In the adoption world the worst thing someone can say to an adoptive/foster parent is ‘all kids do that’.
I had a call last night from a very good friend but before I tell you about that, let me tell you a little about her.
She’s a mom of 3 children, her eldest is a son and then she has slightly younger son/daughter twins. The majority of her early parenting years were tough and the rest even tougher as a single parent of 3 young children. Money was tight and times were hard. She’s faced hardship, poverty, isolation and loneliness. She’s been judged and criticised by society, as were many single parents in those days, she received very little help or support but always managed put her children and their needs before her own and always found the time and energy for happiness. She remarried some years later and her husband joined her side in raising her 3 children. She always speaks fondly of her memories, even those from the tougher times. She has some fantastically heart warming stories that she shares. Her children are all grown up now and have ‘fled the nest’. They’re all well adjusted, mature and responsible adults.
A few years ago she and her husband decided that they’d like to put their wealth of experience to use and foster. Over the last few years they’ve fostered many difficult traumatised children. They currently have a long term placement with 2 children.
She rang me last night after a ‘difficult’ day. Her first words were ‘its not the same and don’t let anyone tell you it is’.
Our traumatised kids DO do the same sorts of things as secure children, but on a whole different scale and for a whole different reason. They leak trauma, they manipulate and they control. Its intense, its extreme and its constant. Its just not the same and there really is nothing that it can be compared to.
So the next time you compare your well adjusted, secure child’s behaviour to that of your friends, traumatised adopted/fostered child’s behaviour. Please keep those thoughts to yourself, because until you’ve experienced parenting one of our children first hand, you can’t fully understand.
That doesn’t mean your friend doesn’t need you, in fact they probably need you now more than ever. You don’t have to understand to be able to support. Empathy comes so easy when you remove judgment.