Changing How We Think About Adopted/Foster Kids

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.​

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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/

The Day After Christmas

Every year is a fresh blank slate to fill with Christmas memories. This year was one of those. You may not feel like it right now, your house may be a mess. Christmas has worn you out. Right now, take a moment and breathe deeply. Ponder the season. Look back through the tips and count up how many you used. Guess what, even if you only did ten or five, you did more than you would have done if you hadn’t read this Advent Devotional. Go YOU!

* * *

I hope the chapters each week deepened your faith and expanded your understanding of adoption. Not only are you chosen and loved, but so are your children, regardless of their past. Adoption makes kings out of carpenters. Adoptions transcends all bloodlines. Just as Joseph is really the father of Jesus, you are the parent of your adopted children. Adoption is for those children  who need a home to flourish in so that they may fulfill their destiny. It’s a father like Joseph that children need. A man who follows the call and doesn’t look back.

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We adoptive parents, when entrenched in the day to day with our child’s behaviors, survival mode ruling, we may wonder if your children’s births were prophesied, if they were planned for, if all the past shame neglect and abuse can bring forth a new shoot, new life from the stump of pain and decay.

* * *

In the midst of the mess, the strewn wrapping paper, the piles of presents, take some time to prophesy for the coming year. Find a quiet place and for a few moments, look ahead to the present of the new year. Write down some prayers for your children based on the word. Remember, God can do over and above and beyond all we can ask hope or think, according to the power that works within us, the same power that rose Christ Jesus from dead.

* * *

We adoptive parents may go through a Job syndrome of our own. Horrific things happen in the wake of our calling. Maybe you feel like the holidays are a Job syndrome. Too many meltdowns. Too much sugar. Too little schedule and your family has been thrown for a loop. I get it. I’ve been there. It’s hard to celebrate when you feel as if you are just surviving.

* * *

Funny thing about surviving, it means you made it. You crossed an invisible finish line. Christmas is behind you and the calendar is speeding to a new year.

* * *

Another interesting phenomenon, your children will remember the celebration, the layers of tradition, the happy times more than you will remember the exhaustion of this moment. When my children talk about our leanest years, they don’t remember lack, they remember celebration and joy. When I remember the meltdown on a Christmas shopping day, that particular child, all grown up, remembers it as a great day. Don’t give up. Don’t give in. The post Christmas exhaustion you feel is not a measure of the holiday or the memories you made.

* * *

Let me leave you with a final word of encouragement. Parents, you are anointed and qualified to preach the Gospel of good tidings to your children.

* * *

With the help of the Lord, under your prayer covering and guidance, your children can be set free from the mindset of neglect and lack. If you adopted a child from birth, he can feel chosen, not abandoned. If your teen struggles with his identity, you can proclaim liberty and continue to point to his worth. Formed in his mother’s birth womb, he was chosen and set apart.

* * *

Start the new year with this in mind, you are equipped, you are chosen, you are qualified. You are the parent that your children need. It wasn’t some mix up in the universe. So, today, put on your shoes of peace, along with the full armor of God and fight the good fight of faith. You are more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus. Thank you for being who you are and doing what you are doing.

Father of orphans,

champion of widows,

is God in his holy house.

God makes homes for the homeless,

leads prisoners to freedom,

but leaves rebels to rot in hell.

-Psalm 68: 4,5

*Excerpt from 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive And Foster Parents

The Whole House Craft and Cookie Day

The Whole House Craft and Cookie Day! It’s today! We are making cookies and doing some Christmas 🎄 crafts! It will be loud and crazy. Lots of kids and moms and sugar! Do you do a Christmas Craft Day?

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Maybe you’re reading this and thinking, yeah, right? I couldn’t do this! My kids would whine, fight and that would be the end of it.

Can I tell you something? You’re probably right. Your kids may whine. Some of them may not want to do every craft or cookie. Things might go wrong. It won’t be perfect.  Do it anyway.

WHAT?! Yes, do it anyway! Forming a habit of celebration means things won’t be exactly the way you picture them. It will be worth it in the long run. Every time you practice the habit of celebration, you build a memory. Every time you build a memory with your child, you are reinforcing connection.

I have had some cookie days gone wrong, so I speak from experience. I’m preaching to the Guire here. I have four boys who liked to make cookie mounds and messes on cookie days. This totally messed with perfectionist Mama until I changed my attitude. And it was hard to change my attitude. I wanted perfectly decorated cookies like you see on the Instagram accounts and Pinterest.

One year, I drove to my daughter’s house in another state and left my cookie dough at home. Everyone thought I would have tons of cookie dough, so no one else made any.  Daughter Audrey ran out to get some. We used store bought that year (perfectionist me loses again). And…we had a blast!

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When we remember the goal and purpose of the habit of celebration, it makes it easier to practice it. When we expect the celebration to be perfect, we are less likely to practice the habit.

The goal of celebration is time spend together, celebrating people, not things. The purpose of celebration is connection. We connect with our children, family and friends. We when participate in celebration with a light, joyful attitude, the connection grows. When we expect perfect circumstances and perfectly behaved children, we will be disappointed and our attitudes will sour (been there, done that).

