Beth Templeton

{Hitting Repeat} What’s in a Name

There isn’t a person alive who does not yearn for identity and purpose. As we raise our adopted children we see that this question of identity is often more complicated for them–complicated by a missing or shattered past, by the realities of relinquishment, rejection and abandonment, by the issue of race and culture, by tough questions of “why me” or “what if….?”

It seems to me that the people who are the most whole are the ones who are settled with who they are and enjoying a strong sense of purpose in their lives. Identity and purpose are the basic ingredients of wholeness for all of us, and most likely your adopted child will require extra effort on your part to instill and call forth his identity as a son with a destiny, her place as a daughter with a calling. It has been fascinating to me to hear that even children adopted as infants often find, once they become teenagers, that this issue of identity gets confused and complicated by the realities of adoption.

One of the most effective opposing forces to your adopted child’s sense of identity is an orphan spirit. For some children their adoption into a loving Christian family has not freed them from this sense of being an orphan– one who lacks parents, lacks love, lacks protection and provision, lacks security….. Even when the lack is replaced in adoption by a loving mother and father, a wonderful home and church with lots of friends, abundant provision in every way, this sense of being one who lacks can remain and threaten to become a child’s primary motivating identity, even years after his or her adoption as a daughter or son.

Much of our work as adoptive parents is to administer this truth, day after day and year after year, that this child is no longer an orphan, but a true Son or Daughter. One who is defined not by lack, but rather by possession and inheritance! One who is worthy, acceptable, significant, powerful, full of purpose and destiny and calling, defended, safe, beloved….

What can we parents do to help our child receive and embrace their Identity as a Son or Daughter, rejecting the lies borne out of the facts of their past? Lies that tell them “you are not significant, you don’t have what it takes, you are unloved and unwanted, you are too different to fit in, you have to fend for yourself….” Lies that keep them from connecting, and limit their ability to walk in their true destiny.

There are no simple answers to this question, but I believe there are some practical things we can do to massage into our treasured children the TRUTH of their identity.

Family Name

Be intentional about using your family name. There is something powerful about a family name. It speaks of belonging, heritage, relationship, history. When we are born again into the family of God, we take on His name and the full inheritance that goes along with it,

For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named
Ephesians 3:15

Being named is more important to our perception of ourelves than we may realize. There is something significant for our children in hearing over and over that they are Templetons. If your child is being unkind, rather than say, “Don’t be unkind. That’s not nice,” you might say, “In the Templeton [inserting your name of course!] Family we treat each other with kindness.” Look for ways to intentionally insert your family name into daily life. “We Templetons go to church and worship God.” It may seem awkward but we have found it to communicate the truth of sonship to our children, especially in those early years.

Family Meetings

Having regular family meetings is a wonderful way to impart the wholeness of “sonship” into your adopted child. Just the gathering itself communicates that they are part of a whole or a unit, something established, something that has a history. These times can take on whatever flavor or purpose, you decide is needed at the time. Because we have such a large family, in recent years we have used these meetings to share what is going on in our lives. We ask each child to share what they are doing in school, what activities they are involved in, what issues they are dealing with. That way everyone feels connected. We also find that using these times for prayer is very powerful. Praying out loud for each other (especially in response to some need that has been shared) goes a long way to establish belonging and love. Sometimes each of us will write down five things we like about each family member (younger children can draw pictures) and share. Other times Stephen or I will read aloud a story or scripture, or address a family matter that needs adjusting or correction. No matter the focus, the gathering will help you to create sense of identity and belonging.

Family Traits

Something we learned is to be sure to identify Templeton family traits in our adopted children. Just like we do when a baby is born, we search for and comment on family traits. (“He has his daddy’s nose,” or “Her eyes are definitely from her mama’s side of the family.”) For instance we might say, “You look just like your mama when you smile like that!” or, “You are so much like your daddy taking care of that dog. He always loved dogs when he was a boy your age.” The wonderful thing about these comments is that they can be said regardless of skin color or any other physical difference. They speak volumes to your child– you belong, you are a part of a family with a story, you are not separate.

There is power in a name! The question of “Who Am I?” is one we adoptive parents want to be answering within the day to day life of our family. Don’t wait for the question to be asked by your adopted child. Look for ways to communicate the Identity of Sonship in everyday life– you belong, you are loved, you are acceptable, you are celebrated, you are connected, you are a person of destiny and purpose.

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

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What Else Would You Rather Be Doing?

Complaining
Sometimes a mom just has to have a good complaining session, you know what I mean? Well, at least I know I do. It’s never fruitful or helpful to let the session last too long, but sometimes I just have to “get it out.” I remember driving my big extended 12 passenger van one day fully engaged in one of these “sessions.” I was concerned about multiple issues with our children, all of which were either rooted in adoption issues or were exacerbated by them. At that point all seven of our children were living at home and in school, and I remember feeling simply overwhelmed by all the needs. So, I’m driving the van, painfully aware of all that was not right in our family, and completely unaware at the moment of all that was good! And that led me to thinking how I just wished I could just go away– by myself! Anyone else “out there” know that feeling?
The “I’m DONE!” feeling?

The Lord’s Response
I’m sharing this with you because I’ll always remember that particular complaining session. I remember because of the Lord’s response to me. How kind of Him to listen to my complaints that I had not even turned into prayers. He asked me one simple question. I find that He has a way of doing that– of asking a question instead of giving an answer. And somehow the question, coming from Him, releases the freedom I so desire and so need to move forward.
(You’d think an answer is what we need, but somehow the answer with all its multifaceted beauty is tucked into the folds of the question. I think God enjoys my process of discovery! Proverbs 25:2 says that “It is God’s privilege to conceal things and the king’s privilege to discover them.”)

So in the midst of my complaining He asked me this:
“What would you rather be doing?”

As I am typing this I find my eyes stinging with tears once again at His kindness to me in that one question. For hidden within that simple question were great depths of His love, both for me and for my children.

