To the Friends and Family of Adoptive Parents

One of the most challenging aspects of parenting older (pre-teen and teen) former orphans is teaching them to rely solely on their parents for all of their needs.

A kid with attachment problems will do crazy stuff to maintain control of themselves. They will refuse meals and choose to steal instead – even garbage and animal food. And after accepting meals because they are so hungry, will steal even more later because they are angry that they accepted “help”. They will refuse to bathe, wet and soil their clothes (meaning urine and feces). They will destroy the clothing and belongings you give them. They will stand for HOURS not moving because anything else would mean that they are accepting love and hospitality from you.  They will reject offers of friendship from your other kids. They will injure themselves to gain pity in hopes that someone will take them back to what they used to know, or to where they came from. You see, they had the whole system mastered “there”.  They knew whom to manipulate and how and when.  They will do anything. You can’t even imagine.

They’re thinking “F%^& you. I don’t need your help. I’ll do it myself. I’ll take care of myself”.
Deep down, they want and need that connection. They are at constant war with themselves. When they allow themselves to trust even for a moment, the negative behaviour escalates as they fight to regain their autonomy.
Dear friends and family of adoptive parents, these kids will manipulate you, too.
If they think they can manipulate you to get what they want, they will do it. They don’t trust you. They are using you. This is how they “take care of themselves”. Don’t offer adopted kids anything unless you have run it past their parents. This includes gifts, food, and even physical attention.  Don’t offer them ‘extras’ of anything because they look like they ‘need’ it, or because she’s breaking your heart. If you show them pity and special attention, you are undermining their parents and tearing a rift in families without even knowing it. Even though it comes from a place of love. DON’T do it.
As friends and extended family, you can do your part by not playing into the drama. If the kid is looking sad and forlorn, if her face is covered in scratches or bruises, if she looks hungry or dirty, if she smells terrible, if she wears exactly the same outfit, if she keeps apart from the rest of the family… Assume FIRST that it is part of her control issues.
If you know an adoptive parent with a child like this, pray for that family. Especially for the bio kids who have taken on this kid’s trauma, and the other adoptive kids that are working so hard to leave trauma behind them. It rips the rug right out from under their secure lives and it’s a job to set it back to rights.  Come to their home ready to give… to everyone.  Come to organize playtime outside, make a meal, help with chores or home maintenance or a project.  Help the family as a whole.  And if that one kid sulks in a corner, just pretend you don’t see it.  They’re going hard for manipulation.  They must be enticed to join because they want connection with the entire family.
You can’t fix these kids. In the end, they have to *decide* to trust and become part of the family. As adoptive parents, we provide them with all that they need – physically, spiritually, and educationally. It is up to them to accept it.
It is a ministry, caring for kids with attachment issues. It’s hard. We give them stability when they need it but seem to thrive on upheaval. They may never have fond affection for us… we may never develop that for them. But we will take care of them for as long as they are here.  And you can be part of that life-giving ministry alongside your friends or family members if you know exactly what is needed.

On a positive note, this is not the majority of older adopted kids. These issues seem to run on a continuum.  Many, many more kids are adaptable and receptive. And we have been blessed with one of those, too. Thank God. Because we know we are actually making a difference when the other child can make us feel like abject failures.


The Work of Children

Play is the work of children – Jean Piaget

Rake | ©Nissa Gadbois

Jean Piaget was absolutely right, as were several other of his predecessors – Play is a Child’s Work.  There is nothing quite as magical as watching a young child imitate adult life especially when their imaginations are so lively – creating entire fairy worlds in which to live, and work, and play.  Their mud kitchens, and self-made forts, and invented games, are all so deeply meaningful.  They give children the opportunity to explore critical thinking and creativity at the same time.  If you have watched a little one, and listened to his or her speech, you’ll hear what important problems they are solving.

Perhaps if we grown-ups would return to play alongside wee folk, we could think of new ways to solve big problems.

She Blooms

The Rose is without an explanation; She blooms, because She blooms – Angelus Silesius
Rosa Rugosa | ©Nissa Gadbois

This beauty was overlooked on our farm up until this year.  But the goats noticed her before I did.  I’m horrified at what they’ve done to the lower half of her.  She is a venerable shrub – rather enormous.  Once she has done blooming, I will make some cuttings and give her children pride of place in our gardens.  Not only is this Rosa Rugosa a beautiful thing, it is also a very useful culinary plant.  You can make so much from the petals, but also from the great big hips that come at the end of the season.  You can make everything from an elegant syrup to a luscious dressing for poultry.

If you would like my Rose Recipes eBook, please make a gift of $25 or more.  Proceeds support our farm and ministries.

Beneficence of Nature

The indescribable innocence of and beneficence of Nature — of sun and wind and rain, of summer and winter,–such health, such cheer, they afford forever!  Henry David Thoreau

Achillea Millefolium | ©Nissa Gadbois

achillea millefolium | ©Nissa Gadbois

Herbe de St. Joseph (achillea millefolium)The legend is that St. Joseph hurt himself while at work and the Child Jesus brought him a sprig of this herb to stanch the bleeding.  It is used today for bleeding wounds as well as for fever, inflammation, and menstruation.  It is also used as a decongestant and expectorant.  How blessed we are to have ample supplies of yarrow here on the farm.  It is a very useful herb for the home apothecary.  The essential oil from this plant is a brilliant azure.  It is wonderful how God has hidden such surprises all around us!

I love teaching our children about the uses of the plants that grow here on the farm.  It seems a shame to undo what God has so perfectly cultivated here.  We are doing our best to plan to leave wild areas or to propagate natives to place within our gardens.

Summer Sausage Skillet

Summer Sausage Skillet
Serves 12
Super easy and nutritious luncheon or dinner.
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Cook Time
30 min
Cook Time
30 min
  1. 4 lb. bratwurst
  2. butter or ghee
  3. 3 large shallots (or one small onion), sliced
  4. 2 T garlic, chopped
  5. 4 lb mixed greens (kale, collard, mustard, spinach, rabe, etc.), chopped
  6. salt and pepper to taste
  7. pinch nutmeg (optional)
  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Place sausages on a shallow pan - a jelly roll pan is ideal. Cook until evenly browned and cooked through - about 20 minutes. Remove from pan, cool slightly and slice into 1" pieces. Set aside.
  3. In a large heavy-bottomed skillet, melt butter and sauté shallots and garlic until shallots are translucent. Add greens and a small amount of water to cover the bottom. Season with salt an pepper, and nutmeg if desired. Cover and let cook until greens are wilted.
  4. Add sausages to skillet. Heat through and serve.
  1. This is a great easy-to-make meal for those days when you want maximum impact for minimum effort. Serve with a side of fruit sauce or compote and you've covered all the flavour bases. You could also halve some cherry tomatoes and toss them in right before serving. We rarely eat potatoes anymore, but this would be delicious with mash on a rainy day.
  2. We prefer to use bratwurst with this recipe, but you use whatever sausages you like best.
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