Continuing my series: How’d Ya’ Do It?
2nd photo is of my little sister on my Birth Mom’s side. She admitted tonight that it’s a little freaky to her how much I look and sound like our mom. 😉
Protective factor #2: Relationships.
Before I knew what trauma was. Before I had any sort of diagnosis. Before I knew something was wrong but didn’t have words or a name… There were people.
There were two kinds of people.
The people who didn’t know what to do with me and held me at arm’s length.
And then there were the people who didn’t know what to do with me and pulled me in closer.
Adoptees. It’s hard. We have a hard time trusting. We have walls. We have trauma. But our brains are hardwired for relationships. It keeps us healthy. It helps us heal. We don’t have to have 100 friends. Just a few. A few we hold close. Who can hold our trauma without judgment or shame. Who can handle our heaviness as well as when we flake out or trigger. We heal and grow when we hold space with people who love us in pain, in joy, and in the day-to-day.
Adoptive parents. Create, provide, and cultivate your own relationships. When you are healthy and you have healthy people acting as your village who truly love your kids… that’s a protective factor for YOU and them.
Allow your child to cultivate other adult relationships that are SAFE. Teachers, mentors, youth leaders, counselors etc. Let your child cultivate good safe relationships with people their age. No. You won’t get to choose them all. Yes. there will be some you don’t like. Yes. They will get hurt, but it’s all about learning to develop and navigate relationships.
Also. Let’s talk genetics. AP’s if you have the opportunity to have a relationship on any level with a bio parent, a bio siblings, or a family member, it can be transformative for your child. EVEN when it is hard, icky, rough, and difficult. To find a place to have genetic mirroring can regulate your child in ways you will never fully understand. Yes. You are home to your child. But having genetic mirroring can feel like coming home. It can feel like settling into an old chair with a comfy blanket.
Relationships are one of the hardest protective factors to participate in. It can be hard to place ourselves in positions of vulnerability as all members of the triad. However, our brains crave it. Our brains require it. Our brains need it to heal our trauma.
I did it through my parent’s friends, a few teachers, a few lifelong high school friends, some mom friends… I did it because I had people who were able to pull me in and hold my heavy confusing crap even if they didn’t understand it.