Thoughts from the Board: Nancy Spoolstra

November 3, 2014

by:  Nancy Spoolstra, Founder

I nNancy Spoolstraever cease to be amazed at where, how and when conversations arise about kids with attachment or trauma issues. I seem to be going through business cards lately at a pretty good clip.

I recently offered to let a friend of a friend ride one of my horses on a group trail ride. Because my horses wanted to stay together, we had plenty of time to talk. My new friend Mary started to tell me about her two 2-year-old granddaughters, 6 weeks apart in age, both adopted from the foster care system. One was adopted as a newborn; one was adopted as a 9 month old.  Mary made some statement that indicated that her daughter, the mother of the toddlers, was voraciously devouring information about how best to parent her children. I asked if Mary had ever heard of Love and Logic Parenting? Mary replied that it was after attending a Love and Logic conference that her daughter had begun her quest for knowledge!

From there I launched into a dissertation (as we rode a beautiful trail through the woods) about how Love and Logic serves as a wonderful baseline for helping parents discern who owns the Units of Concern in any given interaction … the parent or the child? I spoke about how parents of traumatized children need to say what they mean and do what they say … they must be a “steel box with a velvet lining.”  We talked about trust issues, “testing” behavior that sometimes seems endless, and disregulated toddlers and ways of helping them learn to identify and control their emotions.  I suggested a few books for her daughter to read, including Attaching in Adoption by Deborah Gray.

Along the way, I encouraged Mary to encourage her daughter to join ATN and I explained how her daughter can receive significant support, access to additional training, and a myriad of other benefits.  As we returned to my horse trailer and prepared to untack the horses and load them up for the trip home, I handed Mary a business card. It used to be that I was the sum total of ATN. If something needed doing, it was me that had to do it. With the addition of a few volunteers, the load was shared. Julie took the lead when I hit the wall after a dozen years of nonstop output. Five years after resigning as the ED, much of the time I used to spend on the phone, at speaking engagements and providing respite care is now spent on the back of my horse. I can do that because ATN exists.I can pass out a business card and know that the recipient will find answers and support. ATN is there to provide services, and there are now even more dedicated volunteers involved. All services are provided by unpaid volunteers.

We need people to know we exist, and we need people to support what we do. We need donors and worker bees and movers and shakers. We need to make sure there will always be a chance to pass out another business card to a parent (or grandparent) in crisis.  To help, donate here.