To love adoptive and foster families, (4) let our kids be kids…

Dingle Family

We’re delighted to present Shannon Dingle’s next installment in her series on Adoption and the Church. Shannon is a co-founder of the Access Ministry at Providence Baptist Church in Raleigh, NC and serves as a Key Ministry Church Consultant. Today, she shares the fourth of five ways churches can love their adoptive and foster families-Let our kids be kids. Here’s Shannon…

After writing four posts so far about how the church can show love uniquely to foster and adoptive families, this post might seem like I’m backtracking. I’ve shared the four kinds of special needs commonly found in foster and adoptive families, specific ways to partner with parents like us, a request not to treat us as idols, and a basic primer on what churches need to know about trauma and attachment.

And now I’m asking you to let our kids be kids.

They love swings and slides. They stall at bedtime. They have prized toys and special blankies and favorite colors. They’ll do almost anything to earn time to play games on the iPad. They’ll all suit up as superheroes – four Wonder Women, one Flash, and one Green Lantern, with Wonder Woman mom and Superman dad – tomorrow for Halloween.

Their stories and the stories of other kids in adoptive and foster placements might be more complex than the typical kid. They might talk about more than one mother, or they might only recognize their adoptive parents as mom and dad. They might have been held by their adoptive parents on the day they were born, or they might have hit puberty before having a family, or they might still be waiting to be adopted, or they might be in a foster home temporarily before being reunited with their biological family. They might have switched foster homes more than military kids switch schools. They might be open about their backgrounds or they might not be, but either way they get to own their pasts without anyone expecting them to satisfy someone else’s selfish curiosity. Their worst day ever might be much darker and traumatic than the worst days of most adults. They might have been called an orphan in the past, but they’re not orphans anymore.

C4EC adoption series image 4But they are kids, first and foremost.

Welcome them as you would any other child.

Work with their parents or guardians to figure out how to include them well.

Love them, cheer them on, and tell them how much God loves them.

Let them be kids.

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Cameron DoolittleJoin keynote speaker Joni Eareckson Tada, Chuck Swindoll, Emily Colson, Barb Newman and 20+ leaders representing the scope of the disability ministry movement this coming November 12-13 for Inclusion Fusion 2014, Key Ministry’s FREE, worldwide disability ministry web summit. Engage in interactive chat with many of our speakers and watch each presentation at the time of day that works best for you in the environment in which you’re most comfortable. Click here to view our entire speaker lineup and register for Inclusion Fusion 2014.

About Dr. G

Dr. Stephen Grcevich serves as President and Founder of Key Ministry, a non-profit organization providing free training, consultation, resources and support to help churches serve families of children with disabilities. Dr. Grcevich is a graduate of Northeastern Ohio Medical University (NEOMED), trained in General Psychiatry at the Cleveland Clinic Foundation and in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals of Cleveland/Case Western Reserve University. He is a faculty member in Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at two medical schools, leads a group practice in suburban Cleveland (Family Center by the Falls), and continues to be involved in research evaluating the safety and effectiveness of medications prescribed to children for ADHD, anxiety and depression. He is a past recipient of the Exemplary Psychiatrist Award from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Dr. Grcevich was recently recognized by Sharecare as one of the top ten online influencers in children’s mental health. His blog for Key Ministry, www.church4everychild.org was ranked fourth among the top 100 children's ministry blogs in 2015 by Ministry to Children.
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