Monday, November 23, 2015

ABCs of Adoption: T is for Trauma

Imagine the following scenario.  You are sitting at home when the doorbell rings.   The person that comes in tells you to gather all your belongings and to go with them, no questions asked.   You are whisked into a waiting car and taken to a strange location, far away from everything you know and love.   Along the way you constantly ask questions about what is happening and where you are being taken, you don't get any answers.  You are told this is your new home and the strangers living there are your new family.  Sounds pretty terrifying.   This is the experience of many youth in foster care.

Children that have been in foster care have experienced trauma.  As a result of the trauma experienced adoptees may be diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).  PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is triggered by a terrifying event that was either experienced or witnessed Episodes can be triggered by dates, scents, sounds, or environmental surroundings.  What happens when an individual is triggered will vary widely as the body tries to protect itself from a perceived or real danger.

As a parent of a child with PTSD we would love to be aware of all triggers and avoid them whenever possible.   This isn't possible or feasible, instead we have to learn as we encounter them and develop coping strategies.  It helps to have a team of people working with you that understand trauma, we are fortunate to have this.

One of the symptoms of PTSD is nightmares or inability to sleep.  We have been in the midst of this for a couple of weeks and it is exhausting.   So far we haven't been able to figure out a strategy to resolve the early morning wake ups - strategies that have worked in the past are no longer working.  I am hoping that this phase passes soon, or we figure out some new strategies as we are all walking around with dark rings under our eyes.  

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