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

When Things get Tough, Should We Reroute or Stay the Course?

Recalculating

Hubby and I were on a road trip. We pulled into a gas station and our little GPS panicked. In a British accent, she yelled, “Recalculating! Recalculating!” It quickly changed to a more placid “Rerouting” once we turned around.

That’s often what I do. I hear God’s voice (through His Word) and I walk forth in obedience. A mountain rises up the distance. I break forth in a run, full of obedience and hope. I climb that mountain. Then another mountain waits in the distance. I climb it as well. After the twenty-fifth mountain, I yell – RECALCULATING!

Rerouting

Do you (like me) tend to want to reroute when things get difficult? I was hoping for fruitfulness, not a continual sacrifice of myself. I begin to doubt, rely on my own strength and then follows the spirit of control. Because of trauma in my past, my home base is sometimes control instead of Christ.

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Control or Trust. You can’t have both.

Trying to control circumstances only leads to disappointment.  Control doesn’t solve the problems, climb the mountains or satisfy. Trusting in the Lord, no matter what the outcome is relief. It shouldn’t matter how hard we must buckle down to be obedient. That’s our chief end, to be obedient to and glorify God.

“For the Lord God is a sun and shield, the Lord bestows favor and honor; no good thing does He withhold from those whose walk is blameless.” – Psalm 84: 11

I don’t need to Reroute, I need to Dig in.

I don’t need to reroute. I need to press in. I need to dig into God’s Word. I need to praise into His presence, to trust that He is in control, and that He will give me the strength to climb the next mountain. Climbing the mountain or trying again in obedience is creating endurance in me. It’s allowing God’s strength to work in me.

When things get difficult…

When things get difficult, we must do hard things. There I said it. I don’t like it. My husband had to listen to my cries of “rerouting” the other evening. I’ve hit obstacle after obstacle in this short year. I’m not complaining, I’m just reporting. I’m okay with a few mountains (not literally) because I can do them in my own strength-ish. What gets totally uncomfortable is when obedience requires strength, abilitiies and resources that I don’t have. When I am in postition of helplessness, Christ can do the work. I can’t take the glory. All glory and honor belong to Him.

“I don’t think the way you think.
    The way you work isn’t the way I work.”
        God’s Decree.
“For as the sky soars high above earth,
    so the way I work surpasses the way you work,
    and the way I think is beyond the way you think.
Just as rain and snow descend from the skies
    and don’t go back until they’ve watered the earth,
Doing their work of making things grow and blossom,
    producing seed for farmers and food for the hungry,
So will the words that come out of my mouth
    not come back empty-handed.
They’ll do the work I sent them to do,
    they’ll complete the assignment I gave them.- Isaiah 55: 8-9

If you are in the midst of some difficult circumstances, hold fast. Don’t reroute. If you are walking in obedience, God will do the work. You may not be able to see what He is doing right now. Often the work is internal. He’s working on our hearts. We want to see outward signs, but He wants us to trust Him for the outcome, no matter what that is.

Circling the Mountain

While I was giving my husband a status update on some circumstances, this analogy hit me. When we circle the mountain, complaining, measuring, planning or whatever it is we do to avoid obedience, we just make a deeper trough. The mountain then appears to be larger and we sink into mud. We walk ourselves into a pit of depression. We glorify our difficulites instead of depend on God’s strength. Our trust is in our ability. We are doomed to fail when our ability is all we have.

Blessed Hope

God promises to give us strength to carry out His will. We have: immeasurable and unlimited and surpassing greatness of His [active, spiritual] power working in us (Ephesians 1:19). Our hope is not in our circumstances, but in His power working through us to fulfill His purpose for His greater honor and glory. Don’t reroute. Climb that next mountain.

Let me leave you with this quote from Hind’s Feet on High Place:

“O Shepherd. You said you would make my feet like hinds‘ feet and set me upon High Places“. “Well”, he answered “the only way to develop hinds‘ feet is to go by the paths which the hinds use.” 
* Our Back to Basics Series continues next week! Catch up on it, by starting here!