Mental Health and Milestones

Let’s take a little quiz. Which of the following statements have been made to my wife and I during our foster care or adoption experience? Continue reading Mental Health and Milestones

Foster/Adoptive Dad — Got a Minute To Chat?

How are you doing? No, I mean really… how are you doing? Behind that facade you’ve built. You see, I’ve been a foster/adoptive dad for a while and I know you struggle. I struggle. So, we have some common ground. I have boys. Do you have girls? Are they young? Teenagers? Doesn’t really matter, the issues are still the same.  Continue reading Foster/Adoptive Dad — Got a Minute To Chat?

The Panic Button

There’s no worse feeling as a parent than the wave of panic that strikes as you realize you don’t know where your child is. It grips you like a vice and you start to think through 1,000 unimaginable scenarios. Were they snatched? Did they innocently wander off? Where is my child?

For most parents, it’s their worst nightmare.

The scenario happened to my wife the other day. She told our boys to get ready to go out to play. By the time she came downstairs with one child, the other had put his shoes and coat on, opened the garage door and taken off on his bike. My wife started screaming his name. No child.

Finally, he comes smiling and tottering over the hill with a “yes mom… you called me?” He got the urge to go for a ride, and went for it. Innocent, yes. But definitely against the rules. And it sent mom into a justified panic attack.

For most parents, the fear of serious harm is a fairly far-fetched scenario that plays out in situations like the one above. But what if snatching is a very real possibility and one that plays out on a daily basis?

We know that biological family has wanted to locate us in the past.  Once, we caught a bio-family member writing down our license plate number. Another time, one of our boys said he recognized someone in an office supply store. I doubted, but didn’t question and we made haste to leave. And one time, my wife and I awoke to find the boys beds tossed and no sign of children in the house… until we heard giggling from under the couch cushions.

In each case, our hearts leaped up a few notches, but quickly retreated.

When you’ve adopted locally, it’s a founded fear all. the. time. When the doorbell rings unexpectedly or when you’re in the part of the county where you know family lives. Yo We’re a bit more reserved. We’re always on guard in some practical, perfectly ok way.

Two things I’m grateful for: A God that knows all of our fears and holds them in His hands and is our shield and protector. That is above all what I’m thankful for. While our flesh may fear, He doesn’t and is our perfect peace.

Secondly, I’m thankful that our boys are aging and starting not to look like bio-family would remember them. That adds a layer of comfort.

Sometimes the panic button gets pushed, but it’s just another experience on the journey!

The Parallels of Dumbo

All rights and credits belong to Disney.
All rights and credits belong to Disney.

There are two truths known to foster and adoptive parents. The first is that the moments your children truly share their deepest feelings are rare.

The second is that anything and we mean anything can be a trauma trigger.

Like at story time tonight. One of my little gentlemen wanted to read Dumbo. We’ve ready it several times in the past few weeks and I’ve seen him looking at it at other times. But, tonight, when he’s sick and cuddly, he let some things out. He shared things deep for his age, things he sees when he reads this book.

Like…

Dumbo has big ears…. He feels like the odd kid out.

The elephant family laughed at him… His bio family abused and mistreated him.

The bully kids teased Dumbo…. He feels shunned by some he calls friends.

Dumbo’s mom was locked away…  His mom was locked away.

Dumbo was made to be a clown… He was taken to a new family far away.

Dumbo saw his mom through bars…. He saw his a few times in a sterile office.

But then through a strange sort of fortunate circumstances he ended up with a bunch of crows that convinced him that he could fly….

Our little boy is with a bunch of crows and still working himself through some circumstances he can’t figure out.

And one day, Dumbo was convinced by the crows that he could flap his ears and fly.

Us crows are still working on helping him see that he’s going to soar in life.

And why will we he soar? Because at his young age he has experienced more, struggled through more, survived more and endured more things than many people do in a lifetime. And one day, when his young brain and conscience mature to a position to be able to aptly process all the things that happened to him.

When he does, it will be like Dumbo leaping off the top of the burning building and soaring through the big top.

Tonight was a rare night of sharing, both with his words and with me connecting some dots. Real emotions and trauma triggers… sometimes they open a window to a wounded soul.

The Intersection of Trauma and Exhaustion

Sometimes...the body wins!
When the body wins.

If sleep is the enemy, what happens when your sleep-deprived child meets total exhaustion? It ain’t pretty! But we can handle a full-blown meltdown. And, it will only last a few moments until they pass right on out.  Continue reading The Intersection of Trauma and Exhaustion

You Love Me Anyways

On a grey, dreary day where 3 of us are sidelined from a mild stomach bug, one of our children just gave us some of the best encouragement.  He reminded us that “You always love me” through a beautiful picture packed with meaning.  Continue reading You Love Me Anyways

Joining Facebook!

Parenting Traumatized Children is now on Facebook!  Like our page to read anecdotes, insights and trauma info that might not warrant a full blog post.  Don’t worry, the blog isn’t going anywhere!

Join us on Facebook.

Weigh Down To Sleep

Imagine a life where sleep is the enemy. If you close your eyes, you see images. If you nod off, memories start to emerge. And falling asleep only means that the vilest of nightmares are bound to occur. Now, imagine that all this is happening and you’re six years old. Continue reading Weigh Down To Sleep

It’s Never Going To Stop

Today is a joyous day in our home.  It’s kind of like a mini-holiday, except I still have to go to work and we don’t exchange presents. Today is “Gotcha Day,” the second anniversary of when our little guys first came into our lives.  How can it be two years already?  It feels like they’ve always been with us, and I truly mean that in the best sense of the phrase.

