December 20, 2013

Rebellion, Backsliding, Demons or Post-Adoption Issues?

Controversy Alert!

I know I’m fixin’ to walk where angels fear to trod. Chuck Norris said he wouldn’t even go there. 

I ate my literary Wheaties this morning.  
Buckle up people, hold on to the bar. 

Just a word to any of you who may want to go off on a rabbit trails that are irrelevant to the post... 

Don't. This is an adoption blog. So what we talk about here is in the context of adoption. This is not the place to discuss Justin Beiber's retirement.

Disclaimer for unbelievers:

Why do I share on Christian subjects when at least half of the readers here do not subscribe to any religion, many of them being atheists? Because part of the goal of this blog is expanding the Christian understanding of adoption. So please, unbelievers - have respect for the goal of today's post. 

And for the believers:

I’m a Christian and a pastor. But I am not here to argue theological issues.
I'm not that smart.

There are people (adoptees and nons alike) who e-mail  me as a result of reading this blog and  want to get into debates with me about the Trinity, eternal security, baptism, marriage, Pentecostalism, whether I baptize people in Jesus name or in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Ghost, and much more. Go get some ice cream. Be happy. Live a little. Really, it's okay to breathe, my friend.

Let me say, I have my well- thought-out beliefs on all of those issues, but Adoptee Restoration is not the context in which I am going to debate it, publicly or privately.

Today's Topic As It Relates to Adoption:

In this post I’m going to discuss three things in relation to adoption:

1) Rebellion
2) Backsliding
3) Demons

No, I am not on drugs. Nor has someone hacked my blog.

I've had experience with all three things.

I’ve been in rebellion.  My mother-in-law is wrong. I'm not an angel.

I’ve  backsliddenI've said before, I am not a Pentecostal Mother Teresa.

I’ve cast demons out, although one has never inhabited me. My kids might debate this after the times they've left the kitchen a mess and I've exploded on them about it.

So let me say, my personal view is,  all three of those things exist.

But I am not here to debate this with you if you believe those things don't exist.

Photo Credit: ToastyTreat, Flickr

So please, I beg you, don’t send me mail about it. Because I’m just going to say this:

Dear friend,

That’s not what the post was about. I’m not going to debate you on this issue. You might want to check out the blogs where they debate theology and stuff like that. Have a wonderful day.

You are loved,

How Do These 3 Things Relate to Adoption?

I'm addressing Christian adoptive parents today.

I want to share with you that many times, a child is struggling with post-adoption issues. Sadly, instead of being properly diagnosed, it is blamed  on one of these three things. The child can be left untreated and suffer needlessly.

I've had my share of spiritual struggles, as both a child and an adult. 

And, I encountered a completely separate struggle with post-adoption issues that had absolutely nothing to do with those three things. 

I knew quite a number of adoptees growing up as a child. And I've met scores of them in in my adult life. I've watched as some of these adoptees had problems and were labeled as being "in rebellion” or “in a backslidden condition.”  And with some, their parents went so far as to question whether they were  possessed by a demon.

There are occasions those things are true, whether adopted or not. 

But there are times it's none of that.  

And I know that's hard for some Christians to come to terms with, because it's much easier to blame everything on a spiritual problem.

It's easier to blame it all on rebellion or a demon than it is to whip out your checkbook and pay for a therapist.

Some kids act out because they don't even know what to call it. (And no, that's not an excuse.)

Photo Credit: TeteSagehen, Flickr

Many adopted children are hurting and need of help.

Yes, I believe God is the answer to rebellion, living in a backslidden condition, or demon possession.

Some have asked, "Okay but even if it is post-adoption issues, don't you still believe God is the answer to that too?"

I believe God is the answer and has an answer for everything including post adoption issues. Do we want to receive His answer?  

Gifts Come In Different Packages.

“God has given each of us the ability to do certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, then prophesy whenever you can—as often as your faith is strong enough to receive a message from God.  If your gift is that of serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, do a good job of teaching. If you are a preacher, see to it that your sermons are strong and helpful. If God has given you money, be generous in helping others with it. If God has given you administrative ability and put you in charge of the work of others, take the responsibility seriously. Those who offer comfort to the sorrowing should do so with Christian cheer.” Romans 12:6-8 (TLB)

There are specialists anointed by God to do a work, just as a pastor is also gifted to do the work of the ministry. 

