This is an article I wrote (that I’ve edited slightly since) and recently had published in a provincial wide newsletter. The theme was ‘Trauma and Attachment’ and I took the leap to write personally as opposed from a professional view-point. I’m sure many other adopters can relate:) I’d love to know your thoughts and experiences on how trauma changed you.
When we decided to adopt we knew it would not be easy. We knew the little firecracker who we would soon call our son came with a bag of trauma so big that we were surprised he could even lug it around. But into our home and into our hearts he moved.
Soon after, reality and trauma also moved in. Hitting, biting, screaming, the constant need for reassurance, constant talking, inability to regulate himself, inability to go to sleep without medication, a delay in all areas of development, zero impulse and self-control…the list goes on.
The shock and awe of being an insta-mom to this little human was one thing, but the expanse of emotions that flowed all around me was overwhelming. I wanted him so bad and loved him so much, while at the same time resenting him for turning our lives so utterly upside down and out of control. I felt so much anger towards all the people who neglected him and all the families who abandoned him in his short 4 years and at the same time I felt so much love for this sweet, funny, clever boy who just wanted to be safe and cared for.
That first year I had some of the hardest days in my life. Days I’ve dug deeper than I ever thought possible, days when I thought I couldn’t do it anymore and days where I wanted it all to go back to how it was before. But there were also days full of love so big that it made my head spin.
Through many, many tears, both his and ours, we surrounded ourselves with a village of amazing people who all worked hard to push trauma straight out the door it came in. But nobody worked harder than him.
When our son moved in, at four and half years old, he could not say more than a handful of words, could not stand to be touched, would hide when he got hurt and didn’t know a number from a letter.
Today, one and half years later, this boy with a twinkle in his eye has picked up
three years of language and ASL, he loves being tickled and having his legs rubbed at night, comes to me (most times) for comfort when he’s hurt, knows his letters and can count to 10.
When he first moved in, he could not stand in a line, draw anything, and would kick and scratch, bite and generally attack me. Regularly.
Today my little rocket stands in (short) lines, can draw a slurpee and an electrical socket (very important things), and only kicks and scratches and bites once in a while.
How far he’s come, my beautiful boy. We are not nearly where we need to be, or want to be; we have so much further to go,so many more adventures to be had to add to the twinkle in his eye.
Trauma changed everything. For him and for us. It’s like a liquid that seeps into every nook and cranny of your life. It soaks up every ounce of patience, energy and brain power you can muster and then some. It cracks foundations that you thought were uncrackable.
People say that these kids just need love, and they do. They also need a lot of hard work and a village of dedicated people around them. In no way could my husband and I have survived our first year of adoption alone. Friends, family, teachers, therapists, social workers, co-workers, neighbors and even strangers who simply asked ‘how are you?’ all played a role in helping us build our new way of being with trauma.
And love, well, love trumps trauma and is its escort to the door.