Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Balancing Openness in Adoptions for kids who suffered Early Childhood Trauma

The other night Matthew and I were watching "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer" on TV.  As riveting as the movie is, I was scrolling through face book at the same time.  I ran across a post from Matthew's birthmom that she was watching "Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer."  Three years ago I would have just kept scrolling.  Three years ago I wouldn't have wanted to deal with the fall out from mentioning his birthmom.  I figured it would be best to just ignore it, he doesn't bring her up, so why push the issue. 

What I have realized over the last three years is that even though he doesn't bring it up or talk about her, there is still a connection.  It doesn't matter if that connection is rooted in trauma and hurt, it is there deep within his heart.  That connection can grow in his heart towards resentment and confusion, anger and guilt if left alone to fester without guidance.  If the fall out isn't dealt with now while he is young and can be guided, imagine how large that dark stain on his soul will grow.  Trauma like that when not dealt with is not easily contained when we are adults.

So I shared with him that his birthmom was watching the same thing right now.  He was giddy and excited that evening, it grew to a manic episode over the next few days.  BUT it was manageable, contained.  We discussed big feelings and holidays and missing birthfamilies.  We discussed that it is okay to be mad and sad and happy and curious and all the things that come with adoption and trauma, but it is not okay to hurt others, to be defiant and disrespectful, to be unkind and unfun to be around.  We discussed that he has all the tools he needs to handle his emotions, to sit with them and feel them, acknowledge them, and to be okay.

Three years ago I would have kept scrolling, today I relish the chance to practice everything we have learned, to look at how far we have come, to appreciate the fact that despite everything his birthmom will always be connected to him and love him even if she wasn't able to keep him safe. 

Balancing openness in adoptions with kids who have suffered early childhood trauma is difficult, but worth it.


  1. Wow, this is so beautiful. What a great moment the two of you shared - providing him with these tools is going to serve him so well as he moves forward. Congratulations!

  2. I have been reading your blogs all morning. We are just starting the process to become foster parents. I cannot tell you how calming it is to read all your thoughts and suggestions. Thank you.


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