Changing How We Think About Adopted/Foster Kids

*guest post by Kristin Peters

Often our society treats foster kids — and by extension adopted kids — as somehow less. Less important than adults. Less valuable than their peers. Less lovable because of their background, their biological family, or their behavior. Almost less than human. Different. Other. Less.

We would never say any of that out loud, of course. But some of the most insidious lies we believe are the ones we never put into words. Among them are some very harmful and mistaken beliefs we may subconsciously hold about kids from hard places.

Unfortunately, even subconscious beliefs will affect how we think about and treat others. In order to consistently live out pro-life values, we need to recognize the lies we believe about foster and adopted kids and replace them with the truth.

In order to consistently live out pro-life values, we need to recognize the lies we believe about foster and adopted kids and replace them with the truth.

Kids Are Valuable. Period.

As beings created in the image of God, all kids — including foster and adopted kids — have inherent and inalienable worth. I think all Christians would say they believe that. The problem is, we sometimes don’t act like it.

Instead, we act as if somehow a child’s worth can rise or fall based on what has been done to or for them. A child that we may have overlooked last week might suddenly seem more precious to us once we know they are a foster or adopted kid. Or we might act as though these kids are somehow second-class citizens because of their past or present situation.

It’s important to remember that adopted kids aren’t valuable *because* of what their adoptive families have done for them or even *despite* what they’ve been through. They’re just valuable. Period. No qualifiers.

Foster Kids Aren’t Broken.

I don’t think many people would look at a three-year-old foster child and say, “That kid is broken.” But that’s exactly what our actions often imply. Foster kids often behave differently than we would expect a “normal” child to behave. They act out, and it isn’t pleasant for their foster parents or for anyone else around them —  from teachers dealing with classroom disruptions to random strangers witnessing a grocery store meltdown.

It’s easy to look at these kids and see bad behavior in need of correction rather than a hurting child in need of love. But it’s important to remember that foster kids aren’t broken. They don’t need to be fixed. Like any child, they need to be loved. They need to be guided, disciplined, protected, and provided for. They need us to look past their behavior, see their hurt, and meet their needs.

Foster and Adopted Kids Are Not Their Past.

If you have watched any videos or read any articles about the long-term effects of childhood trauma, you understand that a child’s past — especially their earliest experiences — will leave a lasting impact. (If you haven’t, this TED talk is a good place to start.) We are all affected by what we’ve been through.

However, we must remember that while foster and adopted kids will certainly be affected by their past, they are not defined by it. Childhood trauma, foster care, and adoption will forever be part of their story — but it’s only one part. It’s not the beginning, the end, or even the climax. Just another chapter in a story still being written.

None of us would like to be forever known first and foremost for something that happened to us in the past. Neither do kids from hard places. We should interact with them in a trauma-informed way, but we should not equate them with their trauma, its effects, or their response to it. Beneath all the hurt is a real person with real feelings and a real future, and we need to treat them accordingly.

Adopted Kids Belong. So Do Foster Kids.

It would be almost unthinkable to look at a newly adopted child and say, “You don’t belong here.” But isn’t that the impression we give when we constantly tack on the word “adopted?” When we differentiate between adopted and biological children? When we ask which of a person’s children are their “real kids” or which of a child’s siblings are their “real” brothers and sisters?

Adopted kids belong, just as much as biological children. A family grows and stretches to accommodate those who become part of it — whether by birth or adoption. Adopted kids aren’t the last resort, a charity case, or a pet project. They are part of the family. They belong, fully and forever.

The same is true for foster kids. A foster family is a “real” family in every sense of the word, and foster kids belong. Although their physical presence within the family may be temporary, for as long as they are there, they belong. When they leave, the family grieves as they would the loss of a biological child. Their absence leaves a hole because they were — and still are, in a sense — part of the family.

Kids Are Just as Important as Adults.

Not only are foster and adopted kids just as important and valuable as other kids, but they are just as valuable and important as adults. When we treat kids as though they are important, we aren’t indulging them — we’re aligning ourselves with God’s view of children. Over and over again, Scripture emphasizes the value of children.

