OUR VOICES: TOUCHING TRAUMA AT ITS HEART

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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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20 Years after the Fetal Alcohol Diagnosis

–Craig Peterson Manager’s note: you can read the original post, along with many others, on Craig’s own blog at https://adoptingfaithafathersunconditionallove.org/ 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 his special Facebook page, Andrew Peterson Goes for the Gold   Jan was a gem, a dedicated child welfare case manager. With knowledge of maternal alcohol use during pregnancy, she drove

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Adventures in therapeutic parenting: spit cup in a tree

-by Laura Dennis I was enjoying my coffee when a panicked voice rose from the back yard. “Help!” My spit cup is in a tree!” I never imagined these words in the same breath: help, spit, cup, tree. Well, not until I became a parent, and not just any parent, but a parent with special powers, for I am raising a child with attachment disorder. I acquired these powers thanks

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Smart and strong

by:  Lorraine Fuller My son told me once that the reason he lies and breaks rules is because he is testing the person. He will do things that seem to make no sense, tell lies that get him into trouble, or steal inconsequential things. If a teacher tells him to write his name on the top left side of his paper, he will put it on the right side or the

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The Dynamics of Disruption

By Nancy Spoolstra, DVM Although there are several possible explanations for why an individual, a couple, or a family chooses to add an unrelated child to their home, in today’s modern society it usually boils down to one basic principle—the desire to parent a child or another child. Perhaps some are motivated more by altruistic feelings than others; still, the desire to parent is probably a core motivator. When the

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Failure is always an option

by:  Lorraine Fuller I have been a special needs parent for almost 24 years. My oldest was diagnosed with Aspergers and dysgraphia. That presented a few challenges, but we were able to overcome them. Then my second son played a big part in helping my older son become super high-functioning, even as he dealt with his own challenges, namely dyslexia. He is about to finish college with a degree in psychology and

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When your child suffers

Craig Peterson poignantly reminds us of the daily struggles that some of our kids have faced, still face, and may always face. Coping When a Child Suffers Daily

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Meet your new blog manager

One year into the first adoption, sibling girls from India, we felt like things were going pretty well. “Why not another?” we asked. “Maybe this one will be a boy.” Turns out it would definitely be a boy –we wanted our kids to have a common cultural heritage, so were returning to India, and the government of that country could not fathom that a family might freely choose to raise

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What if it’s NOT the most wonderful time of the year?!

Greetings from your new blog manager. You will be hearing more from me next week. Meanwhile, does the chaos of this image remind you a little too much of the holidays where you live? Craig Peterson shares some wisdom for helping our trauma kids through a time that can be filled with anything but love, joy, and peace on earth. Just click below, and may his words speak to you as they

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Don’t Give Up on Kids like Charlie and Moms Like Me

We are thrilled to welcome Allison Cooke Douglas to the ATN blog team.  Allison is not only an adoptive and former foster mom, she is also a foster parent trainer and leader.  She currently serves as a DCS Foster Parent Education Specialist for Centerstone in Tennessee.  As her opening post, we are sharing her remarks as she edited and updated them in honor of NATA Day. by:  Allison Cooke Douglas I

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A Niche for Every Child

by:  Craig Peterson All children need a special activity in their lives – something to call their own. And especially those who’ve experienced trauma. Many of these opportunities happen through school. For some it’s team sports. For others it might be music or theater. In the case of my son Andrew, he found his niche through running. Like thousands of children each year – in spite of 25 years of

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Beyond Scared

by:  Deborah A. Novo It is natural to feel apprehensive and scared navigating through some of life’s challenges and expectations. Much of the time, we can do this with confidence and competence. However, scared doesn’t begin to identify the depth and breadth of the feeling that is experienced when our children with Reactive Attachment Disorder anticipate or perceive abandonment. The feeling could be more accurately described as panic and terror.

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The Other “B” Word

by:  Craig Peterson  Before anyone’s imagination runs wild, I’m not talking about that “B” word but the other one we know all too well. “Birth families.” For nearly all of us who’ve adopted – whether domestically or internationally, our children will bombard us with questions about their birth families. Probably sooner than later. Maybe they already have. The conversation may be a once-and-done. Other parents will have a much rougher

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The Search for a School That Fits

by: Melissa Sadin

Teenager with problemsAs the parent of a child with moderate to severe attachment trauma, I have struggled for years to provide my son with an appropriate educational program. I have worked as a special education teacher and an administrator, so I know the lingo needed to get what I want at an IEP meeting. However, I was startled to discover recently that I wasn’t sure I knew what my son needed. My son always makes it very clear to all involved when something doesn’t work for him. The things that do work, however, are much more subtle and harder to see. My son has never said, “Oh, I like Mrs. Soandso. I feel safe in her class and am able to process language better there so I perform better academically.” The closest we get to that is, “She’s okay, I guess.”

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It’s Not Your Fault

by:  Gari Lister I spoke with a mom yesterday for close to an hour.  She wasn’t asking for help for her children — instead, she was desperate for help for herself.  Why?  Because she was frustrated that she hadn’t been able to accept that her children weren’t loving to her.  She blamed herself — the stress in her home was her fault.  And that’s what we moms do, isn’t it? 

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Facebook and Birth Family!

December 8, 2014 by: Deborah A. Novo I picked up the phone to hear my, then 18 year old son, say, “Mom, you will NEVER believe who I just found on facebook!” I found myself holding my breath as I instinctively knew to whom he was referring. The woman who gave birth to him and to whom he had biological, psychological and energetic ties. It had been well over a

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What ATN Means to Me

December 2, 2014 by:  Julie Beem A long time ago in what feels like a galaxy far away, I was a sleep-deprived mom of a raging toddler whose behaviors made absolutely no sense. I was an experienced “good enough” mom — so what was I doing wrong? My introduction to ATN came via a group of adoptive parents on the internet looking for answers for their traumatized children. We didn’t

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What ATN Means to Me

December 2, 2014 by:  Jane Samuel One night in 2007 I slipped away leaving my youngest daughter – who was well into one of  her daily tantrums – in the hands of my husband. Beyond despair I climbed the stairs to my bathroom on the third floor of our house where I hoped I couldn’t hear her screams for her birth mother or her requests for us to kill her,

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What ATN Means to Me

December 2, 2014 by:  Gari Lister In 2007, I thought I knew all about attachment.  We had adopted an eleven year old from a Russian orphanage in 2002, and I had read  everything I could get my hands on, so I  was well versed in building attachment in older children.  What I didn’t understand, though, was absolutely fundamental.  I missed so much in my Katya’s behavior  — her panic about

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