OUR VOICES: TOUCHING TRAUMA AT ITS HEART

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THE BOARDER: BRINGING TRAUMA TO LIFE

By:  D Craig Peterson A film can be powerful – especially in giving victims a voice. Think Precious or Schindler’s List. But could a 100-minute dramatization show the challenges of parenting severely unattached children? The answer is yes. In 2012, Jane Ryan – a long-time parent of children from hard places and a clinician – brought The Boarder to life. Her passion for telling the whole story is obvious. Recently

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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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In Honor of Gregory C. Keck, PhD

We at the Attachment & Trauma Network were devastated this weekend to hear of the death of Gregory C. Keck, PhD, the founder of  the Attachment and Bonding Center of Ohio, and a leader in the treatment of early trauma.  We plan to honor Dr. Keck with several memorial posts this week.  Our thoughts and prayers are with Dr. Keck’s family and friends, and also with the many families he

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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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What ATN Means to Me: Miles to go Before “We” Sleep

December 2, 2014 by:  Craig Peterson Perhaps poet Robert Frost knew something about trauma. No doubt, the images in “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” relate to our families:   Whose woods these are I think I know. His house is in the village though. He will not see me stopping here To watch his woods fill up with snow.   Wouldn’t the silence of the woods be inviting

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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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A Bigger, Better & Bolder Blog

By: Gari Lister

Welcome to ATN’s new and expanded blog! We have been working the last several months to plan a more active – and hopefully interactive – blog that will become a real resource for all of us fighting in the trenches to help our children heal from trauma and attachment issues. As ATN’s Blog Manager, I am proud to share in the exciting new initiatives of ATN.

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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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