Why Does Your Foster or Adopted Child Reject Your Love?

It is a scene that plays out in foster and adoptive families over and over. Parents tearfully share stories about the children they welcome into their families rejecting their love. It’s especially painful when, no matter the child’s age, they stiff-arm every effort a parent gives to help them feel loved and find healing.

This past Sunday the pastor at my church quoted from a book by Dr. David Benner—Surrender to Love: Discovering the Heart of Christian Spirituality (Spiritual Journey). First as I listened, I identified in my own life the ways I struggle with surrendering to love. Then I began to listen through the lens of my experience as a foster and adoptive dad.

I bought the book and began reading, and I can see clearly how many of my son’s actions—His high need for control; his overly cautious tendencies; his need to be with one of us all the time, yet struggling with trusting us with his deepest thoughts; His desire to be the center of attention and to always be right, the first, and the best—point to one thing.

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3 Takeaways from the 2017 Future and A Hope Conference

I attended the Future and A Hope conference last Saturday in Austin, Texas. This is a conference that brings together those who advocate for vulnerable and at-risk children. Some who attend are just beginning to explore and discern what their role is.

Other families who attend are in the midst of parenting children that they foster or have adopted either through foster care, private domestic agencies, or international agencies.

One thing I noticed this year (this isn’t one of my takeaways) is that many attendees have at least a basic understanding what trauma informed care is. That speaks to the work of many in this field. Families, counselors, caseworkers, and others are now speaking the same language more than ever. This is a good thing.

Ready for some takeaways?

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A Mission that Transcends Home and Family. [Podcast 016]

Hard to believe I am already on episode 16! That is four months of podcasting already.

In today’s episode I share that a mission needs to be something that transcends your home and family. I picked up this thought from a study I am doing with a group of men. The study is a video series by John Eldredge on his book, Wild at Heart.

In the show notes below, you can see what else is in the podcast episode.

Show Notes

  • Why it is important to have a mission or purpose that transcends our home and family. (from Wild at Heart)
  • Upcoming release of the print version of Foster and Adoptive Parenting.
  • Information about the A Future and A Hope conference.
  • What is happening through the Travis County Collaborative on foster care.

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Taking A Closer Look at Empowerment—A TBRI Principle

Do you get the idea that it’s good to empower your child but struggle with exactly how to do it? How do you find that balance of empowering yet remaining in control?

Trust-Based Relational Intervention, or TBRI, is becoming the standard for connected parenting. Schools, Child Protective Services, counselors, parents, and others recognize this and are applying these principles in their work and families.

I posted a blog a couple of years ago, Three Principles of Trust-Based Relational Intervention, that still gets a lot of traffic. Basically, the three principles are Empowerment, Connection, and Correction. If you want a quick overview of TBRI, please check out that blog post HERE.

Over the next few weeks I will post a blog digging a little deeper into each of the three TBRI principles sharing not only what I have learned about each, but some of my personal experience as I attempt to apply the principles to our family.

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Find One Reason to Say Yes. An Interview with Jason Johnson. [Podcast 013]

I began following Jason Johnson’s blog a few years ago when a mutual friend told me about his site. I appreciate Jason’s practical approach to foster care and adoption. His communication style cuts straight to the heart of the matter whether you are considering becoming a foster or adoptive parent or if you already have children from a hard place in your home.

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I wanted to get to know Jason a little better and give you the same opportunity.

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Sometimes It’s the Parent Who Needs to Regulate

Isn’t it a shock when you see yourself on video? Often we say, “I didn’t know I looked or sounded like that.” We aren’t aware of our tone, our posture, our facial expressions, or even how we communicate our emotions.

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Part of self-awareness is recognizing that what we think or feel on the inside doesn’t always translate accurately through our voice, emotions, and actions. Or do they?

Remember Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood? I can hear him now singing his simple greeting song:

“It’s a beautiful day in this neighborhood. It’s a beautiful day for a neighbor. Could you be mine? Would you be mine?”

Hearing that song in my head calms me. He was always calm. Always smiling. Always pleasant.

How I wish I was more like that.

I remember when my son was about four years old, and I noticed him exploring my face when we talked or played, even when I corrected him. He still does this a lot. I think he is gauging to see how safe I am.

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Why Can’t We Tell Our Kids “Yes”?

I get really good at saying no. I can say it kindly, with force, in rapid succession, with anticipation of the question, and even without looking. In my mind, I always have a good reason for telling my son no. I don’t want him to do that, eat those, or bother me at the moment.

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I think I should invent an app kind of like the ones that record every step you take so you can see how many miles you incidentally walked in a day. Except this app records every time you say no to your child. On second thought, I don’t think I want to know.

Why is it so hard for me to just say it. Just Say Yes.

I think I know why. I am afraid if I say Yes too much it will ruin my son. Won’t he end up thinking that he can have anything he wants, do everything he wants to do, and never have to wait his turn?

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His Hands. His Feet.

Sent to the fatherless, the brokenhearted, and those far from Him

You not only notice the person standing on the street corner holding a sign asking for help, you have compassion for them. You are the person who brings the child of another person into your home and treats them as if they were your own flesh and blood. You use your resources, like time and money, to invest in people who are in need.

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You engage with people who are hurting and broken knowing that it is going to get messy. You are the one who uses your vacation time to travel to places so you can share Jesus with people who might otherwise never hear about Him.

Even though you are that person, you don’t always know what to do. Some days you need encouragement. Other times you look for inspiration.

Why do you live life like this?

You understand that you are His ambassadors. He didn’t create you, then redeem you so that you could live your life the way you want. You know you are sent.

You are His Hands. His Feet.

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15 Ways We Shame Our Children

As I work more with our adopted son and in the foster care/adoptive world, I see a connection between trauma and shame. Even if a child never makes a bad choice in their life, the things done to them, and what they see others do causes shame to pour over their soul like a bitter, sticky molasses.

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Abusive, broken homes are a sick petri dish for cultivating shame. I don’t think that surprises anyone. If a child is old enough to remember leaving a home to enter foster care or adoption, they often wonder what is wrong with themselves. Even a child who was a baby when placed in foster care or adopted seems to struggle with a deep sense of shame as they grow older.

Sadly, many children live in shame-based homes, not just ones that end up in foster care or adoption.

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Dear Foster Parent, They Are Not Your Enemy

3 Ways to Work with the Biological Family

When a child is placed into a foster home, most foster parents go into Papa and Mama Bear mode. A sense to protect this child from any more harm overrides every emotion that creates an “us against the world” approach.

When CPS placed an eight-month-old boy with us, I listened to the case worker explain in general why CPS removed him from his biological family. Even though I didn’t get a lot of detail, I received enough that I did go into major protection mode.

No one was going to hurt this child again.

Two days after CPS placed our son with us, he had his first parent visit. Naively, I didn’t think we would meet the parents, then or ever. Honestly, I didn’t want to meet them.

To me, they were the enemy.

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