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When your adopted Child Rejects You

Hey mama,

It was supposed to be easier, right?  You swooped in to pluck a child out of searing loss, and you knew it would be work, but this–this is different.  You thought the child would at least accept your hugs, want you.

Maybe you’ve waited, for longer than you should have, and here they are.  You place all your hopes and desires onto this one, who has nothing to give back.   No skills, no resources, no examples of love in their lives, ever.

I wanted to encourage you.  I know it looks like we have it all together now with the adoption, but it was a long road, and there are still times when it is hard, BUT, but I have to say, looking back on the hard year, the waiting part, then when they were home, and the screaming-freaked-out-toddler part, the hurt, the longing, the questions up in the air, at the time were so difficult, alienating.

But, take heart, it’s actually hard for me to remember now how hard it was, which I hope you take as an encouragement, there will be a result to this hard work.  And most of the goodness, joy, peace we daily experience now is actually because of how hard it was.  Keep working, keep holding, pursuing when your firing sprockets tell you to bail out.


Don’t mourn for the fleeting honeymoon period, but be thankful your are in this season of true healing, this is the rebuilding of hearts and souls that have been ripped out at a time most vulnerable.


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So when your heart hurts, I can tell you without a doubt, that God doesn’t bring pain without preparing you for something better.  Pain chips away our flesh, to love the unlovable, it turns into freedom.  You won’t need that love back, and then, after, you’ll be able to love anyone…it’ll be like nothin’.

“Well, this adult person I am meeting is just annoying, I can totally still love them, ain’t no thang.  In fact, I kind of think this ungracious adult is great, they are not spitting in my face, shrieking like a banshee when I hold them, all after I paid thousands to help them have a better life…”


It’s freedom.  You’re free.  Love away, because you found out how darn strong you were.  You can live open and generous, with no need for anyone to tell you thank you.  Maybe if someone is able to tell you thank you for loving them, it’s not actually sacrificial love, you wonder.


I know you know all this stuff, I just want to let you know that the road you are walking, it’s partnering with Jesus’ suffering.  It is not without goodness for good purpose.  Jesus was and is rejected, you are in good company.


Know too that your child has been rejected on such deep levels and in many ways it will be hard for them to allow connections for a while, but that’s ok, too.  They have spent so much time afraid and alone, learning deep down, that no one cares.  They hold their fear deep in their chest, tearing at the strings, as they suffer.  When you bring the first moments of relief, love, for the first time, it makes them realize how much they have missed out on all their life, and actually be hard for them at first.  Tell yourself, that’s ok.  And that you’ll keep loving.  Keep being their safe person.  They are not rejecting you, you are ok, they are rejecting the overwhelming feelings that they cannot handle at first, because with it comes so many other, hard feelings.


I used to tell myself with elijah and maria that any rejection I am feeling is only a fraction of the deep, permanent hurt in their hearts, that their responses are a result of something that never should have happened to them  even in this fallen world, and that I have a well of love I can continue to give, even when I don’t feel like it.  Cause even when I feel like I can’t–I can.  And you can too.  You really can, we have all we need.  It’s moments like this that actually make you realize it too, which can be refreshing.  It might be the first time you actively realize just how much love you have in your life, and this too, is strengthening, gratitude.  You can do it.  Pursue–love despite what their actions tell you.


Show love, even if you don’t feel it.  Feelings follow actions.  Plus, as you will see, feelings and emotions are only secondary anyways.  And that is freedom.



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The wafts of love and acceptance that start to permeate may cause their memories to cast into a place in their hearts that have been closed, slammed shut.  You may feel like you are getting somewhere, then spiral.  That’s ok.  Each step forward in your child’s healing is permanent.  


We love you, we support you, and you are doing a big, good thing.  You are a soldier for love and light, fight the darkness and fear trapping a heart, a precious heart waiting to come out of it’s prison.  Allow God to use you.  You may feel like you only have enough to feed the size of one lunch, but when given to the Lord first, he will use it to feed the needs times thousands.  He doesn’t call the equipped, he equips the called.  


I know it’s hard, but hard is good sometimes, even though American culture tells us the opposite.  Comfort and Ease can be a false lover.  And I know you know this, but I just want to tell you that what you know is right, not crazy.  Pretty soon when your little one cozies into you all on their own, and both your hearts are overflowing, you are going to be so glad you loved, and loved with a battered and bruised heart, than did anything else for that season.  Cause this $&*#’s real, real life.  Real change, lives changed.


And one day, this child will be unleashed out into this world with a vastly different destiny because of this love.


“In the same way I will not cause pain without allowing something new to be born,” says the Lord, Isaiah 66:9






Dedicated to our Elijah, who taught us to actually, really love someone, maybe for the very first time.
  • When they are at their worst, pursue them.  Hold them close.  Tell them the truth, they are safe and loved.
  • When you are at the end of your rope, say 5 little words, “Lord, help me love them,” and he is there to guide you, especially when it’s hard.

 // When Jesus saw his ministry drawing huge crowds, he climbed a hillside. Those who were apprenticed to him, the committed, climbed with him. Arriving at a quiet place, he sat down and taught his climbing companions. This is what he said:

You’re blessed when you’re at the end of your rope. With less of you there is more of God and his rule.

You’re blessed when you feel you’ve lost what is most dear to you. Only then can you be embraced by the One most dear to you.

