Tag Archives: Orphan mentality

Feeling Like No-one Really Cares

Have you ever noticed that your adopted or foster child seems to have held onto orphan thinking? Orphan thinking can lead to choices, statements and behaviors that are troublesome. I’ve learned about seven specific indicators of an orphan spirit or orphan heart (there may be more). Yet these indicators can be found not only in orphaned children with traumatic backgrounds, but in each of us. We are all born with an orphan heart and may display one or more of these indicators. How can this awareness help you? I’m glad you asked!

We humans tend to distance ourselves from those who behave in ways that upset our sense of self, preferring to see ourselves as somehow beyond that particular risk. But an awareness of the orphan heart in each of us and in ourselves opens us up to more and deeper potential for connection to our children — children who may have disturbing thinking and behaviors which on the surface may seem bizarre and difficult to understand, even beyond understanding.

One of the seven indicators of an orphan heart that I have learned of is the following:

  • You struggle to trust that God cares about your cares; that he is working things out for your good.

Does this describe you? Your child?

My children with orphan thinking may think or talk about me as their enemy more than their loving parent, refusing to trust my love and care. This is more than the typical eye roll as a teen gets into that stage of feeling like their parents are out of touch with today’s reality and living in the dark ages. Rather, it is a deep-seated doubt springing up occasionally or constantly near the surface. It’s a doubt that says, not only does your parent not understand you, but they really don’t care, or care enough, about you – – regardless of the evidence to the contrary. It causes them to mistrust and misinterpret the parent’s motives.

But what about you? I want you to do a little investigating. Notice any time you think or talk about God as your enemy. You may not think you ever do this but pay attention. Do you ever talk about how angry God would be if you did such and such, or how he must be mad at you since such and such happened? Do you ever express fear of God’s punishment or reluctance to share your needs with God, refusing to depend on him to meet or even care about them? For example, praying minimalistic prayers like “Oh God, I’m not asking for much and I know you are too busy for me; I’m just asking for a few crumbs and I’ll get by”. Or “I don’t want to bother you God with these needs over here; I know I should take care of them myself”. Do you think you have to do certain things to stay on God’s “good side”? Take a week and notice, writing it down, anytime you catch yourself speaking or even thinking things that express doubts that you have about God’s care. Dig into why you have those doubts and see what God’s Word has to say about it.

If you do notice yourself doubting God’s care for you, you can repent. You can also understand a bit more how your child may be inclined to doubt your care for them. Think about how you feel. You might want to journal about it. Another thing you might do is to regularly repeat an affirmation based on God’s Word that will help revise your thinking.

Affirmation:
“God cares about my cares!”

Cast all your cares [anxieties] on him, for he cares for you.

I Peter 5:7

Write down the affirmation and the verse in your journal. Also write the affirmation where you’ll see it daily and recite it aloud to combat the orphan thinking and doubt of God’s care that you’ve noticed in yourself. Ask God for a change of heart and thinking. How can you reflect this change in the things you say? Write down alternatives beside the items you wrote down earlier that indicated your doubt and orphan thinking.

I hope this helped you understand how our orphan hearts are more the same as our children’s than they are different. The more we can identify with our children the better we can empathize and connect with them.

I plan to share the other seven indicators in follow-up posts. But to get my list of affirmations corresponding to all seven indicators of an orphan heart now, click the button below. Also, I’d love to hear about your experience using the affirmations! Get the Orphan Heart Affirmations list with the blue button below.

Rage Against Love

So WHO exactly are we fighting? ?

The post-adoptive home can sometimes feel like an ongoing war, like you have to PROVE yourself as parent. (Did anybody ever really doubt that you were the rightful parent of your biological children?)  It’s one thing for a legal decree, for a declaration of undying love and commitment, for being there for daily routines, ups and downs, and all that goes with parenting and loving your child, but somewhere deep in the mind of two of mine, they have a deep-seated belief that I am not their mom.

How do I know? Aside from the verbal screaming in hateful voices “You are NOT my MOM!!!” and “I HATE YOU!!”  along with other similar endearments (insert sarcasm), my training, research and counseling on Reactive Attachment Disorder.  Plus it’s not just a passing phase or exaggerated in the moment push button thing.  It doesn’t go away, just maybe hides under the surface a bit.  Not every adopted or foster child develops R.A.D, thankfully, but it is a REAL condition.

