Random Thoughts on Parenting a Child with Past Trauma

So, trying to catch up on posts here… SOOOOO much has happened that it is hard to keep it straight. Today I am not going to continue with the chronological story line into hour our life with kids unfolded. I am just going to offer random thoughts from my time being a full-time mom to an 8 year old traumatized girl and a part time mom to her siblings. We are still working on the transition and have a ways to go, but I am happy to report that we had no honeymoon. I like it better this way. I have always been more of a baptism by fire kind of girl so this fits my personality.

First off let me say that being a parent is TOUGH!!!! No amount of training, prayer, preparation, or reading can make you realize what it is like to have the hardest 24/7 job every created! I feel so unbelievably blessed that I have an amazingly understanding job that is allowing my to work 2 days a week for the foreseeable future (ie forever!) and an even better husband who provides for the family and still comes home at the end of the day with energy for the kids. I am continuously in awe of the amazing man that I am married to. I am so blessed to be parenting with him.

I know that even parenting biological kids that you have had since the second they were born is also tough, in general parenting is just hard. This business of molding and shaping humans is hard work. However, there is an added layer of difficulty when parenting a child, or children, coming from a background in trauma. The trauma itself is of little importance in this particular conversation. It could be years in an institutionalized setting, such as an orphanage; sexual abuse; physical abuse; neglect; emotional abuse; or any other of the long list of ways that a child can be permanently scared during their early years. It is just a fact of adoption that the children who are available for adoption have been through trauma. Even if placed at birth, the separation from the birth mother is a trauma. Obviously the more trauma, the more the effect in most cases.

Going back to our life. Here we sit, with an 8 year old that experienced a solid 7+ years of trauma. The details of her trauma are not mine to share, but suffice it to say that it makes an adoptive mom that loves her with all my heart cry and want to go back in time and change the story. I so wish I could have saved my lovely daughter from experiencing the things that she had to. For reasons I will never know or understand, I cannot change the past and she had to go through all of those things. As our daughter becomes more comfortable with us, she is sharing more information about her past life.

I am praising the Lord on a daily basis for the many jobs where I have heard heart breaking things from children as that has prepared me, to some extent, to hear what I have heard these past 8 days. There have been days where I had to fight tears and search for the “right” answer to her questions, knowing that there was no right answer other than “You are a child and should not have to know that, unfortunately you do.” My jobs and training have really helped me since S has moved into our home to be able to deal with these revelations and her insecurities about our love for her.

With the revelations I have been trying to approach it as a bias-free listener that will not get mad and just listen and answer any questions she has. So far so good, but man does that get hard at times! The insecurities about our love for her is a bit harder as that is something I have never faced before. First let me say that I fully acknowledge, to her and to myself, that there is absolutely no reason based on her past that she would trust what we say. However, over time she will learn that we mean what we say and we do love her, specifically when it comes to loving more than 1 person (her 2 siblings come for a weekend visit this weekend and then move in next friday and she is concerned that we will forget about her).

There is constant limit test (which is expected), but I am surprised by how one-sided it is. With me she tends to be more reactive and argumentative about silly little things and wanting to set her own rules. I love her and want her to be comfortable, but I am still the parent and set the rules. If I say we are doing spelling words in random order not in the order given, the random order it is. If it takes an hour temper tantrum to do it, so be it.

I am really taken aback by how much my heart breaks on a daily basis for my little girl. This next quotation pretty much spells it out. I have looked to it throughout our adoption journey, and there were times that days would go by before my will would be rekindled. Since S moved into our home, I am frustrated more, have longer days, cry more, argue more, yet my will is rekindled more. The more we see the reactive side, the hurt, the trauma side and yet stay firm in the stance that we love her, love each other, and love her siblings and have enough love for everyone we are making progress.

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Today, for example, we asked her to go ahead downstairs and start playing her game (since she finished her homework) while Joel and I talked. She get VERY upset when Joel and I spend time together without her. She started to cry and stomped downstairs, but in the end went to play her game (not eavesdrop on the stairs) and we were all find when Joel and I came downstairs to hang out with her. PROGRESS!

This little girl has been so hurt! Living with trauma is hard (I know!), I guess I just didn’t know that living with a traumatized child would be so hard. Thankfully I don’t have to do it alone! Here are some quotations that have helped me during rough days!

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This last one helps me to remember what adoption is all about! Why did I have the idea that the hard part was over? The hard part is just beginning. But I have Joel and God to walk this path with me.

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6 thoughts on “Random Thoughts on Parenting a Child with Past Trauma

  1. I would have to agree, I never thought adoption would be this hard and have this many issues to figure out how to deal with but I know in the end it is worth it. Between you and us, we have 5 kids who now have a loving home. We are here for you when ever you need.

  2. Yes, so true. It is hard and so exhausting. So exhausting…

    I love those quotes, I may have to direct some more traffic your way to read them. Keeping our eyes on the bigger picture isn’t always easy, but in theory it is a whole lot easier for us to do than for our kids to do. I try to keep that in mind when God is putting me through some tough stuff – He is a good parent and must have something great awaiting at the end of this tough stuff. But it is still tough! Blessings to you as you continue this transition.

  3. Pingback: Katie’s Journey | From Instant to Forever

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