If you’ve been to your neighborhood big box store lately, you know it’s coming.
Aisles of candy. Aisles of costumes…from the cute ones to the scary, gory ones. Aisles of decorations. Halloween is just around the corner.
As parents of adopted and foster kiddos, you know holidays are times you need to be intentional. Halloween is one where you REALLY need to be intentional. Adopted and Foster Kiddos have been impacted by trauma…and the bottom line is TRAUMA and Halloween do not go well together.
First, we have to come to the understanding that Adopted and Foster Kiddos have been impacted by trauma. And children who’ve been impacted by trauma don’t manage anxiety well. They don’t manage transitions well. They don’t manage sensory stimuli very well.
Throw in Halloween and all the things that go along with that and you throw TRIGGERS into the mix. Frightening triggers.
Traditional Halloween Celebrations
Let’s take a look at a typical Halloween for lots of families.
Trick or treating. Going from house to house, ringing doorbells of neighbors and strangers, on the mission to get a bag full of candy. Or if you’re like me as a kid…a pillow case full!
Now as fun as that may have been for you as a child, or for your kiddos not impacted by trauma, that is NOT the case for kiddos who have been impacted by trauma.
The key, as usual, is meeting your adopted or foster child right where he or she is at!
Now, let’s take a look at a typical Halloween with that lens.
Kids out in the dark, on the streets, eating sugar, in this big world with all this sensory stuff going on…spooky decorations, scary costumes, constant movement from house to house.
Those things can TRIGGER your child and send him or her child right back to survival. And even worse…gets in the way of new brain wiring.
Even being at home, passing out candy to all the ghosts and goblins and princesses coming to your door can trigger a child who’s been impacted by trauma.
What may seem obvious that is just pretend, is not always seen that way by a child who has been impacted by trauma.
They often are unable to separate pretend from reality. And when those things are scary, they will go right to operating out of survival. Believing and feeling those things as very real.
And...just like that, the child is triggered. The child is using old brain wiring, using their survivor brain. That is what you've been working so hard to change, right?
The first couple of years after we adopted our daughters, we carried on that same tradition of trick or treating as I had done as a child and as we had done with our biological kids.
On the surface, my girls looked like they were having fun. But the truth was…they were being triggered. They were operating out of survival…something that we had been work hard to keep them out of.
We eventually realized we needed to do it differently. But we had the juggling balance of having bio kids who had experienced those traditional Halloween traditions and still wanted to do them, girls who claimed they wanted to do those activities, combined with our new knowledge of how it was impacting our girls.
We needed to be BOLD and BRAVE in our parenting decision. Once again, we needed to do it differently. Differently than we had been, differently than our friends and family.
Parents can really be pulled, but if you can see it as impacting your child…triggering them and sending them to survival, it just isn’t worth it..
A New Way of Celebrating Halloween
You are called to be brave in these situations. Setting aside how you thought it would look, setting aside how everyone else is doing it, and parent by truly meeting your child right where he’s at.
That doesn't mean you have to skip the fun altogether. It means you may need to find a way that works for your adopted or foster child too.
Think outside the box. Think of ideas with the mindset of helping your child.
7 Ways to Celebrate Halloween Without All The Fall Out
Sending your child off to school doesn't have to mean a lapse in your connection with your child. It doesn't have to mean a whole different world without you for your child. When a STRONG parent teacher partnership is created, when parents and teachers can be on the same page, your adopted or foster child will have the best chance at success.
School can be (and should be) a place where your child feels safe. Where your child feels loved. Where your child feels capable. Schools after schools are now on the mission to become trauma informed. To become trauma sensitive.
And YOU are the expert when it comes to your child. You know what's best for your adopted or foster child. You know your child better than anyone.
That's why you, the parent, are key in being the bridge for your child from home to school.
In an effort to create strong parent/teacher partnerships, we are doing a joint book club in October and November. A joint venture between our group for Adoptive & Foster Parents (CONNECT) and our group for Trauma-Sensitive Teachers (IMPACT).
Game Plan for Trauma Informed Parents & Teachers
Words from the author:
The kids are the least of our worries.
Seriously. If that sounds blasphemous in a book for concerned parents and educators (and anyone, really, who worries about "kids these days"), then I am so glad you're here. If you own a kid, work with a kid, or love a kid, you will find something inspiring in these pages. Dare I say game-changing.
These words were born from the hundreds of stories of kids, their families, and their support systems I was lucky to meet as I worked across Canada and the USA. Regardless of who I met or where I met them, the message was always the same: our kids are okay ONLY if those of us holding them are okay.
During the developmental years, schools-and educators-are the most significant connection point to most every child on this continent. But are the educators okay? I believe that most of the great educators want to make a difference. Many tell me, however, that they are finding it more and more difficult "these days" to love what they do. I think it's time we did a better job of looking after them. First. Plain and simple.
Book Discussion for Trauma Informed Parents & Teachers
We are SUPER EXCITED to announce that we will be going through the book together...parents and teachers...in our online book club in IMPACT (teachers) and CONNECT (Adoptive & Foster Parents). And even more exciting…Dr. Jody Carrington, the author, will be answering our questions in a video just for our group. How great is that?
Grab your copy here with our special aff link and join us in IMPACT or CONNECT today! Even better...invite your child's teacher to join you!
Get your questions ready for Dr. Carrington...it's going to be a GREAT discussion!
Angels in Adoption
A couple of weeks ago as I sat in a coffee shop, I got an email saying that Stacy had been chosen to be honored as an Angel in Adoption by the Congressional Coalition on Adoption Institute.
WHOOSH...and just like that the flood gates opened and the tears flowed again.
Anyone who knew Stacy, and knew the work she did, would agree...she was most definitely an Angel in Adoption. Most definitely deserving of such an award, of such a honor.
As her friend and as part of her team here at Hope Connections, I imagined our phone conversation, if she was still here with us.
I would have given her the same message I gave her for every victory along the way of this journey of Hope Connections...WOOHOOO!!!
And in her usual, humble way, she would have not wanted the spotlight. She would credit each and every family she had mentored as the heroes, as the true angels in adoption.
I would have reminded her of all the parents, including myself, who said YOU SAVED OUR FAMILY!
Stacy, along with the other Angels in Adoption honorees, will be recognized at a gala in DC this fall. Thinking I will need to bring an entire box of tissues.
I so very much wish she was here to have heard the news, to be honored at the gala, But from down here, Stacy, I am giving you a big WOOOHOOO!!
Thanks to the Angels in Adoption® Program, Members of Congress learn first-hand about adoption and foster care efforts taking place within their state and across the country.
As part of Stacy's team, we are grateful to have the opportunity to travel to D.C. to meet with congressional offices and other child welfare advocates.
We will be sharing her mission, her passion, and continue carry her torch of supporting Adoptive & Foster Parents to getting their families to HAPPY & HEALTHY!
Honoring Angels in Adoption
Past Angels in Adoption Recipents
Wow...Stacy is is in some great company. Check out some of the past Angels in Adoption recipients:
We are looking forward to honoring Stacy and the other 2019 Angels in Adoption recipients. In addition, we are excited to speak with members of congress about the importance of support for Adoptive Parents.
Anything you'd like us to share? Post below and we will relay YOUR thoughts about the importance of post-adoption support.