A Work of Powerful Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. Not the kind of beauty that is soft and gentle, butterflies and bunnies. Its beauty is rugged and powerful and sometimes even frightening in it’s scope. What a glorious thing to be a part of! What a privilege to co-labor with the God of the Universe as He pours out His love on these children. Indeed, what would I rather be doing?! To be an intimate player in a work of eternal significance is too lofty a thing. And yet, God has called me and many of you reading right now to partner with Him in the miraculous transformation of an orphan into a true son or daughter. That He would condescend to allow me to partner with Him, that He would call my name to join Him in His eternal purposes and will– I am overwhelmed at such an invitation.

A Work of Rebuilding and Restoring Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. It is the work of rebuilding and raising up, of repair and restoration. It is the very work that Jesus gave His life to make available to us. Again, what else would I rather be doing? To have the awesome and deeply humbling opportunity to participate in putting an end to what are often generations of destructive living, resulting in great pain and disfunction, and to then be a part of the restoration work made available through God’s love found in Jesus. For many of our children (certainly not all adopted and foster children fit in this description, but most it seems) there are generations of ancient ruins and age-old foundations that God wants to rebuild, and many whose inheritance apart from adoption is not one of wholeness and abundant life. How amazing is it that we can be a part of the giving and receiving of a new inheritance, of a complete legacy shift, so that future generations no longer inherit abandonment, rejection, survival and pain. To see our children embrace love and then have the freedom to give love, to see them learn to enjoy life and to make plans for their future with excited anticipation– this is just incredible! Oh what a shift adoption is making in the trajectory of a generational line. Is this not amazing to be a part of?! It is the gospel at work and it is powerful and oh so good!!

The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings. (Isaiah 58:11-12)

A Work of Intense Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. What other occupation would I prefer? Yes it is a work that is difficult and sometimes overwhelming. And I am thankful for the trend in the adoption community to share some of the harsher realities of adoption. Indeed, it is necessary that we not “sugar coat” the more intense nature of this beautiful occupation. But I also see that in the authentic sharing we can sometimes lose sight of what it is we are actually doing.

Gotcha Day for the Templetons
For it is a beautiful thing to be a part of. And I don’t mean just those amazing moments when you your child comes home for the first time and there is great celebration and joy, or when your child calls you mommy or daddy for the first time, or when she seeks you out for comfort rather than retreating into herself, or when he pats your cheek and tells you he loves you more than anyone in the world, or even when she thanks you for adopting her. I also mean those tough and sometime cutting moments when she says she wishes she never was adopted, or that you aren’t his “real” mother, or when she goes into a violent rage causing the whole family to retreat from the pain of it all, or when he shuts you out, unable to accept your love. All of these scenarios are beautiful I believe. Beautiful because it is for these situations, both the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’ that God brought our children into our homes.

Dear friends, if you are in a difficult season with your child think of this– was it not for this very situation you are dealing with that God Himself brought your daughter or son into your family? Did He not look ahead into time when He saw the plight of your child and say to Himself, “where can I find a safe place for this precious child to live so that I can go about my work of restoration and rebuilding? It will be a costly work, and it will be years in the doing. Who can I trust with the messiness of such a work? Where is a safe place where I can pour out my healing love and where this sometimes trying work can be accomplished?” He looked to His people and saw you and me. He saw His servants who know how, when sun-scorched and weak, to enjoy the “spring that never fails.”

A Work of Enduring Love
Adoption is a beautiful thing. For in it we participate in God’s enduring love. The scriptures are full of this phrase, “His love endures forever.” There is a story being told in the kingdom; it is the story of this enduring love. And you and I have been invited to enter in to the story. We have been given the shocking honor to participate in the kind of love that is solid, immovable and patient. Not our love– for those adjectives don’t describe the quality of my love! No, this is the story of God’s love that I get to enjoy and share.
To endure is to hold out against, to sustain with out yielding, to last, to bear with patience. It is lasting and it is permanent. What else would I rather being doing with my life than to join into the telling of this love story?! What price is too great for the opportunity day after day to participate and co-labor with enduring love?!

So, when I get started in one of my complaining sessions it is best for me to step back and ask myself the question that sets me free from whatever disappointment and discouragement is in the now–
For indeed, What else would I rather be doing?

Oh Lord God, nothing else. Thank you for allowing me to walk alongside my child and to be a well-watered garden, a source of life. Teach me how to receive the sustenance You are for me when I feel sun-scorched and weary. What an honor it is, Father, to be allowed a role in this amazing story of restoration. And thank you that you are busy doing a work of enduring love in me as well. So, Father, I invite you to keep telling your story of enduring love in my home, in my life, in my family, in my heart. For it is true Lord, adoption is a beautiful thing.

____________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

“Mommy, didn’t you like it the way it was?”

The Boat was Rocking

I found her sitting on the stairs all by herself. Head bowed and those little 8 year old knees drawn up to her chest. We were in those early stages of non-stop intensity (and, therefore, physical and emotional exhaustion) having just brought our first two adopted children home from Russia.


Julia, who you can see in the tea party photo above with the yellow scarf, was trying to grab hold of something that would steady the rocking of the boat of her life a little. She was trying to make sense of it all I think. As soon as I saw her sitting alone on the stairs, my mother’s heart was moved. I knew I was up against another need, a deep and important need, in our family. Could I handle this? Could I calm the storm enough for my sweet daughter?

She simply asked one question.

“Mommy, didn’t you like it the way it was?”

Loss is Loss

That one question, spoken in her sweet little girl’s voice, was one of the most moving times in my life as a mother. It was a question weighted with the pain and fear of change, the cost and sacrifice of giving, and the sadness of loss. Because as wonderful as adoption is, and it is truly truly wonderful, there is much pain and loss that accompanies it. For our adopted children, there was the loss of their culture, their birth family, the loss of literally all that was familiar to them– every smell, every taste, every sight, every touch, every sound.

