We Adoptive Parents Must Parent Differently Than Traditional Parents

Sandra Flach, of the Orphans No More Podcast, joins me again this week as we discuss another point in the book- Five Things: A Tiny Handbook for Foster/Adoptive Families. Grab your free copy here.

We adoptive parents have to parent differently than traditional parents. We may seem to the outsider over strict or over protective.

“It’s okay, the boys can stay here. Let them stay.”

I was in a standoff on a back porch with a close friend. Two of my boys (13 and 14 years old) had gone home from church with this family without asking. It wasn’t the first time. And I was standing my ground even though I felt like melting into it.

“No, they need to come home. NOW.” I felt my face and neck flush red and tears brimming at the corner of my eyes.

“But, they’re having a good time. They’re no problem.”

I peeked the house and saw my boys making themselves at home in the family room, eating, leaning forward towards the large TV.

“No. They must come,” I said firmly and marched back to my car.

Two boys walked out of the home minutes later with heads high and stern faces.

“Why did you make us go, Mom?” one spat, “they said we could stay.”

THe Bad Parent?

I felt like bad parent. You know, the one who doesn’t let her kids do anything. And that was exactly what was being insinuated. I wouldn’t let them have any freedom. I drove home, all three of us with eyes forward. All three of us angry and hurt.

Which brings me to number four:

We adoptive parents have to parent differently than traditional parents. We may seem to the outsider over strict or overprotective.

I wasn’t being overprotective, I was putting up boundaries, or better repairing a breach. I had worked long, hard (yet happy) hours to take the old culture out of my children. It was tough work keeping those boundaries secure. One or two broken sections could cause disaster for the children.

Yes, the boys could have stayed and had a good time. I could have gone home and picked them up later. This was the home they wanted to be at. I could forgive (I did) and forget, but what of the cost? The cost would be the boys setting their own rules, sinking back into survival mode, doing what they wanted, when they wanted, with no regard for rules.

Traditional Parenting

In a traditional family, parents raising children who have not come from hard places set boundaries and give natural consequences. This is good. Adoptive parents must work harder on these boundaries and helping the child to attach to them. It may make them seem overprotective or strict. They’re not. They are working on attachment skills.

Cause and Effect Thinking

For example, if a child lacks attachment skills and his parents let him roam the neighborhood because they think he is a good kid, the next thing you know the kid is in trouble or has done something dangerous. I know all kids get into trouble, but kids whose brain development has been delayed and the cause and effect thinking is not there, lives are at stake. These kids: climb too high in a tree, do something dangerous another kid has dared him to and risk life and limb, start a forest fire (true story) or rob a neighbor.

Please don’t misunderstand me. I am not saying that hurt children are BAD. I am saying they need more guidance. More parental presence than others. I’m not saying to lock them down in the house. I’m saying do things with them. Take them rock climbing and let them fall a few feet with you there. Take them to the bike trail and let them feel the wonderful feeling of riding twenty miles. Hike on the trail with them. Pick up wildflowers and identify them. Build stuff. Plant stuff. Paint stuff. Go creek walking and let them feel how the world works so they can work in the world when they are older and know its boundaries.

Please be kind to adoptive parents. Don’t question their methods. Back them up. Don’t take their kids home without making sure you hear an “ok” directly from the parents. * This is an excerpt from Five Things: A Tiny Handbook for Foster/Adoptive Families – grab your copy here.

another resource mentioned on the podcast

“Instead Of” tips

Episode 182 – Yes, Adoption is Positive. Positive Things Require Effort.

Join Sandra Flach, of Orphans No More Podcast, and me as we spend this month talking through the tiny handbook Five Things. You can grab your copy here.

