Ever stopped and realized you had been a bad adoptive parent. It hit me the other day.

My 17-year-old son and I were cranking the Christmas tunes while running errands when Michael Bublé started singing Santa Clause is Coming to Town.

…he knows if you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness sake!

I was struck by a deep sadness. I started remembering the times I kept good things from my children because they had “been bad.”

My “Santa Parent” moment

We had a bedtime routine designed to foster attachment and fun in our home. I would pick the kids up and cradle them while carrying them to their bed while singing rock-a-bye baby. I timed the line and down will come baby with a drop onto their mattress…often with a little extra push to see if I could get a bigger bounce 😈 . They’d laugh then we tuck them in, pray with them, and then give them a Hershy’s Kiss and an actual hug.  We sent them into sleep with a positive moment no matter how bad their day had been.

One of my kids worked hard the first 5 or 6 years to keep his distance and push us away. One night about 2 years into his adoption he asked me to rock him to bed. I had picked up this 12-year-old boy and sang to him on the way to his room when he farted on me. This was his passive-aggressive way to let me know he was still mad about being adopted. I knew it. I was ticked. I dropped him —feet first— and told him to put himself to bed.

He’d been naughty – not nice – and he didn’t deserve good things from me. Instead of going to bed thinking he was loved unconditionally by these people that he was not sure that he wanted to be his parents, he went to bed with another confirmation.  He was just a bad kid that no one wanted to parent because, “who could love a kid with as many problems I have?”

I was a bad adoptive parent: I denied my child the gift of my time, the gift of my patience, the gift of my understanding, the gift of my support.

The first hero of Christmas

I think about this in contrast the first hero of Christmas, Jesus. He was the first hero because He “came to seek and save the lost.” (Luke 19:10).  “While we were still sinners Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). He came to find the naughty kids — to give them a gift!

I wish I could have a mulligan on that moment. I’d say to him with a smile on my face, “Did you think that you could get me to stop loving you and doing good things for you by farting on me?” Then I’d plunk him on his bed, shove a chocolate in his mouth and tell him, “It’s not the things you do that make me love you or hate you, it’s who you are.  It’s the fact that you are my son.  Good Dad’s give good things to their sons because they love them.”

Then I’d go take a shower and wash that fart off of me. Bad adoptive parent no more.

A helpful understanding

Our kids have great difficulty “being good” because of the trauma and rejection they have had in their lives. I want to become their biggest ally in helping them be successful in the struggle and give them many good things — Even when they don’t deserve it. In truth, the thing they didn’t deserve was the load of garbage that was dumped in their lives.

The question I will be asking myself before giving my child a gift is not “Have they been good, “ but, “is this good for them.”Click To Tweet

This year I hope you’ll join me in being a Jesus parent and showering all types of proper gifts upon our kids.

Lynn Owens
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Lynn Owens

Lynn is the co-founder of Forever Homes, and Owner of Canyon Lakes Family Counseling Center, a Mental Health Clinic, where he specializes in treating adopted and foster children. He has over 20 years experience in Residential Care, Foster Care and adoption. Combined he and his wife have parented about 100 kids.
Lynn Owens
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