Before Adopting… get yourself ready

On partners/husbands. (T)Hey may catch up. (T)Hey may not. But if s/he’s telling you s/he’s not ready now. Believe her/him. 

Start your own learning journey.

  1. Become a CASA for at least a year or more may be required. Go through training. Become a CASA (court appointed special advocate for a child) first. www.casaforchildren.org/…/b.5301295/k.BE9A/Home.htm
  2. Do the Adult Attachment Interview on yourself and start doing your own therapy work (even if you don’t think you need it) AND FIND one to have a therapist on call for when you need it later. Example Interview Background: http://attachmentdisorderhealing.com/adult-attachment-interview-aai-mary-main/ Parenting from the Inside Out (Dan Siegal) will also set you up nicely.
  3. Dig deep into yours and your partner’s family of origin discipline system and expectations.
  4. Get several child behavior/discipline trainings under your belt (both of you) and remember they might not work on your kids cause disciplining trauma is totally baffling, bewildering and illogical. And go through regular or strenuous (extra-strength) connection/therapeutic parenting classes. You can take a class in 6 weeks to 3 months, but it will take you 6 months or more to really figure it out.
    www.handinhandparenting.org/ and others www.loveandlogic.com/ you can find.
  5. Locate resources and groups for ongoing parent/foster/adoption support.  Groups can be fantastic.
  6. Take communication classes with your partner before you have issues.  You will have issues.  YOu will have different parenting techniques.  Your biggest obstacle in healing your kiddo could be your loving awesome partner who has a different brain than yours.
  7. Remember most (not all) men (sorry guys!) don’t talk about this parenting stuff with friends, don’t read about, aren’t interested in it peripherally, nod when someone says parenting or therapeutic parenting but have no clue what it’s actually about.
  8. Learn A LOT about Child Development & Attachment Theory. Understanding behaviors of attachment challenged humans and children, will scare you a lot first, but it is a part of an important journey that you can’t know too much about before embarking on. http://www.attach.org/
  9. Learn A LOT about Trauma (especially early childhood complex trauma). Start learning about Complex (childhood) PTSD and how it is a like a brain injury.
    https://www.attachmenttraumanetwork.org/about/
    (Bessel Van Der Kolk – Body Keeps the Score is a good starting  point.) http://besselvanderkolk.net/index.html
  10. Go to meetings and join online groups. Just listen.  Do not judge.  Do not judge.
  11. Find adoption groups online and visit them. Find and meet real adoptive parents. Meet, talk, spend time with real adoptive parents and their children.
  12. Join a few Facebook pages  “Parenting Attachment Challenged Children”  or “Surviving the Storm” groups or something like this.  Just read and listen.  Don’t judge.
  13. Understand triangulation at home. The mothers or the ‘mom’ role usually get totally whammied here and the partner might not get it, might even contribute to the problems, deny or blame the mom.  Marriages have dissolved on less.  Take this seriously. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Triangulation_(psychology)
  14. Understand triangulation will happen at school.  Be prepared.
  15. Visit all the schools in your neighborhood – Find the one that allows kids to be kids longer but has a behavioral code in place at school that teaches kids to problem solve.  The kids are usually years younger in behavior than their years or looks.
  16. Start talking to the school about their future plans toward becoming a trauma informed school. Ask the school who or what they have available for specific credentials regarding developmental (childhood) trauma.  Then you will know what you are dealing with at least.
  17. Find /locate a list of local counseling resources:    childhood trauma, marriage, sensory, EMDR, and more. Collect and create a list of resources and agencies for all sorts of stuff.
  18. Find and discuss emergency escalation pathways with phone numbers and specific notes about who to call in every eventuality of behavior escalation (with your agency, social worker, the county you live in)
  19. Be prepared for when people tell you your kids are like any other kid and send you classical parenting articles because they have nothing better to do than judge you but have never read an article about kid’s brains on trauma.  Have a links list of evidence based scientific trauma informed parenting articles ready to send for them to read.  Then say:  When you finish reading these and you have trauma informed questions, I will be happy to discuss parenting with you. (I still need to prepare this list.)
  20. Make your own blog to keep notes
  21. Keep ALL handwritten NOTES everything in spiral bound notebooks. Get a few notebooks, take and keep all your notes in one notebook. I have 3 notebooks of notes. For (the kiddo later), myself, and documentation.
  22. This does not fit easily into your life. Your whole life adjusts to YOU learning how to help them, your husband, kiddo and yourself with a new reality. Along the way, you will learn enough to get a PHD but without credit or title – except Mom.
  23. BTW – As of today BTW I’m 4 years in with my kiddo. (plus 2-4 years of preadoptive see saw with self, husband, and agency/counseling/training.
  24. Selfcare.  Trauma Stewardship. Yoga. Long baths.  Adult conversations.
  25. Podcasts are your friend (Both available on itunes) : To learn HOW to heal www.thetraumatherapistproject.com/podcasts/ & to heal on days you need help thinking good throughts www.tarabrach.com/talks-audio-video/.
  26. Good wishes on your journey!
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