Things to Learn & Do Right Away

If you have a child in your life who may have Reactive Attachment Disorder, I recommend doing your own due diligence to familiarize yourself with not just the basics, but the practical outworkings and recommendations for steps and strategies to deal with the effects on the attachment disordered child AND the people closest to them who may at any time become a target.  And realize that the child may appear VERY different with different people.  Moms are primary targets in general, but it can also be dads if dad is the primary caretaker/nurturer.

Boundaries are important, and implementing boundaries BEFORE they are crossed takes some forethought.  It is a lot easier to loosen stricter boundaries when appropriate than to tighten them when things get out of hand.

Respite care?  Yes that would be nice.  Unfortunately, it is not until the stress has mounted or a crisis ensued that it becomes urgent.  And if the children are not well-behaved it is a big chore for parents to arrange for regular time apart, for the child/children to be cared for by someone else who may not comprehend all their different needs or issues.

Long Range View & Goals

I recommend a long term view, learning what you can, plugging into a support group and doing the work to set up respite care with regular visits in non-crisis times so that it is available when you most need it.  Plan for the worst; hope for the best; don’t be caught off guard.

In addition, I recommend intentional self-care, marriage care and keeping separate time with the child’s siblings on a frequent, regular basis, not letting their issues dominated the household.

Fighting against the child, spouse, friends and extended family?  Teachers, neighbors?  Legal issues?  All of these are all too common in the adoption community.

Adoptive parents as you recall jump through many, many hoops to get through the process and so the bulk of them are not going to just be “bad” parents.  Sadly, there is not a lot of support for raising an attachment disordered child and keeping the family intact.

Truthful Perspective

To answer the question posed at the beginning of this post — Who are we fighting? — I’d like to suggest that while it may be anybody and everybody at times, primarily it is and should be recognized to be our mortal enemy, Satan, the father of lies.

1 Peter 5:8 tells us:  “Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.”

Satan lies to my kids and reinforces the lies that they have already believed.  Satan lies to parents telling us we are failures.  Satan lies to others who are looking for someone to blame and accusations fly.  Satan says you are not good enough and that you are not loved.

BUT GOD tells the TRUTH!  And I have to hang on to the truth to be able to survive, just as my children need the truth to believe they are loved and valuable and as much a part of my family as anyone else.  And that that is GOOD!

I have to know and hang on to the truth that I am GOD’S CHILD, and dearly loved and provided for by him, no matter the lies that I am told.  Through any difficulty, God is my strength. I don’t have all the answers, but I know who does!

As my children learn that they are loved by their earthly parents, my earnest desire is that it will help them be receptive to the belief that they are treasured and loved by their Heavenly Father.  I believe God can heal them so that they will be open to receiving and giving love without all the resistance they now have, due to the trauma they have endured.  Someday they will understand that even then, their loving Creator was sustaining them, and he has good plans for them and their future.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help.  There are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.  If you think it might be helpful for your family to learn more about these products feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to fill you in.

Self-sabotage

20171226_092851.jpgThis may seem an odd topic for Christmas time.  But it’s an issue I think many people face, including many once orphans.

It is incredibly frustrating to a parent or one who is trying to motivate or help the child who seems bent on self-sabotage! My best conclusion is to work around it as much as possible.  And let myself be okay with that!

I do recommend (to myself as well as to you) to be aware that behind this behavior is a need. Perhaps a deep, hidden wound that is crying out for attention, soothing, healing. Perhaps fearful feelings of the unknown, overwhelm, loss of control, or pressure of expectations.

“But I will restore you to health and heal your wounds,’ declares the LORD” ~ Jeremiah 30:17

Just as with a surface wound, like a gash on the knee after a bicycle wreck, the thought of it being touched and  further pain, can result in a flinch or pulling away from the very treatment that would bring relief and speed healing.

(At the risk of overdoing this analogy, I ask your indulgence.)

We can see the open wound and know it needs cleaning. Hopefully we can explain to our resistant child that it needs cleansing, treating and bandaging, in a simple, gentle way. Hopefully they will trust us enough to cooperate and bear the fearful touch that they are so wary of for the brief moments necessary.

But with the hidden wounds that show up in frustrating behaviors it is not always so clear what is needed or how to go about getting cooperation from our child.

