Contrary to my deepest desire, after we adopted the kids in April life did not settle down. Things got crazy.
We took the kids out of daycare due to the significant cost CPS no longer covered. (Holy cow! It’s expensive!) My mom, Elaine, graciously started helping on the days I worked and ended up staying over 2 months with us as we struggled to navigate fulltime parenting. Sean and I also started a local and online support group for other families trying to foster-to-adopt. Having survived the foster-to-adopt process, we want to help others do the same. (Maybe not the best timing but it’s impossible to stand by and do nothing. You cannot remain unchanged by this industry.)
Last but certainly not least, the kids being at home all day unearthed some interesting behaviors and painful revelations from their past. I struggle with how much to share about how things have been going. I know our story can encourage others in their journey, but I don’t want to overshare the private details of my children’s past. Too, I like writing it down because I hold to the hope that one day my children will want to read their story. Our story. But therein lies the quandary. The dignity of discretion is at war with my desire to call out the evil done to them.
God has led me to this:
We are called to be secret keepers.
As their parents, Sean and I are their secret keepers. We keep their secrets out of honor and respect. I can share some but the full details are only for them to tell. Later. When they’re ready and only if they want to share. Writer and speaker, Beth Moore, offers guidelines that I am going to follow as I blog about our life.
Honestly with all. Transparency with some. Intimacy with a few.
I can tell you this:
Both kids have been diagnosed with RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) and PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder). RAD means they have a hard time connecting with people in the present because, essentially, with they spend more time living in the past, hence the PTSD diagnosis. We all spend more time living in their past. It affects every interaction. Every moment relates back to something they’ve experienced or had done to them. Both kids have been physically, emotionally and sexually abused. They suffered general neglect with A medically neglected as well.
Since we took them out of daycare, a lot of the dirty details have come out along with unexpected behaviors. My brain is so full of all they’ve said and done since April. To the point there have been moments when I thought I was going to unravel. Mentally. Emotionally. It’s been rough.
Let me give you some examples.
We try to unravel the lies they’ve heard from in their past. Sometimes, it works. Like when we found out A’s old mom told her she was part boy. All it took was reassuring her she’s all girl and now she pees sitting down. Lie unraveled and toilet seat now clean. (It’s a way more detailed story but I’m trying to be honest while still keeping the full details of their past a secret.)
Sometimes their past unravels me.
Like a month ago, when the kids thought I worked as stripper.
For two weeks leading up to THE DAY, both kids had taken to avoiding me. They wouldn’t hug me, sit near me and had started cussing me out if I asked them to do anything remotely parental like, “Eat your dinner. Brush your teeth. Pick up your toys.” They were fine if I said things like, “Let’s go to Seaworld. Let’s watch TV. Want to eat donuts?” Their sullen anger and outright defiance appeared to be linked to my starting to work more in the evenings. Finally, after a day of hitting and kicking instead of hugs and kisses, we all sat down on the living room floor and I started digging.
“Are you mad at Grandma? Are you made at Dad? Are you’re mad at me? Ok, so you’re mad at me. Is it because I’m not home as much?” Rapid questions dig out the truth and keep them from lying convincingly. They still try but aren’t very good at it yet.
We got to the bottom of it (pun intended) when they admitted they were worried I was showing my privates at work like their bio mom used to do. She worked as stripper in at least one place in town. The kids were scared I was doing that when I left the house and was also gonna start doing it at home. Sadly, also like their bio mom.
This type of fear spills over into all aspects of their lives. Instinctually, the kids have found a way of protecting themselves by applying what’s happened to them in the past to their present and fighting to keep intact behaviors that helped them survive. This happens with most children that have been abused. We read about it in our trauma training but reading about it and living it out daily are two totally different things.
It’s why I start to unravel. My confidence in our future erodes in the face of their behavior knowing what motivates them is their past. They assume this level of protective behavior is still necessary in their new life. (Their words. New life. Old Life. Old mom and dad. New mom and dad. It’s an easy way for them wrap their heads around what’s happening to their life.)
One of my biggest prayers is that they will learn to discern right from wrong and good people from bad. They had mistakenly assumed all women working in the evening stripped. What’s so upsetting and where I start to unravel is--I’m just not that type of person. I’m very unstripper-ish. Can’t they see that?
Sean and I (and my mom) are finally grasping the impact of abuse. Years of abuse and neglect. Years. Not just this isolated incident. Some of the stories they’ve disclosed are shocking. Heartbreaking.
Hurt, anger, fear, need, lies and love are all tangled
altogether in one giant ball of trauma. Undoing one knot won’t fix the
mess or end the hurt…BUT…it helps.
I am determined the only unravelling will be the tricky knots of the past; not my mind. Sean reminded me the kids act a lot better than when they first got to our house and they treat each other with more love. We have to focus on the small victories as we move ahead. One knot at a time we focus on the future.
How do we do that? For me, it’s an invitation to a tea party…