That Familiar Holiday Rant: “You’ll never be my real family!”

by:  D. Craig Peterson   Six words. For many vulnerable children, they give context to a complicated history.  For many parents who’ve opened their hearts, they cut to the bone. The words unfortunately rear their ugly head, especially during the holidays – when family gatherings are the norm. I know too well. After years of […]

Inspiration: Taking Flight

by:  Gari Lister One of my youngest daughter’s biggest challenges is self esteem – and sadly her lack of self esteem is combined with an inability to imagine and dream. Not dream at night, but dream of an exciting future. My sweet girl can very easily imagine herself getting cancer, or epilepsy, or even cystic […]

Does it Work for Me?

by:  Gari Lister Parenting an adult child with reactive attachment disorder — especially a young adult — can be challenging, to say the least.  My oldest is 23, and we have been through a LOT with her since she became a “legal” adult.  We have faced questions like: do we press charges, do we give […]

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, […]

Orphan Sunday vs. Orphan Reality

By: Julie Beem

Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world. – James 1:27

Resilience – Inborn or Learned – Part 1

By: Julie Beem

There’s a lot of talk about resilience being the antidote to trauma. Lots of workshops, books, and training programs talk about building resilience in kids as a way to counteract the impact of trauma in their lives. On the surface all this seems to make sense, but it’s always puzzled me. What did people mean by resilience, and why does it appear that my child has none, even after years of parenting her?

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.


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.”

Mother’s Day – Batten Down The Hatches!

By: Julie Beem

It’s nearly Mother’s Day. And thanks to retailers, schools, churches, we hear the message of “celebrating your mom” broadcasted from the rooftops. In a normal world, this would be a great thing. Motherhood is truly one of the highest callings. But what about children for whom their first relationship with a mother didn’t go well, didn’t last, produced trauma?

Hope Overcomes Heartbreak

By: Gari Lister

My post last week was scary and sad for some of you, but please do not confuse heartbreak with a lack of hope. I have a huge amount of hope for our kids, and for the progress that we are making in helping them. For every child like my Katya, there are many, many more children who can and who do heal. My youngest, in fact, is a poster child for healing – at 10, she is perhaps a little odd, and she is certainly a little quiet. But she has an amazing sense of humor, she loves to ice skate and take ballet and she can talk my ear off when she wants to – a far cry from the little girl who screamed for hours every night when we brought her home and from the 5 year old who didn’t and wouldn’t talk. Now, yes, we haven’t lived through her teenage years, so perhaps there are crises yet to come.