The Connected Child

We always used to think we were pretty good as parents. After all, our oldest son was well-behaved, did his school work well, and was generally very obedient. Our second son, whom we fostered from babyhood, had grown up from a cranky baby to a very cheerful and energetic young boy.

But when we fostered two older kids who came from an orphanage, to say we were put to the test is putting it mildly! Can you imagine bringing home a seven- and eleven-year-old who already have their own habits (good AND bad) and whom you want to teach and train—and come crashing head-on with ingrained thought patterns and behaviour?

It was that confusion and desperate clutching at any shred of hope that someone recommended this book to us, The Connected Child by Dr. Karyn Purvis. And it showed us a lot of kinks in our parenting armor, suggesting alternative practices that would best help children coming from hard places.

Of course, I know that not everyone fosters or adopts. But if you do, or know someone who does, we hope this resource can be helpful for you as it was to us!

We get our hurts and hangups from relationships, and we also get our healing through relationships.
        
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Helpful Insights from The Connected Child

Here are some of the highlights I want to share from the book:

1. Foster and adopted children have a real past that has impacted them.

When my husband and I first went into fostering and adoption, we, like many others, tended to romanticise the whole thing. We thought that our son’s past didn’t matter anymore, since, from the day he came to us at a couple months old, we’d nourished him, taken care of him, and loved him. It was easy to think that all his early neglect and malnutrition would have been erased.

Through this book, we learned that whatever lack children may have suffered in the first weeks of life, and even while in the womb, can still manifest in the future. This is not to say it’s bad news; I think that being aware can help us decide to get equipped so that we are able to give our children the best that they deserve to grow healthy and strong in spirit, soul, and body.

2. We get our hurts and hangups from relationships, and we also get our healing through relationships.

Isn’t it sad that childhood trauma happens most often in the home, from people that should’ve done everything to take care of the child? But the good news is that healing is possible, and that it’s also in the context of relationships, perhaps by a foster or adoptive parent, that this happens. But it doesn’t happen by accident; the parents need to be equipped and intentional about nurturing these children.

3. The fear response is real and needs to be disarmed.

Before we fostered the two older children, we tended to disregard the stuff we learned about the fear response, where a child can be on survival mode and not be able to think logically. But we saw it firsthand and experienced the challenge of communicating with kids who were so fearful and so used to it that they could lie without batting an eyelash!

In this book, we learned that we needed to disarm that fear response first if we wanted to get somewhere. It takes a lot of discipline and patience, (because I’m not normally such a mellow person!) of learning to speak softly, sit at their level, etc!

4. We need to be healed in order to release healing to our children.

They say that marriage is like a mirror that shows us our weakness. If so, then parenting is probably like opening Pandora’s box in terms of the amount of yucky stuff that comes out of us as a result of dealing with these little people 24/7! But that’s perfectly normal, and the challenge is for us to seek our own healing in areas of our life that may have been impacted by how we were parented. That’s the only way we can be a source of life and healing for children who come from hard places.

There’s Hope for Foster and Adopted Children

Gaining a new understanding of how trauma affects children coming from hard places helps me understand also why the traditional perspective is that adopted children tend to be difficult to handle. But I don’t agree with just labelling them and leaving it there; now that we know at least a glimpse of the hurts that assailed them from a young age, I think it’s time we as adults found ways to be equipped in order to be a source of hope for them.

If you or a friend you know can be helped by this book, consider purchasing it here.

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