And loss is loss, isn’t it? Even when the loss is the door through which a wonderful gain and blessing from God is secured.

For Julia, the youngest of our three birth daughters, there was also loss. The loss of the comfort and familiarity of her home, her family relationships, of her schedule. Comfort and familiarity was regained as we all got our adoption sea legs, but that time of transition was a huge adjustment for us all. Julia was grieving her loss, and needing to know that we saw her in the midst of it.

A Question of My Own

I remember silently asking God for help. You know those moments as a parent when you know you have been given a weighty opportunity– those uncomfortable moments when you wonder if you have what it takes. So, I did exactly the same thing Julia did, I asked my Daddy God a question of my own.

“Father, You are the Wonderful Counselor. How do I answer this question?”

When I try to describe how it felt for me–being the mother of three biological daughters whose worlds had been rocked, and the new mother of a 5 year old boy and a 10 year old girl whose worlds had been utterly and completely and permanently altered– I use the analogy of a swimmer treading water, just barely keeping up high enough to take a breath. That’s how it felt in those early months. Do any of you relate? It wasn’t as negative as it sounds; actually it wasn’t negative at all. But, boy, was it hard!

And I felt the lapping of the water rippling under my nose!

A Glorious Moment

Oh how thankful I am to know that God speaks to me and to be in relationship with Him! Dear mothers and fathers, your Heavenly Father is speaking to you. He has so much to say to you about your children!

For me, this was one of those glorious moments when I suddenly knew what to say. Holy Spirit showed me the path forward, what my sweet girl needed to hear from me. It went something like this:

Julia, when Daddy and I got married we were so happy together. We loved being married! After a time we began to think how wonderful it would be to have a baby. Not because we were unhappy or because we didn’t like the way it was. Not at all! It was because we were so happy and content together that we wanted to share that with a child. After Emma was born, we were so happy. We loved her and did not ever think, “Emma is not enough for us. She does not satisfy, so we need to have another baby…” No. We liked the way it was, so much that we wanted to have another baby. After Rachel was born, the same thing happened. We wanted to have you, not because we were dissatisfied, but because we had a Julia place in our hearts. And you were born.

When we brought Kristina and Pasha home we did not do so because we didn’t like it the way it was. NO! We so loved being the mommy and daddy to Emma, Rachel and Julia! So much that we were able to hear God when He said that there were more children for us.

As I spoke these words it was like I could see the boat begin to steady; I could see the peace settle on Julia. Even now, I consider this time as quite special in my years as a mother.

Limitless Supply of Wisdom for Every Hard Question

Since then, we have had many such questions from our children. Some have been harder to answer than others. Many of the questions, especially the ones from our adopted children, have been filled with pain and all have expressed great need.

How wonderful that each one of us has full access to the limitless supply of wisdom and insight that is ours through inheritance, ours not because we are especially clever parents, or always full of compassion and understanding. But ours because Jesus opened the way for us and made us heirs, simply by believing, to His eternal kingdom, a rich and glorious inheritance!

By having the eyes of your heart flooded with light, so that you can know and understand the hope to which He has called you, and how rich is His glorious inheritance in the saints (His set-apart ones)
-Ephesians 1:18

What is a hard question your children have asked you?

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

Puzzled

My husband Stephen and I have had front and center seats (the kind so close to the stage that you can see the make up and hear the breath of exertion from the players) for the drama and action of what most recognize as the primary task of adolescence– the grappling with the question of “Who Am I?”

The issue of identity is one we all face, but one that our adopted children must face with added complicating factors. Even those adopted at birth with no conscious memory of their birth parents contend with confusing realities once they enter their teens.

photo credit - JWL Photography

The Border Pieces

As your child grows, whether he is adopted or not, it is as if he is trying to piece together a complex puzzle. As we all figure out early on in working a puzzle, you first separate out the border pieces, right? It seems to me that for our birth children, the rummaging for and connecting of the flat-edged border pieces was an easy task. Their puzzle borders seem to be solidly in place without much searching and confusion. No struggles with missing pieces impossibly hidden amongst the mass of shapes or irretrievably lost in the dark corners of the basement game closet.

Missing and Misshapen Pieces

Borders denote definition and, therefore, identity. The borders of a country, for instance, identify it on a map. Without the definition provided by the border pieces, the process of putting together a complicated puzzle becomes all the more confusing and frustrating. For our adopted children, their relinquishment and the resulting pain have led their identity search to be like trying to work a puzzle without the border pieces or at least without whole sections and with hard to find pieces or misshapen fragments. In 1 Peter 5:10, we see that God’s plan is for our children to live complete and whole, border pieces fitted together and the puzzle finished:

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace [Who imparts all blessing and favor], Who has called you to His [own] eternal glory in Christ Jesus, will Himself complete and make you what you ought to be, establish and ground you securely, and strengthen, and settle you.

The Message says it like this; “[God] will have you put together and on your feet for good.”

Puzzle Pieces in Our Hands

Isn’t that what we are helping our children to do? To partner with the Holy Spirit in “putting together” the pieces of the puzzle? As we get revelation of who our child is from the very One who created them, it’s as if we have a puzzle piece in our hand, a flat-edged border piece that was lost or destroyed along the way by rejection, fear, anger, pain, abuse. We parents are methodically offering these border pieces to our child as they go through the process of figuring out who they are. We have the awesome opportunity to place these pieces back into the pile of puzzle pieces on the table and watch our child pick it up, examine it, and recognize it as a defining part of who they are.

Box Top Parents

Just as we look at the box top of our puzzle that we have propped up on the table for easy reference, so do our children look up at us as they work their complicated jigsaw puzzle. Along the way, they fit in pieces with that sense of satisfaction we all get when we find the next bit of the puzzle. They are looking to us to find out who they are, how they fit in, how to relate, how to give and receive love. You and I are like that box top picture for our children as they discover their identity, scrutinizing the picture and piecing together their puzzle.

