What’s the Point of All of This? (part 2)

A majority of this blog’s content comes from the Empowered to Connect Training material. Danielle and I are certified trainers and will offer the course a couple of times in 2015 in the Austin area.

We began this discussion last week in part 1 of What’s the Point of All of This?  We discussed how our history, attachment style, and default parenting style effects our relationship with our child. Also, we talked about owning your stuff and repairing your mistakes. If you didn’t read that article, click on that link to get to it.

All parents bring expectations with them into parenting—some realistic and others not. For adoptive families, however, lingering unrealistic expectations can lead to disappointment, frustration and even a real disconnection between parents and children. When a child’s history of pain and loss begins to taint the beautiful picture of what a parent expected their adoption journey to look like, parents are tempted to protect their image rather than embrace their child’s feelings and struggles. When a child’s behaviors (rooted in fear and an instinct to survive) begin to collide with the “way we do things as a family” and are only made worse by a parent’s attempts at discipline, parents can find themselves exhausted and quickly nearing the point of despair.Empowered to Connect

 

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20 Parenting Tools that Connect & Correct

Most of our tools in our parenting tool bag for children two-years-old and above focus on correction. This might work with our biological children who received nurture from the moment they were in the womb.

However, for our children from a hard place, they most likely missed out on a lot if not all the nurturing they needed while in utero and the first year of life. If we try our traditional parenting tools to correct these children, many times their response is either fight, flight, or freeze. These children often get labeled as rebellious, ADHD, or with some other mental illness. But these children simply need what they missed out on—Connection. So, if you are parenting a child that came from a hard place, you might need to replace some of the parenting tools that worked with your biological children. I know this can be hard. We never had biological children, but we naturally apply parenting strategies that our parents used or that our circle of friends use with their children.

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7 Reasons Storytelling Is Important

It was the end of a long yet exhilarating week. 10 of us flew to Honduras to drill a water well for some families in a village. Each day began early with breakfast before an hour drive to the village. The day ended with an hour return trip to our hotel for dinner and group time.

We slept hard and fast each night to do it again the following day. On the next to last day of our trip we began our two-day trek back to the city our flight departed.

After several hours on a bus, we arrived at our last hotel. After unpacking and freshening up, we met for dinner. I sat staring at my dinner almost too tired to eat the wonderful meal before me. Yet I ate.

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A New Kind of Foster Family

It is time to pay attention to children that are at-risk in our communities. Ignorance of or just plain ignoring the situation is not an option. The current system can’t alone meet the need.

 

 

Too many recent stories of children killed while in state custody living in foster homes like this one—Man Charged after Death of Toddler in State Custody.

Or this one from a couple of months ago—foster-mother allegedly kills a two-year-old foster child in Central Texas. Cause of death? The foster-mother slammed the young child to the ground causing head trauma. She went into a coma and died two days later.

I don’t know about you, but that causes two extreme emotions in me—anguish and anger.

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Abandoned at a Tennessee Truck Stop in the Middle of the Night

Yep. That happened. To me. And some of you know its true. Cause you were there. Did nothing about it. Had the audacity to say that I made it all up.

 

 

I was riding on a charter bus on my way home in the middle of the night somewhere in Tennessee when the bus driver stopped at a truck stop. Everyone on the bus was asleep.

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Trauma upon Trauma

This post is a continuation of excerpts from my new book. A quick note about the progress of the book–My timeline is to publish the book by the first of May  I am enjoying formatting the manuscript. Did I just say enjoy? Can’t say that I am really. But it feels good to move closer to publishing.

 

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copyright www.KennethACamp.com

 

After I agreed to the placement of our first foster child, the CPS case worker knocked on our front door a couple of hours later. I opened the door and staring back at me was an 8 month old little boy in the arms of the case worker. She introduced herself.  I invited her in.

The little boy was quiet.  Did not cry.  He did not show any emotion when the case worker handed him to me.  Now I know that he was in shock.

A few weeks later after his first parent visit, this sweet little boy just stared at his parents as they walked away.  No emotion.  No crying.  Until we got home.  Then he lay on our living floor screaming, hitting his head with one of his toys.  It broke our hearts to see this 8 month old little boy reacting this way.

So, what was causing this extreme behavior?

Trauma.

In my book, I refer to little boys like this one as at risk or vulnerable children. Dr. Karen Purvis refers to them as children from hard places. If you are considering fostering or are doing so now, I highly urge you to check out Dr. Karen Purvis’ material.

Also, classes such as, Separation, Loss and Grief that we took through Arrow helped us understand at least at an elementary level about what was going on with this child.

A person of any age will struggle with processing trauma  Think about how grown people act after experiencing natural disasters. But can you imagine what it is like for a child.  If they are very young, only a few months old, it seems to affect how they process more normal situations.

Their reactions become fear based instead of normal needs based.

  • I am hungry.  Normal need based response–Someone will feed me. Fear based response–I will starve.
  • I am cold.  Normal need based response–Someone will keep me warm. Fear based response–I am alone.
  • I am afraid.  Normal need based response–Someone will comfort me. Fear based response–I will take care of myself.

For a child in foster care, the trauma begins to pile on top of trauma. Fear eventually controls the child’s behavior.

Example of trauma upon trauma for a foster child:

  • Neglect, abuse, or abandonment in family of origin.
  • Removal from family of origin.
  • Placement in the home of complete strangers.
  • Loss of personal items, routine, familiarity.
  • Months of uncertainty, sense of belonging.

The first night that our foster son was in our home, I lay in bed listening to a thunderstorm.  My heart was full of compassion wondering what was going on in his young mind. Did the storm frighten him? Was he sleeping through it? Did he wonder where he was? Did he wonder if he was safe? My intercessory prayer was that God would protect his heart and mind making him whole.

Question for you:  How can you patiently and with compassion embrace an at risk child from a hard place?