-Debrief with your children at the end of each day. Difficult/hard feelings are normal and a part of life, but we're supposed to dwell on truth. Make sure that your children are dwelling on (feelings of) truth.
-God asks us to love our children like He loves us. (Look at the full character of God. There is a time for setting boundaries and loving discipline, but everything you do is in love. Everything you say and do is because you love your child and want what's best for them. Even the hard moments need to be handled with love.)
-Wise-Up Powerbook - good resource, especially for adopted children.
-3 Prayer Reminders:
-When you put on Perfume. II Corinthians 2:14-16 (Talks about being the fragrance of Christ.)
-When you look in the mirror. II Corinthians 3:18 (Talks about mirroring Christ's image.)
-When you put on jewelry. II Corinthians 4:7-15 (Talking about the treasures in jars of clay.)
Carissa Woodwyk (Korean Adoptee):
-The word "rescue" is complicated and not really a good word to use. What are you rescuing your child from? You're not even really rescuing them from their country. You need to rescue their heart. They COULD have had a great life in Korea. You will never know. Focus on their heart!
-There are broken, fragmented pieces of adoptee's lives because we live in a broken world. God NEVER offers pain. His heart grieves for the brokenness. We are to help our children understand that Jesus wants to make them whole.
-The concept of an adoptee thinking "I'm not okay" or "I'm not enough" creates so much pain.
-Carissa used accomplishments and awards to fill voids. To outsiders, it looked like she was the perfect adoptee. But inside, there was so much grief. Learn and constantly check your child's heart - know what is happening inside of them!
-Don't mistake your child's compliance and good behavior for good adjustment. They could VERY well be intensely grieving inside. Sometimes they really are adjusting fine, but always take the time to sift through what's really happening.
-Great message to tell adopted children: God created you; not two people! You are not here by accident! While it's very important to acknowledge your child's birth situation (don't minimize the birth parents or pretend they don't exist) - always turn the focus back to God and His amazing plan.
-Carissa's best advice (what she felt was most important to tell us): Simply affirm your child and validate their story.
-You can't know your child's heart if you haven't examined your own.
I did a breakout session called "You CAN do this - tools for post-adoption success." Here are my notes from that session:
-We are called to show delight in our kids so they see themselves through God's eyes.
-Ephesians 4:1, Walk in a manner worthy of how you were called.
-Walk with humility, serving our family.
-Walk with gentleness, gentle with our words, our actions, our responses. This may be new to our kids.
Philippians 2 - Jesus humbling Himself
-Walk with patience. Let your child set the pace for healing. Allow your child to regress when times are stressful. Try to change one difficult behavior at a time, not a ton at once.
-Accept that the road to healing is slow.
-Accept that your methods may need to change. You might have to parent in a way that doesn't feel natural to you at times. Or, you might be parenting in a way that even the adoption community doesn't understand. SEEK THE LORD about how you should parent EACH CHILD! It will be different for each one!!
-Let go of your pride if you have bio kids are really well behaved. You're not aiming to please anyone but God.
-Be diligent; preserve UNITY. Satan wants to turn spouse against spouse, sibling vs sibling, etc.
-Be a "stick-together" family. Choose peace.
1. Realistic. Low expectations. Adoption is HARD. Healing takes time. Prepare for the difficult, pray for the best. Don't send your children away from you if they need/want to be near. Find what they like (ex: cooking vs playing with toys). God empties us so He can fill us.
2. Educated. A good book is "Thriving As an Adoptive Family."
3. Connected. Find people you can talk to. Dwell on Phil. 4:8. Surround yourself with POSITIVE people.
4. In God's Word. Daily, post things around your home, memorize, read through Psalms. Hebrews 4:12
5. A writer. Blog. See how far you've come. Process your feelings so you can help your child. List God's truths and how you should live. Read "One Thousand Gifts" by Ann Voskamp. Have a "Joy" chart. Throughout the day, list what brings your family joy.
6. In prayer. Struggles, when you're in a hard situation, wisdom and guidance, healing that only God can bring, pray for others, ask others to pray for you, pray using God's names, pray a blessing over your children.
7. Purposeful. Do what's right even though it's not fun. This isn't about creating the "perfect" blogging moment to share with others, but about helping your child heal. Engage in sensory activities (even just putting lotion on your child). Phil. 2:14-15
8. Determined. Half the battle is in your mind. Stand up and finish what you started! Yes, you did sign up for this. Keep every thought captive. The difficulties will pass. Hunker down and weather the storm. Go back to those nurturing stages if necessary.
