Your Thoughts on How You’ve Been Changed By Adoption/Foster Care


Last week I posted the Tuesday Topic: How have you been changed by adoption?

There were some great responses here on the blog. Quite a bit of conversation also happened on my One Thankful Mom Facebook page .

Since not everyone saw that, and because FB comments quickly disappear while blog posts last “forever,” I’m sharing those highlights today.

I’ve tidied things up, edited for clarity, and removed last names of the folks who shared their thoughts.

Your  Thoughts


I don’t even know where to start. I’m pretty sure the person I was 10 years ago today (when we first brought home the first children we adopted) is not even close to the person I am today. It really feels like a different life.

I’d say I’ve been being (still am) refined. Some stuff has been burned off but that process has been messy and ugly.

I’m not as optimistic and naive, but I’m more Hope-filled. I’m more overwhelmed but yet I can handle WAY more than I used to.

I’m full of secondary trauma issues and way more broken and yet so much stronger.

I cry more and laugh less but I’m slowly finding joy again. I’m tired. So tired.

I have deeper friendships but fewer and I find it harder to trust people now.

I know less about the “right” way to do things and more about the ways of love.



I know what attachment disorder is, and I know what prenatal exposure to drugs and alcohol can do to a person. I have more empathy for parents with children who behave embarrassingly in the public arena. 😉

I give directions in little bites, and follow up to make sure (in as many ways as possible) that the directions were understood; and then I keep checking in to make sure that progress is being made. (This frustrates neurotypical children, and grown ups. Just FYI.)

I have gotten glimpses of God, as our Heavenly Father, that have been quite surprising, and I’d likely have not had a change in my perspective of Him if I hadn’t parented traumatized children. Oh – one can’t pick and choose which issues you want to parent. Even though one carefully filled out all the paperwork that said “No” to fetal alcohol, autism, etc. 😉 

I appreciate moms who “get it”. That is, other moms who have very difficult circumstances and also have to smile and let comments about their perceived lack of parenting abilities slide right by.



Oh, this…I have been thinking a lot about this the past few weeks. Unlike many parents in the not-newborn adoption world, my experience as a parent has been limited to parenting 2 children who have both lost their parents, so I never had a “traditional” parenting experience, for lack of a better term. I would say that nearly 8 years as a mom has made me more easily broken, both for myself and my sons, but also for the grief and loss of others. Parenting kids from hard places

Parenting kids from hard places has eaten more of my emotional bandwidth than I would have thought and it took the toll on many relationships. I don’t blame my sons for that, but it is what it is.

I definitely was more idealistic, but more judgmental years ago. I am a little sadder, a little more weary, a lot less trusting, and I have no tolerance for “faking it”. My faith has been shaken to its very core and there are days I wonder if it will ever recover. Raising 2 sons who have experienced loss and grief that most will never imagine has made me realize the falseness of some of my church upbringing. 

I am a better advocate for myself, for my sons, and even my patients (as an ER nurse). I am quicker to cry. I also have learned a lot about loving someone when they are acting un-loveable and how hard that can be. A concept that I have really internalized is the importance of not judging another without “walking a mile in their shoes”. There are days my sons amaze me in terms of their resilience and days that I forget to provide them with a little grace. These are just a few of my rambling thoughts on the subject.


I used to be very shy and never wanted to rock the boat. I became a mom at the age of 45 when we adopted our first son when he was 3 and then two years later we adopted our youngest son when he was 3. Both were considered special needs and needed a lot of medical attention and lots of therapy. 

My oldest son is now married and the father of two and is thriving and about to graduate from the police academy. My youngest son has been more of a challenge and I have also had to advocate for him more. He is currently sitting in jail where he’s been for the last 8 months and in June will be transferred for two years to a Christian Rehabilitation Center .

Due to all of that, I finally found my voice and consider myself very strong having been through some really tough stuff with my youngest son in particular. I also feel that a lot of my self-righteousness has been burned away LOL. 

Motherhood, for me, has been the most rewarding, joyful, loving experiences that I would not trade for the world , in spite of the fact it has also been the most heartbreaking. I have seen God at work in the transformation in my life as well as my children. Soli Deo Gloria

Thoughts and Comments

Please share your thoughts and comments on this question of how you’ve been changed by adoption/foster care. Feel free to comment on the thoughts shared by here as well.

More Tuesday Topics

Tuesday Topics, friends – I could not love this more. This morning as I read these words, I just wanted to hug each of these women and sit at my table together. Don’t you wish we could do that today?

What Tuesday Topic would you like to ask? I’m ready to post another question tomorrow; email me at  

Put Tuesday Topic in the subject line so I’m sure to see your email.

If you’ve got something you want to ask – big or small, deep or not, you can see there are amazing mamas with wisdom to share.

There are also mamas just like you who may not have an answer, but they’re walking along the same road. You are not alone!

