ABCs of Adoption – Part 7

November is National Adoption Awareness Month and I’m the mother of seven adopted children, five of whom are presently teens. So, let’s talk about adopted teens. Surely that can’t be as simple as ABC. You’re so right.

They test you and rebel against boundaries and are stubborn and have emotional outbursts sometimes…just like any other teen, adopted or not. And that’s the truth.

But it isn’t necessarily because they are adopted, it’s more likely because they are trying to figure out growing up…just like any other teen.

As parents, we hold on tight to the knowledge that ‘this too shall pass’ and we buckle in for the ride, praying all the while.

Can adopted teens have unique challenges and special issues. Yes, just like any other teen can. Will some of these issues result from past hurts and disappointments? Yes, just like any other teen, or any other human being, they will need to learn to forgive, move on and heal.

I think sometimes we are too quick to attribute a teen’s struggles to his or her adopted status. Raising teens is about as complicated a task as you can tackle. About the time you think you’ve figured it out, a curve ball reminds you that you haven’t.

Too many times, we over scrutinize our children and ourselves because our family was formed through adoption. We might feel that we have something to prove to the world of onlookers, perhaps people who didn’t approve of our decision to adopt in the first place.

If you are determined to get it all right all the time, as a parent, you are setting yourself up for failure. If you think you have control over choices other people make, including your teens, you are bound to be sorely disappointed.

Whether your child is a toddler in the midst of potty-training, a sassy-mouthed young child, a teen with an attitude or a young adult struggling to find their place in the world, don’t take the delays, the stumbles, the carelessly flung words personally.

We all want the very best for our children and hopefully we’ve done our best to give them every opportunity. But the bottom line is they get to choose whether they will take those opportunities or take a more difficult path. It doesn’t mean we have failed as parents or that ultimately, they will fail when all is said and done.

Take courage, keep trying and cling to hope. Don’t let moments of confusion, angst and upset define your relationship with your teen. There are far more good moments than bad. Do your best and trust God with the rest. Take advantage of every tool and resource available. And don’t give up, whatever you do, don’t quit trying.

So, yes, I guess it actually is as simple as ABC. Actions, Bravery and Consistency. That’s the ABC’s of parenting adopted teens.


Every Opportunity 

What opportunities are before you today, this week, this month, this summer? Which will you take advantage of and which will you miss? 

I’ve been thinking a lot about opportunities lately. And here’s what I’ve decided. Opportunities abound. They’re often around every corner. The problem is, we are often lacking the motivation to walk around the corner to meet them. 

This weekend I took action and positioned myself in a place to hear about opportunities to do what I like to do, write. I heard tips, made connections and took notes. Now, what will I do with what I gathered at the Southern Christian Writers Conference? That’s the question. 

One of the themes of this conference which focuses on Christians who are writing or dreaming of doing so, is to consider the impact of our printed words on the people who read them. We were reminded that even if we aren’t writing about Jesus, our words should reflect Him. 

Here are some scriptures that I think reinforce that truth. 

“But this will be your opportunity to tell them about me.”‭‭ Luke‬ ‭21:13‬ ‭NLT‬
“Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.”  ‭‭Ephesians‬ ‭5:16‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity.”  Colossians‬ ‭4:5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

“Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.” Galatians‬ ‭6:10‬ ‭NLT‬‬

The word opportunity may be defined by some as a ‘lucky chance’. I don’t agree. Of course as a Christian, I don’t believe in luck or coincidence. I believe in God-incidences. I believe He is ordering my steps. I believe he orchestrates the details of my life. 

With that in mind, I see clearly what I must do with the writing opportunities that were placed before me at the conference and the opportunities next week that will give me a chance to love, to forgive, to encourage, to grow spiritually. I will seize them, I will embrace them. I will make them my own. 

What about you? When opportunity comes knocking will you answer the door? Will you stand up and walk around that corner? Will you take the chance? Will you accept the challenge? Will you roll up your sleeves and do the work required?

Challenge Accepted

November has arrived and being a 30 day month makes it a perfect time for a 30-day challenge. #challengeaccepted

I’ve made myself a list for my 30-day challenges. It’s a list of a wide variety of things that I mean to do every day but sometimes get distracted from doing so.

What about you? What could you challenge yourself to do for 30 days? What simple, perhaps even ordinary thing could you commit to, that would make life sweeter?

Here’s my list! I hope you’ll make your own and join me in my determination to make these next 30 days the opportunity I’ve been waiting for. After all, 30 days of challenges equals 30 days of opportunities. Opportunities to love, to live, to laugh, to grow, to make a difference. 

November 30-day Challenge

1- Social Media – Thankful Tweets & FB Posts daily! #thankfulheart 💛

2- Marriage challenge – Goodbye Kisses every time we part company. 💋

3- Family Challenge – Text parents daily even if it is just to say ‘I love you’. ❤️

4- Writing challenge – Write a prayer daily and create a compilation. 📝

5- Physical challenge – Treadmill Walk daily even if it is only 1/2 of a mile. 👣

6- Spiritual challenge – Listen to more music. 🎶 

7- Mental challenge – Scripture memory benefits the brain and the soul. 💭 

8- Reading challenge – Daily Fiction 📖 

9- Prayer challenge – A former foster child each day, although there were more than 30. 🙏🏽

10- Parenting Challenge – Bedtime hugs and prayers without exception.  😴 

11- Emotional Challenge – Forgive myself and start fresh every morning. 🌅

12- Home challenge – Gather a bag a day to donate or throw away. 🏡

Fully Present

I don’t know about y’all and your life at this present moment, but I know about mine and here is what I know. There’s so much I want to do, need to learn, aim to accomplish and hope to achieve that I have been struggling lately with being fully present in the here and now. 

