By Rachel Kuhr, Jewish Family Service director of adoption and foster care services We were thrilled to hold our annual Jewish Family Service Adoption and Foster Care Picnic in person recently. Because of COVID-19, it was the first one we have been able to plan in three years. JFS staff joined with several families at
In today’s modern society, it is so easy to forget that we are truly social creatures who need each other. We are hardwired to depend on others to survive. As busy as our world is, it’s helpful to be reminded of the value in having meaningful connections with others outside of one’s immediate family. It takes work to develop and maintain these connections to others. Adoptive families especially can benefit from knowing others who are in the same boat as them. Learn why sharing your unique lives with others in similar circumstances creates healthier, happier families.
If you have made it this far in the Newsletter…
…then something has resonated with you about needing and wanting to connect with other adoptive families. Although it may seem overwhelming to find a way to find such families, read on for various ways to connect virtually and in-person. The benefits of knowing other adoptive families are innumerable and far outweigh the efforts and fear of making yourself vulnerable.
I was at back-to-school last night at my adopted daughter’s school. Boy, did I feel alienated and out of place. The other moms were all worried about picture day and being able to access their child’s grades. I am just happy when my 11-year-old daughter gets to the bus on time and has a day with no major behavioral incidents. I see now what everyone has been saying about the value of knowing other adoptive families. But I know none. I just don’t even know where to start meeting and connecting with other similar families.
We recently adopted 2 siblings, ages 7 and 9. They certainly had a rough upbringing, both emotionally and sexually abused. We are so thrilled to become their parents and to give them a wonderful life. Problem is we had to start working with a team of counselors as the 9-year-old is just terrible and unmanageable. She hates being told what to do and will have meltdowns if she doesn’t get her way that can last all day. Additionally, she seems to freak out at the strangest times with no apparent reason. Our therapist says to look behind her behaviors; that her behaviors are a form of communication. We just don’t believe that. She just seems manipulative, ungrateful, and controlling.
Signed, doubtful about all this mumbo-jumbo about behaviors as clues
When a child has undesirable behaviors, there are a variety of ways to view that behavior. An “old-fashioned” view sees the child as being intentionally oppositional. A more reliable and helpful way to view their behavior instead is based on the idea that your child is dealing with a host of invisible factors resulting in such. Keep reading to identify some likely invisible sources that may cause such bad behaviors. Then you will start to see them as actual real responses within the child’s body and brain and coping mechanisms leftover from their trauma.
Welcome to your new parenting lens: Now you know that your child is not malicious, bad, manipulative, and non-compliant when they show you their worst behaviors. Congratulations on considering this different point of view. The next step is to further dissect what is underneath these behaviors. Read on for more ideas of what may be triggering and contributing to your child exhibiting their worst self. Just understanding the why of behaviors can help you help them to improve. Compassionately appreciating what is behind the behavior can change how you react. And of course, you will need some new parenting strategies to match this new lens. Explore concrete parenting techniques you can use to help your child heal, learn to regulate, and grow! There may even be some advice about caring for your own mental and physical health tucked into then end. Keep reading…
Research now tell us that when a child experiences early and prolonged trauma, other parts of development are affected. Makes sense? If you are constantly on high alert for real danger in your home, you will have trouble paying attention. What about if you frequently go to bed hungry? Or what if you don’t even have a stable place to live? Learning new things becomes a challenge. Social skills are not important to your brain as you are just trying to stay safe, fed, or housed. If you are 13 years old, people come to expect age-appropriate things from you: your parents, your teachers, and even your friends. If inside that 13-year-old body, certain areas about you are really only at an 8-year-old level, there will be a mismatch. You will get frustrated due to expectations that are too high. And because you are already stressed, a meltdown soon follows.
A typical infant and her mother play a game called serve and return. Learn why when this crucial games is missed, a whole host of problems arise. That infant never learned how to self-soothe or self-regulate. In other words, she goes straight to a meltdown when she is stressed or frustrated.