Adoption in the News
There’s much in the news these days about adoption; especially as it relates to the kids caught up in the tragic circumstances happening around the world. Adoption is a great opportunity for a child who might otherwise face a life without a mom or dad, and it’s a great way for couples to shower their love and compassion on a child.
I firmly believe that God is the ultimate authority on adoption. I believe that His hand is on every case and that He purposefully provides specific parents with specific children, knowing each one’s needs.
But in the midst of the love and kindness, some adopted kids struggle with identity issues when they reach the adolescent years; especially if they are adopted at an older age. An adopted teen bent on knowing the truth will do almost anything to answer the question, “Why did my mother abandon me?” Sadly, a child will even ask these questions if the mother had no choice in the matter, or if both parents died in a natural disaster like Haiti.
Most adopted kids will at some point struggle. That struggle can be internal and barely break through to the surface, or it can become a raging fire. I suppose that’s why more than one third of the kids we have at Heartlight are those who were adopted. I work with them every day, and I know what their parents are going through.
The most difficult part for parents is to not take it personally when it appears that their adopted teen is rejecting them. It isn’t that the child no longer loves them; more often than not, they really do love them. It’s more likely that they don’t quite know where they fit in or where they belong at this point, so they lash out at everyone.
I tell these parents that the best thing they can do is to continue to provide love and consistency in the home. While disrespect must be addressed, pick your battles wisely. Eventually, the child will work through it. Responding negatively to the child’s apparent ungrateful attitude, giving up, or trying to “fix” the problem by giving the child more “things” or unwarranted freedoms will only add to their mixed up sense of self.
Time and stability are needed commodities as the teen works through their issues. They need the steadying influence of their parents, who can help them sort it all out, or provide an avenue to receive professional counseling. It’s no time to lessen the boundaries or back down on the rules. Having those in place will provide the structure the teen needs, though they may seem to want just the opposite.
I know this sounds far too simplistic for the depth of the difficulties you may be experiencing, so if you are facing challenges with your adopted teen, or any teenager in your home right now, I invite you to come learn some coping and management tools from me in our upcoming Families in Crisis retreat on the Heartlight campus. It is a great opportunity to meet with our counselors, hear from parents with similar struggles, and learn healthy ways to work through the struggle.
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