Father God, it is so good to know that You are completing our children, making them what they ought to be, “putting them together and on their feet for good.” We so desire to partner with You in this God. Would You give us revelation of who our children are, defining border pieces of their identity. And we trust You to use us so that when our children look to us they will see what is helpful as they put together the puzzle before them. What greater joy is there than being a part of such a project?!

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

Beautiful Feet

Driving down the road in my ginormous brown van feeling stressed and stretched and strained and DONE, I heard the whisper of the Lord posing a simple question. Whenever the Lord asks me a question, I know I’m in for some freedom. His questions always seem to lead me out of a problem and into an answer.

“What would you rather be doing?”

Art by Life Verse, click on image to see store

So simple. And immediately my complaints of dealing with sibling arguments, of correcting rude behavior, of dropping off and picking up seven children all within seven years of each other in age, figuring out AGAIN what we would have for dinner–you know the story–were transformed from overwhelming to strangely satisfying. The plain truth of it was that I would not rather be doing anything else in this world.

I love a lot about my life; I love a lot about being a mother. I think the thing I like best of all is that I get to create the first forum for the Gospel to be experienced by the seven people that God has given me to mother. Think of the missionaries over time who have had the absolute thrill, the challenge, the honor of taking the Gospel of God’s Goodness to a people for the first time.

How beautiful on the mountains
are the feet of those who bring good news,
who proclaim peace,
who bring good tidings,
who proclaim salvation,
who say to Zion,
“Your God reigns!”
Isaiah 52:7

Isn’t that a description of what you and I do everyday–over and over and over? How often have you “proclaimed Peace” today? In the thick middle of conflict about whose turn it is to sit in the front seat or who got to pick the movie last time or who borrowed whose clothes and didn’t return them, you and I get to be the one who release the Peace of God. Isn’t that what we are doing when we walk our children through conflict? How beautiful on these mountains of family life are my feet, and yours, because we are the ones bringing the Good News.

We mothers have the Ministry of Reconciliation.

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us.
2 Corinthians 5:18-20

Reconciliation is defined as “making oneself or another no longer opposed, settling a quarrel or difference, making two apparently conflicting things compatible with each other.” Hmmmm, strangely familiar?! This ministry is our child’s first and primary exposure to the beauty and freedom and power of the Gospel. I truly consider it an honor to have such a ministry, although I must admit that in the middle of conflict and opposition I do not always have thoughts of beautiful feet or being honored! But really, what would I rather be doing with my life? To be able to foster an environment where the truth of God’s love is experienced, lived out, enjoyed, challenged, tested.

Wow, what a wonderful and honorable calling is motherhood!

Dearest ones, be encouraged in what you are doing in your homes. It is no light or trivial thing. You are doing a kingdom work that bears eternal fruit. Indeed, all those daily tasks and irritating interruptions are actually the God-ordained setting for the proclamation of Peace, the sharing of the Good News, the declaration of Salvation and The Reign of Our God.

It is true you know—we mothers do have beautiful feet!

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

What’s in a Name?

There isn’t a person alive who does not yearn for identity and purpose. As we raise our adopted children we see that this question of identity is often more complicated for them–complicated by a missing or shattered past, by the realities of relinquishment, rejection and abandonment, by the issue of race and culture, by tough questions of “why me” or “what if….?”

It seems to me that the people who are the most whole are the ones who are settled with who they are and enjoying a strong sense of purpose in their lives. Identity and purpose are the basic ingredients of wholeness for all of us, and most likely your adopted child will require extra effort on your part to instill and call forth his identity as a son with a destiny, her place as a daughter with a calling. It has been fascinating to me to hear that even children adopted as infants often find, once they become teenagers, that this issue of identity gets confused and complicated by the realities of adoption.

One of the most effective opposing forces to your adopted child’s sense of identity is an orphan spirit. For some children their adoption into a loving Christian family has not freed them from this sense of being an orphan– one who lacks parents, lacks love, lacks protection and provision, lacks security….. Even when the lack is replaced in adoption by a loving mother and father, a wonderful home and church with lots of friends, abundant provision in every way, this sense of being one who lacks can remain and threaten to become a child’s primary motivating identity, even years after his or her adoption as a daughter or son.

Much of our work as adoptive parents is to administer this truth, day after day and year after year, that this child is no longer an orphan, but a true Son or Daughter. One who is defined not by lack, but rather by possession and inheritance! One who is worthy, acceptable, significant, powerful, full of purpose and destiny and calling, defended, safe, beloved….

What can we parents do to help our child receive and embrace their Identity as a Son or Daughter, rejecting the lies borne out of the facts of their past? Lies that tell them “you are not significant, you don’t have what it takes, you are unloved and unwanted, you are too different to fit in, you have to fend for yourself….” Lies that keep them from connecting, and limit their ability to walk in their true destiny.

There are no simple answers to this question, but I believe there are some practical things we can do to massage into our treasured children the TRUTH of their identity.

Family Name

Be intentional about using your family name. There is something powerful about a family name. It speaks of belonging, heritage, relationship, history. When we are born again into the family of God, we take on His name and the full inheritance that goes along with it,

For Whom every family in heaven and on earth is named
Ephesians 3:15

Being named is more important to our perception of ourelves than we may realize. There is something significant for our children in hearing over and over that they are Templetons. If your child is being unkind, rather than say, “Don’t be unkind. That’s not nice,” you might say, “In the Templeton [inserting your name of course!] Family we treat each other with kindness.” Look for ways to intentionally insert your family name into daily life. “We Templetons go to church and worship God.” It may seem awkward but we have found it to communicate the truth of sonship to our children, especially in those early years.

