Adoption and Emotional Trauma

We all know that adoptive children will naturally suffer from emotional trauma and emotional damage. That is a given fact, just based on what they have gone through prior to the match with adoptive parents. During the adoption process we were given loads of info on this and attended workshops and training sessions on trauma. But none of this could ever prepare me for the heart shattering crying and screaming that I would hear this evening when I left for work.

I have a night shift tonight and Ricky is at work which normally means a little ‘battle’ with the little man to allow us to leave the house.

I did the sit down with him and we talked about suggestions of what he could do in the short time between me leaving and Ricky coming home. Win!!

We came up with ideas but when it came to me opening up the front door that’s when the screaming began. Our family friend pick him up and held on to him, when I closed the door I heard him screaming for him to be let go and I saw his little hands against the blurred glass of the front door. My heart shattered, I couldn’t leave him this way and I had to go back in. Even if his crying last 5 minutes. Yes, this was more for me than for him, but my heart just wouldn’t let me walk away. As a dad I can’t just walk away when my child is in a traumatised state.

In my previous blog posts I have mentioned my little guy has been through so much up turn in the last 5 months. What he knew as his new norm following the adoption and that things for him were just settling everything has now been blown up and we are back to many temporary situations: temporary home, temporary work situations as well as just not knowing what the future will hold and how long everyone’s new norm will last for. And I feel that I am mostly to blame for this, which is why I want to be there to support him when he is in these moments and feeling vulnerable. I feel that this is not just because of how I feel that I am to blame for all the changes he has experienced but because I was his main caregiver – the stay at home parent for the 9 months before I went back to work.

This is not just standard parenting feelings but this is the reality of parenting an adopted child with backgrounds of emotional trauma and neglect amongst other things. It’s shit and it’s tough more so on us as adoptive parents. But, the love, the want to protect them, and attachment is real and it’s strong. Maybe how I have acted this evening is showing this. I don’t know but it’s my reality at the moment and my mind is swirling in what it’s….mainly what if I am not doing the right thing? Or is that my anxiety? I haven’t a clue and probably never will know what is truly going on in that little lads mind.

I’m not sure what I am getting out of this waffle of a blog post. I guess I just wanted to show my reality and cast a light on the traumatic side of adoption. I want to help normalise adoptive families and LGBT families as I feel our types of family aren’t fully ‘normalised’ or ‘understood’ properly in today’s society.

Thanks for reading this waffle. Any advice is welcomed. Hit me up on either here or my Insta account.

My top resources and tips for talking about adoption and diversity with your child

Hey guys sorry its been a while since I last posted. General life things getting in the way and I’m having to manage my time much more effectively since retuning to work, and making sure I’m spending as much quality time with the little man as I possibly can.

So some people have asked me how we talk about adoption with L considering his age etc. To be honest, we don’t hide that we have adopted him. We talk openly about his mum and his nan whenever he wants to, and only when he brings it up. The way I see it is that he has a mum and other family members out there so he has every right to talk about them. To be honest we will only bring it up when it’s close to the time to send the contact letter which is now every year, we sent a settling in letter shortly after he moved in.
At the moment he has asked whether he is moving to a new home soon and he has even asked his social worker the same question, which naturally makes me feel for him and just end up giving him a huge cuddle. We did go through a phase a few months ago where he appeared to be settled and talking/worrying about moving to a new home didn’t come up, but recently it has. I can only think to put this down to my recent return to work, another change which he will have to overcome. We did prep him and he still has an item of mine to look after (its still a magnet from the fridge – which hasn’t changed if you read my last blog post!!). But after speaking with our social worker it is very common for children to take one step forward and 4 steps back, so it will take time for L to remember and believe that this is now his forever home and not another placement.

When we have spoken about his past and things like his previous foster placements we have used his toy car mat to talk about it (something which was suggested by our social worker). On his car mat we used different areas to show where he had been, so his mum and nan’s before ‘driving’ over to his first foster carers (his emergency placement) then ‘driving’ over to his second and last foster placement before ‘driving’ over to his forever home (ours). He often uses another car to talk about his brother as they were separated in their last placement. This allows him to understand his past and his previous placements, but also allows him to talk about it in a more relaxed nature and to talk as much or as little as he wants to. But this is just one of many other methods out there but its what works for us!

With L having two dads we obviously want to talk and teach to him about other types of families to teach him about diversity. He has always been open and shows understanding about difference. He has previously asked questions about different religions but not really on him having two dads or other children having a mum and a dad etc.
But we have come across some great resources that teach children about difference, I thought that it would be helpful if I listed them below. These are all ones which we have read to L or utilised them when talking to L about difference, and he has taken them all in with no issues.

1) Olly Pike.
This guy is a genius, he takes a new twist on old bedtime stories such as the princess and the frog etc. Olly has 5 books of which we have 3 that we read to L (Kenny loves with Erica and Martina, The Prince and the Frog, Prince Henry) . The talk about diversity from race and LGTBQ+ themes. L loves these books especially Kenny Lives with Erica and Martina as well as The Prince and the Frog, these stories really connect with him which is amazing.
Olly focuses his books on teaching children about love, relationships, diversity and equality. With each book there is also the option of checking out his youtube channel for more education, or as he calls it edutainment!. Definitely worth checking out.

2) Two Dads.
This is a cute little colourful book about two dads. It is written from the perspective of their adopted child. This is a super cute little book, perfect for bedtime reading.

3) And Tango Makes Three.
This is another cute little book, which little man loves. its about two gay penguins in Central Park zoo who, want to start their own family, with the help of a zookeeper their dream comes true. A super sweet little book.

4) Daddy, Pappa and me.
A lovely bedtime story book focussed on the life of a toddler and his two gay dads.

These books have really helped with teaching L that difference exists and that’s what makes people special. Hopefully these will work for you too.