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Saturday, November 5, 2011

Fear & Adoption II

This real life adoption story comes from a foster mother. I’ll call her Tina and her 3 year old foster child I’ll call Sam. Tina is new at utilizing the Post Stress Model in her foster home. Sam has been with them for approximately six months. He’s made fairly good progress and at one time Tina and her husband were considering adoption. That did not materialize because the biological mother has stepped up to the plate and there are plans for re-infatuation in the next month or so. Sam had been presenting some challenges lately. These challenges occurred because a three month old was brought into the foster home. The addition of a three month old triggered everyone’s unconscious fears. Everyone’s window of tolerance was decreased. Due to this additional stress, Tina began to question what she was doing. In her emotional exhaustion, she wondered if she should continue trying to connect with Sam because he would be leaving in a few weeks anyway. Her rational was that why increase more closeness for him to grieve? I understand how and why she got to this place. Daniel Segal states (paraphrase) that from studies of resilience, if a child has one care giver that he feels securely attached to, then that one secure attachment will increase that’s child resilience through out his or her life (from the DVD Trauma, Brain &Relationship - Helping Children Heal). I shared this with Tina. I also told her that continuing to connect with Sam and increasing their closeness would actually help him grieve. It would help him grieve not only now, but also in the future. Her closeness with him would continue to facilitate healing in his life. If she allowed her fear to interfere in their relationship between now and adoption time, Sam would experience more rejection. Our fears can easily take us out of relationship with our children. Tina became aware of her fear of not being adequate enough for Sam and the new baby. Her fear took her to a place to cause her to withdraw. She then needed a rationalization to justify what she was doing, which she intuitively knew was wrong. I’m not judging her, but pointing this out as a learning situation for all of us. All we have is what is in the moment. I challenge you ask yourself in each situation with your child - “What can I do to improve my relationship with my child at this very moment?”

To find out more about fear and adoption, review Bryan Post’s book “From Fear to Love” - Parenting Difficult Adopted Children at

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Fear & Adoption I

November is Adoption Awareness Month. This provides me with an opportunity to write about real life adoption situations. I’ll call this adopted 6 year old girl Abby. Her adoptive mother, Gretta, is very much on board with the Post Stress Model. Abby is struggling in school. There are several situations in school that are overwhelming to her sensory and neurological system. Abby is very bright and does not have any external scars. She internalizes her stress reactions. This has made it difficult to advocate for her because the school says that she doesn’t “look” stressed. Since her performance is above average, the school doesn’t understand the problem. Gretta has provided the school with numerous resources that explain neurological processes and adoption trauma. Unfortunately they don’t “get it”. This is a common challenge for many adoptive parents. Abby’s mother will probably make the decision to home school Abby. As I processed this decision with Gretta, there was a sense of desperation in her voice. I helped her slow down and identify what was triggering her stress. They live in a small town and there was the fear of criticism and the “looks” that they already get from the community. Another unconscious fear that was being triggered was Gretta’s fear of not being a good enough teacher at home. Still another unconscious fear was not doing enough or doing the right things to help Abby resolve her adoption issues. These are all fears that are common and normal for most any parent who’s child has challenging behaviors. In this particular case, I always re-direct Gretta back to keeping it simple. Sometimes she complicates things when there is regression. Fear does this, we urge ourselves to fix it. Remember, fear says fix it, and love says allow it to heal. I suggested that Gretta rely on the strategies and interventions that have always worked in the past. Being mindful and present is the bottom line for parenting and connecting in relationship. Sure, there are certain strategies that will help. However, without being present and mindful, the best strategies available will not work. As I was writing this, the words “be still and know that I am God” kept resonating in my spirit. I couldn’t find that exact reference but there are many references in the Bible to the assurances of God. Joel 2:29 (Message) says “And ye shall know that I am in the midst of Israel, and that I am Jehovah your God, and there is none else; and my people shall never be put to shame.” Our children, whether adopted or not, need to know that we are always there for them. It is our challenge to be mindful and present for them just as our Heavenly Father is always present for us.

To find out more about fear and adoption, review Bryan Post’s book “From Fear to Love” - Parenting Difficult Adopted Children at