Earlier this month Kristi Thompson wrote two educational blogs for us over trauma informed teaching and how to educate and deal with children who come from neglect, abuse, abandonment, orphanage care, chronic illness, or a stressful gestation. We also learned how to equip the church to care for kids from hard places. Today, we are going to see some responses from the questions we blasted out on social media this month from adoptive mom’s and their perspectives on how they feel about the way their children from hard places can be better educated.
First we will hear from Beth Grider. She answered the question “what are you looking for from an educator from your child?”
“An educator who is trauma/RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder) educated. I attempted to educate the principal, teacher and special needs teacher with very little actual recognition and understanding. Then, when behaviors escalated at school the educators were caught off guard and didn’t respond on our team. Our child had constant small signs that we kept telling them are precursors for the bigger things, but the educators couldn’t see them. So, more real education about RAD and more alignment with parental suggestions would be helpful. My child will often rest in learned helplessness. He has improved five grades (he was way behind before coming to us) in two years. But, if an educator/aid will read or write for him, he will let them. So, more education on learned helplessness and ways to motivate the child with RAD and past trauma is needed.”
This is Penny Ellis and her family. Penny shares what she is looking for in an educator for her child.
Sharon Miles shares her heart, “while there are so many areas of need in the life of God’s once fatherless, the greatest need is understanding in all areas. I believe the greatest of all is for a need to understand how the “Once Fatherless” part of their life still has a great effect in the life of these precious, but deeply hurt children today.” Sharon answers the following question, “what are you looking for from an educator for your child?”
“It would be a great benefit if all teachers had a good understanding of early childhood trauma and how triggers affect their performance in class. One example, and this happens most every year, but some assignments are easier to handle than others. A child was asked to write a report about why they were given the name they were given. Imagine a child with a name given to her from a far away land by distant people who chose to have nothing to do with her? She brought the assignment home and researched the origins of her name. I noticed frustration and procrastination. I asked what’s wrong and her reply was, “I’m not doing this assignment.” I stepped in and said, “Lets make up a fun story about your name” with a laugh. Big eye rolls. I then knew I needed to pull the file full of facts of her birth and early life out of storage. We saw names that sounded like hers. We kept reading and saw words like bloated tummy, worms and other bug manifestations, but it was the word “abandoned” that broke her. She cried and decided she didn’t want to go to school anymore. I called our trusted trauma counselor to address her trigger. After a few visits she was in good shape again. A few months later, another class was asked to write a speech of a special moment in life. Great assignment I felt, but knew to be on the lookout for triggers. This child wrote of her abandonment and was given the choice on whether or not she wanted to participate in this assignment. I greatly appreciated that option. In a way, this was helpful to watch her focus on her past hurt to promote healing. After she gave her speech in detail of what she learned and remembered, I learned from the teacher she had been found crying in the bathroom for the next 8 days repeating the words, “nobody cares about me.” I told the teacher she was triggered by abandonment and I wish I had been told sooner. It was addressed by once again seeing our trusted trauma counselor. This teacher wanted to console her, but did not know not recognize what abandonment triggers looked like. Once I learned about this, I was then able to address it properly. In both examples, I feel it’s a good thing my child had these experiences because it gave us an opportunity to address issues that will affect her for the rest of her life. I have the ability now to get her help while she is still in my care and I have been taught how to help her push through the hard times as well. It would be awesome if the teaching staff knew what to look for and when to inform parents when they see something is not well with a child from hard places. We have a small window of opportunity to help these kids heal. Take advantage of the open window of opportunity. Possible hire an early childhood trauma counselor to speak at a conference before school starts.”
It is so important for churches to be equipped in caring for kids from hard places. Below is Sharon’s answer to the question, “how can churches be more trauma informed when caring for your children?”
“I would suggest hiring a Christian Trauma Counselor to explain to staff members the effects of early childhood trauma and what triggers to look for. Early childhood trauma is so complex to understand that it needs to be looked at differently than the average sinful heart of other children raised in a nurturing environment. (I have two nurtured bios and it’s a whole different outcome for them) I know of a child who acted out in various ways that were hugely misunderstood by staff and even their parents. This child came home one day sadly repeating that they were a sinner and lost their way. Absolutely, true. We are all sinners and have all lost our way, but a trauma child needs those called by God servants in their lives to help them find their way back to a healthy standing without risking it having an effect on their relationship with Christ. It’s extremely important to understand answers to the WHY this behavior is happening? Could it be a past trauma that has not been addressed yet? I believe it can be more hurtful to a child to give them the understanding that they are the way they are because they are simply sinners and acted out accordingly. A child did not ask to have trauma in their past that may be causing this behavior, but Jesus asked his followers to look after these hurt and abandoned children. James 1:27. Compassionate understanding, empathy and love should always trump risking a child feeling deep shame for things their mind cannot comprehend without proper help. The ways of helping God’s once fatherless are endless, but excellent education is a great place to start and I believe it’s what God wants from his followers. This world of adoption is a greatly misunderstood ministry, but it would be wonderful to see the body of Christ join forces to love these kids back to health the best way we can. Continual love and understanding towards the hurt child truly is the will of our Father.”
This month has been filled with great resources on caring for kids from hard places. Let all of this information be an encouragement for the journey God has you on. If you would like any information on how to get involved within the OCA ministries you can call the office at 502 498 4765 or email Haley at email@example.com