Today is a sad day in our home. It’s kind of like a masquerade, except there are no visible masks and we don’t have a party. Today is the day of the worst abuse revelations to date and no, there’s no sharing of this stuff. How can anyone fathom doing things so cruel to little children? It feels like they’ve told us the worst that could possibly happen and then more comes.

I’ve spent a majority of the day thus far on a bi-polar plunge from high highs and incredibly sad emotions. I’ve laughed at some of the great memories with my sons when creating my Facebook post and I’ve allowed tears to fall on my keyboard in the office when my wife called me with the news.

When we first walked into the social services office 24 months ago today, we heard them long before we saw them. One was “playing” Candyland and the other was “playing” Hi-Ho Cherry-O. Smiles were immediate. There was no trepidation. It was an immediate connection. The talking started then and it hasn’t stopped. (If you know my boys, you know how true and funny that is).

Today, as we’re two years into the healing process, the talking still hasn’t stopped. And that’s a really, really good thing. There’s also no trepidation in telling stories now. We got some stories at first. Then, there was a really long period of silence, when they weren’t sharing a whole lot. Now, with the work of some of the finest doctors and therapists we could be blessed with, the talking and sharing is back. And it literally could come at any given moment.

Three things the Lord has shown me through the past two years.

  1. The blessings are never going to stop.
  2. The healing is never going to stop.
  3. God’s grace will never stop.

In other words, it’s never going to stop.

Last night, I got home from church about a half hour after my family. My oldest was still up (sorta) and wanted to see me. I opened the door and an enthusiastic “DADDDDYYY!!” called out from the pile of covers on the bed. It was hard to say goodnight and put him to sleep. A simple two-minute interaction is just one of many blessings every week that makes my heart full.

The other, for me, usually comes in the car. “Dad, can I tell you a story.” The pit of my stomach rares up when I hear those words and a book is not in sight. I steel myself for whatever is about to come. I brace my face not to show emotion, because reaction may cause a traumatized child not to share the next time.  A simple two-minute story is one of many reminders of their former lives that makes me want to breakdown.

Since my wife has been home full-time, she now bears the brunt of it. God indeed gave me a strong woman as she is excellent at receiving news and not showing it. She can recall every detail or have the presence of mind to record so we can share with the therapist so that even more healing can come. But, I can’t imagine how hard it is to continually be putting up those masks.

And through it all God is still on the throne. He knows just how many blessings and special moments we need to be able to handle the difficult moments. He places just the right people in our lives to come alongside and help us in ministry. He knows how to guide our steps and when to give us rest and when we can handle more healing.

When I found out about today’s revelation, the first thing that popped in my head was one of my favorite worship songs (it also happened to have just played on my phone). No matter how high the highs or low the lows, we will always remember to praise the mighty name of Jesus.

My anxious heart, why so upset?                                 

When trials come how you so easily forget

To cast all your burdens upon the Lord

Trust again in the promise of His love

Jesus cares, He cares for you.

Together Again!

The house was as quiet this past week as it has been since the boys came to live with us nearly two years ago. My wife had some family business to attend to in the Winston-Salem area and since I had to work, she took the boys with her. That meant I was bach’-ing it for an entire week.

A few hours ago, they all returned  and I was happier than a pig in new mud.  I have to admit that I did enjoy some of the time alone this week, but I really and I mean really was so excited to see them pull in the driveway. Now that mama is getting a much-deserved nap and the boys are spending some healthy alone time (trust me.. it is) in their rooms, I thought it a good time to reflect on the past week.

I also wanted to touch on an issue we deal with. Perhaps I’ll expand upon it at some point. I was curious when they returned home how they would deal with seeing me for the first time in a week. Due to the severe neglect in their pasts, they have a very difficult time attaching properly to adults. We have to work on it very, very hard. I wasn’t sure how they’d react seeing me. Would it be a HIIIIII DAD I MISSED YOU, or a hey… and on to their rooms.

I got a stronger reaction out of my oldest, but I was still pleasantly surprised with the homecoming. It’s one of the times when you can measure and see how far along things have come, or how far you still have yet to go. We’ve come a mightly long ways in that department.

Thinking about the week, a few things I realized. After all, it’s the longest we’ve been apart since they came to live with us and the longest my wife and I have been apart since I went to Israel in 2011.

1. The house was too quiet. I loved the fact that I could watch TV at 9:30/10 p.m. without having to watch the volume. But, when it was time to sleep, I really had a hard time. I’m so used to little noises with everyone in the house that I jumped and started at every tiny sound seemingly all night long.

2. I’ve gotten used to a lot of light when I sleep. I used to sleep best in total darkness. Noise, (like a TV or cars) didn’t bother me so much. I unplugged the night light in the hallway and made sure all the lights were off downstairs. Nope. too dark now. Had to turn some back on.

3. I lock the bathroom door alot. Maybe this is TMI, but before we had kids, no need to lock the doors. I found myself locking doors all week long.

4. Facetime is a God-send. My boys don’t do so well talking on the phone. They don’t really get the whole concept of a telephone, but I was so thankful for face time this week. It was so exciting to see them on the screen and us to have converations, even though they found it so fun to hold the camera to their eyeballs or nose hairs or whatever. My oldest even took joy in showing me the bruise on his bottom.. before I could say no, no!

5. My wife does A LOT of work around the house. I admit it, I was a total slob the first few days. Dishes where I left them, clothes laying around, I mean s.l.o.b. But, I made sure that the house was spic-and-span before she came home, because that’s normally what our house looks like. It takes so much effort to keep the house clean and tidy and I have gained a whole new appreciation at just how much that my bride works to keep a clean house!

I hope we’re not separated for a long time, but I’m glad I learned a few things while they were gone.