Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Trauma parenting

Yep. I said it. Trauma parenting.  Parenting in the trenches. Whatever you wish to label it. 

We are DOING IT.

I know, we all want adoption to be sooooo pretty.  Poor, sad,dirty faced orphans swept in to new mommies and daddies arms to never feel a TWINGE of hunger or pain ever again..........


Reality can be UGLY.  REALLY UGLY. 

I'll tell you what brings this up-- twice this week (already!) I found myself trying to explain RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) to 2 people who had no clue.  I don't usually "go there."  Yep, I said it, I don't usually go there.

Because if you do not live in this "trauma parenting" you DON'T GET IT 99% of the time.  You DON'T. Even with someone telling you what a child has done at home then seeing that same child 5 minutes later walk in to church/school/ visiting someone and they are charming, smiling, sweet, helpful, polite, cute, etc, etc. etc............doesn't make SENSE. (And it doesn't, trauma kids don't often make ANY SENSE in their behaviors)

Surely there's "SOMETHING" WE (PARENTS) are doing/not doing or maybe we are even....... CRAZY (you know-- loco, nuts, screws loose---) because "Not this precious child?"  NO WAY!

Yes, THESE KIDS.  Some with deeper level of hurts and issues than others. None (LET ME REPEAT THIS) NONE of them unloved by us. None of them considered NOT WORTH IT even when it makes no sense to others who do GET IT why we would want to ever do this X SIX! 

Let me be be clear, God gave us this family, each one chosen and we have no doubt of that.  He and ONLY HE gives us the GRACE to cope with ANYTHING and everything that comes our way in regards to any of our children, adopted or not.

We HAVE TO RELY ON HIM to remain in this BATTLE for the these children to have it ALL--- to heal from traumas, to be strong in body, to let down defenses they have deeply embedded within their brains and let them GO.........

We had an incident Sunday morning. I knew something was up because I know my daughter by now. (I love saying that-- after almost 6 years I KNOW this girl. And in my heart I KNOW when something is bothering her.) 

 So when it's not long till we leave for church (AKA-- not the best timing but that's always when things gotta go down, huh?) I see she's in pants. And I told her to change to a dress. We prefer the girls wear dresses for church and Chloe knows this.

So out comes snot. "Why did she have to wear a dress, the boys don't"-- Uh, yeah, that's right. Our boys DO NOT wear dresses. That's not going to change either. 

So I went to her closet. And asked her what the issue was because here was 1, 2, 3, 4,5 skirts and she said "It's too cold for skirts."  OKAY-- Here's  1, 2, 3 dresses? " At this point her face falls. I knew we were getting somewhere----- and she says "They don't fit me."  As I pull out 1, 2, 3, and 4 dresses she tells me what way they don't fit anymore, too short, sleeves too short, too tight, etc.

OKAY.  And I look at her. I said, "Chloe, how exactly was I supposed to know this? Do I mind read? Did you say anything?"  "No", she said, as she started to cry.  And I know what this is.... it's my AH HA moment.

I told her this--- "Chloe I look in here and see 4-5 dresses. Since I don't know they don't fit I think you have plenty. Now instead of these dresses going to the younger girls, which I had looked at their clothes and they were short on dresses so they got new dresses. But I had NO CLUE yours didn't fit. So now I have bought dresses for them, maybe even more than they needed because these can be handed down, when YOU were the one who really needed dresses."

So upon pointing this out, I said "Why didn't you tell me?" And she says "I was afraid you would get mad if I told you I outgrew them." And I said "So what did you think I would do? Bite you? " (being goofy)"Beat you?" (we never hit them and she knows this)

 I said "How else would I find out if you don't tell me?"  I then explained to her that other kids come to me and tell me that something is too small and if I joke and say "You are too expensive-- stop growing!" It's PLAYING and I always go get them what they need in bigger sizes and she knows that.

She softly apologized to me and wiped her face and off we went to church. She came to me later that day, she said she was really sorry again and she initiated a HUG.

  Now understand, our adopted teens are NOT fond of hugs. We do NOT force them to hug because we feel that's too personally invasive and we show them love and affection with other means, a pat on the shoulder, a "high-five", patting their hair.  So for her this was HUGE.  She really wanted me to know she was sorry. 

Such a blessing that girl is. There's others here that have not gotten beyond very gruff, very rude and insincere apologies. There's little sisters that roll their eyes, refuse to apologize.  So this was such a wonderful display of how to appropriately FIX an issue THEY caused and an apology was needed.

