the lies hurting children believe (adoption/foster)

misconceptions

Do you remember 15-year-old Davion Only, the teen who went to church looking for a family? There’s something to be learned from his story that goes beyond one boys search for a family, the statistic of 100,000 children available for adoption in the U.S., or that the church is viewed by some to be a safe place. There is another core issue here we can’t ignore, and that is ideas children, especially ones who come from traumatic experiences, have.

Davion was born in prison, and was subsequently placed in foster care, he doesn’t know how many places he’s lived. While in care, he had anger issues because his mom was incarcerated, and

he was resentful.

Four months before Davion showed up at St. Mark Missionary Baptist Church asking for a family to adopt him, he searched for his birth mom. He found out she’d passed.

With the knowledge of her passing came a shift in his thought process. He resolved not to be angry any longer and let go of his resentment.

In the post what’s on their mindI talk about our kids and what they believe. Our hurting kids can have misconceptions, believe lies that are untrue (both lies told to them and lies they’ve told themselves).

Birth family or previous foster families may have told them they were stupid, bad, ugly, or no one would love them. Or, they could be telling themselves lies, believing they are worthless and unloveable. They could also be resentful of a situation in their life, as in Davion’s case.

In the documentary, Stuck, a woman interviews a 12-year-old boy, Roberson, who’s living in an Ethiopian orphanage. She asks, “What do you know about adoption?” Roberson answers, “If someone doesn’t know you, they’ll be afraid of adopting you.” Six months after the interview he disappeared from the orphanage. He held onto a belief and in the end there was a horrible outcome.

Because of these beliefs, whether true (they’ve been left alone) or not (they’re worthless) very negative attitudes and behaviors can surface.

reaffirm

A child who’s been neglected, abused, and traumatized can have many misconceptions, but belittling those thoughts won’t help. Kindly reassuring them of the truth will help, but

realize they may hold firmly to what they believe.

In Davion’s case, he made a choice to throw out anger and let go of the resentment, but it’s not that simple for most hurting children. I don’t know how Davion Only is doing now or if the foster family who chose him decided to adopt him. I don’t know if he was able to stick to his decision to throw out his resentment. I honestly hope he’s happy and thriving in his new family (which I also hope is a forever one).

Davion may have been able to overcome the anger he had because someone in his life believed in him and gave him the courage to make a new beginning. He’s a teen who is looking at aging out of the system, so determination may have been a factor in changing his attitude. He may also have a different make-up than your child.

It’s true that we all have different personalities. Those personalities make situations affect each on of us differently. That’s why two children can come out of the same orphanage and one struggles with attachment issues and another doesn’t seem to. Although, I believe all children are affected in some way by institutionalization, neglect, abandonment, and abuse.

If your child has misconceptions (you may be aware of them, or you may not), you may wonder what you can do to support your child. Here are some ideas:

  1. Don’t belittle your child’s thoughts by saying, “You know that’s not true,” or “It’s ridiculous to think that.”
  2. Give your child truths to hold on to. (These are only examples, you may need to tweak them to fit your child’s story or thoughts.)
    • Your birth mom loves you, she just made wrong choices.
    • You are beautiful.
    • The day I met you was one of the best days of my life. I was recently talking to my daughter about the day she came to us. I told her there were three best days of my life, the day I married her dad, the day we met her, and the day we met her brother. The entire time I was telling her, she had the BIGGEST smile, ear to ear. She was thrilled that I thought that much of her. (Although this story’s been shared with her before, it seemed to be new to her that day.)
    • I’m sorry those other families didn’t stick to their promise, but we’re not letting you go. (And if you make this promise, DON’T go back on it.)

3.Find opportunities to show them the truth. (Again, these are examples, look for positive situations to capitalize on.)

    • See how smart you are, you solved that problem.
    • Other kids like you, Isaiah wants you to ride bikes tomorrow.
    • You’re a good kid, you help me set the table, get diapers for your sister when I ask, and don’t complain when we have to run to the grocery store.

4.Be there. Be involved.

    • Engage in activities with your child they enjoy.
    • Talk with them every opportunity you get, but respect them when they want to be quiet.
    • Make kind eye contact as much as possible.
    • If their school requires them to do something like dribble a basketball, and they don’t know how and are frustrated, practice with them (with patience). Well, even if they’re great at dribbling, practice with them. Be together. Be a cohesive family.

