Parents who are raising kids who have suffered from early trauma live a unique life. It is not for the faint of heart. It is hard, and yet rewarding. It is not something that you can be fully prepared for.
We go BEYOND what we ever thought we would do everyday. BEYOND love. BEYOND caring. We find ourselves, BEYOND tired. We do this hard work, and feel love BEYOND attachment. We have to see BEYOND so many behaviors and outward actions to see BEYOND the hurt and the trauma. We go BEYOND every day to make this crazy life work.
These are some of our stories.
I am going BEYOND When I was young I ALWAYS knew I would have children. I expected them to come to me through adoption. I had this incredible need to “save” the children. As I grew up I became a single woman with my first house and a great job as a Special Education teacher for an urban district. I watched every day as children came to school with dirty clothes, wild behavior, and hungry for food. Not all of them, but many of them. It was their behavior that really struck me. I thought, wow, if I could just give them a stable, safe home, with structure, I bet they would do much better.
I decided I wanted to be a temporary place to help families who were struggling so I went ahead and did my foster parent training course. I became a foster to adopt home, even though I was really just OK with being a temporary placement. Besides, I assumed families would work hard to get back on track and get themselves back together.
My first placement arrived the day before the new school year started and we were off on our adventure! Oh they were great! So helpful and compliant and cute! Definitely cute! It wasn't long before we started having some issues with lying and stealing, among other things. My little one would shut down in a corner and refuse to speak. At doctor appointments he would hide under the furniture and scream when people tried to get close. My older son had night terrors and nonstop chatter during the day. They continued to go on visits with their birth-mom, but it became clear she would not be able to take them back. The addiction was too strong. She was too sick. There were not any other family to step in. After 2 years, it was decided I would be their forever home. Yes they had their issues, but OH, how I loved those little faces and SURELY we could figure this out. When we entered the adoption phase of our journey, things got even worse. My older son became unpredictable and unsafe. He was eventually placed in a residential treatment facility for a 90 day diagnostic. From there, Social Services was determined to place him in a therapeutic foster home with a mom and a dad and were not agreeing to let him come back to the most consistent home he had ever known. He was 12 at the time and ended up working with his law guardian to return home. It was during his time in RTC that I learned about attachment and trauma. This was 2 years after they arrived! I learned that I had to change my parenting. I also learned that their trauma was triggering trauma that I had no idea existed within myself. Oy! I was like a double whamie!
I sought out appropriate therapy and worked hard to catch myself up. I worked, I tried, really, I was completely exhausted. In 2012 I decided to give myself a break and go on a moms retreat. It was there that I met women who changed my life forever.
I was surrounded by others who were living this challenging life and surviving! They were incredibly supportive and more importantly they accepted me for ME. It was fun to share stories, hear about other peoples’ struggles and crazy stories and for a couple days I was just allowed to be myself. I didn’t have to think about appointments or checking bags. It was the first time since getting my kids that I had taken time for me. And it was FABULOUS!
I learned that I walked through the world being invisible. And I was suddenly around people who could see me. Sunday morning it was a fellow mama's strong arm around my should that told me I am here and I am not alone. I matter.
For me the retreat opened my eyes to the trauma that rested in me. It gave me the knowledge and strength to learn about myself so that I could be my best self and an even better mom for my family. I had some pretty significant stuff I had to work through and it was this group of strangers that gave me the strength and support to figure myself out, so I could in turn help my boys begin to heal. Honestly it is a process we are constantly going through together, my boys and I. But I do it with 120+ women cheering me on. When I have a question or a bad day, I know I can share it with them. When I have a small celebration, I know they will get it.
In the last few years I have quit my job. I have moved my family. I have gained the courage to do what needs to be done to go BEYOND our trauma. Some days I feel beyond crazy, but knowing I have my people and I am not alone gives me the strength to carry on and go BEYOND.