If you’re a hopeful adoptive parent, you naturally want to connect with your future child to love and care for them in a God-honoring way. In their book, The Connected Child, Dr. Karyn Purvis, David R. Cross, and Wendy Lyons Sunshine give helpful suggestions for adoptive parents to care, consider and show compassion for their adopted child.
Here is a short synopsis of some of the chapters of this helpful book on connecting with your adopted child.
Chapter 1: Hope and Healing
This chapter focuses on how to stay hopeful as you parent your child—staying hopeful means understanding that your child needs a balance of nurture (affection, mercy, and compassion) and structure (limits, boundaries, and rules).
The difficulty for a parent is to understand what your child is saying by their behavior. If you give your child structure when they need nurturing, it hinders their growth. Creating the right balance will help your child grow in trust and hope.
Chapter 2: Where Your Child Began
In chapter 2, adoptive parents are encouraged to learn and understand their child’s history. Many adopted kids have suffered harm, abuse, or loss. Others may have experienced a difficult labor or birth or an early life medical condition.
You may not fully know what your child has experienced, but adoptive parents need to see the reality of what a child may have suffered, to have the “eyes of compassion,” and show compassion in ways that their child will understand.
Chapter 3: Solving the Puzzle of Difficult Behavior
The authors encourage adoptive parents to see beyond their child’s difficult behavior to understand what they really need. This doesn’t mean ignoring their unacceptable behavior but focusing on how they can help their child grow in trust. Ultimately, their main goal is to help their child grow into a relationship with God and reflect the character of Jesus Christ.
Chapter 4: Disarming the Fear Response with Felt Safety
Adopted children often struggle with fears due to their past. They don’t always process situations correctly, causing their interactions and behaviors to be driven more by a survival instinct. They easily misinterpret conversations as threatening and respond improperly. Adoptive parents who understand this can help their child replace fear with trust. This takes time and prayer and constantly pointing the child back to God, who loves and cares for them.
Chapter 5: Teaching Life Values
All kids study their parents. Adoptive parents can best teach their children good values by living them out themselves. The old saying, “more is caught than taught,” is true.
Christian parents who want to teach faith and trust in God to their children must exemplify trust and faith in God in their daily life. Of course, parents aren’t perfect, but when they sin, for example, by getting angry at their child, they can humbly ask their child for forgiveness. They can admit they’re sinners in need of God’s grace, just like their child.
This sense of “we’re all in this together” can build a bond between the parent and child as they journey together in growing closer to God.
Chapter 6: You Are the Boss
This chapter encourages adoptive parents to have a proper view of themselves in their parenting. A parent must be the authority figure in their child’s life. Being too permissive or severe can be detrimental to a child.
An authoritative parent gives their child both structure and nurture. Kids who experience a balance feel secure and loved. Romans 2:4b (The Message) summarizes this concept well. It says,
“God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness, He takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life change.”
What readers say…
This 264-page book is an invaluable tool for both adoptive parents and foster parents. Those who’ve read The Connected Child say if you read only one book on adoption, this is the book to read. It’s straightforward and full of practical advice for adoptive parents.
They also say the ideas on how to approach a difficult child were helpful. The authors didn’t just state scriptures but applied scriptural principles to parenting.
Another reader says that The Connected Child is a rare gem and is their top recommended book for adoptive parents struggling with their child’s behavior. They liked how the authors explained adversity in infancy and how it plays out in a child’s behavior in anxiety or fear.
Connecting With Your Adopted Child
As an adoptive parent, you may feel overwhelmed at the thought of parenting your child. You’re not alone. Other adoptive parents have felt the same way. The Connected Child is for you. It offers you Godly principles and strategies to meet the challenges of parenting your child with grace as you trust in God.
As the Vice President (VP) of Lifetime Adoption, Heather Featherston holds an MBA and is passionate about working with those facing adoption, pregnancy, and parenting issues. Heather has conducted training for birth parent advocates, spoken to professional groups, and has appeared on television and radio to discuss the multiple aspects of adoption. She has provided one-on-one support to women and hopeful adoptive parents working through adoption decisions.
Since 2002, she has been helping pregnant women and others in crisis to learn more about adoption. Heather also trains and speaks nationwide to pregnancy clinics to effectively meet the needs of women who want to explore adoption for their child. Today, she continues to address the concerns women have about adoption and supports the needs of women who choose adoption for their child.
As a published author of the book Called to Adoption, Featherston loves to see God’s hand at work every day as she helps children and families come together through adoption.