Friday, August 28, 2015

Healing Trauma With Reenactment

There is so much joy in watching our kids engage in life--especially our kids adopted at older ages!  They missed so many positive experiences! 
Being adopted at an older age also means there were past traumatic experiences--times they were not cared for in the way they deserved. 
When one of my children shares a painful memory I tell them how sorry I am, and how different it would have been in a loving family.  I often go into great, loving detail, on how it should have been. 
As an example, some of my children were hospitalized while still living in the orphanage, and they didn't receive the one-on-one love of a parent.  One child was left for long periods, all alone.  It was very traumatic.
That's often how it is for orphans.  Orphanage staff and even foster families are not always able to stay with a hospitalized child--and even if they do they might not lovingly care for the child.  It breaks my heart.
Even though I talk to my child about how it should have been, the trauma leaves a gaping wound.  One child in particular had deep grief over a hospitalization pre-adoption.  No matter how much we talked about it, it remained. 
In trying to heal that child's trauma we came up with the idea of a "reenactment."  It wasn't enough to tell our child how it should have been--we decided to show them! 
It was a day of silly fun as we pretended our child was sick for a full day!  The day included the couch, with soft blankets, and we brought Jamba Juice and favorite foods.  We even coordinated with relatives and had them send a "get well soon" card.  The relatives wrote sweet words about how much they love our child, and how they will always be there for them.  My child's Godmother made a special "hospital" visit.  There were even gifts and balloons--just like a real hospital stay.
It was a fun day!  BUT it wasn't all unicorns and rainbows because a lot of negative feelings came back too!  Memories came flooding about the real hospitalization.  There were tears and deep sadness. 
In the end though, I truly believe there was healing around that caustic memory.  The memory is not erased of course, but it is softened. 
I share in hopes that this "reenactment" might help another child.  It's never too late for our children to learn the way it should have been.  To learn what they deserved to have. 
It's never too late for healing. 


One Thankful Mom said...

This is so wonderful and practical. Thank you.

Cadie said...

I love this! What a sweet idea!

One Thankful Mom said...

Ann, I'm sharing your post on my blog today. I've thought of it so many times since I read it. You're such a good mom.

Ann said...

Lisa, it is always my hope that someone else can benefit from something that has worked well in our family. It's the main reason I have kept my blog public. I know I've learned so much from your experience, so I will be praying that another child might benefit from what I can only say was a "lightbulb moment from God." This particular child continues to have lighter trauma-memories surrounding the initial event.