use the therms counseling and therapy interchangeably in this post! Both have the same goal. Therapy is from the term Psychotherapy which means a long term approach to healing and a doctorate behind the name. Counseling has the same goal and usually denotes a master’s degree in counseling. Both are effective.

2 thoughts on “Why I didn’t send my internationally adopted children to counseling fresh off the plane

  1. Great post, Kathleen! Well thought out, transparent and full of ideas to chew on! Thanks for sharing my link and I’m going to share your post on my fb page. Have a great day, you brave friend!

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