64. When the World Stops Seeing the Trauma

adoption foster foster care kids trauma Feb 28, 2020

Hey there… it’s been a bit of a delay in writing due to a wild ride on our part. One kiddo has been struggling greatly and has been transitioned into a residential facility and the other is getting ready for their own huge transition. All this is happening while I transitioned from working full time to running my own LLC (soon to be 501(c)3). Suffice it to say that the Salisotts have their hands full. More on those topics later. Today’s chat is about when the world stops seeing the trauma of the littles in our lives.

One of our kiddos has lived with us for 1/5th of the time they have been in out of home care. That roughly equates to 1/10th of the time they have lived with trauma and hardship. People think that because they now live with a loving and caring home that meets their needs that they are “fixed” from trauma. I’m sad to say that it doesn’t work that way.

Trauma isn’t healed in a night, or month, or even one plus years. Trauma has the ability to change the structure of a child’s brain. That sort of change takes a strong intervention and consistent work, patience, understanding, and determination to move small blocks. Most of all, it takes time.

That’s where people forget/fall off. They see the kiddo in a loving home and they forget the years/months of trauma.

There is a quote from a book I read that said something about the fact that kiddos with outward symptoms of delays are at a far greater likelihood to receive help and intervention than those kiddos that appear “normal”. That is so hard for our kiddos. That is crushing for the kiddos in our home.

One of our daughters went to school on a run of the mill day with an invisible backpack that included the knowledge that her sister hasn’t been sleeping in her bedroom in our home for awhile now. Her sister wasn’t sleeping in her room, not because she was kicked out for being “naughty”; that our daughter could have understood, but because she was getting intensive out of home help.

The part that was weighing our daughter down is that we hadn’t just given up and walked away from her sister when she was acting out and needed intensive help, like so many families had done to her in the past. What is so different about her sister? Why should her sister deserve a family to stick with her through hard times? Why did she have to move time and time again because the adults didn’t understand trauma and what was going on? WHY ISN’T THE WORLD FAIR?! When would her sister come home? Would she be better? When would we walk away from both of the girls? What would it take for that to happen?

This burden weighed on our daughter, grinding her gears until she was a wound tight ball of nerve, confusion, a scared little girl, and oh so full of anger.

To the rest of the world she was a smiling polite kiddo that they have grown to know. Inside she was about to explode.

And then she did.

All over the basketball game she was at. So much so that there had to be adult intervention. The world around her was aghast. How could this child that is in this loving home act this way? What does she have to be so angry about now?

Trauma. Plain and simple.

That day I wept. Not for the explosion. That I was grateful for. I was grateful for the outward expression of her feelings. She got to a point that we could work on it rather than just stuffing it down. I wept for the lack of understanding the rest of the world had and their inability to see the why.

Why can’t we take time to really see the why behind behaviors? Why can’t we slow down enough to ask those questions? Why can’t we fix the problem before it becomes a problem? Most of all, why can’t we remember to extend grace to everyone around us, as we are all dealing with invisible backpacks- some far more full than others.

I guess that in this rambling piece I ask. Please, please, please do not expect a kiddo to be “healed” just because they live in a safe, loving home now. That sort of expectation is harmful for the kiddo and parents and leaves both feeling isolated and alone. Instead, assume positive intent and seek to learn the need behind the behavior and help the parents meet that need in the best way they are able to.

Until next time!


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