When To Ask For Help


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Jennifer Phillips, China Alumni Family


When our family was in process, we were educated about all the services Lifeline provided for their families post-adoption. We were told over and over, “Please call us! We know it’s going to be hard once your child is home. We want to help.” Would you like to know how many times I called? None. Not once. 


It’s not that I didn’t need help, because I did. It’s not that things weren’t hard, because they were. Even though I was reassured over and over that it’s okay to ask for help, I felt ashamed. I thought, “Adoption is a beautiful thing, and this is something we chose, so I’m not allowed to say that this is the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life.” Looking back, it makes me sad that I believed this lie, because asking for help could have saved me some of the anxiety, and even depression, I walked through those first few years my child was home. If only I had admitted I was struggling… 


At Lifeline, we very much want to support you every step of the way, from the first time you inquire about adoption to years down the road. We know that even though adoption is beautiful, it is a long, tough road. We’ll definitely help you out of any ditches you find yourself in, but even more than that, we want to prevent you from careening off the road. This is why we offer counseling from licensed counselors in most of the states where we have offices. If not, we can help you find a qualified counselor in your area. 


So, when should you seek counseling?  


  1. You want to pre-empt struggles down the road. 

Are there issues you anticipate in the future? Talk with one of our counselors about them now so you can be better equipped to deal with them later. 


  1. Things are going well, but you know they could be even better.

We are called to excellence in our relationships, so make every effort to reach relational potential with your child.  


  1. You have a nagging feeling in your spirit. 

You can’t put your finger on what it is exactly, but you know something’s not right with your relationship with your child. Better to get to the root of the issue now before it develops into something even more challenging. 


  1. There are attachment red flags.

Maybe you’re meeting your child’s physical needs, but you’re struggling to move beyond that. Or you’re annoyed by things your adopted child does, but not bothered by those very same things in your biological children. Or perhaps you find yourself thinking things like, “Life was better before we had him,” and “Maybe we made a mistake.” 


It would be easy to hide these feelings in shame, but really, these are very normal attachment roadblocks that can be overcome with counseling.  


  1. Your child is having trouble connecting with peers. 

Does your child play alongside, but not with, others? Does she struggle to name the kids in her class or on her team? They may need help with relational skills. 


  1. Other children in the home are acting out or withdrawing.

Because we often emphasize the beauty of adoption, our bio kids may feel like they don’t have permission to talk about the not-so-beautiful parts—the jealousy, the feelings of being left out or overlooked, the frustration with their adopted sibling, the longing for the way things used to be. It is incredibly beneficial to have an objective third party to whom they can vent. A counselor can give these bio kids a place to feel heard and understood without worrying they will hurt anyone’s feelings.  


  1. Your child hits a major developmental milestone.

Developmental milestones inevitably stir up identity and abandonment issues. Counseling can help you and your child navigate these transitions in a healthy way.  


  1. Progress has stalled. 

If your child seems stuck relationally/developmentally/emotionally and you’re not seeing even incremental success, counseling can help restart progress.  


The list could go on. Bottom line is this: You do not have to walk this road alone. We are ready and willing to walk alongside you, not to evaluate or judge you, but to offer encouragement and support. Proverbs says there is wisdom in seeking out counsel, so lean on your brothers and sisters in Christ who are trained and gifted in this area.  


Ready to get started? Call your local Lifeline office and we’ll talk you through the next steps. We’re here for you, whenever you need us.