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Posts Tagged ‘Adoption’

The adoption paradox

Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. 1 John 3:2 (NKJV)

 

The adoption paradox in America:  Adopted children have parents who are generally well-educated and affluent. They get more time and educational resources from their adoptive parents than the average child gets from their biological parents.  At the same time, they get into more conflicts with their classmates at school, show relative little interest and enthusiasm about learning tasks, and their academic performance is barely average.

The logical question posed by Nicholas Zill in a brief study for the Institute for Family Studies[i] is, why don’t adopted children do better?  He suggests that possible reasons why family resources do not always produce great outcomes may be found in attachment theory, traumatic stress theory, and behavior genetics.  Here’s a brief explanation of each.

Attachment theory holds that a warm, intimate, and continuous relationship with at least one adult, usually the mother, is essential for the mental health of infants and young children.

According to traumatic stress theory, the likelihood of long-term emotional scars depends on the intensity and duration of the stress.

Behavior genetics is relevant because adoptive parents usually cannot choose or control the genetic endowment of the children they adopt.

It is probable all three of these theoretical perspectives play a role in the adoption paradox.  But we must underscore that none of the findings presented here is meant to minimize the priceless contribution that adoptive parents make to the children they take in.  Many adopted children do reasonably well in school and enjoy lives that are far better than they would have experienced had they not been adopted.  What’s important is that parents be realistic about what adoption can and cannot accomplish.  Given the situation in which many women with unplanned pregnancies find themselves, adoption is still a better option.

 

Father, thank you for adopting us, and for being our loving Father.

[i] http://family-studies.org/the-paradox-of-adoption/?utm_source=IFS+Main+List&utm_campaign=66313a9b30-Newsletter_101&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_c06b05f1ff-66313a9b30-104541745

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But while he thought about these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. Matthew 1:20 (NKJV)

 

Trisha Porter[i], talks about the fears she had as she contemplated being a foster parent and how she also found a way to resolve those fears in their life:

I feared it would hurt too much to give them back, especially if I knew the situation they were going back to was far from perfect. As she found out, the truth is it does hurt.  And yet, she concluded that “if I can provide God’s love, food, shelter, stability and safety for even just a few months, that’s a God-given opportunity.”  While the foster care system is not perfect, as Christians “we have an opportunity to shine a light in this hurting space. Our mentality has to be that of redemption and restoration. You and I may be the individuals God uses to put a family back together. What a privilege!”

Finally, I feared it was going to be really hard and uncomfortable.  She found out she was right…it is really hard.  In her case, though, it had a lot to do with her personality.  As she explains, “I realized I’m a control freak, I don’t like unknowns, and I’m selfish. I really don’t like dying to self (Matt. 16:24)” Today’s world has conditioned us to strive for and enjoy success and comfort.  We don’t particularly like the idea of pain and suffering, or denying ourselves.  Denying self is painful.  And yet, only as we do so are we able to become more like Jesus.

What does denying ourselves to help others mean?  “God has made provision that ignorance need not exist. Those who have means are to take up their God-given responsibility. The poor are the purchase of the blood of the Son of God, and with God there is no respect of persons. The Lord says, “Sell that ye have, and give alms.” Instead of hanging a necklace of gold and jewels about your neck, instead of adorning and decorating your mortal bodies, you are to deny yourself, take up your cross daily, and follow Jesus. You are to impart to others, and care for the destitute and the ignorant.”[ii]

 

Father, help me to deny myself that I may help those in greater need.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Fears-of-Fostering/

[ii] White, E.G. Review and Herald, March 17, 1896 par. 8

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Fostering fears – 1

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: After His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, before they came together, she was found with child of the Holy Spirit. 19Then Joseph her husband, being a just man, and not wanting to make her a public example, was minded to put her away secretly. Matthew 1:18-19 (NKJV)

 

According to Trisha Porter[i], there are 153 million orphans around the world, according to staggering numbers from UNICEF. The United States Department of Health and Human Services tells us there are 415,129 children in the U.S. foster care system. Of those, 107,918 are ready to be adopted today.  She had some fears, probably the same that others interested in being a foster parent may have, but she also found a way to resolve those fears in their life:

I feared that bringing in a foster child would negatively affect my own biological children.  This concern is valid and in some cases very real.  Some children in the foster system have been traumatized and abused, often repeatedly, and can be very challenging.  But, as she writes, “Too often we try to create such a safe environment for our children that we risk robbing them of opportunities to show the love of Christ. Bringing a foster child into our home taught my children how to serve, share, be grateful and love like Jesus.”  If God called you, He will equip you.

