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Destinations, Dreams and Dogs - International adventure with a fast-track family (& dogs) of Old World values, adopting the Russian-Italian-American good life on the go…!

Healing the Ouchie in The Brain

Maybe your children were abused before they came home to you, but psychologists tell us that even more debilitating than abuse… is neglect.  Apparently, it’s easier for the mind and the emotions to deal with the fact that there’s someone out there who hates us, even more than there’s someone out there who doesn’t even care enough to meet our basic needs.  So when the child comes home to their adoptive family, how do we heal the emotional wounds of their past?

Our oldest daughter, age 14.5 doesn’t want to talk about it.  Therefore, I have to become creative in order to open the chapter of healing in her life story.  Allowing the psychic wounds to suffer beneath dirty bandaids does no one any good.

I segued in the other day with the story of Helen Keller, born blind and deaf.  The parents let her have her way and descend into rages because they knew she understood nothing and had no real way of communicating.

Then the tutor came on the scene, who was viewed by the parents as mean and demanding, expecting the impossible.  Life was really rough in the beginning, but eventually, Helen learned to read, write, speak, and use sign language.

A staggering story of monumental proportions for our kids.

As with physical therapy, are we, are they, ready to realize that it may hurt the ouchie to take off the bandage and expose it to the light?  We must lead them by the hand to discuss things that are painful at times, not forcing them to deal with issues they are not ready for, but at least cracking the door to show them other children who have gone through much, and come out whole.

I remember when Benedetto broke his ankle in three places.  We were so happy in the minutes before that.  The two of us had just received the phone call that we could come to court for our first son.  We headed out to a celebratory luncheon, and he slipped on black ice.  We sat on the sidewalk in the rain for over an hour, ourselves and passers-by calling ambulances, yet all that would arrive was a big firetruck.

Once at the hospital, he was taken in quickly and the doctor explained that Benedetto would need surgery, and metal pins, but before that… the physician needed to pull and snap his ankle back into place.  I recall gasping when it popped, and the doctor asking me to leave.

“I’ll be fine,” I promised, telling myself to hush up.

What a sad day ensued when he was taken into surgery and our court date was postponed by six weeks.  He ended up traveling to Russia on crutches, in pain, and I had to deal with everyone’s luggage, and our new son, myself.

Fast-forward to years later, four older children from Russia, some of whom are on “crutches”, mental crutches.  Many days are good and placid and peaceful.  And then overwhelming rage breaks out.  They are sure they cannot change.  They are sure they are nothing.

But it’s easier to not talk about it.

“That’s who I am,” they excuse themselves.

No, it’s not.  But you must let us take off the protective barriers you’ve built up in your mind, in order to heal what lies beneath.

At at first, that might not feel good.



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6 Comments : Leave a Reply

  1. avatar Greg says:

    There is a great book that discusses real-life case studies of the healing that can take place in traumatized children. The children discussed have endured horrific trauma and have gone on to significant healing for the most part. Its probably not something that you would want to read to the children verbatim as it tends to get a little technical at times, but it is certainly something that could be used as a starting point for discussions to provide hope to those that have trauma in their background. The title of the book is “The Boy who was raised as a dog” by Bruce Perry. It is also in my humble opinion, a good book for a parent to read that is dealing with a child who has an “ouchie in the brain” . The healing that can take place in some of the situations discussed is truly remarkable.

  2. avatar Sybil says:

    It is a very powerful book. What that child went through and came through because of it is a miracle.

    • avatar admin says:

      That’s for sure. I think every expectant parent (bio, adoptive, foster) should receive from their physician brief recaps of what neglect can do to a child. It’s staggering.

  3. avatar AP says:

    The ouchie is not only on the brain but in the heart – and the two fight over which hurts more.

    My daughter, now 15 1/5, has a hard time showing her wounds, she is unable to speak the words aloud. When she is hurting we often write notes back and forth. When she is in a better place she is able to verbalize memories in oh so very small bits and pieces.

    When the pain gets too much she self harms. If only we could cleanse the internal wounds as easily as the cuts.

    • avatar admin says:

      Good point, AP, the heart! I don’t know if some young people are more sensitive, more thoughtful, or what, but the wounds are much deeper. They can’t just “get over it” when it comes to the past. And the self-harming can take many forms, whether physical which is terrible to witness or live through, or in different forms of sabotaging or not even trying.

      Excellent idea about writing notes. Sitting across the kitchen table, looking eye to eye is generally difficult for any teen. I often recommend walks, or drives, or anything where the child doesn’t feel pressured or interrogated by staring them down.

      Your daughter is in our prayers! And the whole family. I know how the dynamics of one can affect everyone else.

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