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Saturday, November 17, 2012

Fear & Adoption III

I recently spent a few days visiting my “adoptive kids” Trey and Chenoa. Trey is a “love miracle”, crack cocaine baby. Trey was adopted at birth. When he came home he was greeted by Ella. Ella was a very large, cuddly dog. Trey’s mother, sister, and Ella loved him into health. Ella became a big part of Trey’s emotional safety and regulation. Ella tragically died three years later. This was devastating for the entire family. They are still grieving this loss. While I was there, Trey started talking about Ella. He felt safe and regressed emotionally. He has also done this before with his mother. His mother has struggled as to how to help him. Her immediate response (actually it’s a reaction which I’ll explain later) is to get him another dog. When Trey started talking about Ella and crying, she asked me what to do. I told her breathe, relax, and be present. I pulled Trey onto my lap and held him. I validated his grief feelings and gave him a short narrative about losing Ella. “I told him what it was like for him when he first came into this world. It was a scary place and he was sick. Ella was there to comfort him. His mother and Chenoa were there to comfort him.” Not only is Trey grieving what he remembers, but he is also grieving his pre-verbal trauma. This short narrative gave his left brain words to his right brain’s pre-verbal experience. I explained to his mother that her fear of doing this with Trey caused her to try to fix him by buying him a dog. That’s why I called her response a reaction. Her unconscious fear was that she would need to re-visit that time in Trey’s life on an emotional level. That can be hard for any of us to do when our child’s trauma is part of our trauma. Remember fear says “fix it” and love says “allow it to heal”. Read Trey’s complete story. Go to and read “Adoption - Love Affair”.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Are You Worthy?

This may seem like a very odd or unusual question. If the answer is no or you doubt this about yourself, it will be a challenge along your parenting journey. November is Nation Adoption Awareness Month. My work focuses on helping families have successful adoptions. The definition of a successful adoption is probably as varied as the number of families with adopted chidlren. An essential ingredient for a successful adoption is how parents feel about themselves. In the DVD - Trauma, Brain & Relationship - Helping Children Heal, Judyth O. Weaver, PhD, Santa Barbara Graduate Institute says that “We need to work with parents who can feel good enough about themselves so that they can allow their children to feel good enough...” Feeling good about yourself is defined by your self worth or self definition. These definitions are a function of shame. Shame is a self defeating belief that we are not worthy, not good enough, and don’t measure up. Shame is a belief of being inherently flawed and therefore undeserving of any success or happiness. I encourage you to take a hard look at yourself and explore shame in your life. Not sure what shame is? Find out by reading October, 2011 Love in Action Newsletter “What Exactly is Shame?”Go to