I feared I wouldn’t be able to connect with a foster or adopted child.   With her first foster child, everything was a battle, and she had a hard time connecting with him.  As she explains, “But Jesus stepped in. He helped me to see that little guy through His eyes. He reminded me that this child didn’t sign up to be in foster care – but we did sign up to help him.”

At the same time, she had an unrealistic expectation that she would just “fall in love” with this child at first sight.  Many adoptive parents told her that it’s very common for connection to take several months, maybe even a year or two.   As she says, “God knits our hearts together over time, and He can definitely do that for an adoptive or foster family.”

 

Father God, if you call me to be a foster parent to a child in need of love, give me the wisdom, patience, and kindness he/she needs.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Fears-of-Fostering/

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Give heed to the voice of my cry, My King and my God, For to You I will pray. Psalm 5:2 (NKJV)

 

Yesterday we shared what Kathy Cannon, an adoptive mother, says are the three most important things she and her husband didn’t learn in foster/adoption classes.[i]  The last of these three lessons is:

  1. You haven’t prayed enough yet. As all the changes that come with becoming a parent begin to take place, remember to pray for your marriage. The addition of children bring lots of joys but also lots of challenges to any marriage.  That is also true, maybe more so, when the children are adopted.

Pray, also, for the children already in your home.  Their lives are also changing regardless of whether they also were adopted or not.

Pray for great babysitters who will know what they are doing, who will “get it” – that is, what an adopted child needs, and one who will be there to help you and will be there for you.

Pray for the social workers surrounding your child’s case.  Many of them carry a very heavy load of cases and they want to do what is best for each child.  Pray that they will find the way to help you through this process and find the child that will benefit from being in your home, one you will love and care for, and one who will enrich your life and family.

Pray for the birth parents and extended families to find peace and Jesus.  For whatever reason, they have made a decision to not keep this child.  At least they have not made the horrible decision to abort or abandon their child to die.

Pray for foster parents who are caring for children with their entire hearts only to feel those hearts ripped apart when placements occur.  That is a special calling and they deserve a special blessing.

Pray as you never have before; God is your best ally.  Trust God for the rest.  Remember these words: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6-7, NIV).

 

Father, help me to be a good, worthy parent to my children.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/The-Three-Most-Important-Things-We-Didn-t-Learn-in-Adoption-Classes/

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Having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, Ephesians 1:5 (NKJV)

 

Several days ago we shared some ideas that Kathy Cannon, a pastor and mother of five adopted children, says you have not heard before about adoption.  She also talks about the three most important things she and her husband didn’t learn in foster/adoption classes.[i]

  1. Everything takes way longer than you want it to. It’s easy to think that the adoption process should go smoothly and quickly. The truth is that the process can be very long, tedious, and frustrating, and you will have to wait, perhaps for a long time.

While you wait, she recommends you allow yourself all the feelings, all of the questions, all of the spontaneous dates and vacations that you possibly can.  Once you have your child, your life will be changing drastically.  Even if your child is not an infant, their needs will still be higher than normal for their age bracket, and your entire focus will shift to her needs.

  1. You can’t give your child everything he’s ever wanted. Cannon comments, “for a child from the foster system, their entire life has been new places, new people and new noises. It turns out, those early vacations are often forgotten as just another chapter of transition and chaos.” Instead she recommends allowing your family to settle into this “new normal” which will give your child the ability to find his footing and see what stability really and truly means.  For instance, dinner at the table every night is more important than a room full of toys.   Rather than the latest and best of gadgets, a new family picture prominently placed on the wall is more emotionally valuable to your daughter. As Cannon explains, “after all, what your son may want most of all, is to figure out how to like this new life with you while still not losing the identity of his past, his family of origin, and the only reality he’s known. And that will take patience and time, and consistent reassurance.

