I was playing a game with my 12-year-old son, Daniel, when his expression suddenly turned grim.
“I don’t have Jesus in my heart,” he said.
“Why do you think that?” I asked, knowing he had prayed to receive Christ a few days earlier.
“Because I had bad thoughts about you and Dad.”
When we adopted Daniel from Russia at age 11, we learned he had witnessed his father’s death and been abandoned by his alcoholic mother. I’m sure Satan wanted to continue the destruction of that family, but with our loving support, help from therapists and a new faith, Daniel began to heal.
Christ had intervened, yet the Enemy was still at work, planting doubt in Daniel’s heart.
Believers recognize that Satan isn’t happy when someone new enters God’s kingdom, but it’s easy to ignore an adversary we can’t see. The Bible tells us that Satan is very real and very dangerous. In 1 Peter 5:8, the apostle warns believers to be on guard because the Devil is prowling around, seeking someone to devour. Children who are adopted, like Daniel, can be especially vulnerable; a traumatic background is just an extra foothold for Satan’s lies: They aren’t your real family. No one loves you. You’re bad. You can’t trust anyone.
How can we help our children fight the spiritual forces of darkness?
Pay special attention to core adoption issues such as loss, rejection, grief, guilt, shame, intimacy, control and identity. Teach your children to respond to the Devil’s deceptions with the reassuring promises of Scripture.
Identify the enemy.
When Daniel accused me of loving my biological children more than him, I reaffirmed my deep love for him. But I wish I had also reminded him that his siblings and I were not the enemy. We could have discussed ways to resist Satan together, using the situation as a lesson in submitting our thoughts and fears to Christ.
Recognize the battle.
One adoptive mother I know quickly begins to pray when her daughter starts pushing her buttons. Eventually, the girl calms down. This mom has learned that her daughter isn’t the real adversary (2 Corinthians 10:3-4, Ephesians 3:10).
Since God had rescued Daniel, Satan’s lies tried to convince him otherwise. After I told my son that he did have Jesus in his heart and the Enemy was lying to him, I explained how to resist the Devil and rely on God’s power (James 4:7, Ephesians 6:10-17). Daniel did so, and together we learned how to stand against the Evil One.
Julie Holmquist is a writer and editor in Focus on the Family’s book publishing department.