OUR VOICES: TOUCHING TRAUMA AT ITS HEART

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Lessons Learned: Trauma Sensitive Teachers

By: Craig Peterson

The right teacher can make all the difference – for every student and especially those children healing from past trauma.

Boy with a Birthday CakeWhen my son Alex joined the family at the age of 10, he hadn’t been in a regular classroom since first grade. His behavior had been out of control, with anger filled rages getting the best of him. After grabbing a pair of scissors off a teacher’s desk and attempting to stab the principal in the neck, he spent a month in residential treatment. Upon his return to school, he was limited to two hours of instruction per day. A beefy ex-Marine stood guard.

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Warning Labels

November 20, 2014 By:  Melissa Sadin I recently took my son, TS, on a mission trip with the church youth group.   The group was to spend four days helping to prepare a camp in the NJ Pine Barrens for opening day. It was a challenge for my son because he does not do well with unfamiliar places and he had to sleep in a bare bones cabin with four other

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Lessons Learned – Relationships over Things

By: Craig Peterson

Craig Peterson’s ChildrenI had the best of intentions. I never would have imagined my misstep – the precedent I was setting. After all, I was simply trying to be kind to my two newest sons.

They came to me after a decade of extreme neglect and severe abuse at the hands of their birthmother’s boyfriend. Both endured more than 20 out-of-home placements after being stuck in the revolving door of family reunification.

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Lessons Learned – Entitled and Detached

By: Craig Peterson

Boys with GiftsSince my two sons hadn’t been diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder when they were adopted at nine and ten, I didn’t know to look for control.

What I did see was their sense of entitlement.

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Lessons Learned — Less Chores, More Backgammon

by: Craig Peterson

My oldest son hated chores. Even the mention of the word set him off!

IMG_1235[1]No wonder. Before being adopted, he was regularly told to not only watch his five younger siblings but also clean the family apartment.

Although he tried – and he did try — his step-father was never pleased with his effort and used the opportunity to beat him before taking his anger out on my son’s mother.

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Wearing a Mask

October 30, 2014 by:  Kelly Killian As Halloween approaches and children begin to pick out costumes, they pick out a new “personality” to try on for a day. It makes me think of our kids.  So often what you see is a mask that they are wearing for the occasion.  It is not the true personality of the child.  It is the personality they wear for the situation. My son

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Lessons Learned – Understand Attachment Even Before the Placement Begins

By: Craig Peterson

Two Little BoysAlex and Travis are biological siblings. In 2001, they needed a home. One was nine and the other ten.

I wanted to help. I felt called.

Since I had done well with my first four children – all diagnosed with Fetal Alcohol Syndrome, I thought these two would be easier to parent. Both were high functioning and personable.

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Thanksgiving

By: Jane Samuel

‘Tis the season – for thanks giving that is. I see friends posting things they are thankful for each day on Facebook. There are probably similar lists on Twitter, Tumbler and Google+. I suspect my teens are being flooded with them on Instagram and my own email and snail mail is filling up with Thanksgiving letters from various non-profits, all worthy of a little monetary love AND thanks for their work making this a better world.

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“Loss” – The “L” Word

By: Jane Samuel

Driving to school this morning my youngest (chronological age 11, emotional age – always open for debate) and I were discussing her father’s upcoming business trip to Asia. Pulling up to a stoplight, I glanced sideways and did a quick check of her demeanor. While she has gotten much better in the past few years about family members coming and going in her life, I still try to be on the lookout for signs that an upcoming loss – albeit a temporary one – might flip her internal emotional balance on its end. “Trigger her” as we say in the therapeutic parenting business.

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Letting Go

by: Jane Samuel

She calls me from the spa-sleep-over-birthday-party and I am not surprised. There is a catch in her voice and she is asking me to bring money. I don’t question. I just get in the car and drive to her.

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Abandoned

By: Jane Samuel

I knew the minute my husband pulled out of the lot and darted across the street to drop me at the pharmacy that it was a bad idea. Our youngest had run back into the retirement home where my father lived to retrieve a forgotten item and my husband thought it would be quicker to pull across, drop me, and run back and get her while I shopped. Problem is he didn’t tell her. He just figured he could get back before she noticed. Wrong.

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Go Big: Self Care to the Tenth Degree

By: Gari Lister

What is a good mom? Here’s how I would answer a questionnaire on how I was a good mom today: I drove my ten year old an hour and twenty minutes each way to skating camp; I tried really really hard to talk to my twelve year old about sensitive pre-teen things I cannot share here; I fed my kids mostly healthy gluten free meals; my house is reasonably clean; I taught my middle daughter how to complete a job successfully; I gave the girls all kinds of brain-strengthening vitamins; and I went to yoga. Ok, maybe I wouldn’t include the last item. But maybe I should.

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This Ain’t My Mama’s Broken Heart

By: Gari Lister

Four years ago today — May 17, 2009 – my 17 year old daughter broke my heart and changed my life forever. She packed a bag, told her little sister not to tell us, and ran away from home with a boy she’d met a handful of times – a boy who murdered two people within a few months (literally). I didn’t realize what a pivotal moment it was right away; I thought it was just another episode in a series of Katya crises.

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BMITW

By: Jane Samuel

Last week I took our middle daughter out of town for four days to attend her close friend’s confirmation – in another country. Despite all her healing I still worried this trip would be too hard on our youngest – now ten-years-old and adopted at one. Luckily for her – and I – she was naïve as to how far away I would be (a long plane flight) and only knew I would be back in “four sleeps.”

