Control and Security

What is one thing that all adopted children have in common?

There are millions of different stories, millions of different challenges but what is one thing that they all have in common?

At some point in their life, there was a sudden and, for them, unexpected change in who was “in control” of their lives.

And for many of the adopted children, there was a time in life where they felt that no one was in control and it scared them.

It scared them deep. Deep down to the pit of their stomachs.

In most cases, it scarred their brains and caused physiological changes to the way their brains process information and emotions.

The lack of safety, lack of perceived safety, lack of feeling like someone is “adulting” and is in charge can continue to cause problems for them for a long time to come. How so?

I run into with my own kids but also with other people I talk to where their kids (or my own) are having behavioral issues and it’s not really what it seems.

What it seems is – “Teenager X has turned in to a bad attitude cocky little 8th grader.”

What it really is – “Teenager X is terrified about going to a new school and going to high school and is showing their fear and lack of control by having a bad attitude and mouthing off.”

What it seems is – “Mr. 10 year old refuses to listen to anything his mom tells him to do – even though he used to be a well behaved (relatively so) kid.”

What it really is – “Mr. 10 year old is used to going to school and listening to the teachers. Now he’s home with a “baby sitter” – and that baby sitter is very timid, not very imaginative and lets him do whatever he wants.” That “freedom” is scary and makes him feel like no one is in control.

What it seems is – “Miss 12 year old can’t handle riding the school bus – she’s always causing problems and mouthing off to the bus driver, bossing the other girls and the younger kids around and getting in trouble.”

What it really is – “Miss 12 year old can’t handle riding the school bus – because it’s an hour of her day where she feels like no one is in control and the insecurity of it causes her to make bad choices.”

It’s not a matter of actual safety, it’s a matter of what I call “perceived safety.” They don’t feel safe.

If your child suddenly changes behavior or suddenly escalates what they were doing (and I’m not talking major danger scenarios), look at what has been going on in life lately. Has something happened that threatened their feeling of safety? Has something changed in terms of daily structure in life? Have you relaxed your parenting style and given them too much control over what they are doing when and how?

Control and Perceived Safety. A lack of feeling like someone (parent, Grandparent, teacher, child care provider) is in control can lead to feelings of a lack of perceived safety. They might be able to acknowledge that they know in their head they are safe, but in their hearts, they can still feel the lack of safety.

Increase the control, increase the structure and you will probably see some improvement in the issues.

Because you will see your child feeling safer.

It doesn’t work with everything, it’s not a major problem solver but it can be a significant step in the right direction.

Try it – you might like it.


I Don’t Like It Either

A hypothetical Q & A between an adoptive dad and his adopted son of another race.  (Any resemblance to any real live people and their situation is totally accidental)

“Dad, why is my skin darker than yours?”

“Dad, why didn’t my birth mom want to keep me?”

“Dad, why did I have to be adopted?”

“Dad, why haven’t we talked to my “other family?”

“Dad, why didn’t you try to help my birth mom out so she could keep me?”

“Dad, why do I feel angry at my birth mom and angry at you too?”

“Dad, why do I love someone I don’t remember and someone who abandoned me?” 

“Dad, how can you be okay with me loving my birth mom and loving you and Mom?”

“Dad, why do I feel so different from all of my friends at school?”

(These are hypothetical questions and are NOT actual questions)

“Son, let me explain.  Your skin is darker than mine because your birth mom, your first mom, is from a different country than we are and so that’s why your skin is darker.   Most people from ______ have darker skin.”

“Son, your birth mom didnt keep you because she wasn’t able to care for you, wasn’t able to give you a good life and so we adopted you and make you one of our own.  It’s not because of something you did, it’s not because of you, it’s because she couldn’t care for you.”

“Son, your mom and I were given the privilege of adopting you because, like we talked, your birth mom couldn’t care for you and someone needed to.   So we did.   We do.   And we will.”

“Son, we haven’t talked to your birth family, not because we don’t want to, not because we want to “keep you all for ourselves” but because we don’t know where your birth family is.   The records that were kept are not real accurate and it’s hard to find people without good records.”

“Son, we didn’t help your birth mom so she could keep you because, by the time we met you, by the time the adoption was started, the process was too far along and we weren’t able to make contact with your mom to be able to reach out to her.”

“Son, it’s okay to feel angry at your birth mom.   The disruption and the trauma (explain what trauma is) that her decision to give you a better life has caused you gives you the right to be mad.   Your life is radically different because of her decision and that’s hard.”

“Son, go ahead and be mad at me.   Yes, right now it appears that your mom and I took you away from your family, took you away from the people you know and took you away from everything that you knew.   I’d be angry if someone did that too.

