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Guest Post: One Adoptive Mom’s Journey Through Parenting A Traumatized Child

Just like every child is different and every parenting journey is different, so is every adoption and every adoption journey different. Below, a fellow adoptive mom anonymously shares what they have been through, this is not a sunshine and roses adoption storykids-who-need-the-most-love-300x244

This story really touched me, because there was a time, during the difficult times in the months and year after Hannah’s placement where I’m afraid and ashamed to admit that there were moments when we thought about “rehoming” because I was terrified of parenting Hannah’s needs, I felt I wasn’t going to be a good enough mother or parent to ensure that she got what she needed from me, in terms of her trauma and her insecurities, her issues surrounding abandonment. It may surprise you to know that this is a practice that happens on occasion with overseas adoptions, although I have not heard of it happening locally. 

Here is her story:

Our story with little man L… 

Adopted at the age of 2 months, L was a fussy infant, cried non-stop and it was just plain hard to calm him down. He had major separation anxiety and could not stand to share me with his older brother. The older he got, the more severe his mood swings, tantrums and sibling rivalry became.

Our house is a war zone. L rules it with his moods, time out doesn’t work, taking away his toys does not work and give him a hiding DOES NOT WORK. He will turn manic, he gets into shouting obscenities for hours, destroys his bedroom. To my shame I even thought about re-homing him… not a term used in South Africa but widely used in USA when adoption is not working the parents take the child back to the social workers… but… I LOVE HIM, he is my youngest, my cuddly bear, snuggle whuddle… MY CHILD. When he is not manic he is so sweet, so innocent, so charming, in the back of my mind I fear the words PsychopathBi-PolarSchizophrenia… How do I teach him empathy, remorse etc.

How is it that my oldest learn from us so easily, so willingly, but little man L not?

Trauma, birth Trauma to be exact. The full impact of trauma on adopted children is huge, scientific researched reveals a fetus is capable of processing rejection in utero!

Little man L was full term but so little, 2.2kg to be exact. 49cm with a big head. His Bio mum hid the pregnancy. She gave birth to him at home and LEFT him with the midwife. The midwife took him to a safety house, they searched for 7 weeks to find her. She signed adoption papers giving her consent with strict orders not to contact her. She doesn’t want to see him, she doesn’t want to know anything about him. She did not even want to say goodbye to him when we met her at the children’s safety home. In total Little Man L was moved between 5 safety houses in 7 weeks. He only had stability in the last week, when the social workers were busy with his paper work.

Our oldest son’s, who’s adopted, birth was completely different. His Bio-Mum, talked to him, she caressed her belly, she touched her tummy and talked to him, explaining why she will not be able to keep him, and that she loved him, after birth he stayed with her for 10 minutes, he lay on her tummy and she said goodbye to him.

But little man L … What happened to him. How full of rage must his mind be… NO one understands him, he shouts that daily at us. NO one wanted him. Why did we adopt him? WHY WAS HE BORN? He gest in such a state it is impossible to calm him. My heart breaks every time he gets manic, I know it is because of his anxiety, his fear, his trauma, his loss…

Anxiety, fear, trauma, loss… Is his boss, his devil, his Achilles heel. He will lash out at anyone if you are 2 years or 20 years or 82 years. He will tell you exactly what is on his mind, whether it be I will poo on your head or pee in your coffee to get you back, he will say it. He’s got no filter, and he will wound you with his poison words, my mum and gran and oldest son do not get this, they don’t understand his trauma, for them he is naughty, they stand together saying L is manipulating us, our house is divided. Liam HATES my gran, mum and his older brother. He worships me, he loves his dad but only if his dad is doing stuff for him, he wants to touch me constantly, wants to sit on my lap the whole time, sit beside me so tightly I can’t use my arm. He will get into bed every night and snuggle close to me, he still longs for skin to skin contact, and if he is anxious he WILL NOT FALL ASLEEP ALONE IN HIS BED. He will disrupt the whole house till I allowe him in our bed, once in bed, he will be out in like 2 seconds, because he feels safe, he feels loved, he feels something… alone in his bed with his anxiety is his biggest nightmare.

