Book Processing

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 6

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 6

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 6

Today is my last post on the book Dancing with a Porcupine by Jennie Owens. There was (and still is) a lot to process, as you can tell. Reading and rereading this book allowed me to work through some things within our adoptions. Please know that I would never change our choice to bring our children home through the miracle of adoption. Also, note that it has been challenging. Yet, they are worth it. My children are well-loved beyond measure, and they were meant to be a part of my family. God has a plan to prosper us, not harm us, and allowing these children in our lives has grown us.

Feelings of Adult Adoption Trauma

“I learned early on that most people could not handle the intensity of my emotions or knowing what I was really going through, so I softened things as I spoke. How do you share feeling tortured, hopeless, and in despair when someone asks in passing ‘How are you?’ … Had I been honest, I don’t even know if words could adequately describe what I felt. Raw. Vulnerable. Grieving. Wounded. Lifeless.”

Yes. Yes. Yes. Speak that up for the people in the back. The feelings Jennie Owens describes are real. The need to water down our words is also real. The fact is that when I tried to talk to others, I lost friends and churches, and then later, there were threats and accusations. What is the point in being vulnerable when all you are going to do is face intense judgment? I found myself shutting down from everyone, including family.

“Sanitized Stories We Tell”

“Years later, I read a blog post by Sarah Bessey called ‘Sanitized Stories We Tell.’ She summed up how I felt interacting with most people: ‘It makes me wonder how much pressure we feel to sanitize our stories so that they don’t make people uncomfortable, how we anecdote our experience with the lightness or the healing or birth or new life alone in order to make it acceptable. We simplify and sanitize and so we miss the healing we could have if we only spoke the whole truth.”

Uhm, wow. First, that blog post by Sarah Bessey is powerful. The post on her PTSD from her bizarre childbirth was so eloquently written. I can tell you that I do sanitize my stories of adoption and adoption trauma. I do not want to move people away from adoption. There are so many kids in need. Every child deserves a home, but on the flip side, every home needs to be equipped to deal with adoption trauma, so they don’t fall into the same path as I have or as Jennie Owens did. My goal is to start sharing my story while protecting my kids. I don’t only want to share my story. I want to find viable solutions. What’s the point of just talking if you don’t provide some tangible things that people can do?

Quote from Elizabeth Brown

In her book “Living Successfully with Screwed-Up People,” Elizabeth Brown states, “To stop the longing for what does not exist in screwed-up relationships, or to heal from relationships that are beginning to skew, one must untangle from the emotions that swirl around or off a particular relationship. That process is called detachment. It basically means that you separate emotionally from the person around which your emotions swirl, in order to work on yourself, live your own life, feel your own feelings, and solve your own problems…Detachment is allowing others to be who they are, rather than who you believe they should be.”  According to Melody Beattie’s book “Codependent No More,” she says that “detaching does not mean we don’t care. It means we learn to love, care, and be involved without going crazy.”

This. This right here is what I have to work on doing. I’m so hyperfocused on trying to change my kids and fixing all of everyone’s problems that I have lost myself. I have no clue about myself because I always want to help others and give my children the best life they can have. Jennie Owens states, “part of detaching was accepting your reality… I was not accepting my reality. I was trying to force it to fit my dreams, which wasn’t working. I wasn’t happy, and the kids weren’t happy with me trying to fix them all the time. I wanted to be happy despite my difficult situation and was determined to figure it out.”

Learning How to Survive

“I had to let go of trying to make their lives turn out perfectly. The need to let go was both frustrating and freeing. I wanted my children to do well. Sometimes I worked so hard to force them to make good choices that I damaged my relationship with them, creating more frustration within myself. In the end, my children were responsible for the choices they made. They had to decide how they wanted their lives to look and choose to move that direction. Letting go of control was hard because I had to allow my children to fail much more than I had previously been willing. Feeling angry toward my kids was an indication that I was working harder on a problem than they were.”

Good grief. This woman has crawled into my brain. She has lived in my house, had her feet under my table, and walked a thousand miles in my shoes. Do I do these things because things happened to me that were out of my control when I was younger (and older)? Is that why I want to fix everything and help them make the right decisions? I don’t want them to be tortured by their thoughts like I am. They deserve better but then again, so do I. “…I was allowing my children’s issues to set the course of my life, allowing them to dictate who I was going to be.”

