More Lessons in Older Child Adoption

I’ve been chatting with a lot of moms who are a sort of crossroads with their older adopted child. There is hurt, resentment, and bewilderment from both sides. The kids are rejecting their family in as many ways possible. The parents are wondering where they went wrong.

We’ve been there. In October 2015, we were at the peak of our crisis. I was mentally unstable and unpleasant to be around. One of our kids was so fragile that her behavior became unsafe for everyone. Two of our kids were looking for the quickest ticket out of our home.

Almost three years later, we’re in a much better space. Relationships that I had given up on are starting to come alive again. I’ve wrestled with my part in our crisis and worked hard to change. It feels like we’ve been given a re-do with our older kids.

older child adoption

Here are some updated lessons.

it’s not over ’til it’s over

When our oldest kids left home without looking back, I felt like a failure. Three years of blood, sweat, and tears down the drain. Or so I thought. In reality, their journeys were just beginning. Even when all feels lost and hopeless, remember, that there’s always tomorrow. And the next tomorrow. And the next one. For us, it’s taken years’ worth of tomorrows. Take words like, “I’m finished with you. Good-bye,” with a grain of salt. It’s the trauma talking. Respond with, “I’ll still be here if you ever change your mind.” Then do whatever you need to do to lick and heal your wounds so that is true.

prayer is powerful

Part of my brain used to think that connected parenting would solve all things. I still believe in it with all my heart. And it saved our family. It is good people skills and will not screw things up like traditional parenting. But it doesn’t “fix” our kids or guarantee a relationship. Our kids’ hurts and fears run deep in places only God can touch or heal. Prayer has been how I’ve found peace in the crazy. I’ve found hope in the hurt. For my whole life, I’ve said I had faith and prayer works. Nothing has put that to the test like raising older adopted kids.

focus on relationship

After our kids left, our therapist asked me, “Do you still want a relationship with them?” “Of course,” I responded.

That answer gave me clarity about so many other things. At each interaction with my older kids, I would think about whether my response or reaction would bring them closer or push them away. Our therapist actually challenged me to not ask a single question for at least 6 months since questions always put them on the defensive. I still have scar marks on my tongue from that season. The crazy thing? The kids started to wander back to a relationship with us on their own. For a couple, it took months, others years.

your investment matters

I know it feels like what you are doing (or did) isn’t making a difference, but it is. Trust me. Patrick and I screwed up a relationship over 15 years ago with a young man who we tried to help. That was years before we knew anything about trauma or connected anything. It took ten years, but he did come back looking for us. He was thankful for the time spent with us even though it had ended poorly. We’ve been back in touch ever since. Trust that you’re sowing seeds that may take years to sprout.

find your tribe

Ok, a tribe may be much, but contact with at least ONE person who understands or has walked through this will bring about an incredible amount of sanity. You are NOT crazy. You are also NOT alone. There is hope. If you have no one, then count me in. Click here to grab a virtual coffee. No sales pitch. No commitment. No unsolicited advice. Just an understanding ear.

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This picture is proof that miracles still happen.


One of my most read posts ever is Older Child Adoption | What I Would Have Done Differently. Click here to read it.

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