For adoptive or foster parents, getting through the day can sometimes be a struggle. Daily challenges can range from dealing with children who act out as a result of their traumatic past, suffer from disorders like fetal alcohol spectrum disorder, attachment struggles, and other special needs. Or simply, the parent is dealing with an unsupportive family, foster children who don’t understand or respect established family boundaries, or children who are defiant or aggressive. Whatever the concern, parents need to know they are not alone. One person who understands those struggles is Mike Berry.
Berry, a husband and father of eight adopted children, co-creator of the award-winning blog Confessions of an Adoptive Parent and the adoptive and foster support site Oasis Community, understands the rollercoaster ride of raising adopted and fostered children. Many of the children often come from heartbreaking situations or are dealing with challenging diagnoses. Berry understands well the deep love adoptive parents have for their child as well as the soul-crushing hopelessness they can experience.
Berry shares in his book, Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, about the difficulties that come from being a foster and adoptive parent.
“This is a difficult journey. It’s filled with unimaginable light and beauty, but it’s also demanding. It’s hard to parent children through major attachment issues. It’s hard to stay positive when your child rages and traumatizes the rest of your family. It’s hard to contend with judgmental remarks from neighbors or emails from teachers who think you’re the problem. I know exactly how this feels. I know the wounds you’ve sustained all too well.”
In Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, Berry also addresses the unique needs of adoptive and foster parents. He offers an in-depth look at the joys and extreme challenges he and his wife, Kristen, have faced as adoptive parents, encourages those who are weary on the journey, and points readers to the only source of hope.
“Most of us enter the adoptive or foster parenting journey with hope. And we’re filled with passion and energy. For good reason, too–we’ve been called to do this. But it may not take very long before you find yourself exhausted and out of gas. Six months or a year or two into your journey, you may come to the realization that this is really, really tough. I know, because I’ve been there— many times…The hope that my wife and I have found is no one else but Jesus, the lover of our souls, the healer of our greatest wounds. He gives you and me—parents on this wearisome road—the strength we need to overcome any trial in His name. He also gives our children hope.”
“”Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. 4 For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love 5 he bpredestined us for adoption to sonshipc through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— “ Ephesians 1:3-5
Turn to Jesus. Whether you are a foster parent, adoptive parent, considering to become a foster or adoptive parent or parent, the reality is that we all need Jesus to help us become better parents. From toddler tantrums to teenage rebellion, every stage of a child’s life presents different challenges. Pray and ask God to give you wisdom and His truth for your situation. Ask Him to give you His eyes to see your child when they are acting out and when they are “perfect.” It can be helpful to talk to other parents that have similar situations. Some churches have adoptive/foster support groups. Many churches have prayer groups where you can pray for your children.
Support a foster or adoptive parent. Pray and ask God how you can support a foster or adoptive parent. It might be offering to make a meal or bring groceries over. It could be babysitting the other siblings, so the parents can bond with the new child and adjust to the family. It might be coming alongside the family and mentoring the children or helping to take them to activities. It could be rallying your small group or a group of families to help support the needs of the family. From a crib to clothing, foster and adoptive parents often need items on a short notice.
Become a foster or adoptive parent. While everyone is not called to this, reflect and see if God is calling you to become a foster or adoptive parent. Pray and ask Him to show you through His Holy Spirit. Ask others what their experience has been like. Read Confessions of an Adoptive Parent. It may not be easy, but walk in faith if God has called your family to do this.
For more on Confessions of an Adoptive Parent, click here.