Working Through My Trauma

Working through my trauma is something I do with my therapist. We pick something, and then we try and tackle it. I must say that it is hard to work on past trauma with a lot of acute trauma. There are always fires that have to be handled. In Daniel Siegel’s book “Parenting from the Inside Out,” he states, “parents must resolve their past trauma to do the therapeutic parenting needed to help a child heal.”

Furthermore, Mark Rosen, in “Thank you for Being Such a Pain,” states, “It is natural to focus on the apparent cause of our distress. But this is a distraction. Our real focus should be on ourselves. We need to look at our feelings and our responses to difficult people’s behaviors. We need to ask ourselves why we are reacting so strongly… I find it useful to think of the difficult people in my life as being skilled tennis opponents or tough professors. I don’t like what they do, I don’t like how I feel, but I recognize that they provide me with an unmatched opportunity to improve myself, one that is available nowhere else.”

I often think about why certain behaviors so trigger me. At some point, I will have to start writing things down and matching my triggers with emotions. From there, I can take that information and work through it with my therapist, I can do it on my own, or I can pray for the Lord to reveal what He wants me to see.

I Am a Good Parent

Jennie Owens slowly reminds me that I am a good parent. I have given my life to all my children, and I have chosen to treat them well, regardless of how they treated me. Now, I’m not perfect. I’ve made mistakes. Many things I’ve done, said, or thought about are shameful. Yet, I stayed. I’m still here and constant. “That was love, no matter how I felt.”

That statement is empowering. God hasn’t given up on my children. He loves them. Also, thankfully, He hasn’t given up on me. He does give you more than you can handle. If you could take it all, you wouldn’t need a Savior.

Jennie states that she was “reminded that I was parenting on an Olympic level, and Olympians needed to care for their bodies to succeed. With high-stress levels, I had to undo the negative impact by caring for my body at a much higher level than others.”

We must practice some self-care. That means finding things that bring you joy. Allowing yourself to feel love, show love, and be loved. It is also going to the doctor and using your words. Don’t sanitize it. That does not help you in any way possible. Seek counsel from a therapist, friend, family, spouse, or pastor. Drink that coke. Take that walk. Go for a swim. Buy yourself flowers. Love yourself.

Compassion Fatigue

“I discovered that counselors, doctors, nurses, and others who interact with traumatized people are the ones who typically suffer from compassion fatigue. While not a formal diagnosis in the DSM, compassion fatigue describes helpers who experience isolation, apathy, sadness, fatigue, and other symptoms from being immersed in trauma without adequate self-care. Some use the term interchangeably with burnout, vicarious traumatization, or secondary traumatic stress.”

I will leave you with this final quote, “God often uses our deepest pain as the launching pad of our greatest calling.”

Book Processing

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 5

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 5

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 5

James 3:8 says, “but no human being can tame the tongue. It is a restless evil, full of deadly poison.” This verse is powerful. In her book, Dancing with a Porcupine, Jennie Owens talks about what she now knows is PTSD, the power of words. Words hurt whether they are from an adult or a child. They both can hurt. Adoption PTSD is a real thing. The child has it, and if it is a problematic placement or the adoption trauma is too much, the parents will also have it. Welcome to Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 5.

“Why Do You Need Her to Like You So Much?”

The sentence I just wrote still permeates through my body like a lightning bolt. Adoption is such a beautiful thing. Honestly, adoption is Scriptural. Yet, it is so hard. In an adoptive mama’s heart, we just want to swoop in and love all the bad away. Shine light and the Light into a child’s heart. We want them to see that the Lord is good and life doesn’t have to be so hard.


On the other side of adoption is adoption trauma. The reality is that we are entering these kids’ lives with the full intent of goodness and healing. The true story is that we are walking into the darkest chapter of their lives with a penlight. There is no radiant glow of fluorescent lights and massive glory and thankfulness from this child or children. It is game on. Marco Polo type of stuff. “Why didn’t I realize they were experiencing extreme grief? Adoption was a huge loss for them, no matter how safer they were. Their birth mom wasn’t coming back for them.”

Jennie Owens answered that question of her therapist. She states, “I guess I’m afraid of what others may think. What kind of mother has a child who dislikes her so much?” The author says, “Brianna’s rejection mirrored some of my deepest insecurities and feelings of inadequacy. They brought to the surface things I already questioned. Was I a good mom? Am I doing a good job? Was I doing enough? Maybe I wasn’t a good mom; maybe I didn’t love my kids enough; maybe I wasn’t enough.”