Family Meetings

Having regular family meetings is a wonderful way to impart the wholeness of “sonship” into your adopted child. Just the gathering itself communicates that they are part of a whole or a unit, something established, something that has a history. These times can take on whatever flavor or purpose, you decide is needed at the time. Because we have such a large family, in recent years we have used these meetings to share what is going on in our lives. We ask each child to share what they are doing in school, what activities they are involved in, what issues they are dealing with. That way everyone feels connected. We also find that using these times for prayer is very powerful. Praying out loud for each other (especially in response to some need that has been shared) goes a long way to establish belonging and love. Sometimes each of us will write down five things we like about each family member (younger children can draw pictures) and share. Other times Stephen or I will read aloud a story or scripture, or address a family matter that needs adjusting or correction. No matter the focus, the gathering will help you to create sense of identity and belonging.

Family Traits

Something we learned is to be sure to identify Templeton family traits in our adopted children. Just like we do when a baby is born, we search for and comment on family traits. (“He has his daddy’s nose,” or “Her eyes are definitely from her mama’s side of the family.”) For instance we might say, “You look just like your mama when you smile like that!” or, “You are so much like your daddy taking care of that dog. He always loved dogs when he was a boy your age.” The wonderful thing about these comments is that they can be said regardless of skin color or any other physical difference. They speak volumes to your child– you belong, you are a part of a family with a story, you are not separate.

There is power in a name! The question of “Who Am I?” is one we adoptive parents want to be answering within the day to day life of our family. Don’t wait for the question to be asked by your adopted child. Look for ways to communicate the Identity of Sonship in everyday life– you belong, you are loved, you are acceptable, you are celebrated, you are connected, you are a person of destiny and purpose.

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

The Battle is the Lord’s

adoptionThere is one day in the year that we have named “Consecutive Day” in our family. It is the day when our children’s ages run in order, seven in a row. When we first became a family of seven children we had a 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, and 13 year old child for a day. Then, we start doubling up again. There were a few years when all seven of our treasures were teenagers–all at once! I tell you this because I think it will then not surprise you to hear with seven children so close in age that we have faced some significantly challenging times, some battles to fight, some circumstances that have stood in direct conflict to the very words God has given us about our children as individuals and us as a family.

I’d like to share with you some encouragement that we have learned to rely on in the midst of these times of pain, discouragement, anxiety, and fear. Certainly some of you are reading this in a good season of your family’s life, full of the warmth and beauty of adoption. But, I know that some of you are in the thickness of a battle, overwhelmed and in need of supernatural strength.

God has not set you up to fail

As an adoptive or foster parent, you are probably aware of a sense of purpose in your life relating to the call to open your heart and your home to a child in need. I want to encourage you today that God has not set you up to fail. He has not called you to this radical life and exposed your heart without preparing you for this very moment you are standing in right now. You and I have the backing of heaven as we choose each day, each moment, to be faithful to our purpose. How do we access these heavenly resources for ourselves as parents, and in turn for our children? One of the stories I have gone to over the years for help is the one from 2 Chronicles 20, the story of Jehoshaphat. We haven’t had a vast army literally attack us, but maybe you are like us and have had times as a parent where you feel as if you, your child, your family, is under attack.

Fear and Friends

When Jehoshaphat gets the report, “a great multitude is coming against you from beyond the sea,” his response is familiar to me. “And Jehoshaphat feared and set himself to seek the Lord and proclaimed a fast throughout all Judah. So Judah gathered together to ask help from the Lord…” I like this for two reasons. One, he is afraid. When I see the issues of our children’s past rise up to try to steal away their inheritance and come against my peace and hope, I confess that my first response is also fear. But, like Jehoshaphat, I have learned that fear and anxiety are my cue to seek the Lord and to call for prayer. Finding people that we can trust to stand with us in prayer for our children has been a key for Stephen and me–my second reason. Our friends, the van Zyls like to say that “parenting is a team sport.” And I’ll tell you, we have found that we have great need to call on others to pray with us, to help us face the enemy that comes against us. I encourage you to find at least one other believing friend who will do as the people of Judah, seek God’s help on your behalf.

Telling it Like it Is

What happens next is really great– I love it! Jehoshaphat proceeds to remind God of who He is. In other words, he takes his focus off the vast army marching against him and begins to proclaim aloud, in the hearing of others, the awesome character of God. “Are you not God in heaven and do you not rule over the kingdom of the nations, and in Your hand is there not power and might so that no one is able to withstand You?” And then he proceeds to remind God of things He has done for them in the past. He tops it off with reminders of promises God has made to them as a people. Only after all of that does Jehoshaphat bring this devastating situation before God. “For we have no power against this great multitude that is coming against us; nor do we know what to do, but our eyes are upon You.” The deep, seemingly endless pit of need created by rejection, neglect and abuse, has made it easy for Stephen and me to recognize that our parenting, and even our love, is not enough to bring wholeness and freedom to our children. We realize, like Jehoshaphat, that we have no power in ourselves to take this enemy down.

The Battle is Not Yours

God’s response to the prayers of the people is clear and freeing, full of HOPE, “Be not afraid or dismayed of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s.” I have taken this word from God to Jehoshaphat personally, and I encourage you to do the same. Do you struggle with fear and anxiety as a parent? Looking at the great multitude of issues and behaviors, not to mention the sometimes crushing weight of the past, it is so good to hear these words. God repeats Himself again, saying, “You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourelves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you, O Judah and Jerusalem! Do not fear or be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them, for the LORD is with you.”

What do I DO?

It is helpful to see that God does not mean that we have no role or part in the battle when He tells us that the battle is His. The scripture takes the time to say exactly where Jehoshaphat leads his men, “You will find them at the end of the brook before the wilderness of Jeruel.” We have found God to be amazingly specific in how we are to deal with each of our children, in each season, in each specific issue. Listen to His voice telling you what to do with your son who has outbursts of rage way out of proportion to the situation at hand, or your daughter who lies regularly and without remorse, or your teen who has become rebellious and distant almost overnight, or your precious grade schooler who clearly is not able to make healthy friendships. Wonderful Holy Spirit will whisper to you practical answers to real problems.

