neglect

All posts tagged neglect

Change

Published June 19, 2014 by thefamilyof5

I doubt there are many adopters that can read the title of this blog without a shudder of sheer horror running down their spine.

‘Change’ is difficult for most adopted children. In the same way that the Autistic child thrives on routine, structure and familiarity, the Adopted child feels safe when there is routine, structure and familiarity.
For the adopted child, this stems from their past traumas. At times of change in their past, bad things happened.
A new violent boyfriend moved in,
A change in mood was the difference between being safe or not,
Social workers changed everything when they removed them,
A change in foster carer turned their world upside down again,
A new family took them away from everything they knew, more change.

Change was always very scary, so why should they believe that change can ever be anything other than scary. Its not just a memory, a fear or a feeling, scientific evidence shows the traumatized brain of an infant develops and reacts differently to stress, than that of healthy typical infant brain.

Quick Science Lesson

Green: Neocortex - Thought (including planning, language, logic & will, awareness) Yellow: Limbic System - Emotion (feelings, relationship/nurturing, images and dreams, play) Red: Reptilian Brain - Instinct (survival, breathing/swallowing/heartbeat, startle response)

Green: Neocortex – Thought (including planning, language, logic & will, awareness)
Yellow: Limbic System – Emotion (feelings, relationship/nurturing, images and dreams, play)
Red: Reptilian Brain – Instinct (survival, breathing/swallowing/heartbeat, startle response)

The typical healthy child feels secure in their environment and operates from the Intellectual part of the brain called the Neocortex. This is the newest part of the brain. So during times of stress the neurons are ignited in the prefrontal Cortex part of the brain, this is the thinking part. This enables rational thinking and in-turn rational responses. Meaning the stress is managed.

However, the traumatized child is in a constant state of survival meaning they function from the Primitive parts of the brain. These are the parts of the brain that developed first, they kept us alive when we lived in caves and life was all about survival, they are the Limbic System and the Reptilian Brain. The Limbic System is the part of the brain which handles things like emotions, memories and mood control. The reptilian brain is the part that controls instinctive reactions such as freeze/flight/fight responses. So during times of stress neurons are activated in the Limbic system and Reptilian Brain, in particular the Amygdala with is buried deep inside the middle of the Reptilian brain. These primitive parts of the brain manage stress with emotional survival based responses without the benefits of rational thinking from the Neocortex. Meaning the stress is not managed.

See how the healthy brain on the left is functioning mostly from the Intellectual part of the brain at the front, and the abused brain on the right is functioning from the more primitive parts of the brain at the rear with next to no Intellectual brain function.

See how the healthy brain on the left is functioning mostly from the Intellectual part of the brain at the front, and the abused brain on the right is functioning from the more primitive parts of the brain at the rear with next to no Intellectual brain function.

Ok science lesson over, basically, change is hard for adopted kids and its not something they can learn to control overnight. In fact lots and lots of trust, love, consistency, predictability and stability is what is needed to help the primitive brain chill out, step aside and allow the intellectual brain to thrive.

We’re having a tricky time here at the moment, Change is attacking us from all angles. There was sports day, Mr FO5’s birthday, Fathers Day last week. This week is/was Health & Hygiene talks, school trips, visitors in school playing noisy oil drums and taking up space in the hall meaning schedules need to be changed, there are sporting activities taking place for tournaments meaning more changes to schedules and then there is the build up to class assemblies. Next week there are class assemblies, more sporting activities, and the build up to the end of the year. It continues like this for several weeks.

Is it any wonder my girls are fretting each morning about whether they need to remove their earrings for PE or not. Whether they’ll be doing phonics today or not. Whether they’ll have assembly today or not. Whether their teacher will be busy with a sporting activity leaving only the TA in class or not. It sounds so unimportant doesn’t it but in reality the primitive parts of their brains are in override, they’re in a state of panic because they don’t know what is going to happen next. They cant cope with the unpredictability of change. They contain this panic and fear all day, they hide behind their smiles and pretend everything is ok, because they reason that ‘if I’m ok, then your ok’ and that’s the best way they can keep themselves safe. Then they come home, emotionally drained and exhausted, they feel safer, and it all comes out. Its not much fun. There are lots of tears, sometimes mine too.

Their smile keep them safe.

Their smile keep them safe.

