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64. When the World Stops Seeing the Trauma

Hey there… it’s been a bit of a delay in writing due to a wild ride on our part. One kiddo has been struggling greatly and has been transitioned into a residential facility and the other is getting ready for their own huge transition. All this is happening while I transitioned from working full time to running my own LLC (soon to be 501(c)3). Suffice it to say that the Salisotts have their hands full. More on those topics later. Today’s chat is about when the world stops seeing the trauma of the littles in our lives.

One of our kiddos has lived with us for 1/5th of the time they have been in out of home care. That roughly equates to 1/10th of the time they have lived with trauma and hardship. People think that because they now live with a loving and caring home that meets their needs that they are “fixed” from trauma. I’m sad to say that it doesn’t work that way.

Trauma isn’t healed in a night, or month, or even one plus years. Trauma has the ability to change the structure of a child’s brain. That sort of change takes a strong intervention and consistent work, patience, understanding, and determination to move small blocks. Most of all, it takes time.

That’s where people forget/fall off. They see the kiddo in a loving home and they forget the years/months of trauma.

There is a quote from a book I read that said something about the fact that kiddos with outward symptoms of delays are at a far greater likelihood to receive help and intervention than those kiddos that appear “normal”. That is so hard for our kiddos. That is crushing for the kiddos in our home.

One of our daughters went to school on a run of the mill day with an invisible backpack that included the knowledge that her sister hasn’t been sleeping in her bedroom in our home for awhile now. Her sister wasn’t sleeping in her room, not because she was kicked out for being “naughty”; that our daughter could have understood, but because she was getting intensive out of home help.

The part that was weighing our daughter down is that we hadn’t just given up and walked away from her sister when she was acting out and needed intensive help, like so many families had done to her in the past. What is so different about her sister? Why should her sister deserve a family to stick with her through hard times? Why did she have to move time and time again because the adults didn’t understand trauma and what was going on? WHY ISN’T THE WORLD FAIR?! When would her sister come home? Would she be better? When would we walk away from both of the girls? What would it take for that to happen?

This burden weighed on our daughter, grinding her gears until she was a wound tight ball of nerve, confusion, a scared little girl, and oh so full of anger.

To the rest of the world she was a smiling polite kiddo that they have grown to know. Inside she was about to explode.

And then she did.

All over the basketball game she was at. So much so that there had to be adult intervention. The world around her was aghast. How could this child that is in this loving home act this way? What does she have to be so angry about now?

Trauma. Plain and simple.

That day I wept. Not for the explosion. That I was grateful for. I was grateful for the outward expression of her feelings. She got to a point that we could work on it rather than just stuffing it down. I wept for the lack of understanding the rest of the world had and their inability to see the why.

Why can’t we take time to really see the why behind behaviors? Why can’t we slow down enough to ask those questions? Why can’t we fix the problem before it becomes a problem? Most of all, why can’t we remember to extend grace to everyone around us, as we are all dealing with invisible backpacks- some far more full than others.

I guess that in this rambling piece I ask. Please, please, please do not expect a kiddo to be “healed” just because they live in a safe, loving home now. That sort of expectation is harmful for the kiddo and parents and leaves both feeling isolated and alone. Instead, assume positive intent and seek to learn the need behind the behavior and help the parents meet that need in the best way they are able to.

Until next time!

Sarah

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63. On the “other side”

We have always extended grace to the parents of our kiddos. We knew it was hard to have all your interactions supervised, we just didn’t know how hard that truly was. We do now.

I sat in a strange chair in a strange room with one sided glass on the wall and a video camera in the corner. Act naturally, I though. You have nothing to worry about. This is routine and “they” just want to see a baseline of how you and your kiddo interact so they can gauge progress of the program. Easier said than done as I anxiously steal a glance at that camera in the corner. To be blissfully unaware as the kiddo. To not know what is on the line. To not have your heart beating so loudly that people 3 buildings away can hear it. I will never forget that feeling, the smell of that room, or the reason we were sitting at that table.

It’s crazy to think that we have found ourselves in the position of people that have their visits and phone calls supervised for the time being. Let me tell you, there is nothing in this world that is more uncomfortable. No other experience could have prepared us for the anxiety that comes with answering the phone knowing that someone is writing everything down to analyze your relationship. Nothing could have prepared us for the deep anxiety of participating in an attachment assessment. To know that there is a complete stranger on the other side of one way glass that is watching and recording you when you are supposed to be interacting naturally with your kiddo.

We have been huge advocates for extending grace and understanding to kiddo’s parents in the past; it is so much more than that now. I hope, for your sake, that you never know the discomfort of this feeling.

That being said, this is where we are. This is where situations brought us and we will adapt and overcome (as a dear friend says). We will learn to function in this new normal and we will heal together, as a family.

So I ask you… the next time that you are supervising a visit or phone call and you feel anxiety or wanting to be done from the other side… please extend grace and put yourself in their shoes. How would it feel to know you love your kiddos with all your heart and it is someone else’s role to judge that? Only then can we come together in the triangle to heal all around for the kiddos in our care.

