For The Kids Who Need Us Most.

A very famous morning show here in the U.S. did a story this week on the effects of childhood trauma in children who are institutionalized during their childhood.  They focused on what happens when adoptive parents, who have legally made these children part of their family, no longer have the tools to parent these children and go to great lengths to re-home them.  Some are doing it illegally.  Some are not.

They did a story on disruption and re-homing.  

I’m not going to link the video from the morning show.  I’m not going to link it because it was ridiculously unbalanced.  It was ridiculously sensationalized.  They took one nut job and painted her as if she was mainstream.  The story didn’t speak to the adoptive parents who aren’t trying to skirt the laws and do something illegal.  The story didn’t mention that parents who re-home their children legally are out there.  I’ve met them.  Instead, I’m going to link the five part series that this morning show pulled their information from.  While more factual, and slightly more balanced, it still paints an alarming picture.  Don’t get me wrong, it is alarming, and so very upsetting.  But, for so many more reasons than the series discussed.  

First of all, I want to be very clear that as a parent who is parenting many children who came from trauma, I have mixed feelings about re-homing (the process by which an adoptive parent finds another home for their adoptive child).  Children are not dogs.  So on first instinct, I absolutely hate the term.  But, there’s a larger issue here, the issue of why this is happening at all.  

When thinking about the whys of this issue, my heart begins to feel, and understand, the situation and desperation these adoptive parents are experiencing.  There was a time, a long time ago, but at the same time it doesn’t feel that way, when I curled into a ball in my walk-in closet, knees to chest and listened to my child, scream, rage and tear apart her bedroom.  I had no idea what to do.  I was out of tools in my toolbox.  It was the 24th time I had listened to her do that…that day.  Yes, there were 24 moments of vicious anger, anger that I couldn’t help her contain, control or soothe.  I could do nothing.  I was powerless.  This anger only once or twice affected a younger child in our home.  Only once or twice was the smaller child a victim of this anger.  And, the smaller child has, as brothers and sisters do, victimized an older child or two out of anger.  Stuff happens.  But, when it happens constantly, and when it becomes an actual danger to the other children in the home, well, I can’t imagine the amount of time I would have spent in my walk-in closet not knowing what to do.  

Sometimes the anger turns into true violence.  I was a victim of violence at the hands of my traumatized child, but never were the other children in my home.  She never hid her anger.  She never used a weapon against them.  She never threatened their lives.  What if she had?  What if she had been older?  What if it had been an actual possibility?  What would I have done? 

I don’t know.  I do know that it is my job to protect my children…all of them, not just the one with trauma in her past.

I also know I was educated.  I am a masters prepared pediatric nurse.  I understand trauma.  I understand our community’s resources.  I have mental health resources, both for my child, and for myself.  What if I didn’t?  What would I have done?  What if I had seen a child, as I often do, and leapt to parent him or her and then realized I had no education or resources to deal with the needs she had come with.  This happens to biological parents all the time, where they are blindsided by their child’s diagnosis.  Biological parents re-home their children too, it happens.  They re-home them to other relatives or to residential care facilities or group homes.  They do it legally, because they’re forced to.  The article made no mention of that.  They made no mention that this isn’t just an ‘adopted child’ thing.  

Adopted children have a right, when everyone else has failed them in their life, to be re-homed legally, to be afforded a safety net of protection of the law and oversight to make sure that during the process they are safe.  If an adoptive parent is re-homing their child, they need to do it within the confines of the law.  They need to get a lawyer.  They need to research.  They need to be held accountable.  The series got that right.  

What they missed the boat on completely is pointing a desperate parent, the one who is in their closet, on the floor, crying, to resources.  They missed it because there are practically NONE.  There are practically no resources to help children like mine, children who have lived through a nightmare that most adults can’t even begin to contemplate.  It took me, a masters prepared pediatric nurse who is well connected to health care in her community, TWO YEARS to find a therapist for her daughter.  TWO YEARS to find someone who is a trained expert in working with children to become happy, healthy, productive adults.  Not just adopted children, but ALL children.  

When I finally found that therapist, I cried in my closet, but for a whole host of other reasons.  Finally, we had hope.  I have hope that my daughter may live independently one day.  She may be able to go to college successfully, to have a healthy marriage, to have children and parent them with the love and affection she deserved as a infant, toddler and preschooler.  We have that hope because we have mental health help.  We are paying for it out of pocket.  What if we couldn’t afford it?  We would be out of luck.  That’s not right.  It’s not right that the children who need this help the very most, the ones who are living in poverty, can’t get it.

I am going to implore, beg and plead with every parent who is living through hell right now, whether it’s with your adopted or bio child, to look for some mental health help.  If you can’t find any, then I’ll help you fight.  Please, email me.  My email is in the sidebar.  For all my fellow Christians, you can’t pray this away.  You can pray for support, you can pray for help, you can pray for strength.  I know I did, but God isn’t going to lift this from your child on His own.  He needs you, as a parent, to step up.  You’re going to need some people to put tools in your toolbox.  If you have no available resources and re-homing your child is your only option, I implore you to do it legally, with oversight to protect a child who has already been victimized time and time again.  I won’t judge.  I promise.  Well, unless you break the law.  Then, I reserve the right to judge.

If you are like me, and you’re coming out the other side of childhood trauma with a modicum of success, I’m going to implore you to do what I’m doing, write about your experience, tell everyone you know, but do it without telling the specifics of your child’s story.  Tell everyone YOUR story, thereby making sure everyone knows that children need the resources that adults have when it comes to mental health.  They need therapists, they need experts, they need research.  

They need it now.  

–FullPlateMom,
who is on fire about this subject.  

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