1.1 Adoption is hard work.

Yes, adoption is positive. Positive things take effort. Thinking positively takes endurance and the strength to persevere. It takes time forming new grooves in the brain to think differently -it is positive work. It is still hard. Grueling. Taxing. Adoption is like that. We adoptive parents must form new grooves in our brain to account for going about process of family-building a different way than our peers. We fill out paperwork. Pour out our life stories for the home study. We are studied. Our homes are studied. Our lives are on display. Our habits and monetary value, our standards, morals and values are all scrutinized.  We take classes to teach us how to be a parent and how to parent hurt children. Friend Jeanette and her family are “jumping through the hoops” in the stages of fostering to adopt. She’s weary and hopeful at the same time, last week in an email, she changed “hoops” to “jumping through fiery hoops.” Another family on the shores of their second adoption, had several adoptions fall through before they got call number three. Jerry and I met them for dinner and we talked about things adoptive parents need to. The husband set his mind and said, “Adoption is a sure thing. if this one doesn’t work out, God will send another one.”

So, next time you ask that future adoptive parent, ‘When are you going to get your kids?” or “Are you sure this isn’t a hoax to get your money?” (both questions I was asked more than once). Instead, ask, “How can I help?” “How can I pray for you?” Or send the waiting family a card, invite them over for dinner. Encourage them.

When Jerry and I came home from our first trip to Poland (without our adopted children) and settled in to wait for the return trip, wonderful friends and family had set up our Christmas tree and decorated it. Cleaned our home. Baked us Christmas goodies and family poured in for the Christmas holiday making it much more joyful while we waited.

And adoptive parents- don’t be afraid to ask for help.  I know. That’s the last thing I want to do. I like to handle everything myself. Those five weeks I was in Poland, it was hard for me knowing someone was coming into my home and digging through that mess of Christmas decorations and seeing my dusty,messy boxes. It’s that way with our souls too. We don’t want to ask for help because people will see our weaknesses. They will see that we don’t have it altogether. Guess what, none of us do. And during this stressful precious time, ASK. ASK. ASK. If someone rebuffs you with the comments or questions I mentioned above, move on and ask someone else. Don’t shut down. You are not responsible for other people’s reactions. Their reactions don’t define you. Jesus does.

Holley Gerth says the belief that we need to change is “if we need help, we’re a burden. Because the opposite is true. In the kingdom of God, it’s more of a blessing to give than receive. So when we’re in need and we let someone help us, we’re blessing them.” (You’re Loved No Matter What)

This is a hard pill to swallow. Read that again and let it sink in.  If is hard for you to believe that, write it down somewhere and look at it often. James 1:27 is for everyone in the body of Christ. However, not everyone is called to adopt. So, in essence if you adopt/foster and you are asking non adoptive/foster families for help, you are helping them fulfill the mission.

Ask yourself, “what do I really need?”, Holley suggests, and then answer that. If you need a coffee date with a friend, then ask for it. If you need help with paperwork, or someone to come shopping with you to buy things for the child you are waiting on, ask.

And the flip side of this, if you know someone who is jumping through the fiery hoops of adoption/foster care, ask them what you can do to help. Most of the time it has nothing to do with money, just time, encouraging words and maybe putting up a Christmas tree.

*This is an excerpt from the book

FIVE THINGS: A TINY HANDBOOK FOR ADOPTIVE/FOSTER FAMILIES

Grab your copy by clicking below-

Episode 177-Tips for Thriving This Season



Are you feeling pressure to be grateful this season?
Are your kids regressing?
Feeling Stressed?

Then this is for you.

Reactionary and Codependent Parenting

Every year, the calendar hit November and we are all supposed to be overflowing with gratefulness. It’s a lot of pressure, especially if you are raising kiddos who have a capital letter syndrome or who have experienced trauma. We Moms can easily get our minds on the track of negativity or wallowing in behaviors. We can get in the vicious cycle of reacting to behaviors and stuck in a cycle of codependency with our kiddos. When they are okay, we are. That’s no way to live. We are supposed to be the leader, the coach, the parent, not the victim of everyday circumstances and behaviors. But, before you think I’ve got it all down pat and I live the parenting journey perfectly, let me say, I write about this because I’ve been stuck in the pit of reactionary parenting many times. If you can learn from my mistakes, then I’m happy to share them.

EVERYTHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR OR SOMETHING TO BE GRATEFUL FOR

Maybe some days we can be extremely grateful because everything goes as planned for a few minutes. But then it falls apart. We need to leave behind the idea that we will have everything to be grateful for. We must grasp the idea that we have something to be grateful for. As parents of kids with capital letter syndromes or who have experienced trauma, we have to look for pinpricks of light. And when we see these pinpricks of light or small victories such as regulating in a stressful situation (such as wearing a mask when it causes sensory overload). Or maybe you regulated while a child raged.