We seeing a Dr who prescribes medicine, but so far NOTHING is working. We are tired, we are wounded, we are at loss, we are sad, our adoption story is not a story of amazement… my adoption glow has long gone, burned out, my adoption twinkle in my eyes it gone, I  feel so sorry for our oldest child, his bio-mom wanted a loving home for him, and he got a house full of hate and anger. Yes, we do have a few rare occasions where Little Man L is happy then everyone is happy, we try to make the best of these moments, to go to movies etc… but most of the time we stay at home as we are bone tired. If you leave me I will sleep the whole day. I take sometimes a day’s leave just to spend it in bed. No one around me, just me and my pillow.

The guidance we got from our Doctor, be better parents, parent him, he must not parent you, put in boundaries. Time out little man L constantly if he gets angry, he will, after the 600 timeout start to realize his behavior will not be tolerated, but it is not working! It is tiresome, it is easier to take him to his room, and sit on his bed and let him rage his anger out. I don’t know how to help him anymore…

Then I came across this post : http://postinstitute.com/blog/2013/11/06/the-adopted-child-trauma-and-its-impact-bryan-post/

Such a good read, Especially the 10 Keys to Healing Trauma in the Adoptive Child.

“What Science Is Now Revealing”

Scientific research now reveals that as early as the second trimester, the human fetus is capable of auditory processing and in fact, is capable of processing rejection in utero. In addition to the rejection and abandonment felt by the newborn adoptee or any age adoptee for that matter, it must be recognized that the far greater trauma often times occurs in the way in which the mind and body system of the newborn is incapable of processing the loss of the biological figure. Far beyond any cognitive awareness, this experience is stored deep within the cells of the body, routinely leading to states of anxiety and depression for the adopted child later in life.

Because this initial experience has gone for so long without validation, it is now difficult for parents to understand. Truth be told, the medical community still discounts this early experience. Nevertheless, this early experience is generally the child’s original trauma. From that point forward many more traumas may occur in the child’s life. These include premature birth, inconsistent caretakers, abuse, neglect, chronic pain, long-term hospitalizations with separations from the mother, and parental depression. Such life events interrupt a child’s emotional development, sometimes even physical development, subsequently interrupting his ability to tolerate stress in meaningful relationships with parents and peers.

An important aspect of trauma is in recognizing that simply because a child has been removed from a traumatic environment, this does not merely remove the trauma from the child’s memory. In fact, stress is recognized to be the one primary key to unlocking traumatic memories. Unfortunately for both the adopted child and family, the experience of most traumas in the child’s life is that the traumatic experiences typically occur in the context of human relationships. From that point forward, stress in the midst of a relationship will create a traumatic re-experiencing for the child, leading the child to feel threatened, fearful, and overwhelmed in an environment which otherwise may not be threatening to other people.”

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15 Comments

  • Reply Natalie

    Gosh, I feel for her. How old is L now?

    February 9, 2016 at 12:52 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      I am not sure of his exact age.

      February 9, 2016 at 1:21 pm
  • Reply Fatima

    This is fascinating and heartbreaking! I wonder whether alternative therapies like cranial sacral therapy might help – I know it can help with trauma. Wishing her all the best, sounds like she’s a terrific mother.

    February 10, 2016 at 9:46 pm
  • Reply Leona Moss

    Have you heard of reactive attachment disorder. Google Nancy Thomas. My kiddo was adopted at 7 and is now 12. It’s been an incredibly tough road. Time out is a bad idea. We used “time in” There are a lot of helpful ways to parent our RADishes. You are welcome to mail me!

    February 11, 2016 at 2:12 pm
    • Reply Sharon

      This sounds fascinating!

      February 11, 2016 at 2:17 pm

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