adoption, PTSD

A Safe Place to Land

Everyone seems to know how to live this life better. This complex and confusing life of parenting children with severe developmental trauma. The life where your kids may have extreme behaviors, and/or mental health diagnosis. This life. This is a life that others are afraid to live. 

The part that most don’t understand is how this particular life could be one that I love. One that I have chosen. This life is fulfilling and joyful for me. I can be a hard person to buy material gifts for because I honestly just don’t care. I already have everything I could ever want.

Sometimes, though, I am scared. How will I continue to handle aggressive rages and outbursts? After almost 3 years of physical safety from my daughter it is hard to go back to that place. The place where her most common expression is one of anger. Her reactions to the slightest disappointment become violent outbursts. She is 10 now, and much taller and stronger than when she was barely 7.  I wonder how we got back to this place?! 

Loving my daughter is never the question. Sometimes, when I am in my deepest, darkest place, surviving her becomes the question. No matter how much love we put in or how many resources we find, the trauma continues to plague us all. This past week I’ve woken up several times in terror, covered in a cold sweat. I feel as though danger is imminent and I cannot catch my breathe. Since when do I have such a  visceral response to basic nightmares? Probably since Mary started raging again. 

There could never be an expiration on my love for her. There could never be an expiration on my commitment to her. Is it possible there could be an expiration on my ability to handle her violence? 

How did this happen? I naively thought we had conquered the worst parts. We still battle past traumas alongside our children. They still go to therapy. But I thought the days of her physical attacks were long gone. Perhaps that is why my reaction is one of panic. We left this place so far behind. Can we get through it all over again? 

I understand that professionals have a different perspective. In fact, they often lack perspective entirely. This life that I have chosen is actually quite rare. Not many “older children” get adopted from foster care. In essence, there is less chance of a doctor coming across a case like ours. The goal seems to always be to change their behavior. Change my behavior. To fix it. To fix her. How ridiculous.

I cannot fix what is already beautiful. All I can hope for is a bit of healing mixed with trust. I can love until forever. And I can hope for a safe place to land. For all of us. 

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


15 thoughts on “A Safe Place to Land

  1. I get really annoyed by the professionals’ obsession with behaviour modification. And that includes extended family. I have lost count of the times when I have had to explain that they are not being naughty, they are frightened/ill/tired/hungry. Anything but naughty. They simply do not know what they are doing. Why can’t people accept that? These children need super-parenting. Why can’t super parents have some recognition for their amazing work.

    Be safe, super parent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I thought I was the only one annoyed by professionals’ obsession with behavior modification! There’s too much focus on the external observables and not enough recognition of what’s going on inside a child. And definitely not enough recognition that the child is wonderful as is!

    Well, I’m not doubting for one minute, HerdingChickens, that you have lots of love. It’s ok to feel overwhelmed by Mary’s raging. Not sure if it’s any help, but this page lists some reasons for raging: .

    In any case, good luck!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you for the article! And I am definitely overwhelmed sometimes, but also blessed. I’m lucky to have great kids. I’m lucky to have great readers like you, willing to share. Thanks again!


  3. Rachel says:

    As a child therapist I try to show a traumatised child I am an adult different from those that have traumatised them, so leading them to towards believing the world may be safer than they think. I aim to gain their trust. I do not aim to fix, but to accept. You are a good mother.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Racheal, would you like to come over? Lol. You sound like a great therapist! Thank you!! Our long term trauma therapist, and her partner (who provides parenting support therapy for us) are wonderful. The therapists who focus on love and connection are waaaay more successful with our kids. The ones recommended by foster care workers? The ones on the inpatient unit who “know everything?” They never know enough to listen. You sound like the type of therapist who works by starting with children’s strengths. Treating them like humans with valid feelings rather than broken toys. From the bottom of my heart, I thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Melissa says:

    I’ve been following your blog for a little while now, I can’t even remember how I ended up here now! I just wanted to say that each time I read one of your posts I can feel the love you have for your children, your heart for them. I have no experience with trauma in my personal life, but as a teacher have seen some of the challenges for children and their parents when there is trauma involved and have a small amount of experience from a classroom perspective. Reading about your experiences and the way you and your husband support your children and find ways to help them heal and process has helped me to gain so much insight into trauma and how to respond to trauma with empathy, grace and love in practical ways. I think you are doing an amazing job. Just as you are blessed to have your beautiful children, they are blessed to have you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow. That is so nice of you. I really needed to hear that today, you have no idea! I’m a teacher, myself and I wish we had many more like you. Thank you for reading but most of all thank you for caring about kids.


  5. Amber Davis says:

    I needed this so much tonight. I’m in a place of my 7 year old raging again. Mostly the attacks are verbal, so long as I keep her within three feet of me. Otherwise, she physically attacks her sisters. My support system (whole family) refuses to help unless I let them spank. (Not an option).

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Pingback: Mania and Matricide: It’s Not OK | Herding Chickens and Other Adventures in Foster and Adoptive Care

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