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traumatic stress disorder
honeymoon stage
post traumatic stress disorder
abuse drugs
Why Didn't You Tell Me This?
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Why Didn\'t You Tell Me This?

The judge bangs his gavel, and says "this adoption is finalized"! You sigh with relief, you now are a family. This is the ideal world. More often than not, once adoptions or long term foster care are decided, there is a "honeymoon" stage where the child or children are just as represented in the file you were handed. Then the "honeymoon" ends and you will know when this happens because your child may be carrying emotions that may be triggered by a smell, a song, a word, a color, or even a dream in the middle of the night. You may soon start to wonder where the child you lovingly care for went? Soon, you will be asking; "why didn't you tell me this?"

Sadly, children coming out of foster care or protective services already have a few things against them; post traumatic stress disorder or PTSD. Think of it; no matter what the age, you have just lost all the familiar people, places and things in your world. Depending on the circumstances, you find yourself in a new home, new people, new things and even more people like doctors, therapists and child family teams.

This darling child just had major life events occur in their little world with very little if not no understanding. You, as a Christian, caring and loving adoptive parent want to do all you can. You need to talk to doctors, to therapists and behavioral health in your area. Do this for your child and soon. Don't let it get to the screaming in the night and nightmares over and over to get you to help your child, be proactive rather than reactive.

More often than not, PTSD will not be the only issue your facing. What were or was the reason the child is in this care to begin with? Was it neglect, abuse, drugs, alcohol, not knowing how to parent, or even worse; not wanting to parent? Now we have a compounding situation that may occur with the symptoms of PTSD or seperate. Symptoms are not always obvious.

A behavior or action you think may be "just being a kid", might be the beginnings or symptoms of any combination of reasons mentioned earlier. Again, this is your job and responsibility to address these, research, talk, and see professionals. Be proactive rather than reactive because a set of symptoms will only escalate, intensify and become more frequent. You owe this to the child to provide all the help you are able. God tells us to "father the fatherless" in the Bible in Pslams 68:5.

If the child is school-aged, then being the proactive parent, think about one of the first assignments given in elementary school; "OK class, today we're going to write about our families.." Plan ahead and talk with the teacher or if your child is mature enough to understand, then discuss this with them. Help them, guide them. Unfortunately, adopted children will find themselves in special education along with being in a new school. There is another major life event!

As the parent, familiarize yourself with the special or exceptinal education terminology. A doctor will need to confirm a category your child will fall into for special education. Learn what an IEP, or Individualized Education Plan is quickly. This falls under federal law and the school district is required by law to do certain things to help your child. Know what they are, attend the meetings and talk with parents and your child family team with behavioral health.

There is a wonderful website that has volumes of free information called "Wrightslaw". Please, bookmark this site, along with your own research selective to your child and situation.

If you hear the terms FASD or RAD would you know what they mean? If you know for sure the birth parents were drug and/or alcohol users and this contributed to the child's' removal, then your child may have Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. This effects the front portion of your child's brain and it changes the "executive functions" of the brain. Executive Function is a set of mental processes that helps connect past experience with present action. People use it to perform activities such as planning, organizing, strategics, paying attention to and remembering details, and managing time and space.

RAD stands for a newer condition called "reactive attachment disorder". Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is a psychological syndrome found in children who are usually ignored and/or abused in some way during the first two years of life and seldom taken adequate care of. The first two years of development are the bonding and attachment time of maturity. Always craving for affection and warm treatment, children develop a sense of detachment when not given required attention. This phenomenon generally happens between the ages of six months and three years and creates cognitive barriers disallowing a child to come in contact with any person. This feeling of non-involvement keeps on growing, thereby resulting into reactive attachment disorder. At some point or the other, this problem has inter-relation with another mental condition called Oppositional Defiant Disorder which refers to hostile behavioral pattern of children, where they show disobedience and argumentative attitude towards parents or teachers.

I pray this article will not deter, hinder, or God-forbid, decide not to adopt or foster care for children. This article is intended to do just the opposite! God's command to "father the fatherless" could not be more rewarding. Please, visit the website This article is to give you terms, and things to think about, ask about and research. No, not all adoptive or foster children will have one or any of these issues. But what if they do? Will you be proactive and prepared or reactive and behind?

Please, take a breath when you see your child for the first time and say a prayer that God will guide you through this process. He just answered two prayers; one for you and one for the child. Do not get yourself to the point where you ask; "Why didn't you tell me this?"

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