SLIDER His time

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28 KJV).

He has made every thing beautiful in His time...(Ecc. 3:11)

There have been many times in our adoption journey, when we have cried out to God for more--more of His love, more of His ways, more answers in how to help our precious children.  He is so faithful to answer these prayers.  Many times, He has given us a small piece of the puzzle.  It is enough for the moment and we do not despise these necessary small steps.  They help us to lean on Him and they cause us to seek Him for more.  Other times, He has given a larger piece of the puzzle.  We relish in the love and growth, but we know that we need even more.  Recently, we feel like God has been showing us major portions of the big picture...what an extraordinary gift!

I look back over the years of parenting and realize that there are many things that I wish I had done differently.  But I also recognize that if we hadn't experienced the struggles that we did, we wouldn't have had to seek God so diligently in this area.  A few years ago, I was looking everywhere for answers, but was discouraged to find very few who could help.  I determined in my heart to be able to have answers for others.  In His great grace, God has been leading us to answers.  He is making so many things beautiful in His time.  Karyn Purvis says that everything that she has learned about helping children heal comes directly from her understanding of the Father heart of God.  I agree!  Our Father loves to heal and I am so grateful for Dr. Cross and Dr. Purvis for developing TBRI, and helping give answers to our questions of what heals a child's heart.
So...where to begin?  Perhaps, it makes sense to start with some of the things that I would have really liked to have understood better when we began our adoption journey:

1) Children who have experienced trauma may be emotionally/socially much younger than their biological age.  They may look like a nine year old, but their little soul may have only progressed to the two year old stage.  Start where they're at and try not to have too many expectations for their behavior.  They CAN catch up, but it takes time.

2) The attachment cycle.  When a baby cries, Mama or Daddy picks baby up, feeds her (her needs are met).  Baby cries again.  Mama or Daddy picks her up, cuddles her (her needs are met).  Baby cries again.  Mama or Daddy picks baby up, changes her diapers (her needs are met).... Most of the children who have lived in orphanages, etc. did not have their basic needs met.  If they missed that stage in life, they need to experience it now, even if they are 10 years old.  Saying "yes" to as many of their needs and even their wants, as possible, is essential to building attachment with a traumatized child.

3) Many of the behaviors that children from hard places display, are a result of fear.  Oftentimes, these children are in survival mode.  Fear (displayed in fight, flight or freeze) is their first response, even in situations that may not seem scary to anyone else.  These children often cannot use the higher functioning parts of their brain.  What looks like rebellion or "checking out" may really be a child's response to fear.  It is imperative that our children feel safe in our homes.  Of course, we know that they are safe, but THEY must experience "felt safetly" as well.

4) Children who haven't been held, touched, etc. will oftentimes experience sensory processing issues.  I wrote a little bit about sensory processing issues here.  Oh, how I wish we would have known this from the start for two of our sweet darlins...but I'm so grateful to be learning about it now!

5) What works for children who have been in your home from birth (and before), may not work for children who are struggling with fear, identity and attachment.  We have to be open to new ways (which are really old ways!) to parent our beautiful gifts from God.  May He be glorified as we learn to love as He loves!

Well, that's a start anyway.  I'm hoping to fill out all of these areas (and more!).  Please let me know if you have any specific questions or if you have input to offer.  I'd love to hear your stories!

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Shonni said...

That’s a great start and a good reminder to me...especially about the “yes”s.

No Greater Love said...

Oh..this is good, Sarah. I want to print it off and put it on my fridge, so when V is home I am constantly reminded of these truths. I'm so blessed to get to be around you all the time in real life...oh Yoda of parenting.

Nikolyn said...

wonderful, Sarah. Attachment is one of my passions and one of the main reasons I practice the kind of nursing I do. Its also what makes me ache for orphans. Thank you for articulating this so well....and for doing more than your part!

eliz said...

I learned these things with the first child we ever adopted. He was 7 yrs old and traumatized by abuse and neglect. One of the worst cases in our County. I was criticized for "starting over" with him at that age, and he was a big boy for his age. :o) But it was instinct to me. He had many many institutional like behaviors. He's 35 now and I don't regret treating him like a baby to teach him. Sadly when he left home at 22 years old, it wasn't enough time to heal the wounds, but social services insisted he move on as age appropriate, even though he is mentally disabled.

These are great! Thanks for reminding me and posting them! :o)

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