Most of us trauma parents, if we adopted, were suckered into it by cute faces on the brochure and the myth that “these kids just need love and they’ll be just fine!” We aren’t saints or heroes for wanting to have kids, or for adopting out of foster care or internationally or whatever. We adopted for whatever reason – infertility, genetic disorders we didn’t want to pass on, because we were adopted, because the child was a family member, a million different reasons – and we drank the punch. There are a few among us, however, who knew about the man behind the curtain – and adopted anyway. Teachers, therapists, special ed specialists, psychiatrists, experienced foster parents – knew about RAD, ODD, trauma kids – and they still went forward and adopted a kid knowing the kid had RAD, or assuming the kid had RAD if it wasn’t in the documentation. They knew life was going to be hard, hard, hard. They went ahead and did it anyway. (yep, I call ’em saints)
But from what I’ve learned, from the ones that “thought” they knew what they were getting into, is that they have have the same line after awhile: “I was so arrogant! I had no idea it was going to be like this!”
So even with all their knowledge, and even experience, with special needs kids, even degrees in the stuff – as parents, they end with us, the naive, the gullible, the drank-the-punch crowd: dazed, standing around, wondering what the hell just happened to our lives.
I don’t say this to put them down – not at all – you are saints for going in knowing what you knew!! – but to encourage the rest who were blindsided. Even the knowledgeable got blindsided. Even they are dazed and confused by the way things go with RAD, they struggle with the questions of what is the right thing to do, am I failing this child, am I doing this wrong, am I making things worse? Regardless of how we ended up in this water-logged boat, we’re all in it together now, furiously paddling and bailing out water as fast as we can, hoping to reach our destination before we sink. Might as well encourage one another, since we’re all trying to keep from sinking as best we can!
So why did I call this post the price of arrogance? Because in this case, that’s just one more thing to stop beating yourself up about. Whether you drank the Kool-Aid or had the PhD, it’s still the same damn boat so stop beating yourself up over it… And remember what an incredible person you because you are parenting a trauma child, you aren’t giving up, and you are plugging holes in the boat as fast as you can with one hand while throwing water overboard with the other!
Hang in there!
Photo credit: Kim Plante