Quite regularly, I talk to people who are overwhelmed.  Actually, I had a conversation the other day with a good friend and we both agreed that we don’t do well with “small stuff.”   Yes, we both like to relax, like to play mindless games, like to get lost in a TV show occasionally.

But when it comes to the “stuff that matters” we aren’t going to get caught up in the small stuff.    Things that don’t make a difference.   Things that don’t have an impact.

Life is too short to spend it chasing things that don’t matter.

So What?   Tell me something I didn’t know.    I’m not going to.

But I’m hopefully going to tell you some things that you already knew but in ways that will grab your attention.

So What?   Well, here goes……

Children are important.    Duh……   But let me expand on that – not only are children important, but the lives they live and the experiences they encounter during the first 15 years of their lives (even more so, the first 5 years) will be things that they carry with them for the rest of their lives.

If those experiences are “normal” and relatively calm, then they will carry the experiences that they remember as a solid foundation for the rest of life.    They won’t remember everything but they will, overall, have a good base to build on.

If those experiences are disruptive, traumatic, violent, unstable (and the list can go on and on), those experiences, those things that a child felt, heard, saw will leave scars.   Scars that might heal with time.  They are actual physiological scars in many cases.

But scars that will never go away.    And for many kids those are scars that will prevent or at least make it very difficult for them to do things that we take for granted – love, cuddle, be a friend, care for someone else, share, related to the opposite gender in a positive way, deal with criticism well…….

I discovered, first hand, in June of 2003, that a lot of children, a lot more children than I ever thought have been damaged by those tough, tough experiences that no child should go through.   Literally millions of them all over the world, all over the country.  And in your back yard.   And at your kids school.   And……   And……..

So we agree, children are important.

And we agree that not all children have experienced a trauma free (and by trauma, I am NOT referring to middle school tween age drama) and stable home environment.   A lot of them have not – and are suffering from it.

And so are their families.   Their parents (whether biological, foster or adoptive), their siblings, their cousins, aunts and uncles, grandparents – the scars are hard on all of them.

These type of scars can happen to kids of all social and economic backgrounds.   They can happen to kids of good physical health, it can happen to children who face long struggles with disease or who experienced a significant injury.   It can happen to children who experience the death of a parent or the divorce of their parents.

It IS NOT ONLY adopted children who can be struggling with these scars.

There are many adopted children who breeze through the struggles of abandonment and adoption with very little if any problem and very little if any scars.  We never hear about them – because they are living life and just going on about their business.

But by the very fact that an adopted child went through an abandonment, a forced relinquishment, time in an institution or in foster care and then adjusting to a new family and in many cases a new country means that adopted kids are more likely to bear the scars of the tough things they went through.

I’ve heard it said, but I don’t know if it’s completely accurate, that approximately 1/3 of all adopted children are considered “completely blended in” with their new surroundings and made it there without significant, if any, trauma or scars from it.    1/3 of all adopted children carry scars but are able to heal from those scars and live a relatively normal life.   And 1/3 of all adopted children deal with significant damage and significant scars that prevent them from living a “normal” (what is normal anyway?) life.     Like I said, I don’t know if the percentages are accurate, but that’s a pretty good description of the situation with adopted kids.

So, what have we discussed?

  • Children are important
  • If children don’t live a relatively calm and “normal” childhood, it leaves scars.
  • These scars can cause a lot of problems both now and in the future.  Not everyone has scars and not everyone is impacted by those scars in the same way.
  • Adopted kids are at a higher risk of these scars, but THEY ARE NOT THE ONLY ONES who can face these type of scars.

So what?

Do we leave feeling hopeless?   Did I write this just to make you sad?   Or mad?

No, I didn’t, but I did write this to hopefully get you to care about kids – kids beyond your own……

But for that, you’re going to have to stay tuned to Part 2 and Part 3.

Stay tuned……

Tom