Examining Adoption Resources

One of the reasons I encouraged Courtney to share her struggles (our struggles, really, but mainly her voice) was because we both saw a void in the world of adoption: adoptive parents could admit to the beauty of adoption but had to stay silent about the painful and ugly. Or if they admitted to it, it had to always be in the past tense or with a gloss of pseudo-spirituality to cover the despair we so often felt. In shedding light on our journey, our goal was that we would point readers–namely those with similar experiences–to the sufficiency of Jesus for their situation and the goodness of our God, who knows exactly what it’s like to take broken children into his family.

Along the way, though, we’ve been pointed to different resources that were meant to assist in this adoption path. The biggest resource we’ve been directed to is The Connected Child and the supplementary materials available at empoweredtoconnect.org. I’ve read the book and sifted through a great deal of the material on the website. I find myself grateful to Empowered to Connect (ETC) for their efforts to help out struggling foster and adoptive parents. I love their emphasis on compassion for the kids in our care, because it’s so easy in the thick of life to sin against our kids through anger and frustration. I also really appreciate their emphasis on clear, concise instructions to simplify the message of our parenting. Along with that, I like their approach of creating a script of phrases to use with kids that have clearly defined meanings so that our kids have the best chance of trying to understand the instruction we’re giving.

Having said that, it may seem strange that we’ve not mentioned ETC before. We’ve not spoken about those resources because we’ve simply not found them as helpful as others have. At first, we thought we’d stay silent about our dissent, but upon further reflection, Courtney and I agreed that it might be good to detail why we’ve not found the resources helpful.

This isn’t about slamming the efforts of brothers and sisters in Jesus. Like I said, there’s much I’m grateful about with ETC and the other adoption resources out there. But we also want to point out that perhaps the efforts and methods aren’t really taking our kids where we want them to go. Despite the many great practical reminders and suggestions, I can’t advocate for ETC’s overall approach. In the next several posts, I hope to give more detail to our objections.

I’m honestly nervous to do this, because I’m going to offer some critique of a well-known and well-loved adoption resource. That alone is shaky territory and I have no desire to alienate our brothers and sisters simply over methodology. But aside from quibbling with some methods, my main objections have to do with the foundation and mindsets behind ETC. And so I critique because I also want to tell my Jesus family when I think the prevailing resource has some serious deficiencies. I think we have more to offer our children, adopted or otherwise.

Of course, criticism is easy. It’s nearly effortless to tear down and so much harder to build up. It is my prayer that my posts will not just tear down, leaving another void. Instead I hope to build up along the way an alternative view, one I think is grounded and centered in King Jesus, crucified and risen, and offering a hope that is simultaneously present and eternal.

Here are all the posts in our adoption series:

  1. Getting Real About Adoption
  2. Loving the Unlovable
  3. Sin in the Adopted Child
  4. Support for the Adoptive Parent
  5. Broken-Hearted Parents
  6. Some Clarifying Thoughts on Our Adoption
  7. Examining Adoption Resources (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 1)
  8. Normal and Healthy? (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 2)
  9. A Matter of Foundations (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 3)
  10. The Sins of Neurology  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 4)
  11. Idol Swapping  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 5)
  12. Setting the Course  (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 6)
  13. Another Way Forward (reviewing The Connected Child, Pt 7)
  14. The Therapy Our Children Need
  15. Who Are You Calling Normal?
  16. Optional Adoption
  17. How to Adopt for Almost Free (And No Fundraising!)
  18. What About “Those” Kids?
  19. Trying to Make Them Lovable
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