Monday, May 24, 2010

You Say To-Ma-To; I Say To-Mah-To

How in the world do we introduce our kids adopted as teens to the Lord? I suspect there are as many answers as there are adoptive families.

Disclaimer: I've said it before, and I'll say it again ~ "I am not an expert!" Just an ordinary working-inside-and-outside the home mom to 8 kids who rescue me daily from my selfishness. If you've read much of my blog, you already know my Source of strength, energy, grace, mercy, compassion and forgiveness. And that's what this post is about.

I desperately want my recently adopted teen to understand why we do the things we do...and don't do the things we don't. Recently in the adoption community there's been a flurry of advice, criticism, encouragement and awareness on matters and the manner in which we approach our adopted children. I've read a ton of it; some I have begun reading and stopped abruptly, some I have taken to heart, and admittedly some I have completely disregarded - because it's hard to digest advice given about raising adopted teens from those who have not 'walked the mile.'

The bottom line for us is that if we truly know the Lord as our Sovereign Father, we must earnestly seek Him in ALL things, especially raising our children. We can offer encouragement to families and testify about the victories He has given us and His faithfulness in the trials, but the specifics of what works for us may not be the answer for anyone else, especially regarding different aspects of child rearing.

I can't tell anyone else how to 'talk adoption' with their children, how to discipline, how to integrate culture, how to delve into their past, how to explain their placement in a family...or when it's appropriate to say, "I don't know." Even with our five China-born children the approach is different. I can only share what we've done, right or wrong.

I can't possibly know how they will feel when they grow up, what scars will have never healed, the wounds we unintentionally poured salt into... or if they will decide to be joyful despite their losses, and choose to receive the redemption.

Two things I do know ~
1) We are imperfect parents, spending time daily in the Word so that God can transform our minds, help us to re-prioritize our choices and build our character and desires to line up with His.
2) Years from now I don't want my adult child having to ask the question, "You know that Jesus you talked about, why didn't you ever tell me how I could know Him?"

Ya'll know I accepted Christ at age 36 (praise Him for patience!!!), and I can't help but wonder why some of my friends who claimed to know Christ never shared Him with me. Not being critical; just sayin'. Not harboring any bitterness because I know He always had the best in mind for me!

But I digress. This is about introducing my recently adopted teen to my Lord and Savior, Christ Jesus... and giving him the freedom to choose to believe or not, all the while praying that the Spirit would prick His heart.

We attend church and youth group regularly, but to our son this seems to be 'just something we do on Sundays and Wednesdays' with no real significance to him. Our family devotions are usually short-lived due to our frustration over an attitude of indifference (yes, I know that's our problem!).

We bought him a Chinese/English Bible, and he carries it but isn't interested in actually reading it in the service.

So, we are having summer school, and reading is an integral part of school...right?!? And I've got a teen who says he doesn't want to lose his Chinese, so reading his native language is part of keeping it fresh, right?!? And I've got a Father who desires that none should perish and has given His Son so that all can have eternal life by confessing Jesus as Lord and Savior, so reading His Truth is the best way to get to know Him, right?!?

Only a few problems. We have a boy who thinks he knows best - big surprise! He refuses to speak Chinese at length in our presence. He refuses to read out loud. So when I announced that we would use the Bible for reading today, he hem-hawed around and finally got it, but then refused to read. At first he wouldn't tell me why he refused to read. I asked some very personal questions based on recent conversations, and the bottom line is he was angry because I was asking him to do something he didn't want to do.

He later apologized for being upset and we talked about it. He told me his 'friends' told him they didn't understand the Bible or God and 'people in China no reading this.' Hate to break it to you, son, but people in China are reading This! This has been a common theme for us ~ our son's perspective of China and the US are based solely on what his friends have told him.

Once I explained to him that though some people in China, just like the US, don't understand or believe in God, there are many who have come to believe through reading the Bible. I told him that I cannot and will not try to force him to believe, that God has given us the free will to choose, but as a Christian and as his mom, it is my privilege (and obligation) to share with him that God loves us, no matter what, and because of that love, He gave us the only Way to eternal life through Jesus, because we simply can't be 'good enough' to get to Heaven.

So today we read (in Chinese and English) the Roman Road and talked about it. And we will read it again tomorrow...and the next day...

I don't know what works for you, but if you've walked this mile I'd love to hear about it. I don't even know what works for us... but today this is our trial and error approach to teaching our son the Truth. Good thing God's got our back!


Tammy said...

Oh Connie, no I certainly can't know what you are experiencing and I'm not saying this to "puff" you up, but from what I am reading how can you not be doing what is right when it falls right in line with what our Father wants (for your adopted child to be His adopted child)! I think when you are doing everything you know how to tell him about God and His love for him and with all that he experiences around him leading him to Christ, then simply trust that our Father loves him more than you do! Praying!

Momma Hen said...

i'm walking this road *right beside you* dear friend. i will cheer you on and encourage you as you walk in the will of the Father for you and for your chilren.

thank you for sharing your heart - for jesus, for the gospel that brings HOPE and for your sweet teenage son's heart.

Chris said...

Do you know "Asia Harvest" ? mission group to China and other Asian countries. They often have pictures of and stories bout Chinese learning about Jesus. Don't know if that might help.
I've been wondering how it will go teaching a 10 y.o., can't imagine starting at 14. So much to share, but it needs to soak in slowly I guess.

Kitty said...

Well, honey, I can certainly tell you that I don't have the answers!! I do know that God has revealed so much to me in my time with Him discussing my children and asking Him to show me how to parent them in a way that's best for each of them. That said, I know you, and I know you've done the same thing. Go with your spirit. God'll let you know if He wants you to do something different. His Holy Spirit is alive and well in you, Connie! We're all going to make mistakes, but as long as we're asking God's direction, I believe He'll let us know when we need to re-group. I have sure been experiencing this firsthand in my life with my four kids. Just keep pulling up those beautiful bootstraps and keep walking, girlfriend! And you're right - God definitely has our backs - and our fronts and sides, too!!! LOVE YOU!!

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Lori said...

Our pastor told us evangelizing a person can take 30-35 times before they may accept Jesus as their personal Savior. And, it may take 30-35 different people mentioning it to a person. So, don't stop introducing, and keep him surrounded by other believers. He's also a transplanted, adopted, teen who comes with an attitude and trying to express his independence.
NEVER GIVE UP! (Not that I think you will:).

Love ya,

Mama D.'s Dozen said...

I'm so glad that you commented on my blog today. I've enjoyed getting to know your family this morning. :)

I believe that the very best way to share Jesus with your son, is through your actions. Love him with a love he has never seen before.

#2 Do NOT stop family devotions, just because of bad attitudes. (while I totally understand) Reading and discussing scripture with the family is imperative. (How about changing the time or style of devotions?)

#3 Our children have been totally BLESSED in their walks with the Lord by reading Christian biographies. (They especially like the ones published by YWAM publishing.) This could be a good way for Cooper to learn "history", while also reading about the amazing FAITH of these ordinary men and women. Seriously, the biographies that we read for homeschool "history" class had a huge impact on the direction of the lives of several of our young adults.

#4 Nope. You can't force it. Our 2 adopted daughters came to us "knowing Jesus" because they were from a "Christian" orphanage and they had memorized some scriptures. However, they had no idea what the scriptures meant. No idea. It was all just memorized words to them. It's been tough to help them understand the relationship with Jesus that our other children have.

Just my 2 cents ...


Laurel :)

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