I put so much effort in to making my girls feel safe, we have the most predictable, consistent mundane lives you could imagine, I teach and pre-teach everything, I prepare and protect, I listen to them and meet their needs and slowly I’m seeing the benefits of this. Slowly, very slowly, they’re starting to feel more secure, they’re comfortable within their boundaries which is why they bring their stress home, they know they can safely let off stream at home without the fear of being taken away.

I also put a lot of effort in to helping others to understand the importance of helping the girls to feel safe outside of our home so that they don’t have to let it build up all day and bring it home. In particular school, after all the girls spend more of their waking days there and school is the primary source of all of their stress and anxiety. Change happens, I understand that, but these frightened children need to be prepared for change in much better ways. I cant be sure that all of their anxiety is driven from their past trauma’s, they all also have Autistic Spectrum Condition diagnosis’s so some could also be attributed to that, but either way the rules for ‘Change’ are the same, Prepare Prepare Prepare.

Managing the girls stress levels is draining and exhausting. There isn’t much energy left for fighting the same fight over and over, and I shouldn’t have to, It shouldn’t be this hard, I’m not making it all up, Its Brain Science!

brain-basic_and_limbic

Advertisements

She isn’t the same…………………

Published June 2, 2013 by thefamilyof5

She isn’t the same, her story is one of fear, neglect, terror and trauma. Her story is not the same as any other child in her class, in fact her story is not the same as any other child in her school, not even her sisters, so how can she be ‘the same’!

Baby girl wasn’t bought in to this world surrounded by love and hope, she was bought in to this world surround by chaos and fear. Even before she took her very first breath she was being subjected to emotional and physical abuse, from what should have been the safety of the womb she was already being abused, neglected, damaged. Her veins already being filled with cortisol levels that only you and I experience in times of sheer terror. Her neural pathways being damaged beyond repair as her development changed its path in order to prepare its self for the fear that awaited her outside of the womb.

And then she was born, into an environment of fear, violence and neglect. I don’t just mean dirty clothes and a broken crib. I mean no one soothed her when she cried, no one checked her nappy was clean/dry, no one fed her when she was hungry, no one kept her safe, no one gazed lovingly in to her eyes so no one made her feel loved, worthy and cared for. Instead her view of the world around her was that it was an unsafe and unpredictable place, but it was home and all she knew.

Then she was taken, taken from the violence, the neglect, the emotional abuse, taken from everything she’d ever known, everything that was ‘normal’ to her. Against her will and out of her control she was sent with only 1 of her many siblings, to live with someone else. Too young to understand, to scared to reason with.

Now this foster carer loved her, and nurtured her and showed her that the world was in fact a wonderful place and that she could trust the people around her to take care of her and meet her needs. She showered her in love, affection and helped her to grow both emotionally and physically. Baby girl learnt that when she expressed her needs, they would be met, she no longer had to feel frightened, she no longer had to feel hunger and she started to feel loved and worthy.

And then, just as she was starting to get used to this new lovely life, she was sent away again, still without the ability to make sense of why. Sent away by herself to live with 2 of her other sisters, 2 sisters that she barely knew.

Now this foster carer was different, once described by a social worker to me as the ‘belt and braces’ kind. She was the kind that fed and watered baby girl and only saw her as an income. So baby girls view of the world once again changed. Again she’d been taken, against her will and out of her control. Her views changed once more, ‘she was bad, no one wanted her and that’s why they kept sending her away. She couldn’t trust the grown ups around her to be in control any longer’. She tried really hard to keep this grown up happy, and she tried really hard to get her sisters to like her, because if she didn’t then she feared she’d be taken once again. She didn’t really like this new life, but it was out of her control so she regressed, she kept her self safe by becoming compliant, making no demands and taking care of herself just like she’d learnt to as a baby.

And then just as she got used to this new life, she was taken once more. Once again out of her control. This time she was taken away from everything, nothing was familiar, the sounds and the smells that she’d gown up around all went away. She was sent to live with some new people a very very long way away. The house smelt different, the air outside smelt different, there were new unfamiliar sounds and even the voices of the people around her sounded different. Other than the 2 sisters she barely knew, nothing was familiar. She’d been adopted.

