Wednesday, September 11, 2013

PTSD impact

I am the first person to admit when we began our adoption journey that we knew we were not going to get healthy kids.

It was drilled in us from the minute we walked in the door of our agencies until the minute we graduated the programs.

I will also be the first one to say that I knew my kids were broken and that we would continually have to pay for their bio-families sins.  Over and over and over.

But on some level I had really hoped that after a a few years things would settle down and the kids would start to acclimate and with plenty of love, firm boundaries, good doctors, that things would start to stabilize.

But sometimes it isn't that simple.  Sometimes the price and toll that the past brings is high.  And as we have danced so we must pay the piper.

It started last year.  Marvin was a kindergartner.  All through the year Marvin had panic attacks. He hid his school work, ashamed of backwards numbers and letters.  Little things like landing on yellow would have him crying for hours.  His teacher was great.  But I started to notice a pattern.  He had had these same problems in his preschool.  And I was the teacher!

People had assured me that once he was in a different school things would calm down.  And they did, but only for a while.  You see, you can put a band aid on a gaping wound and all you have done is bought time.  The wound is still there.

So things just kept getting worse and Marvin kept going up and down like a yo yo.  He was triggering right left and sideways.  So I started to get pretty worried and scared.  I placed a call to Children's Home Society.  I was kind of grasping at straws at this point.  But since they had always told me that they were there to help I took it.  And I'm glad I did.

Before we knew it we had an appointment with a therapist who specializes in trauma and abuse.  If any kid has ever gone through that it is Marvin.  He is great.  But he will not hold your hand and sing love songs.  He is a tell it like it is guy.  And the picture he painted of what happened was grim.

Marvin came in with us the second meeting and the good doctor had him at the heart of his issues pretty quickly.  He also gave us new labels for Marvin.

The long and short of it is that Marvin, like most severely abused kids needs control in a situation.  He is hyper vigilant and has difficulty feeling safe.  Since Cary Lynn came the little control he thought he had has disappeared.  He loves his sister but feels he must protect her and care for her.  He assumes a parent protector role.  When he should just be a kid.  Marvin was diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, Anxiety Disorder, ADHD due to his brain trauma, and dyslexia.  Wow.  It was quite a lot to take in.

The things that haunt me are Marvin sitting in the office and telling the doctor that we will send him away if he is bad enough.  Talk about ripping out a mother's heart and stomping on it.  And the words"You know she beat the crap out of him.  The last time she was just caught."   I thought I was going to be sick.

So what do you do.  Well I had about two choices.  Die or fight.  Guess what?  I don't die to damn easily.

So what now?  Well we start with fixing Marvin.  In between all of this a trip to the GI doctor told us that he has damaged his IT tract by holding.  It will take a year to fix his poor body and we are on massive doses of laxatives to retrain him to do what he should have been doing.  But really when your life spins out of control the only thing Marvin could control is his toileting so he stopped going.  So this is another area he no longer has control over and he is not happy about it.

We also are going to get a massive amount of educational testing done on him.  We have to bring proof of his learning disorders to get the help he needs in his school.  We are going in for the mac daddy of all tests with a top doctor who understands Shaken Baby and meth kids.  He is like the holy grail of testers.  Marvin also is in therapy to help him work through this.  We also are learning to re-parent him,

The good news is that with help and lots of support Marvin CAN be successful.  He can learn.  He can grow up, get a job, get married and give me lots of grand babies.

The bad news.  It involves fighting for it all.  It involved endless meetings with his school to get him help and support.  We sat down for the first one and it went well, but it is a process.  There will be tons of trial and lots of error.  Plus his poor new teacher looks like she has been hit with a mac truck.  I know she can do this.  I have faith in her and think she is lovely.  But it is a lot that I am pretty sure she didn't sign on for.  Marvin will challenge everything she has ever learned about kids and turn it on it's head.

It's also a process for us.  All the great ideas people have given me have only put a band aid on Marvin's issues.  Now I have to do things differently and people may not always understand why I have to do things that way.  Plus there are those who don't want to hear that there are things wrong with Marvin.  When I need to talk about it I get the feeling they are shutting me out or just thinking, there is that crazy psycho mom going on again.  Can't she just get over it.

But I can't.  I have to live it day to day.  We do our best and sometimes better.  Marvin is a fantastic kid.  There is no one like him.  He is funny, bouncy, and can charm the socks off of you.  He is also the victim of unspeakable abuse and horror.  But he has done something amazing.  He has lived.  He has survived.  And he has walked through hell and come out of it.  Not unscarred, but still he has come out.  So many haven't.  It is up to us to help him learn that he is safe, he can learn.  I have my work cut out for me, but I am ready.  I am ready to stand up for him.  To speak up for his needs.  To tell you that my child has the right to grow, learn, and flourish.

I am ready,  The question is:  Are you ready for me?

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Amy Fields is a wife, mother and advocate for her two special needs kids.  You can read about her adventures at her blog Many Kinds of Families.


  1. Thank you for sharing this. I am really saddened to learn that your boy has been treated so badly. I come across it here in the country I reside in. It just breaks my heart that adults have the capacity to damage children... too terrible for words. He is going to be just fine with you as his mum.