On the podcast this week, I share three tips to help us thrive through this season (and I don’t mean just the holidays).

1. Create Memories to be Grateful for

I have friends who put up Christmas trees in October. Some are putting them up this week, watching Christmas movies, making cookies, and playing games together. We have the power to create memories. We can decide to celebrate. Next year, what do you want your kids to remember about this year? The stress? Anxiety? Or the way you celebrated just because you made it happen.

One year my family had moved to a new town, we had lost our business, and were starting over with nothing. I just wanted to stay in bed and pull the covers over my head. But I had kids depending on me. The Lord put it on my heart to do something fun with my kiddos and hug them every day. It was definitely hard for me to do. I did it and if you ask my kids about that year now, they say it was hard but we grew closer as a family. We had more family time, game nights, random water fights in the front yard, and roller blading on the driveway.

2.You have not gone this way before

It’s easy to look back to last year and think, wow, we had a lot to grateful for! I was reading the book of Joshua yesterday and the phrase “You have not gone this way before” really stuck out to me. Although other generations have gone through some pretty tough stuff, we haven’t gone this way before. It’s okay if we don’t know how to process it. What we do need, is the presence of the Lord in our lives to lead us. In the Old Testament, people didn’t have access to the presence. They had to follow the Ark of the Covenant at a distance. Today, we can boldly approach the throne for grace in our time of need. We can commit our way to the Lord and He will direct our path.

3.Find Your Calm

One of the most amazing abilities of kiddos is their ability to mirror us. Watch a baby smile at sister smiling at her. Or cry when someone is looking at her sternly. Kids who have experienced trauma already have a lot of anxiety. When we are anxious and fearful, they will absorb our feelings. This is why it is so important to find our calm.

The Bible says:


For God did not give us a spirit of timidity (of cowardice, of craven and cringing and fawning fear), but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of calm and well-balanced mind and discipline and self-control. – 2 Timothy 1:7

I’m a girl who has struggled with fear and anxiety from my early childhood. I get it, it’s easy to stay stuck in fear. It is tempting to hunker down in craven, cringing, and fawning fear. But that’s not helping us or our kiddos. And that’s not what God has given us. He gave us a spirit of “power and of love and of calm and well balanced mind and discipline and self-control.” It takes self-discipline to use this spirit of power. It means feeling the feelings and then processing them and talking to yourself in your upstairs brain. It means asking yourself logical questions. Is this true? Should I be concerned about this? What can I do about it? It also means doing the work of renewing your mind. Find scriptures to memorize. A big one for me this season is Psalm 23. God is my Shepherd. He leads and guides me. He restores my soul.

I also talk a bit about real self-care on the podcast. Hopefully, these three points are food for thought. There is a way to thrive this season and enjoy your live today!

Here are the links to the people I mentioned on the podcast:

Sandra Flack, of the Orphans No More Podcast on Justice for Orphans will be joining me for a podcast series in the first quarter of 2021.

You can find Kristin Hill Taylor here!

Episode 176 – Normalizing Foster Care With Rachel Eubank

Are you thinking of becoming a foster parent?
Is fear stopping you?
Do you think foster care is too hard to step into?
Then this is for you (even if you are already fostering).
Kathleen interviews Rachel Eubank, a foster parent who blogs at Normalizing Foster Care. Rachel shares her family’s connection to foster care, her story, and some great tips. Grab a cup of coffee and join these lovely ladies!

The sunny logo above is Rachel’s from her website – Normalizing Foster Care. Read some more about her here.

Episode 174 – The Brain and Fear Part 3

Do you ever feel as if you are not enough?

That you can’t parent your child?

As if you’re going to mess it all up?

You aren’t alone. 

Many parents feel this way. We get stuck in the scarcity mentality. We believe the “bad report.” And just as our children who are stuck in survival mode, we get stuck there too. 

Grab a cup of coffee and join Kathleen as she shares about this topic and some encouragement for parents!