Speaking from my Heart

I can tell you that she nailed 98% of all adoptive moms with her foster care adoption story. The above statement is what goes through my mind daily. What doesn’t help is when your child is older and starts the confabulation part of their story. Those people you think are your friends, well, they aren’t. They will judge you harshly by only knowing one side of the story, and they will try to slander and destroy you.

“It will NEVER be enough, no matter what you do. She explained that when a child has gone through severe neglect, abuse, or trauma their heart becomes like swiss cheese, a bucket with holes in it, or even a bucket with no bottom at all. You can endlessly give, but the child still feels they need more. It didn’t matter how much I gave or how hard I worked.”

We have not parented perfectly. Has anyone? There have been some epic mistakes. At one point, we tried to parent our children the same—a blanket of praise, discipline, corrections, advice, etc. Then, we were super strict on some kids and easier on others. Chore charts. If-Then charts, rewards charts, stickers, prizes earned at the end of the week, or extra chores if it had been a tough week.

What we learned is that all kids are different. They need to be parented differently yet the same. I know, an oxymoron. Yet, that is the truth. It is a fine line that you have to walk so delicately. Please take into account their physical age but also remember their emotional age. Those are two very significant differences.

That is the Sad Reality of Life

I wish I could say this wasn’t always true, and it may not be for you and your story, but it is for me. Here is what I have learned. Trust is earned, not freely given. Be wise in who you trust with your deepest struggles relating to your children or marriage. People will talk. They may have one side of the “story” and demand your side, but here is a secret that I will share.

You do not owe anyone anything at any time. Unless a person has walked a mile in your shoes, had their feet under your table for every meal, or you sleep with them, it is none of their business. Suppose they want to conjure up everything and spread lies and venom. That is on them. They will answer for that.

If you are a child of the King, you have Exodus 14:14 on your side. “The Lord will fight your battles. You need to be silent.” You have permission to turn the other cheek, ignore it, and not defend yourself. The truth always will come to light. Sin cannot be held in darkness.

“Their rejection forced me to reexamine this belief (that I am a bad mom) because when parenting wounded children, a child not liking you is not necessarily connected to your performance as a parent.”

Misguided Trust of Others

Due to misguided trust issues with people, we had to make some drastic decisions. Jennie Owens sums it up perfectly “I went from feeling like I was in the middle of a war zone to feel like I had been transported to the depths of hell. I felt more like a prison warden than a mom. Home used to mean a place of safety and refreshment to me, but it had become a battleground with the lives of three children in the balance.”

The moment you realize that not all people, even those who profess to love Christ, have the best in mind for you and your children is heart-wrenching. I have learned who I can talk to and who I can’t. I’ve taken my social media down a hundred times. Finally, I settled on setting my boundaries and deleting all pictures of my children and grandchildren.

“I struggled with feeling angry at those judging what they didn’t understand. People assumed I was a bad mom without knowing these kids had been in my home only a couple of weeks. I also hated feeling so embarrassed. I wished I could stop worrying about what others thought of me.”

I’m in therapy and still a work in progress on struggling with what people think of me or my parenting techniques. It’s super easy to throw those stones at people living in a glasshouse.

Going Crazy Related to Adoption Trauma

“Well, their unhealthy thinking may be affecting yours (referring to her mind, but it is not you, it’s the kids… Jennie, you keep trying to make sense of their behavior. There’s a reason they call it insanity. It doesn’t make sense. Maybe that’s why you feel like you’re going crazy. You keep trying to make sense of something completely illogical.” ~ Jennie Owens’ Therapist.

Profound. Yes, amen, and say it louder for those in the back.

Many days I have spoken with someone who has earned my trust, and I have earned their trust. My statement is maybe it isn’t this child(ren). Perhaps it is me. I’m the common thread. They are great, and I’m crazy.

Then reality hits. I let my guard down and let the child(ren) go somewhere without me, and all hell breaks loose. Naturally, I get a phone call to come and get that child. The person usually gives me an apology. Typically, this person, my child, was assumed the worst about my husband and me. Once alone with my child(ren), they realize it isn’t my husband who is crazy or me. Our children, sadly, need help because the adoption trauma and the adoption PTSD are so evident.

Entitlement from our Kids with Trauma

This statement seems like another oxymoron to me. In my eyes, kids from trauma would not have that element of entitlement. Hence the reason this book is so important. There are so many nuances that I did not know going into adopting our first set of kids. Understanding those nuances would not have changed our desire to expand our family via adoption. Honestly, it would have empowered and equipped us to raise them better.