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April 29, 2013 — Fourteen Years

By: Kathleen Benckendorf

ATN is delighted to welcome Kathleen Benckendorf as a guest voice on Touching Trauma at its Heart. Kathleen, a parent member of ATN’s Board of Directors, is a relentless researcher and seeker of answers. An engineer by education and experience, Kathleen has also trained as a bodyworker and in as many other therapeutic approaches and interventions as she has been able to convince the providers to let her attend. Her website, www.attachmentandintegrationmethods.com , describes these approaches and others.

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My Life May Not Be Perfect, But I’m Not Going to Complain About it Any More

By Gari Lister

Too many mornings this spring I have found myself waking up and saying, “My back hurts, I have a headache, I’m tired.” And I can’t even count how often I have picked up the phone and vented about something big . . . or something small. My kids refuse to eat their supplements, my youngest throws a fit (she’s 10), my husband eats the last strawberries . . . you name it, I vent, I complain, I whine. Or let me correct that: I vented, I complained, I whined.

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Shake Off the Bad Mood

By Gari Lister

This morning I started off my day with a cascade of nastiness from my usually reasonably-fun-to-be-around fifth grader. “I’m not going to eat those pills. Are you serious? Is that what we’re having for breakfast? Well, of course, we’re going to be late because of her [the sweeter younger sister].” First, I spent a moment thanking my yoga teacher for helping me to understand equanimity.

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The Third World of Mental Health Care

By: Marc Deprey

This Sunday, my daughter was given a new regime of meds to address her increased oppositional and violent behavior. Unfortunately, the wrong drug was written on her prescription and between that drug and all the other changes made she went into a severe manic episode. Over two days she just got worse and worse. By Monday night she was seeing things that weren’t there, trying to jump out of her window, screaming, and trashing her room.

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Rules . . .

By: Gari Lister

Experts advise that kids with developmental trauma need calm, stability and predictable limits. And in fact I know my youngest does better when she knows her schedule, and exactly what is expected of her. The problem is that peace, stability and a well-ordered life are not always easy to come by in a household filled with a bunch of poorly behaved dogs and cats, not to mention the children or broken appliances. For that reason, I’m always a little defensive about our organizational dynamics.

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How Many Kids Do I Have? . . . Month Two as a Throw-Away Mom

By: Gari Lister

Our oldest daughter, Katya, has been gone nearly two months. She packed the car with everything she could find, changed her phone number, blocked us on facebook, and disappeared into the urban Dallas wilds. In many ways, our life is back to normal, and I have adjusted to my new status. Only a few weeks ago, I couldn’t stop myself from pulling away from the little girls in subtle ways. I finally realized I was petrified they too would throw me away, walking away without a backward glance. I’m mostly now able to accept the risk.

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Why Trauma Wouldn’t Let Me Attend the Trauma Conference

By: Marc Deprey

Last Sunday, my son went into a rage so severe that he assaulted me and destroyed my car’s windows and body with head-sized boulders. He was arrested and taken to Juvenile Hall. It’s the first time I’ve ever been assaulted—by anyone, let alone my own child—and this is his first arrest. My daughter, who is also afflicted with developmental trauma, has been especially reactive this week beyond her usual explosiveness and destructiveness. So the trauma I have been experiencing this week has been so severe that I got sick (my immune system is probably in full retreat) on top of it all. Yesterday, I just gave into reality and cancelled my trip to the Trauma conference.

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How Possible is the Impossible?

By: Nancy Spoolstra

Last weekend I saw the movie The Impossible with my husband and very pregnant daughter. The movie is about a family of 5 that miraculously survives the Indian Ocean tsunami intact … no family member perished. Most families were not nearly so fortunate. The movie is all about relationships. I don’t think there was a dry eye in the house … at least among the movie-goers who were healthy enough to be in relationship with one or more other people. I left that theater wanting to hug each and every member of my family who is near and dear to me. And it forced me once again to examine the dichotomy of my family dynamics.

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A Swing and A Miss

By: Marc Deprey

In my last entry, I listed a number of potential subjects to talk about on this blog and of course, I’ve decided not to talk about any of them today. I just want to talk about the heartbreak of never really being close to your kid.

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Why I hung up on my son

By: Nancy Spoolstra

It has been nearly five years since I regularly blogged at adoptionblogs.com, and I have been excited to resume blogging, although on a less rigorous schedule. So it was surprising to me that I was struggling to get this first blog written. I think I wasn’t quite sure how or where to start. As many of you understand, five years can be a long time and a big change in our families … or, it might be five years later and the same old, same old. In my case, I am five more years down the path of redefining my life without the daily reality of breathing the same air as one or more children with severe attachment issues.

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It Doesn’t Hurt to Laugh

By: Anna Paravano-Frise

Ok, let’s face it:
“Sometimes you feel like a nut, sometimes you don’t.” (Hershey’s)

Kind of like that nutty guy on the ceiling in the movie “Mary Poppins” who sang, “I love to laugh!” I really do love to laugh! I love anything and anyone that makes me laugh. BC (Before Child), I really bought into the notion that “laughter is the best medicine.” Life can be such a serious business so I made it a point to watch comedies and comedians as a way to release stress, fight depression, or simply have fun. Yes, I loved a good drama but when times got tough, I used laughter as one of my coping mechanisms.

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I’m Perfect…I’m a Failure

By: Julie Beem

LuLu and I build gingerbread houses. We build them for the annual competition at her virtual school. She’s a serious competitor. Prior to the houses we built for the last competitions, I had absolutely no gingerbread house experience. It has been a trial by fire – and a lot of work! But the interesting thing is that it’s been a fruitful adventure and one that showcases some of her talents.

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