A year and some ago, as I led a training for families interested in helping foster families within our church (no, we don’t foster, I just volunteer with this ministry), I heard the video once again say that kids who have experienced trauma have different needs than a child who has not experienced trauma may have. They’re all “just kids” but there are certain things to think about when caring for or babysitting for a child who has come from a history of trauma.
It got my mind going, and I had to set that down to finish the training, but when I got home it all resurfaced.I wrote this out that night, and I only shared it with a small group of families like ours. I came back across it and I think there are more than that small circle that need to hear about trauma. About what it is like to be a family who has a child that has experienced trauma.
Trauma dictates how we go out. It dictates what activities we decide to do and which we do not. Trauma comes in to every decision making process we have in our home. How we do birthdays, how we handle activities, how we attend events, how we attend church, how we… and so, I wrote it down.
How parenting kids from a history of trauma affects our lives:
-dictates how we go out and when we need to stay home
-dictates what activities or events we do and which we pass on, and the entire ‘mood’ of the outing oftentimes
-affects how we handle discipline inside and outside of the home
-determines what birthday celebrations we have for those children, and how we handle birthdays for others, to some extent
-affects whether or not the affected kids can take part in extracurriculars, and of what types
-affects how we attend church, when we can attend church, and often times the entire experience while there when we attend
-affects every holiday celebration in our home
-affects how we have bedrooms set up
-affects how we handle company that comes by for a few minutes (seriously, even the UPS guy)
-affects how we handle company that are coming for several hours of time but only on occasion
-affects how we handle company that come for holidays or special occasions, especially for multiple days
-affects how we can interact with company that comes or plans to come on a fairly regular basis but doesn’t yet know the affected kids well
-affects how we wake up in the morning
-affects how we go to bed at night and what types of monitoring needs to be used between bed time and morning to keep everyone safe
-determines what level of “letting our guard down” is really possible in a day
-affects our eating schedule, making sure it doesn’t stray far enough to cause issues
-affects how much supervision we have to provide in which activities
-affects how we respond to specific behaviors that can cause escalation
-affects how we stand, talk, what tone we use, and what protective stances we have in place when escalation occurs
Trauma affects EVERY aspect of our lives. We don’t just parent a child who has a history of trauma. We learn how to live with the elements of trauma years later that continue to bring us to our knees and pray that Jesus heal their hearts and minds.
Trauma is life changing, physically brain altering, and it is not something that just “goes away” from love and supervision and consistency. Trauma is hard.
Adoption is still worth it.
Flipping the coin- which is a bigger sacrifice? To live with a child who triggers from trauma and sometimes goes right off the deep end with raging and things that seem crazy, or to know that that same child is living in filth and dysregulation and hunger across the world, unloved and lonely because we decided it wasn’t worth it to us to give up some of ourselves to help him or her? Everybody deserves a family. Everybody has hope. Recovering from trauma isn't easy, but the process of recovery will never go anywhere if noone ever allows themselves to be affected in order to help another person heal. To my trauma kids: You are worthy.
To my trauma mommas and daddies: You are valued.
To those who support the families in the trenches: You are needed.
I think it is always good to remember that God is good, even in the hard stuff.