Connecting with Your Incredible Adopted Child

Dear friends,

We adoptees look through glasses that are cracked by trauma and loss and oftentimes, it’s so hard to see. We need you as our journey mate. Here are some tips about entering the delicate world of your adopted kids:


  1. Acknowledge the reality of adoption from day one (with newborns, foster kids, adoptees). Talk realities!
  2. Initiate conversations about the child’s pre-adoption perceptions.
  3. Validate the adoptee’s identity by never speaking ill of the birth family. Show respect to the role of the parent but not the performance.
  4. Create a safe, non-judgmental place where the adoptee can freely express any thought or emotion. “I hate her.”
  5. Celebrate the differences between the adoptive and birth families that you see in your child.
  6. Be sensitive to the child’s unspoken need for a sense of connection to his past. A photo?
  7. Respect the adoptee’s ned to consider searching for birth relatives, or in an open adoption, for a “date” with birth mom or dad.
  8. Be emotionally present.
  9. Become an expert in helping your child learn how to regulate emotions. Tell her you want to stay and connect with her when she’s hurting.
  10. Learn how to play!


  1. Avoid the topic of adoption as long as possible. Hope that the child never asks about his/her past.
  2. Deny any differences between the adoptee and adoptive family. Tell child she fits right in because she looks like you.
  3. Correct any expression of uncomfortable emotions about adoption by “accentuating the positive.” Count your blessings. Be thankful.
  4. Pretend the adoptee’s life began on adoption day. Don’t mention the child’s birth or birth family.
  5. Enforce the unspoken “no talk rule” through various expressions of body language. A quivering lip or a shaky voice speak volumes. Staring with head down also effective.
  6. Take offense if the child uses words like “real parents.” Interpret them as a slam.
  7. Foster silent shame about the adoptee’s need to consider searching for the birth family. Sarcasm works great. Why not let sleeping dogs lie? Let bygones be bygones.
  8. Just pretend you’re really listening to child. “Lights on, but nobody home.”
  9. Avoid “doing your own emotional and spiritual healing work.” Don’t worry…it’s not about you. Really?
  10. Send your child away to room during temper tantrums.

Love to all as you parent those incredible kids!

Contact me anytime through this post.



Excerpt from Twenty Things Adopted Kids Wish Their Adoptive Parents Knew: Purchase here: Http:// 


The Real Reason Adoptees Push Themselves

I could just hear Bob saying, “You didn’t have to do that, Sherrie. Such a familiar phrase.

He said it when:

  • I accompanied a fellow adoptee up the steps of the Indiana Capitol building when I was just 10 days out of knee replacement surgery.
  • I invited neighbors in for wine and cheese on the day I got home from my second knee replacement.

You, see, I love to give, give, give.

I give because I want others to feel special or to help lift a heavy burden from their shoulders.

That’s my nature.


I also overextend, go the extra mile, and do what my heart tells me.

Just about every fellow adoptee I know has similar desires. My friend, Jody, and I laughed at ourselves one evening long ago when we gathered for a meeting. We were the only ones that brought a gift and we wondered at the time if that trait is characteristic of many adoptees.

Why is it that we are such givers? Why do we over-extend ourselves? Why do we work like dogs?

No matter what the cost, be it rain or shine, by golly, we will be there. We are as faithful as the day is long.

You Didn’t Have to Do That

Yesterday, I was reminded of Bob’s admonition.

While preparing for a meeting at our home, I baked homemade blueberry muffins, washed and used my mom’s china tea cups, picked fresh flowers from the garden, and served salami, cheese, and crackers because the meeting went longer than expected.

The dear women who attended didn’t care if we sipped coffee out of mom’s china tea cups.  They didn’t care if the muffins were homemade. They were simply there to start planning a community outreach.

But, I cared! Big time.

Adoptees Overdoing

Yes, most adoptees love to give and help meet the needs of others. But, when do they draw the line? When do they take care of themselves?
















Aha! I think we’re getting down to some issues.

Addictive Thinking

First, I get an absolute “high” when I use mom’s tea cups or bake homemade muffins. It is my way of saying, “You are special.”

The high?

That can be characteristic of addictive thinking.

Second, why am I exhausted after over giving? Why am I spent? Isn’t that what God calls us to do and be? To love others more than we love ourselves.

No…God says to love others as we love ourselves.

Because I care more about the needs of others than I do my own. I sacrifice my health for others. I would get zero on a quiz about self care.

But, what if others don’t feel special or know that burdens have lifted?


Honestly, in my exhaustion, I get mad. Really mad.

Over the years of being an over-giver, I have discovered that when I am in need, people don’t serve me coffee in their mom’s china tea cups. They don’t accompany me by post-op hobbling up Capitol steps.  Nor, do they come bringing wine and cheese when I’m a few days out of knee replacement surgery.

They never meet my expectations.

How could others be so unthoughtful?

I expected tit for tat. I thought if I did it for them, then they would certainly do it for me.

That is stinking thinking.

I believe what our hearts are saying, fellow adoptees, is: ” I want to feel special. I am the one that needs help, not only up Capitol steps, but every step of the way. I am the one who wants to have wine and cheese brought to me.

Someday, that will happen.

Jesus is preparing something phenomenal for those that love Him–a wedding banquet in heaven.

And, in my adoptee heart, I believe He’ll be serving coffee… in exquisite china tea cups.

I’ll feel special, not because of the tea cups, but because of the nail-scarred hands that pour the heavenly coffee.

I can’t wait!


Identifying Trauma Triggers of Adopted/Foster Kids

Being a newbie about this trauma stuff and being an adoptee who’s recently realized there is a smoke alarm going off her my brain, I have to think about the complexities of trauma in simple ways.

With that in mind, think about why adoptees and foster kids get triggered to the point of meltdowns or  shut downs.

Here’s a simple illustration of trauma:

Ten-year-old Jimmy, now living in his sixth foster home, rages on the floor, seemingly without reason.

His parents didn’t have a clue about the cause of the rage. Nothing could stop him.

After the rage, Jimmy’s sense of shame will spread, like mold in a musty basement. And, as he matures, he will wonder why he can’t control himself. Is there something wrong with him? Is that why he was placed for adoption?

Here’s Jimmy’s backstory.

A previous foster dad belonged to a bowling league that sported green team shirts. Jimmy dreamed of bowling on such a team.

On bowling nights, dad returned late, but Jimmy stayed awake to say goodnight.

It was then that something horrific happened…sexual abuse… that would haunt Jimmy for a lifetime. Dad ordered it to be a secret.IdenAnd so. in the future, whenever Jimmy saw the color green, his seemingly unexplainable rage engaged, like a roaring freight train. He couldn’t control himself. What was wrong with him? Did he have bad genes?

Green became the trigger.

It would take time and professional help for Jimmy to recover from this childhood trauma…or at least for his anger and shame to become manageable.

There was nothing wrong with Jimmy, even though he was convinced otherwise.

In time, through prayer and professional help, Jimmy would begin to see himself through God’s eyes…as His jewel.


Suggested resource: THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE…Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D.