Both Matthew and Mark relate Jesus’ teaching that “Whoever causes one of these little ones who believe in me to stumble, it would be better for him if a great millstone were hung around his neck and he were thrown into the sea.” When he caught his disciples rebuking children who wanted to be near Him, Jesus went on to say,

“Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God.” (See Matthew 18:2-6; Matthew 18-10-14; Mark 9:36-37, 42; Mark 10:13-16.)

We need to treat children as though they are valuable and worth our time, love, and respect, even when we don’t understand them, because that’s how Jesus treated them. Their needs and feelings are just as important and valid as any adult’s. Little voices aren’t any less important, and their feelings aren’t any less real.

We all know foster and adopted kids are people, too. We know they matter. We know they’re precious in God’s sight and made in His image. We just need to act like it — starting with rooting out any subconscious beliefs that undermine their value.

Want to hear more about this topic?

Grab a cup of coffee and join us on this week’s podcast:

Episode 68


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My name is Kristin Peters. I married my husband, Robert, in 2010, and we had our baby girl 5 years later, right after he graduated from law school. In fall of 2016, we became certified to foster and soon after received our first placement — an adorable little boy who is 2 years older than our daughter. He felt like part of the family from day one, but we were able to (finally!) make it official in February of this year. In addition to being a wife and mother, I work as a writer, an editor, and the content developer for SHIELD Task Force. You can follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/SHIELDWV), or check out our website at www.shieldwv.com.​

Giftaway of Faith, Hope & Connection

Are you a foster or adoptive parent needing hope for this complex and sometimes lonely journey?
Do you love your kids but feel discouraged?
Are you misunderstood by people around you?

In Faith, Hope, & Connection: A 30-Day Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents, you’ll find:

  • Real, often raw, stories from adoptive and foster parents in the trenches;
  • Scripture and faith-filled hope, pointing you to Jesus;
  • Honest reflections speaking courage to your soul and reminding you that you are not alone.

This devotional is a gift to you from 30 authors, all foster and adoptive parents, who offer a window into their own lives and families. You’ll recognize yourself time and time again in their words. Faith, Hope, & Connection: A 30-Day Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents is a treasure-trove of wisdom and grace for foster and adoptive families.

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In December 2018, I submitted an entry for this devotional and it was accepted! I’m so excited to be part of this devotional! The Whole House is gifting a copy! How do you enter? It’s simple. Click here and follow the instructions! 

 

Adoption – GEESH… It’s a Wild Ride

* Guest post by Kylie Gray

Adoption, geesh! It’s a wild ride.

When we first brought our boys back home almost two years ago, we didn’t have a CLUE what the heck to expect. No one can prepare you for adopting a 6-year-old and two 4-year-olds. I remember when we first got the boys being in dire need of someone to come alongside me and show me the ropes, or so I thought. In fact, not having someone who had gone through the same thing brought me closer to the Lord than ever before. He had gone before me and that’s all I needed.

When people ask about our adoption…

I get asked often about our adoption, whether people are curious about their own adoption journey and wanting advice or just wanting to hear our story of how we did it, I always say the same thing:

1. Make sure your spouse is all in as much as you! I cannot stress this enough. If my husband wasn’t wanting this as much as me then anytime there was conflict or an issue to come up, our marriage or adoption would have failed. Start together on the same team so no matter what comes up you can tackle it together. And by golly, crap will hit the fan, it’s a matter of when not if.

2. DO IT! It’s a big step and people are always a little leary when it comes to officially pull the plug. At the least go take the intro class, its free so what is the harm. I believe adoption is not right for everyone, but I always encourage people to find out if it is.

My Biggest piece of Advice…

3. PRAY! That’s it. If you are like me adoption will drive you to pray more than ever. It’s changed me. I now have 3 children but that’s not the only reason why I am different. I believe my prayer time changed my whole life. Relationship with my husband and children certainly, but also my extended family and close friends. I am still a workin’ on a lot, don’t get me wrong but, heck I have come along way.

Finally, I came to terms with this…

And lastly…..