But that’s not the whole story.    The whole story is that because of the things that happened to your birth mom and to you, you were stuck in a very difficult situation.    We have felt that God was urging and pushing us to step up and be the parents that you were missing because of the things that happened.   Some day, at some point, you’ll figure out that we did what we did because we love you and that the bad things that happened are less bad because of it.”

“Son, your birth mom, your bio mom, your first mom, whatever term you want to use, gave you a gift.   A huge gift, a gift of life and part of her is and always will be part of you.    So, it’s okay to “love” your birth mom even in spite of what happened and the decisions she made and the things that happened to her.”

“Son, when we adopted you, we didn’t adopt you to replace your birth mom.   We didn’t adopt you to make you totally forget about an important part of your past.   There’s room for you to love her and love us.    There’s room for us to allow you to have room for her in your heart too.”

“Son, it’s okay to feel like you are different from the rest of the kids at school.   Let me share a couple of things with you that you probably will have a hard time believing:

  • Virtually every high schooler and middle schooler in the world has, at more than one time, felt like they were different.   You aren’t nearly as alone as you might think with that.
  • If you could see the stories behind the kids that you go to school with, I think you would be amazed and saddened at the things that have happened to many of them.   
  • There are many things that you have had to go through that no child should have to go through.   I’m sorry about that.   I wish I could change it, but I can’t.   I don’t like what you had to go through.   Actually, it really bothers me that these things happened to you and they have left scars.   

I don’t like it either.”

I really don’t like it either.


for all us hope-ers: when things aren’t working out as we’d hoped | A Holy Experience

In a world full of pain, a world full of feeling like we need to “do something,” a rock solid reminder……

Pain begs us to believe that only action can end our ache — when actually only God can.

Action doesn’t end pain — God does.

Source: for all us hope-ers: when things aren’t working out as we’d hoped | A Holy Experience

On Learning To Love Offensively (For Those Weary From The Fight) | john pavlovitz

Are you weary?  Good stuff from John…….

More and more, I simply live to be the antidote to the things I find hurtful or damaging in the world, rather than arguing with those I believe are being hurtful or damaging. There are certainly times to identify dangers and to call out injustice, but those pale in comparison to the countless moments that simply require personal goodness…..

Maybe you’re intentionally walking away from the war trenches, so that you can move toward the hurting, the unloved, the waiting—and respond.

If so, welcome.

This is the beginning of a holy movement in the world.

This is the stuff real revolutions are made of. 

May you fight well.

May you learn to love offensively.

Source: On Learning To Love Offensively (For Those Weary From The Fight) | john pavlovitz



That’s the question.

But that’s not the only question.   That’s actually only part of the question.

Why what?

Why is the earth round?

Why do the Chicago Cubs consistently struggle?

No, I’m thinking a lot closer to home. 

A lot closer to daily life.

Why do I write?   Why do I write about what I write about?

Two questions.   Related issues……

Why do I write?   It reminds me a lot of a story my dad has told me.   He was a young boy, maybe 3 or 4 years old, and he was working with my grandpa on a Saturday.    They were working in the garage and in the yard.   And my dad had a LOT of questions about everything.

Questions that he kept asking my grandpa at the rate of about 3 every 2 minutes with barely time to answer them in between.  

My grandpa was a very calm and patient man.   Most of the time.   That day wasn’t one of those times.

He reached his limit and turned to my dad and said,  “Howard, why do you ask questions all of the time?”

My dad looked at him and said, very simply, “Because I have questions!”

And what do you do with questions?   You ask them.

What do you do with words?   You either say them or you write them.

What do you do with things you’ve learned?   You either share them or no one benefits from your experiences.

What do you do with feelings?  You share them by either saying them or writing them.

That’s why I write.  I write because I have words, I have questions, I have opinions, I have experiences and I want to urge more people to think about these things, to wrestle with these things, to help me think about these things.

And for all of us to be in a better place because we’ve brought them up, we’ve wrestled with them, we’ve thought, we’ve planned and and we’ve worked through the ideas and the thoughts.

I don’t write because I think I know it all.   Hah, my brothers taught me a LONG time ago that I don’t know everything.

I write because I feel passionately about certain things.    Certain things that have impacted me and my family.

Certain things that I feel I can’t be quiet about.

Children who have been harmed.

Injustice in this world.

The Church and the good and the bad.

Spiritual Warfare.

These are why I write and what I care about.    I don’t believe that God wants any of us to be silent about the things we see and feel strongly about.

That’s why I write – and I thank you for being part of those who read it.