July 19, 2010

Trauma, Abuse and Attachment....


    When we first got our daughter in China I was so shocked at how our daughter was handed off to us!  Basically, shoved and thrown at us with nannys yelling mama, mama to her....They could not think of a better way to do this?  Of course, I was told during the wait to travel that our daughter would be grieving.  And we were not new to international adoption as we also had adopted from Korea and from Vietnam. We had never experienced any thing like the fear and grief of our daughter from China. She was totally terrified...   Not just of us, of changes of many things we did not understand. She was exactly the same age (21/2) as our daughter from Vietnam was adopted at.  The next few days we saw clearly how scared she was of every thing... she had not experienced any thing except life inside her small rural orphanage walls and a few trips outside on the grounds.  The only  people she knew were her nannys...and we looked and smelled strange and there was so much noise and we carried her around... No wonder she was so scared I would be too!  The only thing she liked was the wonderful  access to  food. Which she ate and ate and ate....


   I am not just wanting to bash the orphanage staff here but I want to really understand why and how our children can heal from these traumatic starts in life.  Certainly, we and our children are blessed to have each other now.  Love has made more difference in her life then even I could have thought was possible.  Carissa never wanted to leave home after we got home... no church, no visiting, no company either....She just wanted us all to be at home,  Safe and unchanging... During her first 3 years home if she was accidentally hurt playing with another child... or any one else in the family even she would become hysterical.... her eyes would glaze over  (she was not with us any more and was very unresponsive)... she would throw open her mouth as wide as she could and scream!  Just over any amount of conflict like being squirted with a squirt gun or knocked down by a 2 year old child.  Normal child play was too much for her...  It was like she was back there in her orphanage experiencing some thing I did not know about but she did. A friend seeing these moments and having children who were also adopted recognized right away what was happening...  "She is experiencing her past trauma and abuse."  It was so sad to watch...   I held her and did not let her go even though at times it seemed she did not want to be held. She was stiff as a board....no molding into a comfortable holding position.  Then I learned that in her orphanage the children were tied up in bed so they would not push off covers during cold winters.  I also knew from seeing pictures that she was two to a bed for a long time.  This explained her night terrors in bed thrashing around like she was trying to get loose...  I also knew that babies in China are tied to potty chairs as well for early potty training. Many girls  from China have scars on their legs as babies because of this...    What can you say about a country that teaches their children to pee and poop on command?  Probably better not say a thing....


   What trauma do I know my daughter experienced?  What experiences have her China sisters experienced?  (For those who do not know, China sisters refers to those girls my daughter was with in her orphanage and also the girls who were with us on our adoption trips to China.)  My daughter has told me she was hit by all the nannys and usually on the head.  I saw with my own eyes a one pot meal with a single spoon and children gathered around the pot looking at the food hungrily... Here is a bite for you and then you and then you...   Do not even think of asking for food....  Only one child from the orphanage looked to be a healthy weight.  I saw pictures of my daughter with other children looking terrified at the camera...   My daughter told me, "That she was not allowed to talk." I asked her what did she mean?  She said she was not allowed to talk to the other kids with her at the orphanage. Meaning if they did talk to each other they were yelled at and hit.  She then yelled at me to show me,"NO,TALKING BAD GIRLS, NO TALKING!"  While our daughter waited for us to come for her,  another mom actually sent a disposable  video camera to the orphanage in a care package.  After our return home she developed it and sent me a copy.  But with the copy she said to only view it alone and not with our daughter. She then told me how her daughter had become hysterical and ran thru the house terrified looking for where the nannys were when she had tried to play it at home.  I turned the video on at 2 am...  with my daughter sound asleep in her closed up stairs bedroom thinking it was safe.  On the video I saw all the nannys and heard them talking loudly with each other and speaking to the children.  No children spoke and they only did what they were told to do. Fine, whatever,  I did not see any thing so awful in the video.  Half way through the video my daughter came down stairs with a look of shock on her face!  She started crying and looking at me with that glazed look again...  I had not had this turned up loudly at all....  I immediately turned it off and took her to bed with me.  She  was so scared just hearing those voices... and I know she was looking for me and comfort that she was home and safe... she curled up with me shaking when I tucked her in with me to bed....


   I do not think we can ever just assume because our children do not talk about or seem to remember their time in orphanages that they do not.  It is packed away to be hidden till a later date....An older daughter adopted from Korea remembers that every morning for 5 years she was yanked out of bed by older girls who lived there and taken to the court yard and sprayed down with a cold water hose...for wetting the bed.  Each of our children has scars we do not know and some we would only  share with family. Love does not cure it all.  I believe with all my heart as a Christian that the lover of my children's souls has the total healing they all need and the healing I need in my life.  At a time in our children's lives when they ask us WHY did God let this happen to me, I need to  have an answer. I do....  But my answer may not satisfy them and they may be angry at a God they see as abandoning them to fate.  A God who did not protect them....
I remember feeling that way as a teenager and feeling like God owed me a few breaks in my life cause some where or other He must have been not paying attention to my pain and just let it go....
    

    I know that God was there... all the time.  I was hurt by some who used their free will to hurt instead of help me, for  a variety of selfish reasons ...  I believe the Lord of all can make ashes turn to beauty in my children's lives. I pray, I fight for them, and I give them over to the one who is the source of true love.  Because at some time in their lives they have to choose to seek Him out themselves.  They have to decide to find healing in the arms that they do not even know have always held them.  They have a free will as God gives us all. Just like those who hurt them had free wills.  Faith means you do not have the answers but you believe any way.... and trust.  But some times that healing does not come if our children do not ask for it.  We may have a time frame for it to happen ourselves. I want this child of mine healed before she walks out that door Lord!!!!   Please!!!  I am waiting..... let's go Lord any time now.  I have to remember healing does not always happen with a bang and fireworks... it happens in the quite submission to a God who loves us so much He gave His own son, Jesus for us.  In a quite voice that says.... "Come here, I love you.  I always have".....

1 comment:

Aus said...

Wow - don't hold back there Dawn - tell us how you really feel! :) I mean that in the most supportive way....I've been feeling a blog post coming on, but it's still a ways out there....but the gist is pretty much what you have touched on here.....
1) There is no such thing as a "non-special needs" adoption - period - all of our kids will have wounds, invisable ones are the hardest to deal with....
2) Adoption is not for the faint of heart - but - it's because we as the parents of these kids - will have to accept and love (strange word to apply here - but the only one I can think of that fits) the trauma that our children have sufferes as if it was our own. That's the only way that we can effectivly care for and help our children learn to cope with it.

You adopt and love way more than just the kids - you love their past too!

Thanks for opening your heart - folks need to see that too!

hugs - and empathy!

aus and co.