Oh School

The beginning of each school year is t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e. It has been in Kindergarten, Grade 1 and now Grade 2.

And even though Jonathan is at the same school, and even though the teachers know him and he knows them (and likes them), and even though we have awesome transition plans in place for end of the year AND the beginning of the year it’s still t.e.r.r.i.b.l.e.

In 20 days of school, 3 have been good, 1 has been great and the rest have been very shaky or horrible. Lots of yelling, hitting, not listening, knocking kids down, throwing rocks, refusing work, and a new one – running up to kids calling them ugly, and on and on. (I know it’s hard for some to believe that (based on my Instagram pictures) that the sweet little smiling boy you see in a 2×2 square can do those things…but you fellow adopters, I’m sure, are pickin’ up what I’m putting’ down, right?! Are you with me?! This is part of the trauma gig people; most lovely one moment, most destructive and angry the next. Carrying on!)

The teachers are UH-MA-ZING (see Everybody Needs a Tracy). The whole school from principle down have been great over the last two years. But I thought this year I’d up the adoption/trauma info to the teacher, if she was open. Of course she was because… UH-MA-ZING.

After asking for The Family of Five’s advice (Thank you!) to confirm my crazy on sending a 4 page document that nobody would have the time to read and taking some of her other advice, I came up with the document below. I also sent them links to several short articles/blogs that I thought also helped explain things. They are also listed below.

And although Jonathan’s behaviour is still all over the map there is a greater understanding, not only with his teacher and aide, but they shared (with permission) to the entire DHH (deaf and hard of hearing) teaching team. Even the lady who greets the bus students in the morning! How do I know? Because she stopped and THANKED ME. I have been thanked by various staff for letting them know about Jonathan’s behaviours and what they mean because they don’t have any adoption/trauma training. The tell me there are more kids in the school (of course there are!) who come from not so great places or are currently in not so great places and the teachers don’t know how to support them at school. I was even asked to come and do a workshop (I’ll keep you posted if it ever happens!)

So, I thought I’d share it here. Please feel free to change and adapt it to fit your child if you think it would be helpful to share with teachers, babysitters, family members etc.

(clicking on the link above opens a word document, if you have
difficulties let me know and I can email you the document)

Helpful, short, articles/blogs that explain trauma, adoption and what it’s really like:

Attachment, Trauma and Education

Rage Against the Minivan – How to talk to teachers about adoption

Jane Evans – Trauma parenting specialist and trainer

The Mighty – Why ‘All Kids Do That’ Doesn’t Apply to Kids Who Have Experienced Trauma



New Therapist Lady

At the same time that we hit the compliant truckin’ along wall, a therapist friend met a therapist who works in adoption. Now fancy that.

A few weeks later, I’m in new therapist’s office and there’s an immediate connection. I like her. I like her a lot. She gets it. She makes sense. She makes Jonathan make sense. She’s good with him. She doesn’t just tell me “you’re doing great!” like some others have. (It’s nice and all to be complimented once in a while on how great you’re doing and all, but I’m generally sitting in somebody’s office because things aren’t great and I don’t need confidence, I need help). She is speaking my language and telling actual strategies and things I can do to create some change and forward movement in attachment with Jonathan.

New therapist lady had actual practical, concrete, strategies that I began to use immediately. She talked about brain stuff, filling in holes, anxiety and heart rates. She explained things in a way that made sense. I wanted to hug her. But I didn’t. Because I do still want her to think I’m great even if I don’t want her to tell me and if I hugged her she may not think I’m great and perhaps suggest I need therapy. Which I don’t have time for. Instead I blog.

Next week new therapist lady is  going to do some EMDR work with Jonathan. I would never even think of trying this because it sounds hokey to me but, my therapist friend who just got trained in EMDR (which is how she met new therapist lady) had it done on herself and BAM! years of trauma dealt with (not completely but in in many ways). She couldn’t believe it herself. It really does seem too good to be true, but there are lots of studies out there, I trust my therapist friend and new therapist lady gave me tons of examples of how she’s used it with kids. If you want to read more about it you can click here. I shall keep you posted on how things go !

For now though, we are doing a few everyday things and are immediately seeing some push-back, which I take as a positive sign of it being effective. Man alive, I forgot how asking for help usually results in a LOT of extra work. Good thing Gord and I booked our first vacation (4 whole days) away in May! We’ll need it!

The Village

From day one, Gord’s family and my own have been very supportive in out decision to adopt. Our friends and colleagues were also excited and everybody asked lots of questions and gave us lots of love.

Over the past 11 months, I don’t think we would have survived without the support from these same family and friends. There were days when we felt, and still do, very alone. You know, those really tough hard days that feel like things will be terrible forever? But often there is my sister, a friend, a coworker…a stranger (I tend to chat with cashiers a lot) willing (or at least nodding along and letting me blab) to listen, offer suggestions and, at the least, to empathize and encourage.

A couple of weeks ago Jonathan spent the night with his last foster mom, Monique. Or as Jonathan calls her “my Moni”. She’s an amazing lady. She hadn’t seen him for while and remarked on how full of love he was and that we are doing such a good job with him. I told her that in no way have we done this alone; it started with her and it was every teacher, therapist, friend, family member, daycare staff and any one else who has every hugged him, showed him they care and loved him unconditionally. She remarked back “the village!” and I thought that was a truly fitting description.

To everyone in our Village, thank you for your support.