Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What you need to know

A friend shared this on Facebook.  The original post can be found here.
I could have written this post, but I was never brave enough.   

You need to know that kids from hard places frequently find themselves in fight, flight, or freeze mode. You need to know some always go to fight.
You need to know that these children create hell on earth for some families. You need to know that these children, when triggered, hit, kick, bite, throw things, lie, steal, defecate, vomit, destroy property, and more (sometimes on a daily or hourly basis). You need to know that in their dysregulation, these children say the most venomousthings to the people who are the kindest to them.
You need to know that the trauma that causes such violent and malevolent behaviors also, often, allows them to put on a good show in public.
You need to know that just because these behaviors may only happen within family limits, that does not mean the family needs a new strategy or is doing anything wrong.
You need to know that comments such as “I can never imagine sweet S0-and-So doing such things,” “I’d take him home in a heartbeat,” or “She must be going through so much right now” may be true but make families feel isolated, hopeless, crazy, insecure, and often drive them into a deeper depression. In the same vein, you need to know that phrases like “Teens are just like that,” or “All kids go through this stage” do not apply to these families. These kids have all the typical developmental drama on steroids plus trauma drama and then some. You need to know that parents of fighters need validation not minimization.
You need to know that while families are desperate for respite, it’s not that simple. Respite comes at a high cost of even more intense behavior. So goes the bizarre nature of attachment disorder. You need to know that these families are not masochists…if it was as easy as just getting some extra help, they would have done it months or, even, years ago.
You need to know about emotional whiplash. This happens when a child is happy one minute, beating you bloody another, and asking for a hug the next. You need to know that the switch from the logic brain to the survival brain is so complete and so quick that sometimes children don’t even remember the evil minute. You need to know that the caregiver who witnesses this is left emotionally drained and had to figure out how to be emotionally available and cuddly to a child who seconds before was a danger to be around. You need to know that your sympathy or even kindness to these children is like rubbing salt in an open wound unless you balance it with double amounts empathy and kindness directed specifically at the parent.
You need to know that families largely knew what they were signing up for and they know why their kids behave they way they do. You need to know that they are fully committed to healing them, but healing takes a LOOOOOONG time of weathering the horrendous and unfathomable while still remaining compassionate. Sticking it out is the point so please don’t try to suggest quick fixes or even that we should throw in the towel.
You need to know that even though families are committed for the long haul, they need safe places to vent. Venting does not mean families are any less committed or that they think poorly of their child. They’re only human, and they’re exhausted. They’re battered…literally. You need to know that families feel trapped because to tell the truth about what these kids do would make it seem like their badmouthing their kid…plus they can be so sweet when regulated. You need to know that families are trying to figure out how to protect their child’s story and privacy while still not lie when someone asks how it’s really going.
You need to know that the world has not been a safe place for venting. You need to know a safe place just offers ahug, a shoulder to cry on, and someone to assure us that we’re not crazy. An extra meal here or there can’t hurt either.
Speaking of food. You need to know that any dietary or other restrictions families communicate are not because they are anal retentive control freaks…it’s desperation for survival.
You need to know that it’s devastating when you insinuate to hurt kids that their parents are too strict or even show a slight deviation in opinion. You need to know that families need EVERYONE in their child’s world to back them up…whether you agree or not. If you have a genuine concern, you need to know to address it completely out of earshot of any children. You need to know it’s imperative to the child that it seems all adults are on the parents’ side. You need to know that the best thing you can say to a hurt child is, “We should ask your parents,” or “You should do whatever your parents say.”
You need to know that these children are approximately half (sometimes less) their biological age emotionallyso the structure implemented in their lives is not nearly as inappropriate as you may think.
You need to know that if you’re one of the professionals or volunteers that has to care for a child from hard place, you need to stick it out too. You need to know that families need allies and people who will go along with their plan as counterintuitive as it may seem to you. You need to know that clucking your tongue and shaking your head at how a child could end up this way is also not helpful. You need to know that the people that hurt these children are also people from hard places, and they need resources for healing just like the kids…not judgment.
Thanks for taking the time to know.


Janee said...

You need to know that having friends pat you on the back and encourage you while your clearly mentally ill kids are decompensating before their eyes is neither sane nor reasonable. Nor responsible parenting.

You need to know that unless your kid has a lethal allergy, acting like an anal retentive dictator because a well-intentioned friend or family member gave them a cupcake in class / sandwich at a picnic is flat-out nutty. It serves neither you nor your child well. You need to know you are probably on the brink of a nervous breakdown if you're doing this on a regular basis. Absent lethal allergies, no kid dies of an extra cupcake/sandwich (maybe they feel sick or throw up or get heartburn. This is not the same as DYING).