9. Dependent on God. Turn to God before you turn to others. Allow the spirit to rule in our hearts.
10. Truthful. Tell yourself the truth and believe it. Phil 4:13, Phil 4:19
Our purpose is to glorify God with our actions, attitudes, thoughts and motives. Jesus identifies with us. HE emptied Himself on the cross. We can find mercy and grace in our time of need.
-My HOPE is in Christ! Psalm 39:7, Psalm 71:5, Romans 12:12, Romans 15:13. Hope = to expect with confidence.
Another breakout I attended was called "I Drive a Bus" - it was about managing and thriving in a growing family. It was led by a Mom panel, and the families ranged from 4-11 kids!
-Don't meet the needs of the world; meet the needs of your husband and kids.
-All issues usually boil down to one thing: Expectations. Expectations of your spouse, kids, yourself, or you're convinced that people have expectations of you that they really don't have.
-Don't put a "love gauge" on your heart where you're measuring how much love and affection there is.
-Don't feel guilty for keeping details off of your blog. Talking one on one is totally different than putting something on the Internet. (AMEN.)
-God is saying "You and I are going to do this together."
-Since before the beginning of time, God has written the names of your children in your story. He knows! There are no mistakes!
-Adoption looks different each time. Every child is different. You will have varying experiences each time.
Here are notes from when Andrea Young (who started this retreat) spoke:
-Son was using food to see (test) how much Andrea would give to him. She had to learn to read the signals for deeper things going on, get down on his level, and work at communication (also giving options).
Ecc. 3:11. He will make ALL things beautiful in His time (bonding, adjustment, etc.).
-Here are notes from speaker Susan Hillis:
-Respond to the One who called you; not the call itself. Respond to Jesus; not just the act of adoption.
-God is saying, "Follow Me and I will equip you to parent even the hardest child."
-Speaker Beth Templeton:
-Repeat to yourself: I'm the mommy/wife/person that Jesus LOVES!
-Knowing your child's history informs and empowers your parenting.
-Adjustment, etc. is like driving a car. You focus on whats in front of you. But you also have to glance in the rear view mirrors to gain perspective based on what's behind you. (Great analogy!!)
-It's like our bodies. Every body part is facing forward. We don't hug from the back. Be oriented forward!!
-Our job as parents is to release our children from the issues of their past and help them understand what to do with it.
-Don't keep thoughts in your head about who your child is. Only let in thoughts of how God feels about your child be in your mind. There shouldn't be anything in your mind that God wouldn't be thinking. (Convicting!!)
-Our children are treasures. Sometimes you have to LOOK for that treasure under baggage, rubble, erc. But they are treasures!
Story of Gideon, Judges 6. "You are a mighty man of Valor." (Love this - to pray over Liam.)
-As moms, we're the ones who get to pour into our kids and feed them truth the most. Look into the ugly place and call out the treasure in them.
-Give your child the language to understand their story and to replace pain and lies with truth.
-What children believe in their heart is who they believe they are! Make sure they're believing truth!
-At the very end of the conference, one of our worship songs was simply "Jesus Loves Me." I really believe God ordained that for me, because we sing that to Liam every night before he goes to bed. It was like God was giving that specifically to me, to end the weekend on a very personal note.
Some of these notes might seem like they're erring on the negative side of things, but I want to explain - this retreat was for mothers who are in ALL stages of the adoption process. Also, it was for all types of adoptions, ranging from the easier side of things to extreme special needs. Adoption is a difficult road sometimes, and the speakers all knew that - they've all lived it (and are currently living it).
I'm sharing these notes with you so that maybe some other moms can take comfort in them. I'm not sharing them to imply that this has been nothing but stress and dark moments - NO! I'm guarded on this blog because my son will read this blog someday. He will see these words. I want him to know that this process has been difficult at times, but HE is not ever the source of frustration or the hard moments. The enemy doesn't want adoption to work. He doesn't want families to blend and thrive, and he doesn't want God to receive glory when brokenness has been made whole. The enemy is the reason adoption is hard sometimes. All of the mothers who were at the retreat were there to be refreshed and renewed with the knowledge that God is sovereign and has authored every single story. We identified with all that was said because we were in a safe place and could look around at each other and say, "I feel that way too!"
I'm so thankful for Created for Care and the healing and renewal it has brought to so many adoptive mothers. I hope the thoughts from these speakers have encouraged you as much they encouraged me!