Adoption = Heartbreak, Part 1

High stress situations trigger our little guy’s PTSD.

In the beginning, high stress was pretty much anything other than staying home with Mama. I spent hours at the elementary school, trying to convince the administration not to cut his day in half. Many days, I sat directly behind him in class, ready for intervention, until social services finally gave approval for a behavioral aide. In a constant state of alert, I watched for any possible cause for concern at home, at school, at church and in public.

Three and a half years later, he is a fully functional member of third grade. Last semester, the Special Education (SPED) staff felt he might be ready for full classroom inclusion. *Side note: the SPED staff have been an incredible addition to the team of people working to support his success. We are so thankful for them.* They allowed him to choose whether he’d rather head to the small group room for part of the school day or remain in the mainstream class the entire time. He decided he was ready for full-time inclusion. Putting it in his hands was the most empowering thing they could have done–and it worked wonders.

He’s asking and answering questions, interacting with others and starting to care what others think.

Of course, now “peer pressure” conversations have come into play, which I didn’t expect. He’s done his own thing, off by himself, for so long—the necessity of this talk didn’t immediately strike me. A few weeks ago, I realized my mistake.

Climbing into the truck, he announced, “Mama, I ate a worm today. J dared me to do it, so I had to. But don’t worry. I made sure it was alive, so it’s okay.”

Right. Because it was alive. 

After questioning, I found out he was under the impression that bacteria only lives in dead things, so it’s okay to eat live critters. We nixed that idea super quick. One of my favorite childhood books was How to Eat Fried Worms. Never thought I’d be living it.

End-of-year testing began a couple weeks ago, and I noticed he’s been a little…off…for the last week. We also spent almost 10 hours playing hard at a friend’s house this weekend, so I thought he was just over-tired. Tonight, as I leaned in to pull covers around him and get my goodnight kiss, he squirmed away. I had a momentary flashback to the days when we couldn’t touch him, when he refused to look us in the eye. “You okay?” I tugged on the blanket, now pulled over his head.

From the depths of his fluffy cave, he said, “Come back after you tuck Sis into bed. Please.” When he requests space, he’s usually about to drop some kind of emotional bomb. Prodding him doesn’t help. A few minutes later, we both sat on his bed. He leaned back and put his head on my knee, a good sign. If he’s really upset, he doesn’t want to be touched.

I tried to be nonchalant. “So, what’s going on? Want to tell me?”

“I want to go hoooooooooome!” he sobbed against me. I was stunned. He hasn’t mentioned his biological family in months. Discussing them is always a difficult conversation. On one hand, although they were pretty horrible, we don’t want to demonize the bio family to the children. On the other, we can’t create a fantasy that everything is hunky-dory and they will have a beautiful reunion when he turns 18.

I mean, it could happen. People change. I’m not incredibly optimistic, though.

We talked through what going back to “that place” would mean. Leaving me, leaving Daddy. Leaving the dogs, the cats. Leaving the cool bedroom, the backyard playground and the trails through the woods. And unless the bios had a recent meeting with Jesus, it might mean getting locked in a room all over again.

He admitted to feeling sad and mad and wishing he could see his birth family. “It’s why I don’t smile, not even for pictures.” This is the hardest part of adoption for me. Family is always family, especially for an older adopted child. Seeing them deal with the conflicting emotions of love and hate, as well as the loss, is so difficult. In our case, safety comes first and there’s absolutely no possibility of contact.

Hubby walked in and our guy scooted over to make room on the bed. We sat, the three of us, all tangled. My legs draped over Hubby’s, our guy snuggled between us. We talked about going through hard times, and how God sometimes takes us through difficulty so we can be strong or help someone else in a similar situation.

Finally, the conversation drifted to helicopters, a signal that he felt better and was done talking about deep, dark feelings.

Before we tucked him into bed for the night, we took turns praying; Hubby and I included his birth family in our prayers. To my surprise, our guy did not. However, he prayed for all the children who do not have clean water, and the ones who do not get to go to school because they have to work, and the ones who live in war zones. For all the children who—in his view—got an even worse deal than he did.

He’s going to be okay.

PTSD is awful; I would not wish it on my worst enemy (well…maybe my worst…). However, I’m so thankful for the opportunity to see healing take place. If you’re dealing with PTSD, please know you’re not alone. If you’d like some information about coping, start here.

Have experience with PTSD (yourself or someone you know)? Share here. You never know who you might help.


About Casey

Adoption = my life. I'm determined to give my kids the chance they deserve. Adoption isn't always easy. I promise, you're not alone in this. Join me at - we're in this together.

Posted on May 26, 2015, in Adoption, Blogging101 and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 15 Comments.

  1. such a brave little man!


  2. Hi Casey
    I am not familiar with the adoption process, from what I have seen it’s a corrupt system. It doesn’t look like the best interest in the child. It’s another system that needs over haul. I can’t believe you have had this struggle in your hear so long.
    God is there, the struggle may be for the future or around the corner. Your kids are very lucky to have parents with faith and patience. I’ve heard many stories how difficult the kids struggle and can get terrible watching your kids suffer and their actions/mental health issues possible.
    God is helping you to parent the best you can. It will get better in future.
    The way you & husband stand together backing each other up. The way you laid in the bed talking to him gave him more confidence. My two stepbrother’s came to live with us, both taken from the mother. It was hard to watch, the youngest was three years old and regressed back to a baby. The mother was a drug addict and would leave them for a week or two at a time. It was a huge adjust for both, the youngest had to learn over again. They were always scared someone would take them away.
    The rainbow is God lives in you & husband, you can count on God to have your back. Thanks for sharing your personal story. Many will relate and gather to share ideas.


  3. OH Casey you bring tears to my eyes! So sad with all your boy had to go through with his bio family, but so HAPPY that he has you and your hubby! Loved the pic in my mind of you guys sitting on the bed together as you listened to his speak his thoughts and prayed. I know God was smiling as HE looked down and He may have even wiped a tear to at the precious moment of you guys listening to your son. That’s what stands out to me, at how you listen so well, you don’t tell him he shouldn’t feel that way, you always validate your feelings.


  4. Lots of hugs, Casey. You and your husband sound like an excellent team 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks! 🙂 Definitely couldn’t survive without each other…we tag team having nervous breakdowns, while the other yells, “you can DO this!” ha ha. (Almost not kidding…)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: your kids are so blessed to have you! I am sure you feel the same way about them. I want to give you all a big hug! O 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It is a hard road you all travel thank god you have the kiddies need you

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Poor little lad. Having such a messed up biological family leaves a tangle of love and hate behind. Hopefully, now he has stability in his life, he’ll be able to grow stronger and leave them behind. You handled the situation so beautifully too – amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much for always being so encouraging! My blogging buddies save me from a lot of therapy. 🙂 We’re definitely praying for the “move on” to happen for both of them. Their counselor said it would likely take at least twice as long as the trauma (so depending on whether years in foster care count–and I have a feeling they do– he’ll be able to hit a good level of healing by age 9 or 15, and hers will be either age 15 or 21). On one hand, that’s a little discouraging, but on the other, it gives us a good level of expectation and keeps us from getting frustrated with lack of immediate progress. Overall, though, they’re doing great.

      Liked by 1 person

      • They’re lucky kids to have found you both. You’ve changed their prospects to a bright future and that’s all you can try and do with any child – try and give them the equipment to live good lives.
        I’ve enjoyed reading your posts right from when I first started blogging – thanks for sharing 🙂


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