I think it is sometimes very easy to think of our adopted children as broken, and the recent calls for extra support to be given probably hasn’t helped that concept one little bit.
I don’t think looking at it that way is helpful, our children aren’t broken and to label them a such creates a detrimental stigma. Sometimes, though, they do need a bit of extra help and understanding to meet their potential. Maybe certain processes that work so well for 90% of children need to be changed or adapted to mean that children from a trauma background are able to cope with or benefit from them. There are so many statistics saying that children in care and adopted from care are more likely to offend, achieve less, or become homeless. That isn’t because they are broken, that is because their potential is unrealised.
Sometimes with all the statistics we see, all the knowledge we have of how trauma affects our children even as adults, we forget to see the person behind it all.
I have done it with Eldest who started school recently. I was/am so anxious about him being there because I am failing to see him for who he is; who we have helped to build him up to be over the past two years. We have spent such a long time with exercises, challenges and activities to help build up his self-confidence and self-esteem and I seem to have forgotten to see the resultant person.
My biggest worry for him going out into the big-wide world of school is that his tendency to follow meant that he may be lead astray by a stronger willed child. I have failed to give him the credit he deserves as the individual that he is and that we have encouraged him to be.
He rammed this point home to me himself recently. I like to ask him how his day has been when I get home from school, and unlike many children his age he is actually pretty good at telling me the events of the day.
He told me what happened when the boy he was playing with hit him in the face with the thing they weren’t meant to be playing with. He then told me he didn’t want to play with that boy any more in case he gets hurt again. That’s a good thought, but we still encouraged him to play with that boy simply because what happened wasn’t malicious, just a bit of play gone too far. The fact he was aware that the boy may take things too far again showed me a side to my son I didn’t expect.
Then there was another thing. He said he wanted to sit next to a particular boy at lunch because the boy was having “angry feelings” and my son didn’t want that boy to get into trouble, and he seemed to think sitting next to him stopped the boy being angry and “being silly”. When I asked how he knew he was having angry feelings I got the reply of “I can see it in him”. I had never anticipated my son having this kind of emotional awareness of others, let alone want to do something to help.
So, I have failed to see my son for the individual and emotionally intelligent boy that he has grown – and is growing – into. I was so wrapped up with worrying that other children might be a bad influence on him that not once did it occur to me that perhaps, just perhaps, my son might be a good influence on them. He has schooled me in a way I never thought possible. What I thought of as unrealised potential is very much showing itself, he is an individual with his own mind and I need to recognise that more.
I am failing, but I now see that. I will do my best to start seeing him as someone more than a child of trauma, because I don’t want to hold him back. He is realising his own potential, and with our support he will hopefully go as far as he wants to.
Title Image: Quentin Leclercq