OUR VOICES: TOUCHING TRAUMA AT ITS HEART

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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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What NATA DAY is Not!

By:  D Craig Peterson NATA Day is coming June 19th. Let me tell you what it’s not. It’s “not a” day to be alone. All families need support. Wear a blue ribbon and tell others what it means. It’s “not a” day to be angry. Sure, go ahead and vent if you need the emotional release. But don’t let the anger about your child’s behavior stop you from connecting. In

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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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