Coaching & Support Before, During, and After Adoption

The Many Faces of Forgiveness

by | Jan 30, 2013 | Blogs by Gayle Swift, Blogs by Joann DiStefano

During February, we will be exploring forgiveness and how it can benefit adoptive and foster families. We will revisit the insights shared by Christina White, a survivor of a traumatic childhood and persistent, pervasive abuse. Eventually, she was raised by an uncle. Through her strong spiritual commitment, she has achieved forgiveness, healing, and purpose. Christina proves that the human spirit can be immeasurably resilient.

In response to questions from GIFT coach, Gayle Swift, we are grateful to be the recipients of her honest and vulnerable sharing. You can find more about Christina on her website.

1. As a survivor, what advice would you give to us and the parents with whom we work? What do you wish people had done to better shelter you from your circumstances?

When trying to help people who have had a horrible past I would start with telling them things like, “You are amazing for surviving” instead of saying, “I’m so sorry for you”. Try to help them turn what happened to them into something they can use to grow from, instead of something damaging. No one wants to be damaged. It’s easy for someone with a dark past to fall into self pity parties, don’t support that. For me personally, I would encourage a Christian counselor rather than a psychiatrist. I found psychiatrists to help by numbing emotion with medications rather than helping you to move on. Moving on is all about forgiving. Oprah said it best,” Forgiveness does not mean you have to accept the person back into your life. It does not mean you are condoning their behavior or that you are in any way saying that it was ok. Forgiveness is giving up the hope that the past could have been any different so you don’t hold on to wishing that you had a different kind of family. You let that go, and you move forward with the Grace that God has given you from this day on. I don’t want the spirit of me to die because of what you did.”