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.
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?
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?