I have wanted to write and publish this post for quite some time. But fear crippled me from doing it. Fear of rejection. Fear of questions. Fear of being wrong. Fear of admitting the truth. Mostly fear of judgment, though. I do not have biological children, so I can only speak to what I know. And this is what I know.
I know we are raising another woman’s child. Yes, we are Jackson’s PARENTS. Period.The.End.Of.It. Yes, I get that. But here is what I need you to get. However, before we were his parents, he suffered from trauma. Boy, that is hard to say and even harder to admit and recognize. You may not think he has suffered any kind of trauma because we brought him home from the hospital. He has always been ours. He was never mistreated. He was well loved and cared for. I am not talking about the kind of trauma you think of when you think of the word trauma but, let me set the scene for you and try to explain what we see on a daily basis.
He was formed and created in another woman’s body, not mine. Yes that simple truth probably hurts me more than him. However, the sounds, the sights, the smells he was used to, no longer existed. He was in a new house. He had new voices to learn. He had new smells surrounding him. The life he was used to, yes, only in utero, was no longer there.
Now he is being raised by two people who do not look like him, sound like him, act like him, and can hardly relate to what he has went through. That can’t be easy, for anyone, let alone a four year old.
His birthmom, however, was also under stress that we can’t look past. She didn’t want to be pregnant. There is no getting around that. She was fearful, stressed, and I can imagine tired. Just like anything else she could have passed on to Jackson while pregnant, so was her stress, anxiety and worry. I don’t blame her, I can’t. She made me a mother and she did an amazing job carrying Jackson. She was also in a minor car accident when pregnant with Jackson. Again, trauma, even in utero. Nothing could have changed this trauma, it simply is what it is. She did the best she could and so did we. Now we have to figure out how to help Jackson best, knowing, admitting and recognizing he has suffered this kind of trauma.
This is where the judgment comes in. This is where we can’t parent like you. This is where I need you to skip the judgment. I don’t need it, we don’t need it and it is not helpful.
When you see me calmly talk to my child, know it is because I do not ever want to instill fear into him or project anger on to him. He has been through enough.
When you see me struggling to gain control, know it is not because it is a lack of parenting, it is because there is more to the story than what meets the eyes.
When you see me look at him with depth and wonder. It is not because I don’t know what to say, it is because I am trying to figure out what he is thinking and feeling.
When you see us, don’t question our parenting abilities. They may seem inadequate. “light” and not as firm as you may think they need to be, but they are formed out of love, sincere care and thought for raising someone who has been through trauma.
The moral of the story, we simply can’t parent the same way you can. I also hope you don’t parent the way we do. Every child is different, unique, special and can’t be parented the same way. Also, know this is not easy. It is not something we take lightly and we will do everything in our power to help Jackson. Do we have all the answers? No. Will we fail at times? Heck yes we will. In fact, I am sure I already have. But, will we do the best we can with the knowledge we have? You bet your life we will
There was a great article published in this newsletter that helps explain trauma and how it affects the child’s brain. It is a great read and if you are interested in more details about trauma, check it out.