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!
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.
To try and explain why my 10-year old son believes he’s starving because he lived in a homeless shelter as a newborn and did not receive proper nutrition, often fell on deaf ears. Many times, we walked out of those meetings defeated, frustrated, angry and wanting to yank our child out of school altogether.
However, we discovered a much better way. When we started talking, patiently and calmly, about the facts of trauma and how it manifests itself in our children, things changed quickly. In this special video, Kristin and our good friend Nicole, share 5 key truths that adoptive parents want their children’s teachers to understand about trauma.
Here’s a quick list and synopsis of the points that Kristin and Nicole shared in the video:
- Communication is key. Everything that is happening in your classroom could be a direct result of our child’s traumatic past. You must proactively communicate every day with us.
- We’re not being mean. We are working on helping our children understand logical consequences.
- We’re working on a bigger picture. Our children were traumatized at birth because of separation, but they’ve also experienced secondary trauma in entering our family. Therefore, we are actively working on establishing trust, a healthy bond, and attachment with our children.
- Trauma changes the brain. Our children suffered immediate trauma when they were separated from their birth mother at birth.
- Our children’s information is private. We often do not share the details of our children’s past openly out of protection for them.
Resources You Can Share.
We want you to be able to pass this on to teachers and school administrators so we’re providing the link to a special landing page with both the video and a sample letter we recommend sending along with the video link. Remember- the goal is not to drive home a point, or even prove a point with your child’s teacher. That was our approach in the early days and it didn’t work. If you go in guns blazing, belligerent or frustrated, your child’s teacher and/or principal will not capture the facts. They will not become educated on trauma. They will think you’re crazy.
The letter should include…
- A cordial introduction.
- A brief explanation of why they are receiving this letter.
- A synopsis (not full explanation) of your child’s story.
- An explanation of the YouTube link (or other resources)
- An expression of wanting to work with the teacher
Then include the special page link (you can get that by clicking below) and adapt our sample letter as needed (also below).
As we often say in our posts, and emails- we hope that the content we share enriches, encourages and lifts you up on this sometimes difficult journey. We know what you’re going through on a daily basis. We know the battles you fight, with your children, but also for your children. We’ve been in that trench.
Remember…you are not alone!
Question: What are some other resources that you’ve found helpful in helping teachers and school administrators understand how trauma has affected your child? Share with us. You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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