You need to know that folks who TRULY love you and TRULY have your best interests at heart will call you out when you're behaving like a lunatic -- even in front of your kids. Love is not saying "Suzy, it's awesome that you've decided to pull New Kid out of all school and extracurricular activities so that you can keep her five feet from you all summer, while you bribe her with M&Ms to look you in the eye and say yes mommy". Love is saying "what the hell are you doing? Your New Kid has a brain and free will, and it is okay if she politely declines to decline some random activity you want her to do this very second" or "you've lost the plot completely. If she doesn't want to wear socks, the world will continue to spin on its axis. Pick your battles, hon".

You need to know that "please, I beg of you, take New Kid to a licensed doctor -- you're in way over your head" is generally said out of love. And because you and your kid deserve so much better.

You, the mom of a traumatized kid, need to know that you are not the only person on the planet and that sometimes other people go through tough times too. You might wanna think about returning calls, reciprocating dinner invitations and talking about something other than your kids.

You need to know that lots of people have adopted kids who've been traumatized or have severe mental illnesses and manage to get help and teach their kid to behave in a civilized manner. Or get healthy enough so that they are not pooping all over your house or trying to kill their siblings. Maybe you should talk to THEM -- maybe they've got good resources! Or have some suggestions about what worked for their kid. But, for the love of god, stop taking all your advice from other adoptive mommies whose kids are as much of a mess as yours still are. Because all you are doing is reinforcing each others bad behavior!

Mom to Mine said...

I think you meant to comment on someone else's blog. Nothing you said applies to me or my family. My kids are not a mess and they are not mentally ill nor are they decompensating (not a word btw) before my eyes. My kids act better than most people's biological kids, but to disregard their past and not acknowledge that I have to sometimes do things differently than what seems "normal" would be a lie. I don't feed my kids M&Ms because they are full of artificial dyes (just in case you didn't know - they are bad for you). My kids do participate in after-school activities and several of them do see therapists for a variety of services. As a mom it IS MY JOB to focus on my kids. The reason I even have adopted kids is because I did indeed realize that I am not the only person on the planet that something bad happened to. I totally don't get the rant about the sandwich and the cupcake. I'll even admit that my kids ate 4+ cupcakes (minus the one with allergies of course!) at their brother's birthday party a few days ago. Oh... and I took a kid to the dentist without socks because he didn't want to wear them. Please go find another blog to troll.

Mom to Mine said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
A. Redyns said...

I hate to promote these wars of words...but excellent come back! ;-)
I love your blog by the way!

Mom to Mine said...

And Jenee, please be aware that there is a map showing where the page views come from. I can clearly see you live near Lake Avenue in St. Paul MN, between the White Bear Lake Sports Center and White Bear Lake County Park.
Have a nice day.

Emily said...

This post nailed it. It's exactly right. I'm sharing it too, in hopes that it will help others understand. People who have never walked in these shoes have NO CLUE. Even though almost all of them mean well, they can sure do damage. I'm glad you shared it, and hope it makes a difference for those who read to understand. I hope you don't take too seriously the malignant ones who talk out of their butts. Okay. I'll stop now.

KB said...

I love this post. A little over a year ago, we were suddenly given custody of a niece and nephew we did not know. I'm not sure anyone on the "outside" can even begin to understand. I have been dumped by friends who took my much needed venting as hate for the kids. It's hard. Beyond hard. And worth it. The people who hold us up are amazing. Those who are sure we are doing it all wrong? Have no clue.

Dawn said...

Don't worry about "Janee". "She" has left this EXACT SAME reply on at least 3 other blogs I follow. She is a troll out there stirring the pot. Just ignore her response. :)

Adopted With Love said...

Wow! What a great post! It is exactly what we go through and are unable to vent about to non-adoptive parents.

I especially empathized with "This happens when a child is happy one minute, beating you bloody another, and asking for a hug the next. You need to know that the caregiver who witnesses this is left emotionally drained and had to figure out how to be emotionally available and cuddly to a child who seconds before was a danger to be around."

I remember plenty of nights I went to bed exhausted and crying, feeling so helpless. It has gotten so much better in the last 2 years, but looking back, the feelings of despair and emotional exhaustion are still raw.

Glad to hear other adoptive parents understand that venting does not equal hating or giving up. It is just that... venting to relase some of the emotional stress.

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson