OUR VOICES: TOUCHING TRAUMA AT ITS HEART

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A Trauma-Informed Revolution

by Sandi Lerman [original version published by the author, who is also a parent coach and educator, on Adoption Roots and Wings on March 12, 2018] “It is my hope that our story on trauma-informed care will not only be impactful but will also be revolutionary. It certainly has caused a revolution in my own life.”  – Oprah Winfrey One Sunday night in March, my online community of warrior mamas and I

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BRAVE: What I Chose to Tell

When I talk about BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma, I sense assumptions from the outset. They are understandable  – after all, the title says it’s about childhood trauma, right? Yet at the same time, I want to laugh and say, “Could you just read the book before you make up your mind?” This might seem slightly paranoid… but I once received a list of interview questions written

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Two Kinds of Brave

[warning – this post briefly references an act of sexual assault] In her response to BRAVE: A Personal Story of Healing Childhood Trauma, Laura Dennis, ATN blog manager, asked me to address the following: “There are (at least) 2 kinds of being brave. One is an illusion in which we tell ourselves a version of events that we would like to be true. The other is the real deal. It

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One Year Ago

For over a year now, my son has been living in a residential treatment facility. One year of not being together for birthdays, Christmas, or Mother’s Day. One year of visits. One year of wondering what will happen next. One year of prayers. While I’ve written here and there about this experience (Residential Treatment: When Holding On Means Letting Go, The Downward Spiral of My Son’s Behavior), much of the time

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Trauma-Informed Parenting: What Adoptive & Foster Parents Can Teach About ACEs

[original version published on Parenting with ACEs on June 5, 2016] There are many adults with low ACE scores who parent children with high ACE scores. These parents are often feisty and fierce advocates who tirelessly seek out support, strategies and solutions to make the lives of their children easier and better. They are some of the best parents I know. The ones I admire most have helped me be a better

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What I Learned -or Remembered- when I Read Brave

1) There are (at least) 2 kinds of being brave. One is an illusion in which we tell ourselves a version of events that we would like to be true. The other is the real deal. It involves facing our fears head on and living to tell the tale. In a future ATN blog post, Janyne will talk more about these two kinds of being brave. 2) Even the most

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On Losing a Mother…and a Mother Culture

I saw them the moment we entered the restaurant. The dad was suited up, ready for Mother’s Day at our favorite Indian buffet. The little girl, her black hair chopped in the style I instantly recognized as the “Indian orphanage bob,” sat safely strapped into a high chair. The mom wore a salwar kameez, blond hair hanging loosely about her pale neck. They sat close to the door, but that

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Opting Out of Mother’s Day?

I’m here to give you my blessing…yes, you CAN opt out of Mother’s Day! It is your day after all…so technically by the rules of our society (as enforced by Hallmark) you’re allowed to do whatever you want. Well…unless “whatever you want” triggers the heck out of your children with relational trauma. And there’s the rub. I truly believe there is NOT another day in the entire calendar year (not

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Mother’s Day. Beautiful and Complicated.

–by Neeva Carter The moment I heard my children’s names, my world stood still. I was at work, standing in an empty room on the phone, listening to our social worker run through the highlights of their story. She was reluctant to tell me anything, having only agreed because the children’s social worker had begged, convinced that we were the ones she’d been looking for. We were already considering five

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Mother of the Year (Sort of…)

–by Anna Gosman And  the “Mother of the Year” award goes to me…AGAIN. This is what I usually say to myself after I’ve lost my temper, forgotten to pack someone’s lunch, left someone at school (yes, that can happen…), the list goes on and on. It seems like every day I fail as a mother, and I wonder if I will ever get it right. I would like to say

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The Many Faces of Mother’s Day

–by Lorraine Fuller Mother’s Day is so many things to so many people. I was blessed to have one or two Hallmark-worthy experiences. Breakfast in bed of soggy cereal and burnt toast (pro tip: a dog is very useful in these situations!), handmade gifts and cards. I cherish those memories and warm, fuzzy feelings from my emotionally healthy, attached children. I cherish them even more now that I know a far

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What Happens to the Siblings of a Special Needs Child

–by Sara Borgstede [read more from Sara, including the original version of this post, at her website The Holy Mess] When my teen son, young adult daughter and I return home from a youth group meeting, my heart sinks when I see a police cruiser sitting in our driveway. We walk into the living room to find an officer taking a report from my husband and son about a situation

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When Children with Mental Health Issues Are Violent

–by Sara Borgstede [originally published on the author’s own blog, The Holy Mess, on March 1, 2018.] Manager’s note: while many children who suffer from mental health issues never become violent, the tragic reality is, some do. A huge hug of gratitude for Sara for her courage in sharing one such story. Like most people in this country, it was with great sadness and alarm that I read about the

