This is an absolute must-read. My cousin has five children and is a foster parent. Four of the five siblings were just adopted by her and her spouse! It’s been a joy to follow her on this adventure, just as it’s been a joy to see her grow up.
I appreciate how she “keeps it real” when it comes to fostering and adoption. She shared this on her own page, and I reached out to her to ask if she would mind sharing it here because it is so fantastic and so timely.
“My oldest son sat down at the table with this tonight, after 2.5 years of living here. When I stopped him and inquired what he was doing, he said he was going to eat.
“I prepared myself dinner,” he explained.
“However, it isn’t cooked.” You should know that I can cook.” (she explained)
“Well, I was craving something I used to eat frequently with my previous family.”
So we sat down, and I asked him to tell me everything that had happened. He claimed that because he was passed out (you can guess why), they wouldn’t feed him and that he would have to prepare dinner for himself and his brothers (two years old and four months old when they came to us).
He claimed that they would spend all of their money on cigarettes and other fun things (), so he would look for a change in their van and buy Ramen packets from the store down the block (at the age of six!!!!).
He explained that he didn’t know how to boil water and that he would consume it this way. And he began to appreciate it. As a result, he would break it up for his younger brother and attempt to prepare bottles for the infant (at the age of six!!!!!!).
Guys. I requested that he prepare some for me. And I sat next to him, crunching it down with plenty of water because it wasn’t great—and he started talking about how the first time I made them Ramen, he wouldn’t eat it, and I told him I remembered.
It reminded him of his Ramen packages, and he didn’t trust me (huge thoughts for a nine-year-old!).
He stated that he is not upset that he is no longer with his “old family,” but that HE LIKES TO REMINISCENCE ON HOW STRONG HE HAD TO BE.
I write this to let everyone know that trauma does not heal quickly (or at all), that adoption does not erase the past or memories, that children can change and will change with love, and that you should never give up on a child because “they are difficult.”
Then I walked away, stunned, heartbroken, and incredibly proud of how strong my baby is. He’s incredible. And he is adored by all of us.”
Friends, THIS IS THE LIFE EXPERIENCE OF KIDS FROM DIFFICULT BACKGROUNDS. THIS is what it means to live a trauma-informed life. We can’t conceive what children from impoverished backgrounds have gone through. It’s not just about one instance of abuse or neglect; it’s about being in survival mode on a daily basis. It’s about ensuring the survival of younger siblings, even if it means foregoing youth.
Trauma seeps into each and every pore. It is ingrained in the minds of children. Their brains and bodies will not allow it. Those of us who have been given the opportunity (yes, I said opportunity) to enter the lives of children who have had difficult lives must be willing to sit down, eat uncooked Ramen noodles, and listen. We must not surrender.
Our children, on the other hand, did not.