Can You Relate To a Trauma Filled Holiday?

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Do Foster/Adoptive Families Fit in with a Holly Jolly Christmas?

It’s that time of the year where everyone is talking about peace on Earth and goodwill toward men. The Christmas holiday has children acting on their best behavior – doing their chores a little more dutifully and getting along with siblings a little bit more frequently. The perfect smells of confectionary waft through the air almost everywhere you go. I admit that I have gone through so many gingerbread cookies today that I have lost count of what number I”m on – let’s call it an even 30. Top it all off that everywhere looks a bit warmer and friendlier with snowmen and santa decorations populating themselves throughout the cities, towns, businesses and homes.

“It is those frequent times that I wonder – ‘How much more can we handle without breaking?'”

If you’re not careful though, as a caregiver, all the perfection can get to you. I live a life where no matter the time of the year or how much good will is spread, the school is still having a difficult time handling trauma caused behaviors in classes. I still have to call government agencies that tell me that due to red tape I must jump through one more hoop in order to get my child vital services he/she literally needs for survival. Something mundane as getting a flat tire or picking up new meds at the pharmacy cause other therapies and doctor appointments to be rescheduled.  My children understandably are confused during this time of year because even though they desperately only want to feel happiness, they are reminded that they don’t live with their birth family.

It appears that our household is constantly handling unbelievable odds and then something new rears its ugly head. It is those frequent times that I wonder – “How much more can we handle without breaking?”

An Old Story Becomes Relatable To Caregivers

Transfiguring Adoption believes in the power of media to help people work through past issues and help families to bond. However, as our adoptive family heads into another holiday season, I fail to see how Frosty the Snowman or Rudolph can relate to my life.

Thinking on my youth and Christmases gone by I happened to think of the nativity story. I remember hearing the story around this time of year. I remember all the rosy moments – Mary and Joseph looking with delight on their new baby – the wisemen bringing expensive gifts to baby Jesus. However, there is so much more that I can relate to as a foster dad, an adoptive dad, as a person that wonders, “Can I handle anymore unexpected issues?”

  • An Unplanned Pregnancy. Family against the world.
    In the nativity story it is told that Mary was pregnant with the Son of God. Try explaining that one to the neighbors in a society where an unwedded pregnancy could get you a death sentence. Stress. Fear.
  • What?! A Mandatory Trip – Government Red Tape.
    Even if Joseph and Mary were able to work out some system for keeping the neighbors at bay and living life somewhat normal, they get told that they were to report to their home town for a mandatory census. Just when you are getting a handle on issues – this pops up. Stress. Fear. Anxiety.
  • Whoops! She’s having the baby on our trip. More unexpected fun.
    Mary and Joseph get to Bethlehem for the census and Mary goes into labor. What?! Are you kidding me. Joseph had to be tingling with anxiety. They were already making things work with an unplanned pregnancy, a random mandatory trip called by the government and now this?! How much more can this family take?
  • Now the king wants our baby dead! But we just participated in YOUR census!
    So after things start to settle down – meaning that the family is finding ways to cope with all the stress and creating “normalcy” again when – BOOM! They get word to return home by a special route because the king wants the new baby dead. Are you kidding me?! How much more can they take? Who would sign up for that life?

Don’t Miss The Angels & Shepherds

The nativity story has a new color or new shade of depth to me this season. It isn’t as fairy tale as you might even remember hearing about in primary school. However, I think it is important for this caregiver (and you too) to remember that angels can really come for a celebration and shepherds can still unexpectedly showed up to meet the baby. Amazing things still happened in the lives of Mary and Joseph amidst all the crud.

While I don’t believe that I will audibly hear angels celebrating when I am finally able to help a child cope better with past sexual trauma or will have strangers come to visit and wonder at my family when I finally get a child scared of abuse to sleep, I think I should watch for the victories – the celebrations in life no matter how big or small.

There are angel and shepherd moments in life that we need to pay attention to – they keep us going. They MUST be remembered and celebrated. After all, you never know when the next king is going to want you killed or when you’re going told to add yet another mandated trip to your overcrowded schedule.

What celebrations did you have this year?


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Written by
Co-founder and President of Transfiguring Adoption. Darren is a graduate of Illinois State University where he studied fine art. He offers foster and adoptive parents over a decade of experience in parenting foster and adoptive children, as well as his introductory to counseling training. Darren is the author of the "A Guide to Magical Creatures Around Your Home," book series. darren@transfiguringadoption.com LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/darrenfink Book series: www.magicalcreaturs.com

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