Michigan Radio: Adoption and Early Childhood Trauma

Adoption

I’m a big fan of Michigan Radio (the local NPR affiliate) and I’ve often linked to stories the station has done as part of a project called “State of Opportunity.” This project looks at how the state can improve opportunities for disadvantaged children. So, I was ecstatic when the station asked me to do a guest blog on adoption and early childhood trauma. Check it out on the “State of Opportunity” page!

BCLC: Rejecting Positive Messages

Adoption

Heather Forbes recently sent out her latest e-mail newsletter, and as always, she answered a reader’s question. Here’s the question:

“My son had a terrible early childhood history and constantly tells me he is a bad boy and that nobody loves him. Yet, no matter how much we tell him what a good boy he is or how much we love him, nothing seems to help. How can he continually reject these positive messages?”

As usual, Heather’s response focuses on her belief in the two primary emotions: love and fear. And, as she often reminds her readers, it takes time to establish new patterns and beliefs. Here’s just part of her response.

“While the emotion of fear keeps this child locked in this negative belief system, it is also true that the emotion of love will release this child from this negative belief system. It takes parenting this child in a loving, safe, and emotionally available manner. And it won’t be just one experience, but several experiences, over and over again, with this child being met at an emotional level, in order for new neural pathways to be created.”

I’m very impatient, even with myself, and I tend to think that my family should be making more progress. At this point, the time that we’ve known BE is about equal to the time that we didn’t know her. The time that we’ve been a legal family is less, and the time that we’ve really been working with BCLC is even less. Considering all that, we probably have made significant progress!

Learn more about BCLC and subscribe to Heather’s newsletter at her Web site.

Sharing trauma stories

Adoption

I’ve shared many times that I get nervous when I think about explaining all the details of BC’s early life to him. So far he understands that he’s adopted and that his first mom and dad couldn’t take care of him. But I know a time will come when he (and BE) will want specifics. In her recent e-newsletter, Heather Forbes answered a similar question from a reader. The question was, “How do you give a narrative to a child that suffered neglect as an infant during the first three months of his life, especially when I don’t know the details.”

Heather responds, “The actual details of the story are not important, and in fact, should not be the focus …. The important factors are your tone of voice, facial expressions, posture, and tempo of movement and speech.”

She goes onto explain why sharing this story with a child is important. “The paradox is that in order to move forward, it takes going backwards, seeing the fullness of the trauma and experiencing it at all levels.”

Read more from Heather at http://www.beyondconsequences.com/.