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Wednesday, 27 January 2021
An Adorable Little Baby & Trauma Print
Our son had been exhibiting some scary behavior. Violent tantrums, saying horrible things, physically trying to hurt me while tantruming. Trying to control me. We researched RAD because those are things that children with attachment problems do and couldn't figure out how he SEEMED to be SO attached in all other ways. I cried and cried, trying to wrap my mind around it all....he was NOT the RAD kid that I read about online and in the books...he showed so many positive attachments signs that the attachment disorder thing just didn't fit!

We finally got in to see a therapist who specialized in attachment disorders and early traumas and after a long evaluation and hours of talking to my husband and I, she turned to us and said, "He is very attached to you...that is NOT the problem here."

He WAS wonderfully attached to us....HOWEVER, his traumatic birth, coupled with his birthmother loss and loss of two foster mothers in Korea caused him to have Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Our little boy, who is so beautifully attached, so loving and sweet, was TERRIFIED of being left again. We could tell him that we'd never leave, that we are his family forever and he may have told us he believed and THOUGHT he believed...but his BODY didn't believe. His body remembered being LEFT by the one person who protected him and kept him alive. Every screaming battle that we had at naptime and bedtime wasn't about not wanting to take a nap....it was about STAYING ALIVE.

The trigger for our son's PTSD is Mommy leaving. That is....Mommy leaving the room, Mommy leaving the house to go to the store, Mommy leaving my sight when I close my eyes. When those things threatened to happen, his body went into fight or flight mode and adrenalin shot through him, his heart beating a mile a minute and he fought like HELL to make sure Mommy didn't leave! In his body's memory, there have been three mommies that HAVE left and that little body was NOT going to let that happen again. All sense of reality left him during that moment and he was a wild little animal, holding onto me for dear life but at the same time, raging and hitting and kicking and screaming because all of the sudden I was THOSE MOMMIES WHO LEFT.

His life started out a bit scary. His birth was traumatic and he was in a hospital for a week....then, he was wrapped in warmth and love by a foster mother, his first fulltime caregiver. Someone to coo at him and hold him close when he cried, to feed him his bottle and look lovingly into his eyes. Then...he was handed off to his next foster mother in Seoul. He was their very first foster baby and they LOVED him SO much! He was cuddled, kissed, carried everywhere, played with and we have 200+ pictures and video to prove it! They even took him on their family vacation to Cheju Island (like going to Hawaii!). Then, one day his beloved foster mother took him to the [adoption agency] to meet a new mommy and daddy. We smiled and talked to him, he came to us happily and let us feed him little treats! He had no worries in the world...when he fussed his foster mother took him back and gave him what he needed to be happy again. Two days later she brought him back to the [agency] office and the new mommy and daddy took him. He came to us but began to cry when he wanted his foster mother and this time she didn't take him back into her arms....she watched as he was carried away out of the office and down the street, screaming and calling for her.

Thus began our life as a family of five. We welcomed our new baby into our family with love and gave him all of those things that we knew a baby needed. Over time, he fell in love with us, too. At first it was more of a clinging to us because his foster mother wasn't there anymore and he'd figured out that we would give him the things that his body needed and we were pretty funny and silly and knew a few of the games that he liked. But eventually he fell in love. He became our son and he knew we were his and that we loved him. But how can you get over the trauma of being ripped from your mother's arms by complete strangers? No wonder he freaked out when I HAD to put him down to go to the bathroom...I might not come back. No wonder he didn't want me out of his sight and absolutely FREAKED out when another woman (even our close friends who he had been around a lot) picked him up to hold him...she might decide to KEEP him. No wonder he froze when anyone outside of our family spoke to him or smiled and said what a cute baby he was...he smiled back at us the first day we met and we came back two days later and TOOK him.

PTSD. I'd never even heard of that disorder used in regards to a beautiful, happy, healthy child. I mean, war vets and rape victims suffer from PTSD....not adorable little babies who are given total love and attention in a foster family at the start of their lives!

We've got to be more aware of what our children have gone through. We have to listen to them and when something doesn't seem quite right we have to look into it and keep looking until we find someone who understands what is going on. It's not just RAD that we're looking at with our kiddos, guys. Just because your child doesn't exhibit the signs of attachment disorder, it doesn't mean that they aren't traumatized by what happened to them. YES, they were BABIES. They were LITTLE and babies don't remember. But....THE BODY REMEMBERS.

Submitted by an adoptive mom

P.S. from the author
Written by Adoptive Mom (author of this p on 2007-12-31 18:45:51
My main point in bringing this all up is that how WE view his tantrums is SOOOO different now that we know what is behind them. We look at him and see an afraid little baby now. There are times when he goes completely nonverbal with the fear and now, I can grab him up and tell him that I KNOW he's feeling like that scared, sad baby right now but he's NOT that scared sad baby anymore and he is NEVER going to not have his mommy. When I've said that to him, he's gone from a stiff, angry, swinging, kicking wild boy to a sobbing puddle in my arms! This is stuff that he can't explain and he can't just get over it himself. But by seeing him as that sad, scared baby it changes MY reactions to him. Once we get to that point and he's gone from angry child, to afraid baby, to comforted baby whose being reassured, he relaxes in my arms and becomes totally calm again. If I react in anger and fear, it totally escalates his fear and when we're BOTH freaking out, nothing good can come out of it!
Thank you!
Written by Guest on 2008-01-02 00:03:24
Thank you for sharing this! After researching & reading, I have suspected for awhile now that my daughter (age 2-1/2) has PTSD. Well-meaning family & friends (even adoptive parents!) tell me :"its just a phase", "You have to leave her so she knows you'll come back", etc...She is attached to me & DH, but is deathly afraid of me leaving...she has nightmares, unreasonable fears & horrible terrified crying fits. I am trying to get some help, in the meantime its good to know that this really does exist and that we are not the only family going through this...K
I've been there
Written by Guest on 2008-01-27 05:47:28
When we first adopted our daughter at 15.5 months she also exhibited these symptoms once we got home. I was wonderfully blessed with a friend who is a social worker and helped us through this. She got better in about 6 months, however, every spring for 5 more years for about 6 weeks she was extra clingy and wouldn't leave my side. This past spring is the first one that she has not exhibited this behavior. We are on the road to recovery! I expect that we will have a little more when we get our second little girl from China but I totally feel equipped to take care of both of them and help them through their trials. 
Thank you......M
I just needed to hear this!
Written by Guest on 2010-07-27 09:28:36
My now three year old was horribly beaten by an old child at my work. My so sweet little boy now suffers from PTSD and all that comes with it. I sometimes just cry saying I want my sweet little boy back, feeling bad for him myself and our family. Reading what you wrote helped to clear my head and to once again remember that him hitting, punching, biting and kicking me is not a personal attack but rather him being in total fear for his every being. Thank you so so much for helping refocus.

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