Dear Dr. Bill,
I have a 16-year-old foster daughter who has been in my home for 8 months and I’ve filed for adoption. I’ve always taken her to church with me — in fact, I made that a requirement since she has been permanently placed with me. My hope was to expose her to biblical values and teachings, and help her make some good Christian friends.
Unfortunately, the church’s youth group has done little to reach out to her. And while I thought we were on the right track and that she was enjoying her church experience — now she doesn’t want to go at all. Is this something I should continue to insist upon or should I just let her find her own way?
The most important thing for you to do right now is solidify your relationship with your adoptive daughter. As a foster child, she’s obviously been through a lot, and she will need an extra measure of your affirmation and love. Right now, church is a secondary issue. Instead, your goal should be to model for her what it means to live a Christ-like life, and to introduce her to the incredible truths of God’s Word.
If she doesn’t feel cared for or accepted by the kids at your church, forcing her to attend would be counterproductive.
I’d suggest you call the youth pastor and discuss the situation with him. Let him know that your daughter comes from a difficult background and is having a tough time fitting in.
Perhaps there are a few girls in the group who are especially friendly and caring. If so, he might ask them if they would be willing to take your daughter under their wing and help her get connected.
If the youth pastor is unresponsive or if it turns out that none of the kids in the group are willing to reach out to her, I’d suggest you find a new church.
You might also check to see if there is a Young Life group that meets at your daughter’s high school. You can learn more at www.younglife.org.
Thanks for writing, Juanette.
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