Don’t Take it Personally: It’s About Her Abandonment, Not Your Ability to Parent

Doug and Deanne Walker have 19 children, 10 of whom are adopted.  These loving parents have been up and down and all around adoption, and seem to me to be an endless bucket of adoption knowledge and wisdom.  On top of that, the Walkers are welcoming, inviting, and friendly!  This series of articles covers everything from being an organized home executive to failed adoptions to finding the right agency.  So as you read, imagine taking a comfortable spot on Deanne’s sofa as she openly shares her insight into each topic. This was is “Her Abandonment.”

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Deanne says this is the best advice she was ever given:  Don’t take it personally.

When a child rejects you, – rejects your attempts to show love, your efforts to communicate, your authority, your nurture, your family patterns . . . there is a reason. It could stem from her abandonment. And it usually has nothing to do with you at all.  But what are these reasons? 

YOU’RE ESSENTIALLY A STRANGER

You’ve found your child, prepared her room, gone through all the red tape, sacrificed and saved to create your family.  You’re expecting a lovely, family-reunion-style experience.  But what you get instead is stiff politeness at first, and then the cold shoulder in following days.  This can be hurtful unless you realize that it isn’t about you at all.  It’s about the child’s early life. Her abandonment.

THEY ARE TRULY AFRAID

Even though you may have some notes on the child’s early life, you are probably unaware of all the details.  This child who is rejecting you may actually be afraid that you’ll hit him, or that you’ll tell him he’s ugly and you hate him.  He may be afraid that in two years you’ll decide it’s not going to work and you won’t keep him.

THEY FEEL GUILTY

Your child may be rejecting you because her actions are creating cognitive dissonance.  That is, she knows she’s not behaving as she should–and it’s easier for her to blame or reject you than to come to grips with her disappointment in herself.

Whatever the reasons, it is rarely about you. It may be about her abandonment. If you can separate yourself from the unkind words, the cold shoulder, the ignoring–and realize your child is hurting, you’ll be more likely to be able to help with healing.  It’s important to remember that you are the adult, the mature one, the one who knows how to love and to trust.  So when the rejection occurs, you stop what you’re doing, look your child in the eye, and let him speak.  Then you answer, to some degree, in your child’s love language.  It might be with hugs, it might be with words of affirmation, it might be with time alone to get an ice cream cone together.  Learn your child’s love language and respond to their rejection in ways they will accept and understand.

Easy to say all this, right?  But how?  How do you develop tough enough skin to let the insults, the hurtful words, the utter rejection just roll off your back and not affect you?  Her abandonment may not be obvious. Deanne’s answer is this:  I had to learn to really love myself.  To accept me and recognize that I’m doing my best.  I learned that it’s okay that I’m not perfect, that I make mistakes just like everyone else.  And with that acceptance, I realize that I parent according to my conscience.  I live my life the way I know is right for me, and I parent the way I know is right for my children.  When a child rejects me and I’m not in a strong enough place to let it just slide off my back, I know I have a place to turn.  I turn to myself, and I turn to my God.  Thick skin comes from confidence, knowing I’m living as I should.

More From the Walkers:

Introducing the Walker Family (Video)

Finding a Reputable Agency: 4 Essential Criteria

Organization – A Busy Home Executive Shares Her Secrets

How Did Growing Up With Foster Siblings Impact Your Decision to Adopt? (Video)

Olivia: Once Disrupted, Now Thriving

Touch Bonding: The Magic and Power of Touch

What REALLY Matters in Raising Children (Video)

Helping Adopted Kids Bridge the Gap of Bonding

We Know They’re Ours, and We are Theirs (Video)

I’m a Mom with 5 Children Under the Age of 2 . . . And I’m Pregnant (Video)

Adopting a Child Who is Aging Out

What Good is Money in the Bank if You Don’t Have Your Family? (Video)

Help Families Adopt: How to Provide an Adoption Grant

What it’s Like Being in a Huge Family (Video)

Can I Have Him? And Other Phrases That May Offend Adoptive Families

Love and Logic Parenting

Thirteen-year-old Stands Strong, Even After Adoption Disruption

What To Do When an Adoption Opportunity Just Feels Wrong

How We Know Adoption is Right For Us (Video)

We Thought We Were Finished . . . Time to Go to Asia! (Video)

Resolving Feelings of Guilt After a Miscarriage

Rebounding from Failed Adoptions: 3 Heartbreaking Experiences

Siblings’ Reaction to Bringing Home a New Adopted Child (Video)

How Do You “Just Know” That You Should Adopt? (Video)

Adopting a Drug-Addicted Baby and Raising Him to Reach His Potential

Continuing Proper Parenting Even When Under Negative Scrutiny

Losing Gideon . . . What We Absolutely Know (Video)

 

 

 

Are you ready to pursue adoption? Visit Adoption.org or call 1-800-ADOPT-98 to connect with compassionate, nonjudgmental adoption specialists who can help you get started on the journey of a lifetime.