Baby girls development is not the same of a typical child, she has not experienced the same things as a typical child, her neural pathways have developed differently so her brain does not work in the same way as a typical child. Her instincts, and impulses are different, she doesn’t yet understand cause and effect and consequences for a child that has lived like this have very little effect, she doesn’t care if you take her toys away, she never had any as a baby anyway. She won’t even try to earn the stars on your reward chart because she already knows she’s bad, in fact she’ll show you just how bad she is as soon as you get out that reward chart. She doesn’t always hear what you say because her ears are busy listening for danger, she doesn’t always make rational choices because inside she feels chaotic. In fact sometimes she feels so chaotic inside that the only way she can make herself feel normal, is to create chaos on the outside too.

I often describe baby girl as having a tornado of chaos inside her, she has a need for control and a fear of change. Is it any wonder, really?!

So on Tuesday when her teacher informs me that her behavioural expectations for baby girl are the same expectations that she holds for her peers, I have to try and find a way of explaining why this is unreasonable.

 

 

Facebook, Photo’s and Letterbox Contact!

Published May 25, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I made a discovery last night, its a discovery most adoptive parents make at some point or another, its the realisation that birth mum really hasn’t got a clue!

I’m sure I’ve mentioned before that we have a letter box agreement, we write to various members of birth family throughout the year. I always try to keep the letters vague yet positive and respectful of the reader’s feelings. I’ve included photo’s and even some of the girls artwork. I’ve always felt such pity for birth mom, a sadness for her loss and sorrow for the mess that her life has always been.

So you can imagine my reaction to discovering photo’s of MY children on her facebook account. With comments about how much ‘mommy’ loves them, referencing to them as ‘my girls’, and even accounts set up in the girls names with yet more photo’s. I felt physically sick at first. Sick to the pit of my stomach. The sickness soon turned in to anger. How dare she refer to herself as ‘mommy’. How dare she! This is the woman that neglected MY girls, abused MY girls, traumatised MY girls and put her own wants before even the basic needs of MY girls. MY girls were taken from her care for their own safety, they were not lovingly given up!

It ME that’s helping them to heal, its ME that’s soothing them in the night after nightmares, its ME that’s putting them first, its ME that’s showing them the world is a good place and they are safe, its ME that’s showing them they are good and worthy, its ME that lays awake night after night with worry, its ME that dries their tears whilst holding back my own, its ME that’s showing them they need never worry about hunger again, its ME that’s showing them how to take care of the things around them, its ME that’s fighting for them, its ME that’s showing them real love, real happiness, real respect.

I AM THEIR MUMMY!
She is their ABUSER!

I will struggle to write my next letter I will find it hard to be so positive and respectful. Perhaps she’d like to know about the nightmares, the fear, the struggles, the therapy and the lasting and devastating effects of the trauma that SHE has caused.

But I am better than that, I will bite my tongue, I will respect MY girls and continue to write to her in a respectful manner. Because MY girls needs always come first. Those lines of communication need to remain open for now, it cannot and should not be my choice to change things, its a choice for MY girls as they get older. MY girls are finding their own voices, they’ll let me know their wishes in time and I will respect them whatever they are, because I AM THEIR MUMMY!

Unborn Victim

Published May 17, 2013 by thefamilyof5

I read something beautifully written about something terribly sad today, I’d like to share it with you.

 

Unborn Victim

Suspended surrounded sustained 
By you within you for you
I wait I wonder I wish
To be born to be birthed to be bonded with you

Sounds sensations are heard felt feared
Your fright is my fright your stress is my stress
I hear it I feel it I taste it 
Rage filled resentment directed at you at me

This my introduction to your abuse filled existence
Even before my first breath I am bruised
Bracing myself for the onslaught
Harsh words looks slaps shoves

This womb like cocoon my only defence 
Yet I hear the cries taunts pleas protests
I feel slaps grabs gropes gouges 
I become a pre-birth victim of vile violent abuse

By Jane Evans                                      

This was taken from here http://www.parentingposttrauma.co.uk/1/post/2013/05/unborn-victim.html

The fine line.

Published March 12, 2012 by thefamilyof5

Theres a fine line between worrying too much and worrying too little it seems.

I probably worry too much about my girls, in fact im sure many would agree, but considering they have come from a background where no one even worried if they’d eaten that day, I think worrying about them is ok and justified.

My big girl has gone un-noticed and un-worried about for the first 5 years of her life, as a result she has many issues that we’re now trying really hard to address and get her some support for whilst she’s still young enough to bounce back.

I don’t want any of my daughters to ever go un-noticed or un-worried about again, they deserve someone to worry about them at least, don’t they!?

%d bloggers like this: