How To Support Bio Kids In An Adoptive Family.

“I have both adopted and biological kids and I find my bio kids often get lost in the shuffle of everything we deal with as an adoptive family. How do we support them and stay connected to them?”

We get this question ALL the time. Usually I’m thinking, “Hmmm good question, I don’t have any bio kids so I don’t know how to answer that.” Next, I’ll think, “I should really meet someone who has bio kids and ask them this question.” Then I say to myself, “Better yet, I should find a bio kid who was raised in an adoptive family and then I’ll ask the question.” This weekend my mom and I went to an adoption conference together and I kept introducing her and by saying, “This is my mom, she’s an adoptive mom too!”

“I Didn’t Sign Up For This!”

The journey started off on a good note, only to come crashing down on you a few months later. When you find yourself whispering, “I didn’t sign up for this,” where do you go next?

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Let me begin this post by first saying, I know. I know, I know, I know, I know and I know! Sister, I’ve been there. Brother, I’ve walked in your shoes. No one told you about the way trauma rears its ugly head. No one told you about the real story behind his bed wetting, or her rage, or his impulsiveness. You jumped into this journey with two passionate feet and a heart to bring light into the darkness of a broken child’s life. And now, you’re exhausted and your kid is holding your entire family hostage.

“My Child Doesn’t Live At Home And I Don’t Feel Guilty!”

We know the feeling. More importantly, we know the wrestling match you’re in because you don’t feel the guilt you think you’re supposed to feel. But, this honest admission doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent.

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He prefaced the statement with, “I’m ashamed to admit this.” Then he paused, took a deep breath, lowered his head, and finally released it…. “My son doesn’t live at home right now, and I don’t feel guilty about that. In fact…” he paused again, choking back a reservoir of emotion building behind his eyes, “I love the peace that we feel without him here. I’ve waited so long for it.” I placed my arm on his shoulder empathetically. “I know,” I said, looking him in the eyes.

Secondary Trauma: How Your Child’s Special Needs May Be Affecting You.

We know that children who have come from difficult places experience trauma, but what about you and I as parents? How do we handle the secondary trauma we experience as a result of the day in and day out battle of parenting them?

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“Listen, you’re blood pressure is just too high. You need to lose some weight, eat healthier and get some exercise. Getting out for a workout will lower your stress level too. I know you can find just a few minutes in your day. On your way out, stop by the front desk and schedule an appointment for 6 weeks. I don’t want to scare you but we really need to keep an eye on this.” The doctor shut the door as my friend pulled her gown a little tighter around her hoping to hide how exposed she was feeling from the inside out. She quickly dressed and told the front desk she would have to check her schedule and call back about the appointment.

10 Powerful Truths About FASD That Will Change Your Perspective.

For the majority of the world, Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) is misunderstood and often judged. But, there are powerful truths that can change your life when you understand, and embrace them.

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Anger.

That’s the word that comes to mind when I think about FASD. Anger.

I’m angry at a broken world where addiction runs rampant, angry that we’ve been forced to accept a new normal, angry at the numerous therapists, doctors, and authorities who’ve downplayed or disagreed with my child’s diagnosis over the years, angry at a world that judges before seeking the truth, and angry when I think about the missing pieces of my child’s life.

5 Things Adoptive Parents Want Teachers To Know About Trauma.

Along with providing content that enriches the lives of adoptive, foster and special needs parents, we want to be proactive about creating resources you can pass on to professionals, like a teacher or coach. So when our friend Michele asked us to make a video explaining trauma to teachers, we jumped at the chance!

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We jumped because we’ve been there many times in the past- Sitting in IEP (Individual Education Plans) meetings that looked more like a sinking ship than a proactive plan. It wasn’t that the teacher was unprofessional, or rude (although we’ve experienced that), it was a lack of understanding. Most of the children in their classroom did not come from traumatic pasts. Most were not abused, or removed and placed in foster care. Most were not malnourished or left to fend for themselves before their adoption. Most had a forever home from birth.

A Missing Person: When Your Child Can’t Live At Home.

Parenting children from difficult places is no easy task. When your child’s past trauma causes him to have to live somewhere else, it’s even harder! How do you navigate through this difficult season (and reality) of life?

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This week is exactly what a family vacation should be. Well, almost exactly. As I snap a photo of all the smiling faces I feel a knot tighten in my stomach. A man behind us marvels, “Wow 5 kids!” I nod and smile, but my mind is with the one who isn’t here. The hollowness I feel is vast. I’m surrounded by so much love but still feel the emptiness of missing the one.

Shame

This is an open and honest post by my wife Kristin. In the post, she chronicles our struggles with our oldest son, who suffers from mental illness. Our hope is that any parent reading this, who deals with this with their own child, will find hope and comfort, and a voice.

I’m perched on the edge of our outdated plaid love seat, watching the scene before me. I glance away for a minute and inspect my bare feet. I make a mental note that my toenails are an embarrassment. Then I laugh, but only in my head. Pedicures are the least of my concerns these days. I allow my mind to drift from the present. I begin to tick off a list of the most recent embarrassments, heartbreaks, fears, and crushing grief stricken moments of this year.

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I stretch one bruised leg, and then the other. He’s gotten stronger. I feel a scratch on my cheek. Is that from this morning? I wonder. I can’t gauge what is normal. I hear my children’s laughter coming from the other room where they are locked safely away, sharing a pizza. One child says, “It’s a party!” Another wants to know when he can say hi to the police. The security cameras we’ve installed capture everything. They run all the time. No one even thinks about them anymore.

We follow a safety plan seamlessly, but are we really safe? Are we really living? I snap back into focus. The officer wants to talk to me. I’m ready for battle. They never understand mental illness anyway. Someone will probably hand him a sticker and pat him on the back. That’s usually what they do. He is 10 after all, and cute as a button. As I sneak a look at him, head down, tiny frame slouching, I feel it too. Disbelief. Someone so small could never have done this much damage.

The officer and I step outside to talk while two more stand guard over my son. He’s telling me that he sees the safety plan and how hard we’ve worked to keep our son at home. He’s telling me that he understands Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. He knows that the brain damage isn’t my son’s fault. He also understands that we won’t allow him to use his disability as an excuse. For the first time, someone has seen my greatest shame and isn’t judging me or my son. He wants to help…and I actually believe him.  “No one is going to press charges this time.” he says. I’m glad.

“He is going to the hospital to be admitted to acute care.” I’m relieved. The officer has offered to transport him. It’s up to me. For just a moment, my mind drifts to the days when my husband and I first adopted him. I remember him clinging to me. My sweet, hurting baby. Then I allow myself to imagine the  future and I know it’s time to help him face reality. It’s time to help him turn this around. I ask the officer to take him. “I’ll follow you.” I say.

My son turns away from me as I tell him the consequence. I see that he feels the shame I feel. Tears trickle down his cheeks. I long to wrap him up in my arms and make this all go away. I know I can’t so I squeeze his hand. He looks me in the eye as we stand to leave. “I know I need help mom. I’m going to turn this around,” he says.  I kiss his forehead. “I know you will,” I say, “You’re better than this.”

From the doorway, the walk down the driveway looks long. I see the curtains in other windows shift as neighbors pretend not to see. I fight the urge to shrink into the safety of my home. I won’t hang my head any longer. The Lord snatched my son from the fire once. It is by His mercy that my son was saved from a life of domestic violence, malnutrition and neglect.

It is only because of the precious gift of God that I get to be my son’s second mother. I choose to raise my head high because I know that fighting for my son and my family is my greatest responsibility. I squeeze my son’s hand one more time. Then He and I bravely cross the threshold, facing our shame, and stepping into the light.

Question: Have you gone through, or are you going through the same thing in your family? We would love to hear your story. You can leave a comment by clicking here.