Belief and Praise

Let’s listen, believing God for practical solutions to the real life issues we face as parents and those who love adopted and foster children. Believe, this is what Jehoshaphat says to his people. “Hear me, O Judah and you inhabitants of Jerusalem: Believe in the LORD your God, and you shall be established; believe His prophets, and you shall prosper.” May we, each one, be established and prosper as we face the great multitudes of problems that come against us, our children, and our families. Through faith we will access the answers, the healing, and the peace that is our inheritance in Christ. As you read the end of the story, you see that Jehoshaphat assigned people to praise God, before the battle was won. He believed God was who He said He was and would do what He said He would do–always worthy of praise. As they stood where God told them to stand, Judah saw that the enemy was indeed destroyed (they had killed each other off!). All that was left to do was to gather the spoils, a 3-day effort because there was so much–love it! I believe that we parents will one day be in this position of gathering the spoils of this battle–not gold, jewelry and weapons as with Jehoshaphat, but wholeness, healing, healthy relationships, love of God, God-given identity, good success. And our families will be called Families of Blessing, just as that battle field became known by all as The Valley of Blessing.

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry called Hope at Home, dedicated to help adoptive and foster parents encounter the Father’s heart for their families, partnering with God to transform orphans into sons and daughters. For more parenting insight and encouragement in the Lord go to the Hope at Home blog.

Foundations

I vividly remember being overwhelmed at the strange reality of parenting children I didn’t know. I had not really anticipated how bizarre it would feel to have a mother’s love, and I mean real love, for a child living in our home who was a virtual stranger. How strange if felt to parent a stranger!

One of the issues Stephen and I faced early on in the adoptions of our older children was the reality that foundations had already been laid in their lives. And these were foundations laid haphazardly, not by loving parents intentionally building life-long values, rather they were structures formed by a child’s need for survival, by coping skills developed for self-protection, by ways of thinking formed in the chaos of lack. And then there were the giant holes where no foundation had been laid at all. Holes where unconditional love should have been, where tender memories that are the currency of deep relationships should have been, where a strong and stable identity should have been.

The way this issue of faulty foundations looked “where the rubber meets the road,” (that is, the way it looked in our home) was at first confusing and disturbing for me. I’m the kind of parent who likes to deal with issues right away, and deal with them until they are fixed. That approach has some serious weaknesses I came to find out! When you are loving and parenting a child whose behavior and way of seeing life has been formed by lack, or by orphanage codes of conduct, you are up against far more problems that need fixing than is possible to change in the first months or even years of life together. And remember, we are talking about behaviors that often stem from deep foundational realities.

One of the things the Lord told me early on after our first adoption was this, “You need to be in this for the long haul.” This is exactly what I heard Him say. I have come to appreciate this simple word from God over the years because it has freed us to be patient, to believe God for the deep deep foundational work that He is doing in our children’s lives, knowing that He is aware of the years passing. Stephen and I came to realize that if we were to address every bad behavior each time it occurred, then our relationship with our children would be almost solely marked by the negative: pointing out what is wrong and requiring change, with very little room for fun and love and approval.

One day I felt the Lord speak to me about my frustration in having to let some bad behaviors go for the time being. I would love to share with you what He said to me. It gave us such freedom and also released a deeper compassion for our children, even in their worst behaviors. Often God speaks in pictures, and this is how He spoke to me.

He showed me in my mind’s eye a building, but the part I was seeing was the foundations under the building. I saw that there were these taller columns that were clearly full of holes, ragged in places, crooked and weak. And as I examined these I thought, “this isn’t good at all. There is no way these columns will be able to sustain this building for any significant period of time.” Then I realized that amidst the faulty foundations, even right up next to them, were these shorter columns that were in the process of being built. They were clearly well-made, strong, able to take the weight of a large building without strain, however they were not tall enough yet to reach the actual structure.

I felt the Holy Spirit show me that this was a picture of what He was up to in our children’s lives. The buildings sitting on the weak columns were the lives of our precious adopted children. They could not live good lives on these faulty foundations, but I saw God’s tender mercy and His beautiful love for them in the actual presence of these crooked columns. I realized that if we were to destroy these columns before the new ones we were building got tall enough to reach their lives, until they became something that our children could put the weight of their lives on, then we would, in effect, destroy the child while in the process of destroying the foundations. I became assured in my spirit that these bad foundations would come down in time, but also realized that we mustn’t go in with a parenting wrecking ball.

I cannot express how freeing this was for us, for me in particular. We needed to allow some things to pass without “fixing” them. This was not poor parenting, but rather very intentional on our part. As I contemplated the picture God showed me, it became clear to me how God has treated me. How, looking back on my life, God never required me to change all that needed changing at once. How there are things I did and thought in the past that I never even knew at the time needed changing, yet He loved me so.

Over the years, we have seen the solid, whole foundations replace the weak ones. We have watched as our children have tried out the new foundations, testing them to see if they actually work. Then, on occasion we have watched them try to go back to the familiar old foundations. As those began to crumble under them, causing them all sorts of trouble, they would choose to trust these newer columns, placing the whole of their weight on them and enjoying the security and safety they provide.

May we all “be in this for the long haul,” always building strong foundations as we love and parent these precious ones.

________________________________________

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Currently, three of their children are in college and four are in high school. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry to mothers and has a passion for communicating the joy, peace, and victory available to us as parents. This fall, September 23-24, they are a part of a wonderful opportunity for adoptive families called Hope at Home 2011, going beyond the traditional conference and providing a time of equipping and restoring parents of adoptive and foster families. Consider joining them, and click here and here to learn more.

Parenting in Grace: Identity

Defined by Behavior?