Sometimes it is not a spiritual issue, but a physical, physiological or psychological one.    

If your child broke their arm, what would you do?

You would most likely take them to the ER or Urgent Care, and have a doctor treat them. 

You would not take them to a deliverance ministry.

An Unnecessary Struggle

I have watched a lot of children struggle, and I also notice adult adoptees who are challenged in this regard as well who don't even realize it!  

I look back on the experiences of some of my adopted Christian friends growing up, whose parents thought they were going through a rebellious stage.  In many cases, I believe the root of the problem was never identified.

Sometime "rebellious" teen adoptees are sent to talk to the youth pastor, when what they need is is a trained licensed therapist with experience in post adoption issues. 

If your child needed braces on their teeth, would you send them to the youth pastor?

No, that would not make very much sense at all.

And yet many Christian parents who have children struggling with post adoption issues send them off to the pastor instead of getting them the mental help they need.

Who Do You Go To?

I am a pastor and yet I would not counsel a child in my church with post adoption issues. I would refer them to someone specifically trained to help those who suffer with this problem.  I refer the adults as well -- even though I lead a support group for adoptees.  

I will support them, pray for them, love them, pastor them. But I will not treat a person for post-adoption issues anymore than I would endeavor to put braces on a kid.

Adult Adoptees Misdiagnosed

I also see that some of my adult adopted friends  have wandered in a wilderness of pain they never had to, if only they had the right kind of help. But far too often they were sent to people who weren't trained to help them.  And many of them still struggle even though they think they have a spiritual problem. They don't connect the dots when it comes to their adoption. Because it happened when they were a what could that possibly have to do with their broken relationships or their control freak tendencies? 

Photo Credit: Doug88888, Flickr

 Do we just need more of Jesus?

I believe we need Jesus. 

At the same time, I have adopted Christian friends who keep struggling and are practically drowning in anointing oil and  also need an appointment with a mental health professional.

I believe in the power of the Holy Spirit!
I should buy stock in anointing oil.

I still drop kick demons when I need to and send them back to hell where they came from.

And I believe people can fall.  

I’ve fallen.

Thank God for grace. 

But sometimes it’s not any of that, at all.

There are times we’re broken for other reasons than our own sin.

Remembered But Not Recalled

For those adopted as infants, you’re broken from something you remember but can’t recall. 

It's about something that happened to you, not something you did.

Sought after speaker and educator, Karl Stenske says:

 “Adoption is a trauma that happens to a child. The child is torn away from her biological mother, placed in the arms of strangers and is left with questions, doubts, fears and anxiety with no way to verbalize, express, mourn or contextualize those feelings. Though the common misconception is that a child won’t remember any of it many psychologists believe, with evidence to support, that children remember their birth and the following events, including relinquishment and adoption, up to the age of three.”

If you have never read Stenske's article, “What Can a Tiny Baby Know?” I beg you to read it. If you’re having problems with an adopted child who is acting out, this article is going to explain so much for you.

A well meaning Christian may have told you that your child has a generational curse. 


 Your adopted child has experienced  trauma, whether you realize it or are willing to accept that. Relinquishment is a wound all it's own. Before you start anointing them for what you perceive is a spiritual problem, educate yourself about post-adoption issues. Instead of labeling them a “radish”, or something equally ridiculous and inappropriate, realize they react as they do for a reason. They have encountered complex trauma and significant loss.

In his article, “What Can A Tiny Baby Know?” Stenske describes how many adopted teenagers act out, and why. 

He concludes with: 

“Rarely do adoptive parents and counselors see this behavior as a reaction to her [the adoptee’s] adoption trauma. They are never truly treating the source of the wound.”

Christian adoptive parents, please understand, I am not dismissing the realities of sin, rebellion, backsliding and demons.

And this is not a dismissal of the power of God, rather it is an acceptance of all the gifts He has provided.

I beg you to educate yourself and get your child the help they need.