Unhealthy beliefs can cause tremendous dissension within our children. We need to be vigilant about reaffirming who they are, show them they’re special and have value.

be physically present

Being physically present will teach your child far more than any words will. Many of them have been told lies, they’ve been given promises that were broken. Your words probably won’t mean anything for a long time (always use words whether they sink in or not – as one day they will), but be sure to pair them with actions to show them you believe in them and love them.

What misconceptions does your child have, or did they have when they came to you? Did they believe lies about themselves?

Some other posts that may be helpful:
the magic word
what’s on their mind?

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rehoming: a Reuters investigation (shared by NBC news) (adoption)

The new catchphrase on an older concept: rehoming. Some in the adoption community call it adoption dissolution or disruption. You may have heard about the Reuters investigation “The Child Exchange,” and NBC, which began broadcasting the reports on Monday morning about this issue.

Reuter’s series focuses on families who feel they can no longer care for their adopted children. Their investigation looks into those who have placed their kids with other families without contacting their original adoption agency or state child services. The stories that Reuter’s (focuses) on exist, and are disturbing, yet I don’t feel that the stories they are publishing are the largest problem we have.

The problem begins when families do not take care of their adopted children, and I believe much of this stems from a lack of quality pre-adoption training. We were fortunate and had adequate pre-adoption training, but there are many counties and agencies that do not provide what adoptive parents need. Parents need to know what neglected, abandoned, and abused children are dealing with and how to handle it. They need to know what behaviors may arise from hurting kids. Adoptive parents also need continued training to remind them of how to handle different stages of the child’s development (in the sense of emotional development in dealing with what they’ve been through).

The problem goes on after adoption where the parents need to look at their promise they made to their child. When someone adopts, they go before a judge and make an oath that they’ll care for their adopted child as if he/she were their biological child, as it should be. It’s not common (there are far more successful adoption stories than horrible ones), but some adoptive parents have forsaken this oath. To me, it’s not as important that a parent made the promise in front of a court, but that they made it to the child who is depending on them to care for them.

I wonder if a biological child was to put holes in the wall if as many parents would ship them off. I wonder if a dog were to pee on a sofa, or tear it up, if it would be sent to a different home? In most cases with the dog, no, and as for the cases with biological children wreaking havoc in families, I would say the family doesn’t consider the option of sending them elsewhere.

We have to make our children a priority. Our hurting kids came to us because we chose them. They have gone through the worst that a child can imagine, and  far too much of it is beyond comprehension. They deserve all of us. They deserve solutions, not dissolutions. They deserve a FOREVER family. I get that it’s hard, if you read my “about” page you will see that my children have several diagnoses that stem from their early neglect and abuse, and it has been HARD! But that’s never an excuse in my mind to say farewell. I don’t see it as an option, ever. No matter what your child is doing, there is a solution. It might be inconvenient, it might be more than you THINK you can handle, but you can. Our children need us, and I don’t believe there is hope for them if the family that promised to protect them after their abuse and neglect abandons them. It reiterates what the rest of the world has taught them. No one can be trusted.

This is why I do what I do. Before I began sharing this blog, I was getting emails at least once every two weeks about children who needed new homes because their adoptive families no longer wanted them. I heard about a girl LINK that is five who had been placed in a residential treatment center because no one would take her in. I knew I had to do something. My husband and I were having success with our daughter who has struggled with several disorders due to her early life and I wanted to help others by giving them tools to make it through all the mire. My hope is that through my words, families will stay together, adopted children will be loved, and this Reuter’s story will be blown out of the water by all the positive adoption successes.

love this…

A friend sent me a card in August to wish me a Happy Birthday. I wrote this verse down so that in the next couple weeks I could put it on our blog. Here it is, more than a couple weeks later (a couple months to be exact) and I am finally getting around to clearing out my pile of “to-do” papers.

I love this verse and the promise it brings, and the promises He has already fulfilled.

Ephesians 3: 20 & 21 “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think…. to Him be the GLORY.” (I took liberty with the capitalization.)

Inside the card it read: “God is working in more ways than you have asked Him. He is doing more things for you than your faith can imagine.”

WOW!!! Thank you to the dear friend who sent this.