Wow! It’s been ages since I last posted!! First our computer was giving us grief and had to be fixed at the shop, so I couldn’t write. Then my kids got ill, then I got ill. Ugh. It was not pretty. I have to say though that I came out of it with a new appreciation for my energy level. With our illness came extreme fatigue. I am soo glad it is behind us.
Last week I went to a mini workshop. The presenter was a gal named Kate Cremer-Vogel, MS, LCPC. She has written a book called “What Every Adoptive Parent Needs to Know-Healing your child’s wounded heart”. It was a short workshop (about 1.5 hours). She answered questions from the audience, that was comprised of mostly adoptive parents. Kate’s whole premise in a nut shell is that children who are adopted often have this core of shame that they operate from. In her research, she has found that to be “given away” by ones birth mother, causes a deep, deep wound that manifests itself as shame. Often this shame causes great insecurities, causing the child to find multiple ways to take control and try to make him/herself feel safe. An adult friend of mine who suffered from this core shame belief said he felt that he was the one mistake God was capable of making. As you can imagine, this is a painful place to be, both for the child and the adoptive parents.
My little Titus, now 4.5 years old, came to us 2.5 years ago. His mom was struggling and asked us to adopt him and his 7 year old brother. If you were to meet Titus, you would be impressed with his cuteness and his intelligence. Titus is a smart, sweet little boy with a contagious laugh. But, I think he has developed deep insecurities about being separated from his birth mom. We had Titus for a year before the twins came to live with us. At this time, the twins were 13 months old and Titus was 2.5 years old. During his first year and a half with us, I believe Titus did form an attachment to our family, to me in particular. Having the twins join our family has been a VERY difficult transition for Titus. Upon their arrival, I believe he felt the loss of his position and his world no longer felt safe. One way Titus tried (and still tries) to control his world is by being mean to the twins. Maybe in his mind he thinks that if he can “take them out” his problems will disappear. A few weeks ago, my daughter Ciara was recording with our video camera and she inadvertantly left the video camera on when she went into another room. The twins and Titus were left in her room with the camera recording. Ciara came running back into the room when she heard distressed crying. Our twins aren’t verbal enough to explain what happened. But the camera did. When Ciara realized she left it on, she watched what was recorded. Titus, unprovoked, had punched and slapped the twins in the face and head. And when they started to cry, Titus began to cry hysterically so he wouldn’t be accused of hurting them.
I had a real appreciation for what, Kate, the workshop presenter, had to offer. She teaches parents to recognize that these problems with our adopted children are rooted in shame. Trying to change behaviors by shaming children, is not even remotely effective in helping them deal with their wounds. Her words renewed my empathy towards Titus. She gave me some very helpful tools to use that have already been effective with Titus this week. But, I can tell that I will definitely have to fortify myself with support to keep up these endeavors. It’s exhausting.
I must say though that as I sat listening to this really great info at this workshop, I had a lot of sad for the adoptive parents in the audience. I feel like in the adoptive world, so little attention is placed on the importance of eating nutrient dense food. Most of my adoptive children come from mother’s who abused drugs and alcohol. As you can guess, these parents did not worry about good nutrition. I also know that for many of my children, their grandmothers and even great grandmothers struggled with drugs and alcohol. Since we get our gut flora from our mothers and they get it from their mothers, we have generations of progressively poor gut health. Eighty percent of our immunity is in our gut. Our gut health affects our behavior. It affects how we think, how we process information and feelings. Consequently, we adoptive parents are trying to raise these little children that had about 3 strikes against them as they made their way out of the birth canal. We go to these workshops seeking answers, seeking help for our troubled children. We do find some of these answers and needed support. But we do not hear about how food is a HUGE component of healing their bodies- which will in turn, contribute to their emotionally healing. I feel like these parents are set up for failure (not to even mention the children). They are taught that if you can just get these “Therapeutic Parenting Techniques” mastered, your child will succeed- your efforts will be rewarded. Well you know what? If they have food allergies, parasites, extreme nutritional deficits, these techniques will fall short. Very short in my experience. In our family, no amount of talking and processing feeling with our children would have addressed their underlying deficiencies that caused tantrums, anxiety, phobia’s,depression, obsessive/compulsive behaviors, brain fog, trichotillomania, cutting, etc. Unknowing parents will continue to struggle, possibly even adding to their own toxic shame if they don’t realize that these conditions are not always driven by emotional wounds. I sincerely believe addressing that core belief of shame is essential to healing. But in addition, we also MUST address our children’s nutritionally deprived bodies if they are going to thrive.