My goal in processing this book is to help others gain the needed perspective. If you choose to adopt, I say GO FOR IT! You won’t regret it but understand there will be challenges along the way. If you decide to seek help from less meaningful humans, you can do more harm than good (again, lesson learned). If you choose to go in with eyes wide open to the trauma of these sweet babies, it will change how you view everything.

“Much of this behavior (entitlement) simply came back to their emotional age. It was challenging to remember that traumatized children frequently try to get legitimate needs met in inappropriate ways. The needs are normal, but the behaviors are sometimes obnoxious.” At some point, you have to learn to distinguish between legitimate needs and wants. That can be a hard thing to do.

Save Me I’m Drowning

Adoption trauma comes in so many different forms. Jennie Owens states, “with all three kids, I had to constantly remind myself that the message I received wasn’t always what they intended. What came out as ‘I hate you’ was their saying, ‘I’m feeling insecure about your love for me right now. I need to know you love me no matter what.’ Misbehavior was their way of saying, ‘my feelings are hurt’ or ‘I’m feeling scared.’ Many times they were asked, ‘do you love me? How about now? What about if I do this? Will this stop you from loving me?’

As Karyn Purvis states in The Connected Child, “It is not you against this child. It is you and this child against this child’s history. It’s not a personal attack on you.” Why can’t I remember this statement? It does feel like an attack on me. I think this way hurts my heart, but then I remember my child’s heartbreaking.

“It felt like my children were creating the waves of rejection, but they were being pulled under by those same waves. They weren’t against me. They were victims, drowning in old wounds.” There will be one more blog post on this book, and then I need to be done. There are other books I want to write about and tons more I need to process.


Book Processing

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 4

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 4

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 4


Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 4. Hahaha, I am only on chapter 3, LOL. There are 24 chapters in this book. Sorry, not sorry. Here is the quote that I’m starting with “Parker insisted we listen to his constant chatter, becoming frustrated if we didn’t listen to every detail of a book he wanted to describe. He asked silly questions to which he knew the answers and insisted that I answer each time. When I didn’t, he either tried to pull me into an argument or threw himself on the floor in hour-long temper tantrums and wailing meltdowns. If I sent him to his room, he threw and kicked things, screaming at the top of his lungs, sometimes for hours. I thought the screaming would never stop.”

The Constant Talking

It became a running joke as to whether one child had hit the day’s word count. We learned quickly to selectively here and nod our heads a lot. Doing this kept the peace and didn’t cause chaos. Every once in a while, something would perk my ears up. I had tuned into hearing things said to others and then confronting her about what happened? Confabulation. Though I was aware of what was happening, occasionally, it would still pee in my Wheaties, and sadly, I would react.

I Can’t Control the Actions, but I Can Control My Reactions.

I need that tattooed on my forearm. Also, I need a pillow with a needlepoint of that statement. Honestly, I need to see it all the time. Reacting to an event is awful.

The chaos that would ensue was awful. Therapy was not helping, and medication wasn’t helping. We tried to ensure there was always water and protein to help stimulate and calm the brain.

I have since learned that it didn’t just affect the child. It affected all of my children. They just chose to be silent and not use their voices to express their fears and sadness about what was out of their control.

That hurts a mama’s heart. They were trying to protect me and not add more stress to their dad or me. My kids are resilient and unique. Our family was not equipped to handle the mental illness of this child, but there was NO help, NO advice, NO support. There was love, grace, forgiveness, and mercy, but when someone doesn’t want that, you can’t make them take it.

This Quote

“My success in parenting Parker did not depend on his behavior. It came down to mine”… ” My success was based on my choices, which I could control rather than his behaviors which I could not.”

I need to marinate on this because it is so accurate. I tend to own all the choices my kids have made and live in the shame storm. Shame means I am bad. Guilt means I have done something bad. I lived in the shame storm, but I couldn’t figure out why I was there and how to get out.

I will forever apologize to my kids for failing them (in my eyes, not theirs). I should have always chosen to control my behavior. I often did manage it, ignore it, walk away from it, selectively hear it, do spot damage control, and other methods. We were not the nuclear family this child wanted. I was punished for what I wasn’t and would never be. I was punished for choosing this child to be a part of my family.

Learning as We Go

“I wish I had better understood their young emotional age. Much of my frustration came from comparing them to other children of the same chronological age (or even sometimes much younger). I would look at my kid and think, ‘This child SHOULD be able to do what I’ve asked,’ or, ‘They SHOULD be able to play by themselves for one minute.’ I had to learn to let go of “should” because many times the kids simply couldn’t do what I expected.”