Because the underlying wound is hidden, it is likely that neither the child nor the adult completely comprehends what the wound is or exactly how to “treat” it.

Why my 15 year old daughter decapitated all the gingerbread cookies is just one of her baffling behaviors.  Her refusal to come out of her bedroom for our simple Christmas family meal and the next day skipping out on going across town to spend holiday time with extended family from out of town is backwards to what we would normally expect. Plus declaring she doesn’t like any of her presents seems strange!

From what I have gleaned from other parents, this is a mild version of the types of behaviors many children have, especially on special occassions.

My youngest child has an all or nothing reaction that is self sabotaging.  If he cannot have something now it must mean never. If he cannot have all it must mean none.

Unraveling the effects of early childhood trauma and helping the children heal from it is a long term process.  For me, it has taken a great deal of prayer, research, commitment and self control as well as active listening to arrive at some glimpses into the woundedness of my children.  Every layer of healing is progress!

I am happy we made it through Christmas with as little overall turmoil as we did.  One of the lessons I have been practicing is that my joy comes from the inside out.  It cannot depend upon the emotional state of my children or their behaviors.  The more they are out of control, the more controlled and non-reactive I must be.  The more I have to find my peace in my relationship with God.

Two or three of my children exhibit behaviors associated with Reactive Attachment Disorder.  While I am not a doctor and do not presume to know all the ins and outs of RAD, as a parent, my opinion is that at least some of these behaviors stem from their traumatic (painful) background in which their trust in adults, primarily those who were supposed to protect, provide for and love them, was broken.  Broken trust is a difficult thing for an adult to deal with – -ask anyone who has been through a divorce — but for a young child, who may have been physically injured/damaged by abuse and/or neglect, the broken trust trains their young brain to view the world as suspect, ESPECIALLY those who get “too close”.  The self-sabotaging reactions  (which seem to them as self-preservation) to perceived threats are sometime difficult to unravel.

Baby steps are progress.  Once hidden pain points have been partially unravelled in starts and stops in our family. We have also made some great baby steps in healing this year.

My job is to protect the progress.

I hope my end of year ramblings have given you pause to think about the possible pain points behind any of your children’s self-sabotaging behaviors and helped you some way.

ASIDE:  By the way, I have found a lot of success in general in calming anxiety and impulsive behaviors, and to support focus and overall health with a group of natural wellness products that support not only my adopted children, but the entire family!  They are available for purchase through me with Oils for Orphans. If you would like to know more just let me know and I’d be happy to share what is working for us!

Wishing you & your families —

HAPPY NEW YEAR!

 

 

 

 

 

Another Analogy

restaurant

Do your kids joke and groan about your teaching style? I frequently use analogies and comparisons to make a point.  You know, Jesus used parables, a little story to teach a lesson for parallel situations, like an analogy!  So analogies cannot be all bad despite the rolling eyes and moans and groans from my kiddos.

I remember one analogy (not one I made up) in which it is said that a poor person is given an invitation to an exclusive restaurant by the owner, to come anytime to dine and eat all he wants without charge! Wow, what a gift – one he could never afford on his own.

Yet the poor person, accustomed as he is to being homeless and scrounging for food, opts to eat the scraps from the trash bins in back of the restaurant.  You may think, why — was he would be embarrassed to wear his raggedy clothing inside? But the owner had thoughtfully provided a new suit of clothes, expertly tailored to fit the poor man to which he could have changed into anytime he wished to come and dine in the restaurant.  In fact, EVERYTHING had been provided for the poor man to be able to come in and dine without any expense on his part.

Yet he would not.

I remember this analogy being presented to illustrate that we as Christians sometimes are like the poor man who contented himself with the scraps when he could have been feasting!  His “dine in for free ticket” was being wasted.  And we sometimes have a similar outlook when we fail to grasp our position as dearly loved children of the Most High God!

I can relate the analogy to my adopted kids as well, when they are seemingly blind and oblivious to the love we have for them and the opportunities that they have now.  It is like they prefer to eat out of the trash cans.  This is the orphan mentality at work; the self-doubt and denial of their own worth.  It is not exclusive to the adopted children, but seems deeper and more pervasive with them.  And while they are in this frame of mind, they doubt and discount anything that would counter it, and they absorb anything that would reinforce their negative thinking, magnifying and distorting it as well.

