Managing Traumatic Days for Adopted Children from Difficult Beginnings

Dear Parents,

Parents, of late, are saying similar things over and over to me.  This is a version of how it goes: It feels like the world is coming to an end.  While the world reels from the traumatic events of gun pathology, terrorism, natural disasters, wars, and other crises, the U.S. is experiencing a relatively large uptick in weather disasters, human-made tragedy, and political strife.  It all feels overwhelming. The destruction from fires in California and hurricanes in the Atlantic is nearly unfathomable to think about, and worse, to live through.  I cannot comment on the world’s prognosis; however, I can say that the feelings are real, and the dysregulation that comes from living through stressful times is having a neuro-bio-psycho-social-physiological impact on us all.

What I am about to say may seem obvious and I know you are always doing the best you can; however, in times of high stress, we parents can forget that our children have very big ears attached to their heads and that they are taking in information like feeling barometers.  To that end, beware of too much exposure to news in your own living room.  Realize that your adult conversations about current events in the bedroom, on the phone, in the car, etc. can be traumatizing and re-traumatizing through repetitious, scary visuals and frightening, dramatic hyperbole.  Trauma in the present can easily trigger past trauma in yourself and/or your special needs children.

The Attach Place

The Attach Place
Center for Strengthening Relationships

Things to do: reduce exposure to media, video games, high emotional stimulation, and your own expression of fear, grief, worry, and anger.  Children do best when they are allowed to remain children in the midst of crisis.

Even schoolyards these days can be stressful for children when they sometimes mirror the struggles of the greater society–social conflict, dishonesty, race baiting, and dog whistling they have no way of fully understanding.  When they come home mad, hurt, or cranky, meet them with understanding, empathy, soothing, and, above all, a safe harbor.

The goal of trauma recovery is to not always keep your children calm, but rather to help your children, when dysregulated, practice coping skills to reduce fear, agitation, and aggression. The coping skill most healing is the repetitious practice of the stress/relaxation cycle.  Up regulation.  Down regulation.  Up regulation.  Down regulation.  Up regulation…you get the picture.

Our current dramatic world events give us all plenty of opportunity to help reduce our children’s dysregulation by encouraging deep breathing, deep playing, deep connection, and deep relaxation.

My love to those in the fire zones and hurricane recovery.  If you can contribute in any way, please do.

Love matters,


UPCOMING ADOPTION SUPPORT GROUP facilitated by Ce Eshelman, LMFT:  Join our monthly Adoptive/Foster Parent Support Group on November 8th, 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.

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