Making the Hardest Decision For Your Traumatized Child

Dear Parents:

Traumatized children can be quite abusive to you and to other children in your family.  This is one of the more disturbing realities of adopting children who have been abused, neglected, and abandoned prior to coming home to you.  Our children often live on high alert in a dysregulated state, so it doesn’t take much for them to go from zero to 60 during everyday life events.  If you are in the path, you will get hurt.

Prepare yourself for the truth; it requires a huge amount of emotional and physical commitment to raise a hurt child.  You will likely get punched, kicked, bitten, spat upon, and yelled at along your parenting journey.  You may get this on a regular basis while you are trying to create a sense of felt safety for this very same child.  It will likely dysregulate you, scare you, and, at some point, it may cause you secondary trauma akin to posttraumatic stress. There is a name for it:  Post Adoption Stress.

It is up to you to decide when you cannot maintain a consistently safe home for your child. I know you are getting all the help that is available to you.  If you hit a wall, you do.  No shame.  There are limits to a parent’s ability to hold the stress, emotional duress, and physical assaults of trauma re-enactment.  You decide when enough is enough.  It is not your therapist, your doctor, your mother, or your best friend’s decision.  It is solely up to you, and it is okay to decide that your beautiful child needs a higher level of care than you can provide at home.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

That decision will break your heart (I know all too well), but it may just save your relationship with your child (which I also know quite well.)  That is the ultimate goal–get your child consistent, patient, informed, and safe treatment for the trauma that cannot be addressed at home.  That does not make you a bad parent.  It makes you a loving parent who needs help to help your child. Once again, no shame.  There are limits to everyone’s capacity.  If you hit yours, do yourself, your child, and your family a favor and seek a higher level of trauma intervention outside your home.

There is a place for residential treatment in healing the wounds of childhood trauma.

You will not be “giving up;” you will be “giving in” to more help.

Love matters,



Reminder: Strictly Social Autism Spectrum Disorder Pizza Night for Tweens (11 yrs – 16 yrs) at The Attach Place. December 15th, 2017 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm.  Pizza will be provided. Please RSVP to so we get enough pizza, right? This is a  monthly social group for the children; and caregivers will have an opportunity to connect, chat, and chill in a separate space. A donation of $0.00 to $5.00 will be accepted for pizza and supervision if you choose.

NEW!  5-Week FRIENDSHIP SOCIAL SKILLS IMPROV GROUPS FOR CHILDREN WITH DEVELOPMENTAL TRAUMA–6-8 yrs group and 9 to 11 yrs group.  The groups will be $20 per session, CALVCB payment eligible, structured, and fun, too.  Groups will begin in January 2018.  Contact for more details.

If you haven’t responded to the Capital Adoptive Family Alliance (California residents only) survey about needs you have for your family while raising adopted children, here is the linkFill it out now!  That is my way of encouraging everyone to answer the survey questions to the best of your ability. You can skip anything that you don’t want to answer.  This is a way to get funding channeled to adoptive parents.  Super special opportunity for all of us adoptive families who need financing for services.

UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on December 13th, 2017! Open to all parents/caregivers at no cost. Support Group is every 2nd Wednesday of every month from 6 pm to 8 pm at 3336 Bradshaw Road, Ste 175, Sacramento, CA 95827.

TRY MY BOOK FOR DAILY SUPPORT: Drowning With My Hair On Fire: Insanity Relief For Adoptive Parents by Ce Eshelman, LMFT.  Daily inspirational reading for those who sometimes find it hard to keep hope alive. There is hope for healing.

FOLLOW US:  Twitter @lovingradkids and @Attachmenthelp or Facebook.



  1. Ce,
    Almost exactly a year ago I found you online and got your book and then reached out to you and we had a conversation about my very troubled then 13-year-old daughter , now 14.
    We talked about NFB for my secondary trauma and PTSD. You put me in touch with Carla in Fair Oaks.
    Interestingly, we will be there Monday thru Wednesday next week. It is a huge decision and one that strikes deep fear in every part of my being.
    How can we heal the family relationships if the child is placed out of the home, in fact out the state?

    • The point is that you can’t heal the relationships when your child is allowed to be sick and destructive in the home. When a higher level of care than home is needed, a loving, attached parent gets it for her child. When an illness requires hospitalization, keeping your child at home would be considered unloving and even abusive. It isn’t any different with developmental trauma. Allowing your child to abuse herself and you at home is not “healing the attachment” it is creating more trauma, prolonging the inevitable, and causing lasting detrimental damage to the relationships. A parent works on attachment every time she: shows up, visits, talks on the phone, uses a kind voice, gives a genuine hug, intently listens, plays, engages, pays attention, sets clear, healthy boundaries, and lovingly holds her child responsible for her decisions and behaviors. In the safety of that kind of environment, trust and love thrive…the definition of attachment. I wish your family all the best as you dive into a new way of living with your beautiful child from difficult beginnings. Your love matters. Ce
      P.S. You are welcome to attend our monthly (no cost) support group for adoptive parents while you move forward.

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