“How many times have I told you not to yell at your brothers
“How can you remember this and not that?”
“How can you wake up one morning happy and the next morning mad?”
“Are you 2 or 20?”
Have you ever asked yourself these questions regarding your
child? Because, of course, none of us
would say them out loud…
If you’re the parent of a child from hard places, you may
have already read Jen Hatmaker’s post,
“The Truth about Adoption: One Year Later.” If you haven’t, I would encourage you to read it. I found it relevant, humorous and real.
I wish I could say that we experienced the same level of
healing at 8 to 12 months home, but we are still in the healing process at nearly 3 years post placement. Progress is evident, but I liken it to pushing a broken egg up the side of a glass bowl
with a fork. While we are making forward progress, there is much substance left behind – 1 step forward, 2 steps back. I am hopeful we will reach the top of the bowl, but I wonder how much gunk will settle in the bottom, only to surface in an unforeseeable moment of change.
I’ve asked myself many times why I feel compelled to post
about trauma. It’s not to educate because I’m not an authority. I’m a mom whose only professional credentials do not include recognizing or treating children affected by trauma. And the
mere fact that I’m living it doesn’t make me a professional; it only makes me a traumatized mom:)
I’ve also found that, generally speaking, those not directly
affected do not wish to be educated on the matter. Admittedly, it’s much easier to take the daily or limited interactions with the child at face value. Many don’t realize they are seeing the “I’m-coping-with-this-overwhelming-environment-by-acting-silly”
kiddo. Or the kid who subconsciously doesn’t trust anyone and can’t engage in relationships beyond surface level. They don’t understand the child who responds out of fear and overwhelm. They may not witness the behavior that mimics bi-polar disorder.
Now that I’ve established that I’m not writing to educate, why am I writing this?
1) This will serve as a memorialization to mark
where we’ve been, how far we’ve come and eventually to reflect on how God has redeemed us. May He be glorified!
2) To educate myself. I need to understand the root of my child’s responses, and learn practical ways to change my reaction and lovingly guide him through the healing process.
3) To encourage other parents walking this lonely
path. You are not alone!
You see, I’ve been that parent who has longed to return to
the ‘waiting’ phase of the journey where I fell in love with a child on paper and couldn’t wait to bring him into the safety of our home, surrounded by siblings who were crazy about him and opportunities that were endless. No amount of reading could have prepared me for the child who rejected his family and viewed opportunity as another chance to fail.
I’ve been the parent who looked at the calendar and realized
five days have passed and I haven’t left the house...or planned a meal beyond ramen noodles…or covered my grey (eek!)…or answered the phone…or responded to emails…
I’ve been the parent who’s sat on the floor for hours, through
tears and sweat, trying to comfort my hysterical child who desperately wants to trust but is afraid because he’s not yet experienced a ‘happy ending,’ and flinches at the attempted comforting hugs because to him, touch equals pain.
I’ve been the parent desperately seeking resources offering
practical help, or at least affirmation that our family is not doomed and our other children will not grow up miserable, resentful or institutionalized because of the trauma we introduced into our
I’ve been the parent questioning my ability to rear a child,
wondering if I’m setting safe boundaries or simply exercising control.
I’ve been the parent left in a stupor, wondering what
happened in the split second between the silliness and the sudden rage.
I’ve been the parent who’s spent days searching blogs for
signs that we are not the only family whose front door seems to have the invisible greeting, “Welcome to h*ll.”
I’ve been that parent, and I’m learning to be a better parent, to all my children. I’m far from there, but each day is a new opportunity for me to run the race. I’m thankful for the little
things, like the fact that every day will eventually end and sleep will come, a new shirt can make me feel great, an old verse can bring new perspective, a caffeinated beverage can change everything. Well, not everything, but you get the idea.
Change is occurring. We’ve come a long way. We’ve had to make some not-so-popular choices. But helping our traumatized
child become an adult is not about momentary popularity. It’s going to be a lifelong journey. It requires daily prioritizing and
remembering the goal. It requires change on our part. It requires a change in vocabulary. We’ve ousted the elusive term ‘normal.’
We are seeing trust blossom ever so slowly. We have begun
counseling in a non-traditional way, and it is probably the single most beneficial tool yet!
As I embark on this journey of discovering the effects of
trauma (an experience that produces psychological injury or pain) and the many ways it manifests itself, I will pray for guidance in sharing.
May we all find hope and encouragement, and most of all, may He be glorified.