Things I’ve Learned #7

Trauma – what does that mean?

To many people, it is what happens when someone is injured in a car accident.    They are referred to as a trauma case – because something real bad happened to them very quickly.

That’s part of trauma but it’s not the whole picture.   I’ve learned a lot about trauma in the last 10 years…..

  • Trauma can be a single event – abuse, witnessing or being part of a violent act, surviving a major natural disaster, those can all be and cause trauma to someone’s system.
  • Trauma can be a long term event or series of events.   Being abandoned by your family, spending years in an institutional setting (the World Health Organization says that 15 months is the point where living in an institution starts causing damage), spending a significant amount of time with substantial fear for your safety, your ability to eat and have your needs met.   These can all qualify as trauma and can leave scars – not only external but also internal scars.

Instead of explaining more about what trauma is, I’m going to link you to an article that an adoptive mom wrote.    She describes better than most if not all of what I’ve read what trauma does to an adopted child and the adopted child’s family.

Read it at Parenting Trauma Kids.

I need to share one story with you that has haunted me for over 9 1/2 years now.   My wife and I were in Haiti and a birth father brought his son – maybe 2 years old – to the orphanage.   I don’t remember the circumstances of why he brought him there – but that’s not important right now.

His son was playing with some volunteers and seemed to be doing okay.   When his dad turned, walked out the gate and never looked back, the son screamed.

It was a scream like none I’d ever heard before.

It tore at my soul and heart – because I knew this little boy would carry the scars from that exact moment for a very long time, if not for the rest of his life.

That’s trauma and that’s something that affects all adopted children to at least some degree.

TJV