Thank you for coming along on this journey with us and allowing us to share our stories.

62. Where we went

Good evening, family, friends, and readers. We disappeared. We folded into ourselves and our home due to stress and trauma taking over. I ended up having to take a break from work due to stress and our kiddos struggles were real. That is where we are. Foster care isn’t always sunshine and roses; in fact, it isn’t most days. Many days trauma jumps up and bites you in your places you were not paying attention to only to have you settle that down and have it jump up in a different place. You are not alone. We are not alone. Find your group. I am starting a support group in my local area. If there isn’t one where you are, start one! Drive to find one. Talk to your friends and family. If there isn’t a group for them, invite them to come to the greater Milwaukee area to my group for friends and family of foster parents.

Continue reading “62. Where we went”

61. Finding your kid’s jam

Hello, Mama S here. Have you ever felt in your “zone”. The sky is brighter, the outlook is better, and you feel at one with the universe? Feels great, right? How often do you help your child feel that sense of zen with the universe? Continue reading “61. Finding your kid’s jam”

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60. The different “levels” of foster care- foster parents

Hello, All! Mama S here. Thank you for coming along on our journey. Today I’m going to break down Mama A’s and my “level” as it relates to fostering. Before we get into what our level is, it is important to have an understanding of what all the levels are. Continue reading “60. The different “levels” of foster care- foster parents”

59. A slight window in how multiple moves have shaped our kiddos

Mama S here! Have you ever packed up all your belongings and moved to a different home? Did you do it alone and sever all ties to people/things/places in the process? This is what foster kiddos are doing every day and doing so leaves marks on their soul that are very hard and slow to heal. Continue reading “59. A slight window in how multiple moves have shaped our kiddos”

58. An open letter to our daughter’s social workers

Good morning,

You may not know this, but we have gotten out of bed some days simply because of your support. We have gotten ready for the day with confidence that you helped us build. We have tackled emergency situation after emergency situation with a calmness that you helped us find. We snuggled our daughters a little harder because you reminded us of what trauma can do a brain. We welcomed in a sixteen-year-old daughter with no notice because you helped us see that our family was set up to be able to handle the additional challenges. We are about to adopt a teenager because you helped us see what our lives would be like with her as our forever daughter.

~The Salisotts Continue reading “58. An open letter to our daughter’s social workers”

57. Mama A talks about being open and ready for whatever the girls bring up to talk about

Mama A here this week making a guest appearance! An interesting thing happened this weekend and I wanted to take a few moments of your time to share.

This past Sunday Mama S and Little Lady attended a conference to help Little Lady think about and prepare for college. That left P and I home for a lazy Sunday morning. I was folding laundry and P was working on a PowerPoint presentation to teach the family about space (she loves space and we are a family of life long learners). She came into the room I was folding laundry and said that she thinks she was grumpy the week before and Saturday because she thinks she might have a crush on a girl in her class. Now I could have reacted in an array of different ways. What I chose to do in that moment was to give her my attention. I continued to fold laundry but I gave her space to talk or not talk. What I didn’t do was make a big deal out of anything. Let me repeat that. I didn’t make a big deal out of anything. Continue reading “57. Mama A talks about being open and ready for whatever the girls bring up to talk about”

56. Should we require appreciation from our kiddos?

Mama S here. I have seen an article being widely spread that speaks about how foster children shouldn’t be required to be grateful for everything the foster family does for them. That the foster family signs up for caring for kiddos from hard places and that they shouldn’t expect their foster kids to appreciate what they do for them. I’ve been sitting with that for a bit and I have to say that, while I partially agree, I also strongly disagree. Continue reading “56. Should we require appreciation from our kiddos?”

55. The next frontier

Good morning, Mama S here. There have been a lot of talks within our household of a dream I have that I am taking steps toward becoming a reality. As some of you may be aware, I read, watch, discuss everything I can come across that talks about parenting, successful parenting, children that grew up with trauma, etc. I have been taking in all this information and discussing it in therapy, at home, with other foster parents, and with our social workers. This has put an idea in my head that has been brewing for about a year now. Today is the day to put it out there and hold myself accountable. I am taking steps to become a Certified Parenting Coach and I will (eventually) also be studying to become certified in Trust Based Relational Intervention. Continue reading “55. The next frontier”

54. The hard parts of being a foster parent

Hello! Mama S here. I have been sharing a lot of the “wins” of our fostering journey over the past bit and have gotten the idea that people think that our journey is one win after the other. While we celebrate the wins and put them out into the world- it is time to share some of the hard parts of being a foster parent. These are not specific to the kiddos we have at this moment, it encompasses all the kiddos we have had in our home and our fostering journey as a whole. So… what is the hardest part? It is so. darn. lonely. Continue reading “54. The hard parts of being a foster parent”

53. Adoption Home-study

Hello, everyone! Mama S here. Our family is settling into a new normal and we are looking forward to 2019. In early 2019 we will be adopting our 16 year old and, in preparation of that, we have more paperwork to do. We were assigned an adoption worker and will be going through the home-study process in these next few months. Continue reading “53. Adoption Home-study”