Learning to Love Lingering Memories

He will do no unrighteousness.

Every morning He brings His justice to light

He never fails. 

Zephaniah 3:5

I love to sit and have conversations with my boys. After all, we missed out on the first few years of their lives and there is much to catch up on. Even after 16 months, we’re still in a learning process. When I converse with them, I love to stare in their eyes. Not in a creepy way, but as a way to build trust through eye contact, to reassure them of my attention and devotion to them. Continue reading

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Trauma, Parenting and New Beginnings

A millstone from Capernaum in Israel.

A millstone from Capernaum in Israel.

But if you cause one of these little ones who trusts in me to fall into sin, it would be better for you to have a large millstone tied around your neck and be drowned in the depths of the sea. -Matthew 18:6 NLT

The house is quiet right now, save for the gentle hum of the ceiling fan and the whir of the dishwasher. Forty-five minutes ago, it was a cacophony of activity. There was laughing, screaming and crying in tandem. Just another night in our household. Continue reading

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A Letter In the Mail Part 2

Our journey in foster care began several years ago with a letter in the mail. This week, it ended in the same way. As I unlocked the mailbox at the central mail facility in our neighborhood, I saw the big brown envelope. Reading the return addess “Clerk of Superior Court” sealed my knowledge of its contents. Knowing my wife would be home shortly, I sped the car up the alley (probably not wise), and rushed through the house to meet her on the front porch, holding the papers high in the air.

We had, in hand, the official adoption decree from the court.

Thus closed the case on foster care. We were free from social workers, court officials, guardians and the like. One journey closed and another began.

And so too, must this blog. You probably have guessed by the lack of postings over the past several months. It was never intentional, it’s life. The shape of our lives has changed from this blog. It’s been changing the past few months and while I have no plans to pull this blog from public view, it’s time to end additional postings.

However, I do feel the Lord’s calling to continue blogging. So, come and see the next chapter of our journey: Parenting Traumatized Children. I hope to see you there.

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The Three-Inch Pipe

I’m a bit of a history nerd. So, my ears really perked up the other day when my friend was sharing with me about Winston Churchill’s three-inch pipe theory over lunch the other day.  The topic came about as I was sharing, honestly, how my wife and I can sometimes become desensitized to all the horrors of the abuse of our children.

The name of the book that my friend was reading escapes me, but I found reference to the three-inch pipe theory via a Google search for the topic.  The reference was in Max Hasting’s Winston’s War, Winston Churchill 1940-1945 published by Alfred Knopf, a division of Random House (copyright 2009). Ok, did I make the proper citation? Been a long time.

I haven’t read the book, but my friend described the theory that manifests throughout the book as Churchill’s take on how the British people managed the horrors of WWII around them. Imagine it, you’re at war, subjected to the nightly horrors of The Blitz, with loved ones off to battle, dying. Neighbors being killed, an economy tanking, society rife with rumors and confusion, a government struggling to survive, rationing and an overwhelming uncertainty of anything. For years and years.

To process it, the theory goes, is that they looked at the world around them through a three-inch pipe. Anything they could see through the pipe, they processed. Food, shelter, survival. That outside of the pipe was too immense, distant and horrible to process. It wasn’t any less there, but it wasn’t consuming them. It really didn’t enter their minds or psyche.

While we’re not living through anything, by the Grace of God, like WWII, I can relate. The first time my wife or I lay hold of a new document from the County, it’s a wrenching experience. The forensic examination report, the adoption profile, the case backgrounds. You read slow and pretty much cry and feel sick through it.

But then later, when you’re going through e-mails about stories the boys have told before that you sent to the social worker or you’re looking for a fact in a report, there’s a strange desensitization to it that occurs. I’ve also felt this in describing something to a friend about that boys. They wince, I keep a straight face and then then think, “shoot, they’re not used to hearing that. I feel like an unfeeling, uncaring oaf.”

I also see this manifesting in our lives as when we’re giving a matter-of-face recounting of events after a horrible tantrum or spell of bad behavior. Does it affect us at the time, most of the time. But after the 3,000th time of hearing, “can’t you be a nice mommy,” it’s kind of outside the realm of processing. We’re focused in the center of the pipe on resolving the tantrum at hand.

I’m not sure that this is going to make sense to anyone outside the foster/adoptive realm, but it struck a chord with me. Viewing the world through a three-inch pipe sometimes doesn’t mean that we’re unfeeling beasts, it’s more a measure of God’s grace in giving us a way to cope with a whole lot of awfulness.



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War Stories

In my professional life, the sharing of experiences and case studies is called swapping war stories. I work in an industry that involves crisis and emergency management, lending to some very interesting experiences. Sometime, you feel as if you’re the only one that’s had to handle a certain situation.

When we get together at conferences or trainings, especially with peers from various organizations, war stories are sure to flow. It’s good therapy for the soul (professionally-speaking). We laugh, we learn, we tell tall tales. And, we relate to and encourage one other in ways that only we who experience these situations can.

Earlier this week, I found myself swapping war stories of a different kind. I started an eight-week workshop for parents who have children with trauma issues. As we began our lessons, our conversations veered off into experiences. Mind you, this is a small workshop, with parents who are dealing with the same level of issues, if not more intense.

I was surprised to hear that many of the experiences were similar to ours. It was great. Everyone in the room could relate to a behavior in public that left you wondering if the police were en route. All of us have been in situations where people would say the most inappropriate things in front of the children. “So, just how bad off were they really?”

I think the class is going to be a great thing, and for more than just war stories. I’m sure that plenty more will flow over the next seven weeks. But, I’ll also learn more about the physiological and psychological connections between children in their development stages and reactions to abuse, trauma and neglect. I’ve heard a scattering over the months in various monthly seminars, but this will be a great wholesale approach.

My wife took the course back in the fall, but with a different instructor and an entirely separate group of participants. Over the months, she’s shared various tidbits and nuggets that have helped us immensely. But the nature of the boys’ issues have changed quite a bit since then. I think it’s cool that now I get to take the course and see how the information applies to where we are today.

I hope to share over the coming weeks some of what I’m learning and possibly even a few war stories that I’ve forgotten over time.

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