I hope your week is off to a great start. If you were looking for my weekly email, it was a full weekend and I did not turn my computer on once. Honestly, my family appreciated it.

We had opening day of baseball season for the boys, a track meet for Claire, Samuel and his girlfriend in town for the weekend, Noah here for a visit, and even a 90th birthday party. It was all good!

I’ll see you tomorrow!



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Let me introduce myself. Russ and I are the parents of twelve children by birth and adoption, and sometimes more through foster care. I'm the creator of One Thankful Mom which has been as much of a gift to me as to my readers. In 2011 I became a TBRI® Pracitioner* and have lived and breathed connected parenting ever since. I'm deeply honored to be the co-author, together with the late Dr. Karyn Purvis, of The Connected Parent; it is her final written work. I love speaking at events for adoptive and foster parents. I'm also the co-founder of The Adoption Connection, a podcast and resource site for adoptive moms. I mentor and encourage adoptive moms so you can find courage and hope in your journeys of loving your children well.


  1. Melody
    April 24, 2017

    Oh my goodness, it’s as if Jenn and I were the same person. I resonate with ALL she said. I went into the adoption journey with eyes WIDE OPEN as my husband and I were deeply immersed in the nonprofit world of adoption and orphan care.

    However, I had no idea how my own personal wounds would be brought to light, ripping open big hidden pains that I’m still processing. I did not know that our daughter would show me the depth of anger in my soul along with the incredible grace I gave to everyone but me.

    This journey continues on as we meld together as a family, working on what that means in this broken world. Some days I’m confident we have overcome and will be whole. Other days I live defeated and full of angst about that future.

    However, I am learning (ever so slowly) that just as my life needs grace and healing, so does those around me. My personal healing would not have come, I believe, had we not brought our daughter into our family. She is a gift!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 25, 2017

      Melody, I’m thinking about what you wrote – your own healing coming from the exposure of your wounds. We never know the journeys we’ll take when we follow God, do we? You would love Jenn; maybe she’ll write a guest post for us.

  2. Missy Hansen
    April 24, 2017

    “I’m not as optimistic and naive, but I’m more Hope-filled. I’m more overwhelmed but yet I can handle WAY more than I used to.”
    I love this statement from Jenn! True statement! My husband and I started this journey 20 years ago with the adoption of our oldest son. We now have 6. We’ve had wonderful moments and moments that nobody (but this group) can probably understand. Thank you for this post…trauma is tough and the mental illnesses that can come with it has been very hard for a couple of our children. Thank you for this post and the encouragement!

    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 25, 2017

      We have some smart friends – I’m so glad they shared their thoughts!

  3. Dara Nelson
    April 24, 2017

    So in ageement with all you wrote Lisa. Especially about the dinners with family-I found that I began to suffer from secondary PTSD and saw small behaviors in my younger children would trigger fear responses in my as I envisioned us having to live through all the trauma over again with another child. Thankfully though the Lord has been faithful to remind me of his goodness and his faithfulness.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 25, 2017

      Lots of deep breaths, Dara, right? Dinner can be hard, getting up in the morning sometimes too. I’m so thankful for our good and faithful God.

  4. Tabitha
    April 24, 2017

    Lisa- thank you for sharing from your heart. I always feel at home here in an otherwise sometimes lonely journey of foster/adoption. In regards to your Tuesday topic, I have been stretched and changed more than I knew was ever possible throughout our foster/adopt journey over the past 4 years and 11 kids. My heart has opened and been blessed and broken. My true humanness has been shown and challenged as well as my dependence of God. I have tried to bear some of the burdens of the “littles” and the “bigs” who we have gathered, only to try and transfer their hurt to a God -and that alone has been a huge blessing and also a toll on my own heart. I would never have it any other way and my husband and I smile and nod when it is “time again” to gather another, that although difficult we would never have it any other way. The blessings on our family and our hearts have far outweighed any challenge and I am so blessed that God led us to this spot. Thank you for your encouragement here, I always feel like I have somewhere to turn when I read your articles. Somewhere where I can gather advice from someone who has “been there”- advice for coming along side the kiddos God has gifted us with. Thank you for your honesty and vulnerability.

    1. Lisa Qualls
      April 25, 2017

      Tabitha, thank you for commenting and encouraging me this morning. I hear you about being stretched, changed, and dependent upon God. I’m glad you feel at home here!

  5. Sondra
    April 27, 2017

    For me, foster care has made me a worse Christian.
    I don’t care about a literal interpretation of creation, about gay marriage, abortion, alcohol use, appropriate clothes, or swearing.
    What I do care about? Loving others – kids, bio families, caseworkers, foster families, CASAs, and attorneys. Everyone involved in this system on both sides of the table need love and encouragement. We all hurt in the system. I want to offer love. Along the way, I’ve quit trying to make people – including myself – righteous.


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