We all know the stereotypes of moms on Mother’s Day. They awake to the banging of pots and pans as their husband hushes and hurries the kids to make her breakfast in bed. Even though she had hoped to sleep in, the mom beams with joy at the thought of her family honoring her this way.
But your Mother’s Day may look nothing like that at all. Instead, you might be staring at another negative pregnancy test, missing kids who are far away or struggling with separation due to COVID.
Or maybe you mothering falls into a unique category… adoptive, foster or stepmom. For you, there may be less breakfast in bed and more consolation of kids who miss their mom. There may less cards and gifts and more FaceTime chats with biological parents. There may be less “Happy Mother’s Day!” and more “You’re not my real mom!” It’s these moms we want to speak to today. It’s these moms that we want to feel seen.
While there are many thoughts we could share, we knew there was no one better than Mark Gregston, a family counselor who has walked countless families through these unique challenges. Mark runs a home for troubled teens, many of whom come from foster care, adoption and blended families. In a recent article entitled Encouragement for Adoptive Parents, he spoke to these issues and we’ve excerpted it for you here:
Life is made of stories.
Some of those stories have happy endings. Some less so.
Some stories involve people you never would have imagined coming into your life. But when someone adopts a child into their home and their heart, I think it’s a very cool thing to do. I also think it paints a real-world picture of how we have been grafted into God’s family for everyone to see.
My good friend, Wayne, who also happens to be the announcer for our program, Parenting Today’s Teen, is one of those people with a story. Adopted as a child, Wayne recently discovered some interesting details about his biological family through one of those DNA test kits he received as a gift.
Wayne had been given up for adoption by a mother who was not married, but who wanted him to have the best life possible. It was through her selfless act of kindness and love that he was adopted by a loving couple and grew up having a wonderful childhood, in a loving home. Wayne’s story may not be a new one, but it’s an important one that reminds us every day there are a number of kids who, for whatever reason, need a family that’s willing to open their home and their heart. And while it might seem like we only hear stories of adoption where there are some real struggles, I think the majority of adoptions turn out best for everyone involved.
Each adoption story is unique because every life is different. And it’s important to remember that there is hope for those who are struggling with adoption. Things don’t always happen on our time table, but on God’s. So, we need to keep in mind that He’s always on time, and He’s always working things out for the good of those who love Him.
Encouragement for Parents
At the end of the day, love will always win out, so keep loving your kids, even when it’s hard!
Keep connected with your teen. Show them you love them by pursuing a relationship with them and overcoming the struggles you both are facing right now.
Most adoptive kids resolve their childhood issues in their mid-twenties. There are exceptions to the rule, but it doesn’t have to be that way. Give them time and don’t rush them to be “okay.” Abandonment issues often rock people at a core level. It’s a deep wound that needs to be healed, but with time and lots of assurance and love, those wounds can be mended.
It’s also important for you to remember that as young women grow, they begin to think about becoming mothers and that will cause of a flurry of questions. Don’t be afraid to answer the questions honestly. They’re not rejecting you—they’re trying to discover if there’s something in them that will cause history to repeat itself, or if they can be a different person from their biological family. Whether they voice it or not, kids are often left wondering how far the apple is going to fall from the tree.
Change comes through conflict, difficulties, and hardships, but those struggles are so worth it when it comes to changing the life of another person. God in His sovereignty places people together on purpose. Just as your child was wonderfully and fearfully made by our loving Creator, He made you for this! You were chosen for a purpose. And just as He doesn’t give up on us, you shouldn’t give up on your teen. You have been made in His image with His love to share your life with someone who needs you and the gifts that only you can bring to their life.
Encouragement for Stepparents
Blended families have a unique set of problems and challenges, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be overcome. Many blended families have seen their share of heartache, but just as many have walked through the struggles and come out well on the other side.
Conflicts and challenges don’t have to be a hinderance to your family dynamics. Use your family’s conflicts to strengthen your bonds while showing your teen how to struggle well through the loss, confusion, and excitement of blending lives. It’s difficult to live with other people, but when you walk with faith, love, hope, and grace, it’s a lot easier.
God knows what He’s doing, and He has a plan for your life. You are not together by accident and He will give you strength and wisdom to endure, encourage, and love one another every day. All you have to do is ask Him to guide you and direct you in the way you and your family should go!
Mom, Dad … your efforts and commitment to your adopted kids and to the expansion of your family is to be applauded and celebrated. And whether it’s going well, or you’re struggling through those adolescent years, I want you to remember this: when your adoptive child goes through their teen years, they will probably wonder why they were abandoned and given up. And they will ask this during a time of struggle and growing, so listen well and know that the answers you gave them during their younger years, won’t work when they are teens. Their way of thinking has changed and so must yours if you can help them navigate the world for the answers they seek. Don’t give up! You are to be applauded and celebrated for your commitment to your child.
Mark Gregston is a Certa author and director of Heartlight Ministries, a residential program for struggling teens. He is also the host of the nationally acclaimed radio program, Parenting Today’s Teens. Mark and Jan have been married for 45 years and have two children, both of whom are married and have blessed them with four wonderful grandchildren.
A fantastic Mother’s Day gift idea!
Mark Gregston offers a devotional just for moms!
- When difficulties with your teen call for God’s intervention….
- When you need help expressing your emotions and parenting concerns in prayers….
- When your heart is overflowing with thankfulness and joy….
These verses and short prayers will help you pour out your heart to God and cover your teen’s life in prayer.
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