Let’s build some memories this year! Plan a cookie and craft day. Don’t stress about it looking like Pinterest Perfect Posts. Make it real and fun. Practice the habit of celebration and build some memories!

The Family Tree of Jesus Gives us Hope

“Family gives you context and origin. It gives you understanding and the family tree of Christ always gives you hope.”– Ann Voskamp

The family tree of Christ notes four women who felt like outsiders, has beens or never beens. Jesus claims the wounded and worn out as His own.

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You and I, adoptive parents, our lineage, like Mary’s is full of God infused bloodlines of grace, of overcoming behind closed doors when children feel all of the above. He purposed the family tree on your wall with branches askew albeit to others, but not to Him.

* * *

He knew the choice would be for life, not abortion, not death. He knew the neglect and destruction in the child’s birth home would lead him to your door and through a multiple set of court dates made him part of your forever family. He was present when the young women wrestled with the choice of abortion or adoption and He cheers for life. The Father is an adopter. The Father to the fatherless is His name.

* * *

If you think your family has unique roots, part oak, part maple, part hickory, then look at Mary’s roots- “the stump of David’s family will grow a shoot- yes, a new branch bearing fruit from the old root.” (Isaiah 11:1)

Both the Amorites and Moabites were descendants of Lot. The Moabites descended from Moab, the son of Lot, born of an incestuous relationship with his eldest daughter (Gen. 19:37). The Ammonites were descended from Lot’s incestuous relationship with his youngest daughter, her son, Ben-ammi.  Both of these religions sacrificed infants. Tamar posed as a harlot and slept with her Father-in-law in order to conceive.

“How long will you waver and hesitate [to return], O you backsliding daughter? For the Lord has created a new thing in the land {of Israel} a female shall compass (woo, win and protect) a man.”

– Jeremiah 31:22

These women were from pagan cultures, ones that didn’t value children. They were harlots, pagans, outsiders. Children from hard places are like these women, broken, discarded, forced to bear incestuous relationships or prostitution. Our kids from these hard places feel shame beyond what some of us (not all) can comprehend. They feel worthless. But they are not worthless. They feel discarded. Rejected. Living on the outskirts of hope.

“Behold, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a Son and they shall call his name Emmanuel- which translated means God with us.”

-Matthew 1:23

We adoptive parents, when entrenched in the day to day with our child’s behaviors, survival mode ruling, we may wonder if your children’s births were prophesied, if they were planned for, if all the past shame neglect and abuse can bring forth a new shoot, new life from the stump of pain and decay.

Mary, the teen mother of God with and angel’s message in her belt, moved forward into history and bore the son of God. She pondered the messages, signs and wonders in her heart.

* * *

We adoptive parents do the same. We first ponder the message of adoption. Like Mary, we may first receive the message with fear, but then we follow with obedience.

* * *

BRAVO, YOU! Then follows the minutes, days and years of living out the calling. It’s hard work and that’s a gross understatement. Just as Mary must have trembled, doubted and wondered how she could raise the child of the living God, the Son of God, we adoptive parents do the shame.(I’m confused here I mean the same, most of the time. Some of us feel ashamed of our reactions, our feelings towards the child. Some days we want to throw up our hands and say, “I can’t do this. Why did you pick me?”

I understand. I am right there with you, sister, brother. Some days are overwhelmingly difficult. But, know this. You are handpicked, just as chosen as Mary. You are just as called, just as loved, just as special as those women named in the genealogy of Jesus. Take a minute. Let that sink in. I know that’s a tough word to believe, we have have been taught that some are more sanctified, some more holy.

* * *

Your job, your calling is in agreement with the design of His own will.

* * *

In Him, we also were made [God’s] heritage (portion) and we obtained an inheritance for we have been foreordained (chosen and appointed beforehand) in accordance with His purpose. Who works out everything in agreement with the counsel and design of His [own] will.

– Ephesians 1:11

Mary, highly favored, chosen to bear the son of God had to be obedient. None of us parents are raising Jesus, Son of God, Savior of the world, but each of our children are seeds of potential purpose.

“ But Mary was keeping within herself all these things they had heard and seen, just as it had been told to them.”

-Luke 2:20

Mary watched and listened to those things being said about and to Jesus. She pondered them in her heart. We adoptive parents may have listened to a litany of things said about our children, heart wrenching stories of abuse, neglect and incest. We must ponder them in our hearts, be aware of triggers and potential meltdown situations. Remember, there can be hope and healing. Their futures are not determined by what has been done to them. Like those four names in the bloodline, the lineage of Christ, their lives can be significant despite their pasts. They are significant. Jesus said, “Suffer little children to come unto me, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

“The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed and qualified me to preach the Gospel of good tidings to the meek, the poor, and afflicted; He has sent me to bind up and heal the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the [physical and spiritual] captives and the opening of the prison and of the eyes of those who are bound.” -Isaiah 61:1

We act like Jesus, we carry his anointing when we proclaim liberty to the captives, the children from hard places. We minister to the afflicted, to bind up and heal the broken hearted. We have a divine calling, a holy calling.

*From 25 Days of Thriving Through Christmas An Advent Devotional for Adoptive and Foster Parents
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