While adoption can be a great challenge, it can also be a wonderful opportunity both for parents and children.

 

Father God, thank you for adopting us as your children.  May we extend the same caring love to those with no parents of their own.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/The-Three-Most-Important-Things-We-Didn-t-Learn-in-Adoption-Classes/

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Unkind children

And now may the LORD show kindness and truth to you. I also will repay you this kindness, because you have done this thing. 2 Samuel 2:6 (NKJV)

 

Kindness is like good medicine to the soul, particularly when we witness it in children.  Who doesn’t melt when you see a child being kind, whether that’s sharing a favorite treat with a friend or giving someone a hug, just because.

And yet, maybe because of the barrage of social media, or all the stories of bullying, Americans feel that children today are not very kind.  NBC News[i] conducted a survey they called “the state of kindness poll” in which 62% of the more than 2,600 participants responded that they believe kids are less kind today than they were in the past. Women (66%) feel more strongly about this kindness deficit than do men (58%).

Interestingly, the overwhelming majority of respondents (77%) blamed parents for this seeming lack of kindness among children today, with only a few blaming the community, schools, or friends.  But while saying that, Americans say they don’t put kindness first when it comes to teaching kids values.  Instead, teaching children honesty, courage, leadership, and a strong work ethic trumped kindness by the majority of the respondents.

On the other hand, the younger generation — those 18-24 — thinks kindness rules, and these millennials chose kindness by 10 percentage points over honesty as the most important quality to teach kids.

The survey results also show that Americans are split on whether kindness is innate or needs to learned and nurtured over time. Slightly more than half (52%) of survey participants believe that all of us are born with the ability to show kindness, while 47% believe kindness must be developed.  Those without kids (56%) were more inclined to think that people are born kind, while 50% of participants with kids thought nurture trumped nature, and more men believe nature is innate while only about half the women believe it is inherent.  Parents do play a very important role in teaching kindness to their kids by example.

 

Father, help me to teach kindness to my kids through my own example.

[i] http://www.today.com/kindness/are-todays-kids-kind-most-americans-say-no-guess-whats-t57326

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Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body. Romans 8:23 (NKJV)

 

Pastor Kathy Cannon[i] and her husband have adopted five children whom they call “the fantastic five.”  She shared these thoughts about adoption and foster parents.

  1. Every single one of your insecurities may be tested. Those days will come when there are questions you can’t answer, behaviors that will confuse and frustrate you, and feelings that are horrifying. We’re not saying these will come from your children, but from inside you.  It is vital that you have a safe environment, such as a Christian counselor’s office, which will allow you to talk through what you’re experiencing.
  2. You may become addicted without realizing it. Pastor Cannon is referring to your youngest child, or as some people call it, your “bonus baby.” As she explain, “Not because he was a surprise pregnancy, but I promise, we only updated our home study to get just ONE more child. We were NOT going to adopt another sibling set under any circumstances whatsoever. Umm … oops. Hey look, family, that baby sister we were looking for comes with a baby brother, too!”
  3. The experience will be nothing like what you expected. In her words, “Your child (or children!) may look nothing like what you dreamed about, it may take longer or shorter than you desired, and the court dates and line of social workers and child search and all of it may be something you never wanted for your life. But at the end of the day, as you tuck in your child, turn out the light, and collapse onto the couch … you will be reminded that God works all things together for good for those who love Him, and are called according to His purposes. (Romans 8:28)”

I like these words:  “If you have no children of your own, it may be that the Lord has a wise purpose in withholding from you this blessing. It should not be taken as evidence that it is your duty to adopt a child. In some cases this might be advisable. If the Lord bids you take an infant to bring up, then the duty is too plain to be misunderstood.”[ii]

 

Father, I submit to your will and wisdom for me and my children.

[i] https://vitalmagazine.com/Home/Article/Ten-Things-No-One-Tells-You-About-Adoption/

[ii] White, E.G., Welfare Ministry, p. 235

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