You’re blessed when you’re content with just who you are—no more, no less. That’s the moment you find yourselves proud owners of everything that can’t be bought.

You’re blessed when you’ve worked up a good appetite for God. He’s food and drink in the best meal you’ll ever eat.

You’re blessed when you care. At the moment of being ‘care-full,’ you find yourselves cared for.

You’re blessed when you get your inside world—your mind and heart—put right. Then you can see God in the outside world.

“You’re blessed when you can show people how to cooperate instead of compete or fight. That’s when you discover who you really are, and your place in God’s family.

“You’re blessed when your commitment to God provokes persecution. The persecution drives you even deeper into God’s kingdom. //



I wrote this a while back, but delayed publishing for no particular reason.  Yesterday, Elijah’s OT came over and said, “Well, I think he’s graduated, he’s good now.”

“Really?” I asked her, shocked.

“Yeah,  I feel like I am just playing with him.  I mean, he is purposeful with his actions, he is not frustrated, he can sit and focus on an activity for any amount of time, do you agree?”

“Oh…” I said, “I am with him all day, I sometimes think it all runs together, but now that you say that, yes…he is doing well.  He is always happy, maybe the most joyful person I have ever met…yeah, he doesn’t get frustrated, does he?  Yeah, and he does sit and focus…”

And as I was having a moment of deep reflection, for the first time in a long time remembering that season when he was first home and most things were hard when I was interrupted, “So I wont’ come every week, but once a month for the next couple months just to monitor and check up, but he’s good, he’s good.”

Oh, how far he has come, Praise God.



Some good resources, cause you got this, and there’s a whole lotta good info:

(Also, all his OT and other services were provides to us by Sunny Days, in our home…the heck?  We did not know that prior to adopting)

-Dr. Sears: http://www.parenting.com/article/ask-dr-sears-attachment-parenting-an-adopted-child

-Baby Center: http://www.babycenter.com/0_forming-a-healthy-attachment-with-your-adopted-child_1374194.bc


This book is awesome, we highly recommend it.  It reminds us that some traditional parenting won’t work when raising a hurt child–good resource.

God pursues us into whatever dark places we’ve landed and behind whatever locked door hold us in.  He holds our unwashed and dirty hands and models how He wants us to pursue each other.  Sometimes that means picking up a phone and asking a stranger to do something that seems crazy at first.  He invites us to leave perfectly fine careers like Charlie did, and rather than having us apply for a position, He says our lives are the position.  And He says to ordinary people like me and you that instead of closing our eyes and bowing our heads, sometimes God wants us to keep our eyes open for people in need, do something about it, and bow our whole lives to Him instead.  // Bob Goff, Love Does
Don’t be overwhelmed with the needs of the world, just pick someone, and love them, tenderly.
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Comments on this entry are closed.

  • stephanja January 29, 2014, 3:35 pm

    I am bookmarking this entry and I think I will order that book later!

    • tinyteam January 30, 2014, 3:04 pm


  • Annette Paulsen January 29, 2014, 3:48 pm

    I like how you so eloquently state that we must recognize that love is an action which is followed by feelings. Spot on and, as you point out, an action that can be applied to everyone we come into contact with. It can be difficult to see Christ in those we come into contact with, indeed even in ourselves. We used attachment parenting with our children and I highly recommend it. I imagine Dr. Sears’ advice for adoptive families is as good as we found it to be for our nonadoptive family. Annette

    • tinyteam January 30, 2014, 3:05 pm

      It’s the stuff we know in our heads, but then when needing to do it, is so hard, yet freeing, right? Yes, we like Dr. Sears, too 🙂

  • Christie Minich January 29, 2014, 7:37 pm

    This was such a great post!
    We are adoptive parent also….. our youngest daughter, who will be fourteen on Sunday, has been home almost 3 years. (March)
    Things are SO MUCH easier than 3 years ago when she first came home, after 2 disruptions……. 🙁
    We didn’t know if she would heal, and the honeymoon period was about 3 days. 🙂
    But OH how the Lord has blessed her and us!
    We were experienced adoptive parents, but she took us to a whole new level in unconditional love. 🙂
    And she is THRIVING!

    • tinyteam January 30, 2014, 3:06 pm

      Oh bless her heart, two disruptions, I can’t even imagine. Good for you guys, I BET she is thriving. Good work, mama

  • Rachel January 31, 2014, 9:11 am

    Thank you for sharing this. My husband and I are thinking about adopting in the future and enjoy reading these honest accounts life on the other side.

  • Joann Woolley (@sign4baby) February 2, 2014, 10:43 pm

    Amy this is such a wonderfully written account of what love is. I remember when you first shared your adoption story. You are a wonderful light to others who do not want to travel in the dark.

  • Melissa February 15, 2014, 2:01 pm

    Um, this post is amazing.

  • Jennifer Kneip May 20, 2014, 11:23 am

    Beautifully, powerfully spoken truth for anyone, not just adoptive parents. As one who has walked the exact road you have written of here, I am deeply moved and grateful to you for writing down and sharing what God has shown me to be so profoundly true. Thank you. God bless you! Romans 8:28

  • Sandy August 15, 2014, 7:27 pm

    This is officially my favorite post ever. I absolutely love every single word!

  • Lauren Flynn April 24, 2016, 5:21 pm

    Re-read this for no particular reason; was just bored and browsing your old posts. It made me cry. Just what I needed to hear after a difficult week with my foster son. Thank you!

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