Saturday, September 8, 2018

Trauma - The Gift That Multiplies

Adoption agencies portray adoption as something joyful, something that fills a void in the hearts of parent and child, a blessing without end. What they fail to address is TRAUMA and while I understand why, I don't think it does anyone any favors to pretend that trauma isn't real.

For one, there is a desperate need for homes for the many hurting children in this world, why jeopardize their chance's of a loving home by informing prospective parents of the affects of trauma? 

Two, many people (including myself at one time) cannot fathom how a sweet, cuddly baby could be so affected by 9 months in the womb. Surely the love poured out upon this child, will overwhelm any residual affects of trauma. Or, if you adopt an older child, you think, "Surely he will be so glad to have all his needs met while in a safe loving family, that his past will fade from memory." 

Three, there are adoptee's who are doing well, those who are secure in their adoptive home's, those who are thriving and bettering the world around them, causing people to think, "It is obviously a matter of loving the fear out of the child combined with successful parenting," so they really wouldn't listen to the words of warning concerning trauma.

Then one day they wake up and realize:
- trauma doesn't just go away
- babies adopted at birth have trauma, sometimes so severe they are unable to bond with anyone.
- the child you adopted still yearns for his birth parents to love him and you, the adopted parent, can NEVER fill that void.
- you can pour love onto your child 24/7 but if he views you as the nurturing enemy, love will never fix the hurt he feels.
- the rage he feels towards the pain he experienced, whether real or imagined, has to be directed at someone and that someone is you. Sometimes it seems as though he delights in hurting you and your heart breaks, breaks, and breaks again until you wonder if it is even possible to find healing.

So you go seeking for advice which you will quickly find is available everywhere, even strangers will feel free to offer their thoughts when your school age child is having a meltdown in public. The second thing you will find is that the advice so freely given typically isn't what your child needs.

You know that punishing doesn't work, your child has already been through tougher things than anything you can dish out. 

Taking privileges doesn't work either, your child lives in the moment and he will be dreadfully upset with whatever you have taken away, but the next time he is faced with making a similar choice he won't stop and think, "Last time I did this ________ happened so I had better not." No, 9 times out of 10, he will repeat the same action.

Explaining why certain behaviors are inappropriate doesn't help for one simple reason, the child is acting this way due to trauma, and logic is useless in the face of trauma.

If you have a child with severe trauma, chances are no matter what you try regarding consequences will work, rather it will only serve to drive the child further away, because consequences only work if the child has the ability and desire to form relationships. You cannot punish a child without first having his heart and for many children, allowing an adult access to their heart is simply too risky because of one thing: TRAUMA.

You have to first connect with your child and that is one thing a traumatized child will fight against at all costs. Why? Because to them connection = pain. Why get close to someone only to have them leave? Why allow yourself to care about someone only to have that person run over your already broken and hurting heart? Why risk the pain? 

Then there are children who, due to their experiences prenatally or as a newborn, cannot bond without intense therapy. This may be because they either never had the chance to bond in the days and weeks after birth, so that part of their brain didn't grow correctly, or they endured such difficulties while in the womb; be it from drugs, alcohol, prescription medication, or maternal trauma, that their brain has been permanently damaged, making it extremely difficult if not impossible for them to bond.

Trauma is real folks, it is the gift that keeps on giving. Traumatized children can easily create traumatized families where chaos reigns. The hardest things about it is that there is no one cut and dried "cure" for trauma. A child who has been abused will need different therapy to heal than will the child who suffered prenatal exposure in the womb. What works for one child, may be the exact opposite of what a sibling may need. Trauma parenting is hard it may take years to see result's, there are days when you will want to throw up your hands in despair....days when you WILL throw up your hands or fall to the floor, but remember, your child needs you, even if he asks for it in the most unloving of ways. If there is one thing consistent about a traumatized child it is this: The child desperately needs his parents to be strong and his parents desperately need a village of support so they are not overwhelmed with the task before them.

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