Chapter 15 – Caring Despite the Consequences- Parent Discussion

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Chapter 15 is all about the consequences of disobedience for a group of students, and originally I thought I’d write about that. However, after looking at the chapter again, I decided we will tackle that subject in another book and hit a different issue: what I’m calling the consequences of caring.

The first consequences we see in this chapter are that of caring for peers. Neville is the ultimate picture of a friend caring for their peers and reaping the repercussions. The poor guy just wants to keep his classmates out of trouble and ends up right in it with them. This happens often in life, but I want to focus on a different type of caring for this parent discussion.

Emergency Care for a Child in Danger

While serving his punishment in the woods, Harry encounters very real danger and could have been facing imminent death, but Firenze swoops in to the rescue and takes Harry into his care. He takes him to safety and lets him know he’ll be safe now. This immediately made me think of what foster parents do, even more so when I read the reactions of Firenze’s peers. By caring for Harry, he pitted himself against the other centaurs. They were repulsed by his actions for they did not mingle in the affairs of humans. The words Bane spoke to Firenze angered Firenze, but I wonder if they also made him second guess himself later. Ronan says, “I’m sure Firenze thought he was acting for the best,” to which Bane replies,  “For the best! What is that to do with us?” His questions and attitude brought to mind so many questions foster and adoptive parents hear:

  • Don’t you want kids of your own?
  • Why don’t you try in vitro?

While in process of getting our foster parent license, we told a family friend about our endeavors. His reaction surprised us but you might be able to relate:

“But… You’re the ideal couple. Why would you do something like this?”

He went on to tell us about horror stories he had heard from other people adopting. Tales of biting, incarceration and physical brutality.

We have other stories that you might be able to relate to. Our family has experienced the beginning stages of forming a friendship with another family. However, when people discover that our kids have been through the foster system, we don’t get asked to go to BBQs anymore and our invites go unanswered.

Now, I do want to make it clear that we do have some great and supportive people in our lives. We have also joined a fantastic support group for foster and adoptive families through Harmony. However, there is still the feeling of having the public verbally praising you for your “heroic” efforts but keeping their distance like you have the plague.

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. Why do you think Firenze chose to help Harry?
  2. Why do you continue to foster?
    (We’ve asked this before but it helps to revisit this question multiple times and solidify your thoughts and motivations.)
  3. Do you feel like an outsider since you have begun your adoptive/foster journey? When? How?

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Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Chapter 11 – Fear – Parent Discussion

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Fear

Chapter 11 starts with Harry quite nervous as his first Quidditch match is approaching. He has trouble studying, concentrating, and on the morning of the match, eating breakfast. Fear is powerful. It plays some important parts throughout the Harry Potter series and is something we will most definitely discuss many times because of its prevalence in the lives of kids who have been adopted or are in foster care.

“Fear is powerful. It plays some important parts throughout the Harry Potter series and is something we will most definitely discuss many times because of its prevalence in the lives of kids who have been adopted or are in foster care.”

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Researchers in the trauma field say that even children who were too young to remember being hungry, beaten, abandoned, neglected, and so on have feelings of fear, of danger, of hunger, of loneliness, etc. Only, unlike children who experienced these events at older ages before adoption or foster care, these infants and toddlers do not have specific memories they can address in therapy or with trusted adults as they get older and develop language. They do not understand why they have these fears; they are just there.

No matter the age of the child when they experienced trauma, fear will inevitably affect them greatly and interfere with adults meeting their needs and with education as well. Dr. Karyn Purvis, author of The Connected Child and one of my favorite experts in helping kids from hard places find healing, states that there are six major risk factors to developing what she calls “The Neurochemistry of Fear.”

Of the six risk factors, four can occur in loving, biological households: difficult pregnancy, difficult birth, early hospitalization, and trauma (medical, accidental, etc.). Kids in orphanages, foster care, and who are adopted often have had some or all of these in addition to one or two of the remaining two risk factors: abuse and neglect.

The Neurochemistry of Fear

The Neurochemistry of Fear–a reorganization of the brain and how it works due to harm–changes the way kids think, trust, feel senses, react to stress, and learn and how their brain develops. Years after they are in a safe, loving environment, a measure of their neurotransmitters will often show levels that are far from baseline levels, resulting in what Dr. Purvis describes as a beautiful child who looks perfect sitting in a classroom being told to read while their body is basically acting as if they have their finger in a light socket! This results in teachers thinking the child is being willful and defiant or lazy.

The results of the “neurochemistry of fear” are extremely far reaching and way beyond what can be tackled in this blog. I was once in a trauma training that rocked my world and sent me home looking at my children differently. If you were around a TV in 1987, you likely remember seeing the “This is your brain. This is your brain on drugs.” commercials.