4. Okay, this is the first time I am saying this out loud to anyone, but it needs to be heard and will be added to my repertoire from now on. When these children come into your home they come with hurts of all sorts. I don’t mean physical hurts, that can happen too, I mean emotional hurts of baggage, trauma, triggers, and so on and so on. You want it to go away. Just leave!!! I wanted to pretend it didn’t exist for a good solid… oh who I am kidding. This week, this week is when the Lord really spoke to me and allowed me to see what I didn’t want to see for the past 2 years. Their baggage doesn’t just go away. I heard on The Whole House podcast this week Kathleen saying how I am feeling, “their past doesn’t go away, as much as I wanted it to” I am paraphrasing here, but essentially that’s how I feel. I want their horrible past to vanish! But it doesn’t.  And that…. Is…. OKAY! It’s okay for them to be able to have the feelings that come with that too. It’s okay for them to have triggers. And you know what?? It’s not your FAULT! It has taken me this long to be able to come to terms with this, it’s hard, man. I love my children and I hate seeing pain come back onto their faces. I didn’t cause the pain and didn’t have any CONTROL, that’s why I wanted it to go away. But they have the pain, nevertheless. Not taking their actions and mainly behaviors personally is one of my biggest struggles still. Like I said, this week I finally let the Lord show me this, imagine if I had allowed this into my life from the get-go. I know one thing, it sure would have saved me a lot of embarrassment, guilt, anxiety, worry, and tears!

 

So, is adoption worth it?

Adoption is 100 million percent worth it, I would never take it back if could. Although at the beginning you might second or the twentieth guess yourself, but don’t give up!

“Trust the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding.”

-Proverbs 3:5

Listen to Kylie’s podcast and read her bio below!

Episode 67

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I am Kylie Gray, 29 years old, I married Trey, my college sweetheart. We live on a small 5-acre homestead in Central Oregon with our 3 boys! We adopted all three of our boys out of the foster care system here in Oregon about 2 years ago. It’s been a wild crazy road, but totally worth it! We keep busy by fixing up our old farmhouse, taking care of our growing population of farm animals, trying to figure out gardening, all while homeschooling all 3 of our boys! Come follow along with our journey on my blog blackwhiteandthegrays.com and Instagram/Facebook at Black White and the Grays.

 

https://blackwhiteandthegrays.com/

Are Foster Parents Superheroes?

Guest post by Lindsay Emswiler

In my opinion, want to know the biggest lie that the enemy tells?

Foster Parents are Superheroes.

55845507_2040546226247479_8384669923011461120_nWhen sharing our story, I never want it to seem as if I have it all together. I just don’t…

Last week my kid dumped Chex mix on the floor. I left it for a week.

Yesterday I had to remind my older kid to brush his teeth. It had been a while.

All the while my younger son is completely addicted to watching videos.

My desire is never looking superhuman because that’s NOT attainable. I want to put real faces on a terrible situation.

It’s such a blessing, while in the trenches, to have people lift you up and encourage you. It’s literally has saved me somedays. I have been ready to throw in the towel and a Saint of God will come along and speak like into me. It rejuvenates me!

Foster Care is for Real People.

I want you to see that my family is real, completely normal, yet crazy, and healthy.

We get way too attached because we are normal.

We get angry at their situations because we are normal.

We cry when they cry because we are normal.

My children are completely and totally worth the fight. Regardless of how they got to me, they are wanted.

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You don’t have to be a superhero to be a foster parent.

7,000 kids in WV are in foster care. Honestly, I think that CPS workers would be quicker to remove children from unsafe situations if they knew they wouldn’t have to BEG people to put them in their home.

You don’t have to have superhuman strength. You don’t have to be a superhero to be a foster parent. You don’t have to have a Ph.D. in child psychology. You don’t have to be anything special. You just have to have a desire to make a change. A willing heart. Don’t listen to the lies of the enemy. Don’t wait for the perfect time. There isn’t one. We don’t foster because of how we feel, we foster because of how the children do. Simple as that. Rise up. Step up. Toughen up… and say yes.

 

*Lindsay Emswiler is just a regular mom, business owner, and pastor’s wife whose eyes were opened and life transformed when she became a foster parent. She and her husband, Cory, live in Charleston, West Virginia with their kids–two biological, two adopted, and whomever the else the Lord brings their home!