We speak a lot about identity on our blog. One of the most important roles we have as parents is to recognize and call forth our children’s identities. Now, it takes no effort at all to do this if we define an individual’s identity by his or her behavior. If our child lies repeatedly, then we may decide she is a liar. Or if we have a child who is filled with anger and angry outbursts, then we identify him as a child with anger issues. There is a certain logic to this approach, and it certainly yields some benefits as we seek to parent our children well. None of us want our adopted child to remain defined by their behaviors learned in an orphanage! So, we patiently (or not!) focus our attention on these behaviors in the desire to set them free.

Parenting Backward

Stephen and I have found that parenting with our focus on the negative behavior is limited in its success, however. I see it as parenting backward, in a way. I mean by this that when I focus on my child’s anger, for instance, I become so easily absorbed and enmeshed in the issue of her anger, how it originated in her past, and the depth of the problem, that I find myself struggling with feelings of anger myself, along with anxiety, frustration, and even hopelessness. Being clever, I realize pretty quickly that the problem is far too great for my parenting skills! The pain, lack, neglect, abuse and rejection our adopted children have experienced is far beyond my own experience and understanding.

Parenting Forward

Over the years, we have become increasingly focused on our children’s identity in Christ and have learned to parent forward, so to speak. Our goal is the same—to bring our children into freedom from the coping behaviors that were born out of–distrust, pain, and the need to survive. With this approach, however, we identify the problem (never too hard to figure that out!), we acknowledge the connection to the past in our own minds and occasionally with our child, and then we begin to speak aloud to ourselves and to our child his identity in Christ. We call forth his righteousness in Christ and parent into his future, rather than parenting into the issues of his past. In other words, we choose to make decisions regarding our child based on what God has to say, rather than on the sometimes compelling evidence of their behavior. We are careful to speak these truths publicly (even if it is just at the dinner table) and often. As our children have gotten older, we have found that texts, emails, facebook messages, letters left on their pillows, etc. are also good ways to “call forth.”

For instance, we believe that one of our sons has a strong leadership gifting, but we often see him waiting to be led and in a place of passivity. Stephen and I have encouraged and even at times required him to take leadership roles as we work at parenting him according to his identity in Christ. When he has failed, we work it through, allowing him to face the consequences, and then try again. This has been a long process with some painful times and mistakes on our part, but one that is now bearing clear and recognizable fruit in his life.

Focus and Answers

This approach is not always easy. It is counter intuitive for most of us not to place our full focus on a problem in order to solve it. Many of us have even been trained to do exactly that—looking intently at the problem in order to find the solution. But, I believe in the Lord there is a better way! As we look intently at our beautiful savior and focus on His words about our child, we will find the true answers to the complicated and difficult issues our adopted children face. Paul did this when he addressed the issue of blatant sin in his letter to the Corinthians (1Corinthians 6). In the midst of dealing with their sin Paul says, “do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you?” Do you see how Paul declared to them their identity in Christ here? He did not say, “do you not know that you are sinful fornicators?” Rather, he called out that which was good and true, reminding them of their identity and pointing them to the future, not the past.

Transfixed by the Problem

This parenting forward can only be done as we parents set our thoughts and affections on Jesus. I don’t know about you, but I find it quite difficult to do at times. Have you ever been in a situation where you find yourself drawn to look at something you really don’t want to look at and you know you should wrest your eyes away, but you just can’t? I remember when I was in elementary school our family was in a pretty bad car wreck with a hook and ladder fire engine. In the end, we were all fine; however, my youngest sister had gotten pretty beaten up. I’ll never forget hearing my mother call out, “Don’t look at Pammy. Don’t look at Pammy.” (She was covered in blood at that point and my mother wanted to protect us from fear.) Well, you know where this is going! Of course, I couldn’t help it—my eyes were drawn as if by a huge magnetic pull to her. I have recently realized that that is exactly the way I am sometimes with my children. I become aware of a behavior that needs our attention, a gaping wound not unlike my sister’s in a way, and find myself transfixed by it and it’s connection with such a complicated past, as well as my inability to “fix” the problem, and I think to myself, “You’ve got to tear your eyes away from this. It is not helping to gaze steadfastly at this problem. Rather, it is producing fear, anxiety and even emotional distance from this precious child.” I sometimes find it so difficult not to dwell on the problem. I know enough about our amazing God to know that when I pull my eyes away from the problem and intently look to Him, that anxiety falls away with ease, solutions come, my heart is warmed again to my child as I catch again some of God’s thoughts about him or her. I am able to parent forward into the beautiful, freeing and whole person.

Transfixed by the Answer

Our faith cannot be in our parenting nor can it be in our child. Our faith must be in Christ alone. I have found that when I mistakenly put my faith in my child to behave a certain way, to display a certain amount of progress and healing, then I open myself to be blindsided by disappointment, frustration and even anger. All of these emotions lead quickly to anxiety and emotional distance. However, when I place my faith in Jesus, in what He has called us to and what He has declared over our family. In essence, when I become transfixed by Jesus, the answer, then I can remain standing, even when the storms rage around me.

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Currently, three of their children are in college and four are in high school. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry to mothers and has a passion for communicating the joy, peace, and victory available to us as parents. This fall, September 23-24, they are a part of a wonderful opportunity for adoptive families called Hope at Home 2011, going beyond the traditional conference and providing a time of equipping and restoring parents of adoptive and foster families. Consider joining them, and click here to learn more.

Parenting in Grace: Who is This Child?

To topple the “stronghold of our experiences” we must “let God be found true, though every man be found a liar” (Romans 3:4). The only One who has a right to shape our lives is Jesus Christ. We must determine to allow nothing and no one to shape us, not even our personal experiences, unless they are consistent with the promises of God. In truth, who is ruling our lives, God or our experiences?
Francis Frangipane, The Three Battlefields

Who is this child?