Let me explain my "Ah ha" moment though. Chloe came from an orphanage that bought 1 pair of shoes for them per year. NO.MATTER.WHAT. Too small, broken, torn, worn down-- didn't matter.  Chloe has permanant deep calluses on the top of her toes from shoes too small.

When the kids first came here it took us a YEAR at least to teach them we did NOT buy shoes 2 sizes too big, they could not get that we would go buy another pair even if they outgrew/ wore out their shoes in a matter of WEEKS (we hoped not, but it's happened). 

So almost 6 years home for Chloe. Yep. SIX YEARS.  And we think she is doing GREAT.  Yes, she's a wonderful daughter with a huge heart. We adore her.  But yes, we see something like this.  A "flashback" if you will, of thinking she can not possibly say "This doesn't fit anymore."

And as much as I want to say (right along with you MOM) "Ohhhhhh, that POOR CHILD!"  I DO NOT. Not because I don't care, I DO.  It broke my heart to know this was a "flashback for her." 

But it's our job to help her through those "old ideas" to the right way she needs to think because she's NOT a poor orphaned child anymore with no one who cares about her. NONE OF OUR CHILDREN are orphans any longer or ALONE. Even ones who might not be thrilled to claim us....... we are THEIRS.  They are part of our FAMILY.

Chloe is a cherished child of ours who WILL have new dresses (Yeah, an excuse to SHOP!!) and we chalk this up to a "minor incident"-- yep, I said it. This is MINOR, we've done/ are doing much, much harder with others.......I guess my point is that even years down the road, when they are doing great there's still bumps in the road. And that's OKAY.

Navigating them is LIFE. Do I wish she never knew a place that didn't give her scars to bear on her soul and her body? YES, of course. I would take them in a second if I could for her.  For ANY of my children, I would bear their burden if I could.

 But that's not always the road, sometimes the road is walking BESIDE them and helping them when the puddle of water is so deep they can't see around it to keep walking forward.  To help them over the puddle, maybe even fall in with them, pull us both out and get up and try again, keeping on moving forward WITH them. And it's certainly not every day, all day nothing but difficult. No way! There is lots and lots of joy too:) Mixed in with our craziness, of course.

I don't usually send you to another blog but Hubby and I have both found these 2 particular blog posts to be really hitting "right on" with support of us parents raising kids with trauma.

Don't get me wrong, the kids are all making progress and doing good. It's just not ever going to be EASY and as I told hubby "God didn't tell us it would be easy." After another slam/issue, about the third of the day for me one day this week (2 from the OLDER kids)

 I had to tell hubby this as well, "God didn't promise me breaks either." When hubby mentioned I don't get a break sometimes from the issues. No, often I do not. It's deeply helpful that hubby always has my back on any issues with the kids. He's AMAZING when it comes to being a dad and supportive hubby:)

And because it is so very important to have that supportive partner I was thrilled when first post was followed by this post about marriage giving super advice on how to keep your base strong. Because you gotta have a strong base to parent children with trauma. It's not for wimps:))

I can't leave you without saying that for us, for SURE-- each and every one of our children are worth all the effort, time, tears, crap behaviors, lack of "getting it" for some, it doesn't matter. 

 We are strong through God who gave us the gift of each one of our precious and very loved children and continue to love them as God called us to do. NO. MATTER. WHAT.  Some days only able to do it through the strength HE gives us. But HE never leaves us OR YOU, if you are parenting kiddos with trauma too. Don't ever forget that!

We so enjoyed all your comments from the last post:)  I had to chuckle, Camden's not opened his eyes enough for you to tell they are brown--- Derrik is my only blue eyed boy, besides our angel baby Tristan.  Just love my blue eyed guys- and those brown eyed ones too, of course!! All are special and wonderfully made by God.

Hard or easy, birth or adopted, blue eyes or brown, ALL ARE BLESSINGS. We thank God for each of them and know that He built this family just perfectly because He makes NO mistakes.  He's so cool like that:)


Dawn said...

Yep. This. ;)

Shauna said...

Thank you! Beautifully written! We are also dealing with RAD issues and I feel like I could of written this blog post, it's like you peeked in my window :)!

rachel garber said...

I've followed you for six years. I can't imagine the heartache and joy that you feel daily with your treasures. Chloe has had my heart since day 1, I just love her and wish she had never had to feel any of that. Makes me want to send her a million dresses in all sizes so she never has to feel that scar again.

Dottie P said...

That is so funny! I was so sure Cam had blue eyes! Anyway, he is a handsome dude!