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A Christmas Gift for You

–by Laura Dennis [NOTE: this post references this author’s faith as an aspect of her own experience. It is not meant in any way to proselytize, nor does it represent the beliefs of everyone at ATN.]     I was crying. Again. I never know when secondary traumatic stress will rear its ugly head. I do know it can get awfully old. “It’s just that I hate Christmas,” I blurted

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I Wish I Hadn’t Adopted

–by Donald Craig Peterson I wish, I wish, I wish…I wish I hadn’t adopted. There I said it. Like a majority of families who’ve adopted children, I wasn’t mentally prepared for the surprises. You know, the chaos inside Fetal Alcohol Syndrome. The manipulation and triangulation inherent to attachment disorders. The invisible insanity associated with developmental trauma. Sure, I expected some challenges along the way. After all, adoption isn’t a fairy

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Throwing Myself on the Floor

  –by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD It was inexplicable. I was a twenty-seven-year-old wife and mother of an infant, and I had just left the family gathering and thrown myself on the floor kicking and screaming. My husband was standing over me with a compassionate but perplexed look on his face. I now understand exactly what happened. In that moment, I was not an adult. I was one of my child selves and

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Confession Time

–by Lorraine Fuller Time to confess some things. When I first started this journey of parenting a child with trauma, attachment, and other issues, I read everything I could get my hands on. I joined groups, attended classes, and went on retreats. I was determined to do everything right to help my son heal. From my reading, I got the impression that it was like a math problem: if I

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Manipulation and the Inability to Ask for Help

–by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD One day, well into my first year of therapy, I caught myself trying to manipulate my therapist. Not that I hadn’t been trying all along, but I hadn’t recognized that what I was doing looked distinctively like manipulation. Suddenly, I found the connection between that and my inability to ask for help. At issue was my need to schedule another appointment. The therapist had always taken

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That Feeling

–by Lorraine Fuller It’s a feeling special needs parents know all too well. My most recent experience happened on a cruise ship, on a vacation with extended family. One evening, I couldn’t sleep. My son had gone to a teen party and everyone else had gone to bed early or was off doing something else. I went walking and decided to get a slice of pizza – 24-hour pizza is

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Caregiver Stress: It Might Eventually Kill You

–by Donald Craig Peterson originally published on the author’s website, ADOPTING FAITH: A Father’s Unconditional Love, July 31, 2017 The serious look on the eye doctor’s face was obvious. Then she said, “Are you under a lot of stress at work?” Instantly I let out a nervous laugh. “At work – no. But home can be another story.” No doubt, parenting children with special needs isn’t for the meek –

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Triggers: Providing Emotional Safety in the Classroom

–by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD Every adult knows that there are triggers in life. We often know each other’s triggers, and in toxic relationships, we talk about how we push each other’s buttons. We know those buttons exist, but we often don’t remember how they got there. It is even harder for children, who are not yet developmentally capable of identifying the trigger. Most difficult of all, for children and adults

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Trauma without Healthy Attachment: How a Child Feels

–by Janyne McConnaughey, PhD I sat on the floor next to her. I understood her fear of abandonment, the trauma she had experienced, and how her mother had been unable to provide any form of comfort. I watched her body shake uncontrollably and offered a blanket. I knew she would not want me to hold her. As we sat, I thought about how this had all started the day she

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Neediness: An Unintended Consequence of Shame

–by Janyne A. McConnaughey, Ph.D. originally published June 21, 2017 on Janyne’s blog I stood in the doorway. I was very small, maybe two. I was sucking on my two middle fingers and watching my mother in the kitchen. I was forbidden from entering. Then I did the unthinkable. I stepped over the imaginary line and asked for a cookie. The response was not a positive one, but what strikes me

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Stronger in Spirit Than I Ever Imagined

–by Donald Craig Peterson Manager’s note: you can read the original post on Craig’s own blog, Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love. Craig also has a forthcoming memoir, Adopting Faith: A Father’s Unconditional Love, and you can follow his son Andrew’s story by clicking “Like”  on the Facebook page, Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold. ____________ The past month at my house has been rough. More surprises than usual. And not the pleasant variety.

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The Classroom through the Lens of Trauma

–by Janyne McConnaughey, Ph.D. The doctor my parents took me to was wise beyond his era. He said, “She seems to be a bit anxious about school. Maybe it would help to keep her home for a week.” My first-grade report card proves that his advice was taken. In the midst of almost perfect attendance, there was an anomaly. It was called trauma. I used to tell a story about

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Why Jeannie Can’t Tell Time

–by Janyne McConnaughey, Ph.D. Staring at the analog clock in my therapist’s office, I wondered which hand was the big hand and struggled with my need not to go over my time. “I can’t read the clock,” I said. It was awkward because I was 62, but I really wasn’t. This awkward therapy moment is brought to you by my dissociative disorder. It was a watershed moment in understanding one

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