How to Find Support when Parenting Adopted Children
One of our six children is adopted. We brought her home from the hospital at three days old to several weeks of celebrations as we introduced our unexpected but long prayed-for addition to our families near and far. Our new daughter knew no other family but ours. Still, when she was in sixth grade, she began struggling — sometimes against us, sometimes at school. At the time, I was part of a group of moms, Moms in Touch, Int., who prayed for our kids and their schools. We had been meeting for several years, praying for teachers, our kid’s grades and friends, and for our children to have a positive influence at school on their peers.
But when our daughter began rebelling, starting with stealing money at home and failing grades at school, I suddenly was aware I needed another group of moms who could relate to my situation. My friends were praying for their children to make an A’s on a test or to make homecoming court or the cheerleading squad. I needed prayers for a child who was spiraling downward. I felt insecure sharing with these moms that my child was failing while their kids were all on the honor roll.
So I called a friend who also had an adopted child, a son a couple years older than our daughter. I asked if we could have coffee and chat. I took a risk and told her our woes, fears, and concerns, and it opened the door to her reciprocating with her own struggles with her son.
We both found safety in the company of another who understood. Our hope renewed, we called four other moms of adopted kids. Three agreed to join us. We met once a month for almost six years.
Although there was plenty of heartache between the five of us, it wasn’t all about loss. We also rejoiced when great choices were made by one of our kids, celebrating the ups amidst the downs. And we discovered we shared lots of commonalities in our adopted children, mostly little things that they tended to do, like hoarding their things (not like the TV show, but protecting what was theirs in a way our biological kids did not). They also had a tendency to sabotage situations, feeling they didn’t deserve what they wanted. We found comfort in these shared experiences as moms.
Isolation is one of the chief strategies of the enemy. It’s deadly in marriages and in parenting. Parenting an adopted child brings different issues to the surface because your child and mine come with a genetic code nothing like our own. When adoptive parents become isolated from other adoptive families, it’s easy to feel the trials are yours alone, that the struggles must be something you are doing wrong. Instead of marveling with wonder at the uniquenesses in these grafted-in children, isolation can take away a balanced view of what God is doing.
The answer to finding an adoption support group is to start one. And start one early. Don’t wait till your child has problems. Instead, gather other moms, and pray for one another and for your kids. Our daughter loved having friends who were also adopted. And I loved those kids and their moms, too.