Hey, I believe in dreams and plans and goals. I think we should actively be honing skills, preparing for the next thing and growing spiritually. Right at this moment I’ve got a list of impressive size of just those sort of things. And there’s nothing wrong with that. 

The tricky part is to make sure you don’t forget to be fully present today, at this very moment. The challenge is to avoid focusing so intently on the days to come that we lose the opportunity to give today our full attention. 

Today I am going to give my best to the moment at hand, be present and give my full attention to this time I have been given. Whether it is a chore or a child, a meal or a school lesson, a conversation or a game, I want the task, the person, to be more important than what tomorrow may or may not ever bring. 

When I’m struggling or even stumbling, I can always count on the Word of God to adjust my focus so I can see more clearly. 

“Look here, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we are going to a certain town and will stay there a year. We will do business there and make a profit.” How do you know what your life will be like tomorrow? Your life is like the morning fog—it’s here a little while, then it’s gone. What you ought to say is, “If the Lord wants us to, we will live and do this or that.” Otherwise you are boasting about your own pretentious plans, and all such boasting is evil. Remember, it is sin to know what you ought to do and then not do it.”

‭‭James‬ ‭4:13-17‬ ‭NLT‬

That last little portion squeezes my heart. To know what you ought to do and then not do it is a sin. That’s a serious statement. There’s not much wiggle room there for us to squeeze in excuses and justifications. Here’s what I’m hearing. Don’t neglect today on your way to tomorrow. 

Father, give me strength I pray to stay focused on today while I dream of tomorrow. Give me the ability to balance achieving goals of the future while embracing the gift of the present. Help me to never overlook an opportunity of the moment as I stride towards the future. Amen. 

A Guaranteed Opportunity

Today I had the opportunity to discuss adoption with a panel of resident experts. I call them experts because they have lived it. They were each adopted. I call them resident because we all reside under one roof. They are my children.

We were driving together (my youngest six) and I. So I had a captive audience for about 45 minutes. I took advantage to hear their thoughts and encourage comments. I told them that I was writing more and more about adoption and I’d really like to hear what they wished people knew about adoption. I was mesmerized by what they shared from their hearts. I could hardly wait until I could sit down and blog about our conversation.

Here, are some of the insightful, thought-provoking points that were made.

1- We all agreed that adoption is not a magic word for a happy family. There are failed adoptions, bad adoptions and adoptions that go wrong. Some adoptive parents are bad parents, selfish parents and ill-equipped parents. Some adoptive children are just as selfish and perhaps uncooperative, sabotaging the relationship at every turn.

2- We all agreed that adoptive families who thrive (rather than just survive) are families where there is mutual respect and acceptance and second chances and lots of love. There must be commitment and laughter and forgiveness from both parents and children. They need to trust each other. They need to feel safe with each other.

3- Then we all agreed that none of what we had agreed on that defined a successful adoptive family or a disaster of a family had anything to do with adoption. We were like, hey, adoption doesn’t guarantee anything and neither does being born into a family. Guarantees that are assumed or expected without the dedication required is really a myth.

How about go back and look at our #1 & #2 and remove any reference to adoption by replacing it with birth families instead. Here is how it would read.

1- We all agreed that birth is not a magic word for a happy family. There are failed birth families, bad birth families and birth families that go wrong. Some birth parents are bad parents, selfish parents and ill-equipped parents. Some birth children are just as selfish and perhaps uncooperative, sabotaging the relationship at every turn.

2- We all agreed that birth families who thrive (rather than just survive) are families where there is mutual respect and acceptance and second chances and lots of love. There must be commitment and laughter and forgiveness from both parents and children. They need to trust each other. They need to feel safe with each other.

See what I mean? Family isn’t about guarantees. Instead it is about opportunities. Opportunities to love and take risks by making yourself vulnerable. Opportunities to grow together and help make each other better. Opportunities to encourage and challenge and hold each other accountable.

Quotes from our panel of experts –

One expert said that they think grown-ups think a lot more about adoption than the kids they’ve adopted do. “We are thinking of more important things like getting our driver’s permit or getting a date.”

One expert said that they wished more people would give adoption a chance. “I think they’d like it if they tried it.”

One expert said it was nice to know he was chosen. “You don’t accidentally get adopted.”

One expert said all kids deserve a family. “I’m glad I am adopted. That’s how God made our family.”

One expert said that adopted or not, kids have to do their part to make a family work. “If you make up your mind you want it to work, the hardest part is over.”

The last expert said that being adopted meant having a mom and dad that loved you no matter what. “You just keep trying and never give up!”

There you have it folks. The experts have spoken.