adoption, family

Smiling at My Daughter’s Tears: Adventures in Overcoming PTSD Symptoms


This is the first time I am happy to see her cry. In fact, I’m overjoyed. Our little girl has buried her face in my sweater and she is sobbing. I’m crying, too, but I am mostly excited for her.

A year and a half ago, Luke and I were blessed to bring Mary and her siblings home. At the time she was just 7 years old. She was described in her pre-adoption paperwork as “selectively mute” outside of her foster home. In public, she would cling to her older brother, look at her shoes, and flinch away from others.

She wouldn’t speak to her first grade teacher when she was in foster care. She didn’t participate in any groups, teams, or activities outside of the home. This was mostly due to her trauma. She was scared. She was intent on staying “safe,” which is all part of her PTSD.

When we brought Mary home, she was adamant that she would never join a team. She didn’t want to take dance or try sports. She claimed she “needed to be home with Mama.” Carl was the opposite, he jumped right in to every sport he could. None of the children had the chance to participate in any sports or activities while in foster care. They didn’t have this opportunity in their bio home, either. The parts of my childhood that I took for granted were completely foreign to our little chickens.

For awhile, Mary simply had therapy as her extra curricular activity. We tried to take her to basketball, but took one look at a loud room full of men and boys, and screamed and cried for her daddy to “protect her.” This kind of crying was the kind we were used to. It was fear and anxiety and downright terror at anything she perceived as threatening. This was her PTSD telling her that she wasn’t safe yet. This season, she joined the cheer-leading  squad, in order to cheer for Carl’s football team.

Today is the day that she did a perfect cartwheel, in front of a crowd. Mary didn’t have the type of early childhood filled with cartwheels and skipping and jump rope. These things are all new to her. She spent weeks learning to cartwheel with Luke in the backyard. Today is the day she did it! In front of a huge crowd!

The best part for me, was that my mom was there. She lives far away and she flew in to spend time with us. We all need our moms, no matter how old we are! My mom has had the opportunity to see our kids grow and blossom over time. I think every time she comes she is able to see huge improvements. Since Luke and I are here every day, we have to remind ourselves to look back at how far we have come as a family. Our little chickens are healing.

Today, Mary is a completely different child. She is so brave. Today, our little Mary just won her first medal at a cheer-leading competition. She is crying tears of joy because she never won anything before. Ever. I’ve never see her cry tears of joy before. Ever.

Luke and I won, though. We won big time when we got to be her parents. We have been winning every day we are blessed to hear her call us “mom” and “dad”. No matter what has happened with the teens, or what we have been through, we have this. We have her first medal hanging in our house. It’s a third place win, and she was so happy that she sobbed after winning it. At the end of the day, we must be doing something right.


**Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved

If you have ever considered foster care or adoption, I encourage you to start your own adventure today!




6 thoughts on “Smiling at My Daughter’s Tears: Adventures in Overcoming PTSD Symptoms

  1. Lynn says:

    My parents live halfway across the country. When they visit, I am so grateful because, like your mom, they see progress that I don’t see being with my daughters each day. You’re doing an excellent job – we need more people like you!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Having a Child With Mental Ilness: Adventures in Living on a Prayer  | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

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