The trauma training I went to reminded me of those commercials. I believe the pictures I saw were from research that compared pictures of a 3 year old brain to the brain of a 3 year old who had experienced trauma. Wow! I went straight back to one of our children’s teacher the next school day and showed her. She borrowed the packet I’d received, and she, my husband, and I quickly began looking at the child in a whole new way and seeking out new ways to help.

The Good News…

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The good news is that the brain can be rewired. The hard part is it takes a long time and many different types of interventions, and these children will always be at risk and need help throughout their lives when new situations present themselves. As I said before, this is a topic we will likely revisit. Just remember, that beautiful child who appears to have no limitations likely has a whole host of undiagnosed, chemical and physical differences that can result in confusing behavior and reactions. Become an expert. Learn as much as you can. Be willing to experiment. This will give you and your child(ren) the greatest chance at success.

Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Chapter 8 – Parent Discussion – A talk about behaviors

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Chapter 8 is the introduction of two polar opposites in Harry Potter’s life – Professor Snape and Hagrid. The differences in moods are so obvious in the chapter that even the youngest of my children noticed the two characters. Professor Snape plays the evil and unfair force in Harry’s school life while Hagrid is Harry’s confidant and friend.

The interesting concept that my family drew from this chapter is that if you go according to appearances, it should be Hagrid who is the frightening character. He is half-giant. He is larger than a normal man with a booming voice. However, it’s the ordinary looking school professor that is causing ill feelings.

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As a foster and adoptive parent, my wife and I see behaviors in this way. What I mean is, sometimes there are positive behaviors that should be suspect and negative behaviors that really aren’t as bad as that might seem once you get to the bottom of things. Here are a few examples:

  1. Just the other day one of my children asked where mom was at, and I responded by saying she was at the grocery store. The child proceeded to ask permission to retrieve an iPad that was in my bedroom. Permission was granted, and the child continued to open my bedroom door and walk in on mom still at home and dressing for her trip to the grocery store. Most people would be so greatly embarrassed that the door would quickly be shut with exclamations of, “I’m so sorry! I forgot to knock!” The actual response was yells of rage at mom. Basically, mom was accused of being in the wrong and not being in the right place since the child had permission to be in the bedroom: a strange and angry response to an accident. After further exploration and discussion, my child confesses that they were scared and when he/she gets that scared, they just start yelling. It makes sense. A child who grew up in an environment of moving from home to home for 7 years and never being in control is striving to get control of an out-of-control situation by demanding/yelling that control be given to him.fink-shocked-parenting-harry-potter-foster-care
  2. One child continuously must be watched because anything that looks tasty might end up in their mouth. On the surface this sounds like a normal case of curiosity. However, most children with normal mental function do understand after being told and sent to the emergency room that one should not try to eat such things as soap, dirt, deodorant, glow stick fluid, other people’s flavored medications, etc. This seems like a behavior that someone with suicidal tendencies would have. At the root problem, though, is the fact that this child did not have food in the biological home. Even though our home has never once run low on food, this child is constantly looking for the next substance to make a meal from in case all food were to magically vanish. The behavior is not then strange but a survival technique.
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  3. One child in our home would walk around in a hunched over fashion and speak in a high pitched voice. This seems a strange behavior that would wear on the back muscles and make your throat scratchy. However, when you discover that this child believes that small and cute children aren’t punished or hurt, everything makes sense. If you can make yourself seem younger than what you are, you might avoid the angry eye of an adult. For this behavior, Margie and I actually spent many weeks forcing the child to stand straight and telling them, “Stand straight, and be proud of who you are.”

As a foster/adoptive parent, I’m sure that you have other interesting behaviors that don’t match up in a situation. Especially when you are dealing with abuse and neglect, there tend to be some interesting behaviors. I think the most difficult part is trying to rewire my own mind.

As a foster/adoptive parent you have to think differently. If a behavior looks like Professor Snape, you must figure out the root of the problem. Here are a few suggestions we have for discovering the root of behaviors but we want to hear from you also:

  • Ask the child what they need – We have found that asking this question sometimes yields surprisingly informative responses.
  • Figure out how the child has lost control – If a child had to care for themselves at a young age, it is going to be very difficult for them to feel like they don’t have control of their life.
  • Research the topic – Dr. Karyn Purvis and her crew are champions at assisting people caring for foster/adoptive children. Check out their website here: empoweredtoconnect.org

Now It’s Your Turn:

  1. What are some strange behaviors you notice in your home?
  2. Do any of these behaviors push your buttons? Why?

Help Others:

We would love for you as always to share you ideas and questions that relate to this chapter. We welcome the advice and hope to hear from you soon.

 

Parents’ Discussions:

Ch. 01 | Ch. 02 | Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17

Kids’ Discussions:
Ch. 01
| Ch. 02Ch. 03 | Ch. 04 | Ch. 05 | Ch. 06 | Ch. 07 | Ch. 08 | Ch. 09 | Ch. 10 | Ch. 11 | Ch. 12 | Ch. 13 | Ch. 14 | Ch. 15 | Ch. 16 | Ch. 17