I heard once that personhood can be defined in three parts: (1) Identity, (2) Acceptance, (3) Approval. This intrigued me, as I have become increasingly convinced that our precious adopted children’s wholeness and healing directly correlates with their understanding and belief in who they are. Do you remember what God the Father said about Jesus when He was baptized? “This is (1) My Son, (2) My Beloved, (3) In Whom I Delight!” (Matthew 3:17) Jesus received this public affirmation from His Father–his identity as a son of his Father, his acceptance as one who is loved, and the approving delight of his Father. When we ask the question, “Who is this child?” as parents, we have the opportunity to partner with the Holy Spirit to see God’s eternal purposes manifested in his or her life, going way past the surface issues of behavior into the depth of their identity in Christ.

What is God Seeing? What is God Saying?

My favorite example of this is found in the story of Gideon (Judges 6)– I love this story! There is Gideon threshing wheat in secret, hiding in a wine press so that the Midianite enemy can’t steal it from him. And then the Angel of the Lord shows up and says, “The Lord is with you, you mighty man of valor.” Notice, Gideon is not even wearing armor, he has no sword, he is hiding in justified fear–there is nothing about him that would indicate that he is indeed a “might man of valor.” What in the world was God thinking?! More importantly, what was God seeing?

Facts or Truth?

Do you see the huge gap between the Word of the Lord and the facts at hand?! There is a disturbing and direct opposition between God’s words and what can be seen at the present moment. In this situation it is key to recognize the difference between facts and truth. Facts are simply an accurate description of a circumstance. Facts change, but Truth–God’s Word–remains.

How often do we look at our children and see only a repeated negative behavior or character trait. We must look to who they are in the Spirit. Notice, God did not say, “You will be a mighty man of valor once I finish my work in you.” I don’t know about you, but to me it almost feels like God made a mistake here. But rather, I think what is going on is that God saw something in Gideon in the Spirit, something that had not yet manifested but was, nevertheless, TRUE. Also, let’s take note that God did not attack him with words like, “Gideon, you are a gutless wimp. Shape up here.” As with Jesus, God spoke out loud into Gideon his identity in the very midst of the facts that spoke as loud as any words, “Fearful, not Mighty.”

Calling Forth the Treasure

Part of our role as fathers and mothers is to speak WORDS OF LIFE and TRUTH into our children–into, over, and in the midst of their brokenness, their pain and their sinful behavior. You may find this “Parenting Forward” as counter intuitive as we have. It feels at times, especially in the heat of the moment when you are so disappointed, angry, or worn-down as if you are lying. But, I think what is actually going on is that in that awesome moment of opportunity (that looks suspiciously like another behavior issue that you need to get control of!) you and I are actually “speaking those things that are not as though they were.” (Romans 4:17) You are calling forth by declaration, or what my good friend Michelle calls “calling forth the treasure.”

Words that Shape Identity

Stephen and I have discovered a wonderful benefit from doing this over the years. As we have declared Truth in the midst of opposing facts, we have equipped our children with language for them to use when they think about who they are. Proverbs 23:7 (NKJV) says, “For as he thinks in his heart, so is he.” You and I have the awesome opportunity, given by God Himself, to speak words that shape how our children think of themselves and in doing so over and over throughout the years, we are actually shaping who they are–partnering with God to transform them from orphans into sons and daughters! Now that is something worth doing regardless of the cost!

A Real Life Example

I’d like to give you an example from our experience. And please know that this is not how we always do things. We have tried to make it a part of the culture of our family, but we have missed the mark often–and still we see God be faithful. I thank Him for that daily. But let me tell you one story. (Excuse my incorrect grammar as I strive to honor my children.)

One of our children came to us with an amazingly honed coping skill; this child could lie with the best! I am talking impressive here. At first we thought time would take care of this problem. Surely love and security would replace the need to lie regularly. As I fixated on the problem (never helpful–lesson learned!), I became anxious and fearful of where this behavior would lead our child. One thing I knew– I needed prayer, for myself — and for my child. As a group of trusted friends prayed, one felt strongly that God was saying that this child was actually a person of integrity and that they would in fact have a reputation for integrity. Now, at that point the facts were directly opposing this word and I had no vision for it, but by faith I made a choice to believe. It seems like a no-brainer now, but at that point it was a real leap!

I vividly remember one day when something had been taken and our child looked me in the face and denied responsibility. I knew this was a lie. But how kind was God to remind me right then of that word–this is a person of integrity. So, with everything in me wanting to say, “You are a liar. Again you have lied. What is wrong with you?!” (I know that is ugly, but my fear for the future caused me to have such a strong reaction,) — instead I declared out loud the Truth of this precious child’s identity, calling that thing that was not as though it were. “You, my child, are a person of integrity. What you are saying is a lie, but you are not a liar. This is not who you are.” And from that point on, over the years and to this day, we are very careful to publicly and privately celebrate this truth when we see it, and declare it as truth when we don’t.

I do want to clarify that there were still consequences to the lying; we aren’t talking about sweeping things under the proverbial rug. I am thrilled and humbled to say that years later this amazing young person sat in an office at school and when asked what their strengths were, these were the words that came forth (the way our child thinks when asked about who they are), “People know they can trust me and rely on me.” And it is absolutely true–this is the reputation of this young person. How thankful to God we are– for it is clear to us that this is His hand at work.

What are some of the “push backs” of this approach to parenting? What do we do when our child says, “No I’m not!” at our declarations? Any thoughts?

________________________________________

Beth Templeton

Beth has been married to her husband, Stephen, for 25 years. They have seven children, ages 16 to 22. Several years after giving birth to three girls, God called their family into the adventure and blessing of adoption. In 2000, they brought home a brother and sister, ages 5 and 10, from Russia. Then they returned to the same orphanage 18 months later and brought home two more brothers, ages 7 and 10. Currently, three of their children are in college and four are in high school. Stephen and Beth serve as leaders in their local church. Beth leads a ministry to mothers and has a passion for communicating the joy, peace, and victory available to us as parents. This fall, September 23-24, they are a part of a wonderful opportunity for adoptive families called Hope at Home 2011, going beyond the traditional conference and providing a time of equipping and restoring parents of adoptive and foster families. Consider joining them, and click here to learn more.

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