Listen to this week’s podcast to hear more from Lindsay!

Episode 66

Basics of Motherhood – You don’t need to fix your child.

This week on the podcast, Amerey and Kathleen finished up the Back to Basics Series with Basics of Motherhood.

Are you a mother?
Do you often feel isolated or alone?
Do you feel as if you need to “fix” your child so they are like everyone else?
Do you have doubts, struggles and wonder if other mothers have the same issues?
Then this is for you!

You don’t need to fix the child.

On the The Whole House Podcast  this week, Amerey and Kathleen talk about a lie that mothers often believe. What is that lie?
That your child needs fixed. From the time our child is an infant we encounter people who tell us:

The child isn’t sleeping – fix it.
The child needs to be rocked to sleep – fix it.
The child is not reading by the time they are 4 -fix it.

It’s a never ending list.
While there are guidelines and stepping stones of development, your child doesn’t need pushed through them. God made her the way she is. Your job as a parent is to meet her where she is, not to fix her.

Your child can’t be wrong in her makeup. She is born a certain way. You can’t say that a baby’s sleeping/eating/coping patterns are wrong. You don’t need to fix the child. Don’t stress yourself. Don’t say, “Her child is right and my child is wrong.”

If you just accept your child as she is then you will feel free. You will be free to parent the child the way she needs parenting.

Don't believe the lie that your child needs fixed

You have probably already found things that work for your child.

Don’t feel guilty for doing those things. Don’t look at other parents and measure yourself against their yardstick.  You’re not failing just because you aren’t parenting like another mother is. You are doing exactly what your child needs right now. That’s good parenting.

 You are doing a great job! Go YOU! Your job is to make them feel safe, secure, and cared for. If a child has a capital letter syndrome, then we make special accommodations for her (or we should).

Even if a kiddo doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, we should parent her in the way she needs parenting. Cecilia is Amerey’s little one who has trouble sleeping. She doesn’t have a capital letter syndrome, but at age five, she uses a weighted blanket and needs melatonin to sleep.

Adults are picky. Why can’t kids be picky?

Our culture expects kids to conform to whatever we tell them to do. Kids are humans. Each child has a personality. They will have likes and dislikes just like adults. It’s okay. Don’t force your kiddo to like something because you think she should. It will backfire. Don’t try to shove a square peg in a round hole.

Eating Issues.

You want your child to feel comfortable at the table. So, if she doesn’t like what is always being served, don’t make it about the food. Make it about nutrition and relationship. Family dinners should be about connection.

Do unto other’s as you would like to be done unto you.

Listen to your kiddo when she is expressing a need, fear, like or dislike. That’s what adults want. Kids want the same thing. Think of your child as a person.

Motherhood is steeped in whatever is going on in the current culture.

When you’re born, whatever your culture is doing, we naturally do it. That is dangerous.

We have a family culture. A church culture. A culture.

Ask yourself these questions:

Why are we parenting this way?

What is my purpose as a mother?

What are my morals and values? What are my morals?

Am I living out those values.

Pause. Examine yourself. We should be laying up our treasures in heaven. Do we want to not invest in our children so when they grow up they are floundering. They are asking – is this the right religion? Is this the right religion?

Find a Group of Moms who support you.

You can feel isolated. You can feel like a lone wolf.  Then you isolate and the then hyper focus especially if you are a perfectionist.

Moms tend not to talk about the things they really struggle with. They tell poop stories and other things, but are often afraid to tell the truth about the struggles they are going through.

 You need to reach out to other Moms and find some who are going through similar situations.

Walk away from groups/friends that don’t encourage, equip and educate you! Friends who support your on your journey and don’t judge your child or want you to fix her are the kind to keep around.

Keep in mind your mission is to raise up a well-balanced child. Your mission is NOT to create a carbon copy of everyone else. Parenting a child as if she is “right” not “wrong” will help her navigate life with confidence. The end goal is heaven and a “Well done good and faithful servant” from God, not an “Atta boy” from the world.

Want the rest of the story? Listen to the podcast!