Recently some of my family has begun volunteering with our homeschool group to help with a meal once a month for the homeless.  I believe serving others will help us have a better perspective on our own life and is the right thing to do when we have the opportunity.  It is good to see that people are people and to realize that we all have basic needs.  Even so, it is easy for children and adults alike to get into a detached mentality of “them” and “us”.  We have a way of throwing up this self-protective wall that keeps us detached from those we think are somehow different than we are.

In identifying the struggles and needs of my children, particularly my adopted children, I have had to come face to face with some elements of my own life that were previously under the surface.  At any given time I may also demonstrate an orphan mentality, rather than the beloved child of God mentality.

Affirmations, written down and read and prayed over, have helped me to overcome this.  I can still slip though.  When I read through my affirmations I can BELIEVE them because I really do know that they are based in TRUTH and in God’s perspective he has provided to me through his Word.  I will continue to teach the children/teens/young adults (and pray that God provides others to speak into their lives) how loved they are and how precious they are, and what God’s view is.  I pray that someday they will believe it, thoroughly.  Their foundation of love seems shaky or even non-existant at times to them, but I know my love for them is firm because it is not my human love, but God’s eternal and unconditional love that makes it firm.

1 John 3:1 says: See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.”

 

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help.  There are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids cope with overwhelming emotions, to manage and focus.  If you think it might be helpful for your family to learn more about these products feel free to contact me and I’d be happy to fill you in.

 

“Orphan mentality”

You may be wondering just what is meant by the term, “orphan mentality”.  As an orphan advocate and adoptive parent, I have observed (along with many others who are much more expert than I) some particular differences that are often manifested in someone having an orphan viewpoint or mentality rather than the viewpoint of a person who has a confident assurance that they are a beloved child. We deal with these types f differences day in and day out.

While children, orphans from traumatic backgrounds, may demonstrate traits of an orphan mentality more strongly, more intensely and/or more overtly than others in general, I have found that it is not strictly limited to orphans.

Here are a couple of examples:

First, a child who has an orphan mentality, though he is in a family with loving parents may view a minor correction as a sign that he is not loved or valued, whereas a child who is confident of his parents’ love and acceptance may feel a slight sting of guilt at disappointing a parent but understand that they are still deeply loved and valued, and can be taught that even the correction is made from the parent’s loving concern for their well-being.

Secondly, a child confident of their parents’ love might show annoyance at the correction, or even voice their disagreement, but still have an underlying understanding that regardless of the parent-child conflict there is a foundation of unconditional love and acceptance; whereas the orphan mentality says they have done nothing wrong, are their own judge of what is right for them, and their disdain for this parent who dares attempt to correct them. It has to do with the foundation. The foundation of love and acceptance, protection and provision, safety and security must be built but it is much, much easier to establish when there is not already an opposing foundation from a traumatic background and in place.

As a child of God I know I am valued and dearly loved by my Creator, yet I sometimes get into a bit of an orphan mentality, feeling like I am unloved, or like I have not done anything wrong and should not be corrected. The stronger the foundation of love and acceptance, the more consistently in touch with God I am, the quicker and easier to overcome this type of sinkhole thinking.

I have noticed as well that the orphan mentality is self-perpetuating to a degree. A person feels like the world is against them and so they find “evidence” to back up this belief and it grows stronger and stronger. This tendency makes it hard to battle and overcome.

Orphan or not, belonging to the family of God is available to everyone who sincerely calls on the name of Jesus Christ for forgiveness. That is because you are dearly loved and precious, so precious and valuable that God sent his son, Jesus to suffer and die in order to have a relationship with you.

Matthew 7:25  says, “The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.”  Jesus is the rock that provides a firm foundation for us as well as our children.

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Real life is often emotional and kid’s from hard places often have overwhelming emotions.  As a parent, I want to help my children learn to use positive coping skills and give them tools to help. While not a substitute for professional help when needed, there are some natural products we have begun using in our family that make a big difference in helping kids (and their parents) be ready to learn appropriate ways of coping with their big feelings, to focus and be more settled.  Let me know if you are interested in learning more about specific products.

If you like this blog post you may like to check out and follow the Yesterday’s Orphan Facebook public page here, or if you are a parent/caregiver and would like to join our closed member Families group you can do so here.

Lastly, if you are interested in the natural products I’m using to support our health while avoiding many common toxins comment and ask me.  I’m happy to share!