Never, never compare your children, born in the heart, to other children from their nuclear family. Never. That is a recipe for disaster. When things escalate, I think, oh, I’m now parenting a 9 yr old (when they are 18). Children who have come from trauma tend to look their biological age and, on a good day, mostly hover around that age. When they escalate, they go 1/2 their age (from 18 to 9). When things are beyond coming back, you are at the level of when their abuse started (for the example provided, that would be 2.5 yrs old).

Breaking it Down

So, your 18 yr is having a moment because they couldn’t remember after being told numerous times to feed an animal. They throw a fit because you start asking more sternly, which shoots them to 8 and 8-year-old behaviors (stomping, slamming doors, etc.). You tell them to stop doing those things and get on with the task. Mistake. Now we are parenting an 18 yr old 2.5 yr old. Time-out or time-in is all that works.

We have to get in some protein and water to get the brain back to the higher executive functioning in their thinking. We do this because, at this moment, they are working off the lower part of their brain. That’s not what we want, and we certainly don’t want them to work off the lower part because I’m frustrated working on the lower part of my brain.

It always ends in tears and apologies.


Book Processing

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 3

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 3

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 3


Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 3. This book is packed with so much that I am rereading it to pull out all the gems that will help ME process the last 16 years. “I found myself jealous of the other parents and embarrassed at being the only one having to supervise her elementary-aged children so closely. I didn’t know at the time that my children were going through a very normal phase, just not at the typical age.”

Can We Just Talk About the Jealousy?

I had it in spades. It wasn’t so bad when one of my children was younger because my kids all clumped on me when we would go out anywhere. The problem began when they hit pre-teen ages. There would be events at church. I would send my kids.

Huge problem.

One kid would have fun, another kid would have fun, but then I would have a phone call about another kid. This child acted out, sat where they were not supposed to, mainly outside, angry, triangulating adults and children, and overly obsessed with particular objects and people.

One Time

My husband was fixing to have a scope done on his knee. We were at church that Wednesday night. Wednesdays were hard because one kid would consistently start something with someone and have to sit by us at the church meal (again, reference the above quote).

We were working with this child’s nutrition to see if it would help with behaviors. We started by cutting out sugar. Now, did we announce this to the world? No. If she had something another person didn’t know, she shouldn’t have. I mean, what are you supposed to do? It isn’t the other person’s fault. The child is manipulative and can sell ice to an Eskimo.

Going through the supper line, this child didn’t get dessert, but her face said she was dissatisfied with that decision. So, we all sat down, and again, the ladies came by to offer more food, and again, there was the look of “I can’t have that.”

I could have explained to these ladies, but then I thought, “ya know, they don’t live in my house, we are the parents, and I don’t have to explain the choices we make for our children.” I guess they disapproved of me not defending our choices.

Unknowingly to My Husband or Me

Things were brewing, and we were oblivious. Our pastor came to us and said he needed to talk to us after service. We thought that he would pray over us before the procedure because he knew about the scope.

Oh, no, he didn’t.

He came into the room and proceeded to tell us that the supper ladies were very concerned about how we parent this child. Also, how wrong it is of us to deny this child dessert. They were looking for reasons to call CPS because she always looked sad that we must consider how we present ourselves as parents.

Wisdom on My Part

I got up and walked out of the room. At that moment, I knew I would say something that would not be kind. I was done. Sadly, this was the second church we would have to leave because of the assumptions of the “holier than thou” people.

It must be pretty hard to parent two typical children and then sit back and judge a family who has 7 (this is the same church that told us not to go to home groups because there were too many of us). Again, zero support.

I took a moment, then I used my words and discovered the two spearheads orchestrating this intervention. They demanded that we sit down with them and tell them the stories of my kids.

There was no way, on God’s green Earth, I was going to do that. My kids’ story is THEIR story to share when THEY want to share it and IF they want to share it. I refused to share the pain and what we were doing to help our children be the best version of themselves they could be.

We stopped going to home church and Wednesday nights.

A Precious Man

The associate pastor called me, and we met and talked about what had happened. He was mortified. He helped with suppers on Wednesday night and was blindsided by what the catty ladies and the two spearheads were discussing (us and not the menu). He cried. I cried. He brought in one of the ladies he had already spoken to, and she half-assed and apologized to me. The other lady still demanded me to tell her their story. She cornered me in every area. I told her that she needed to remove herself from my space or it would not end up well for her. I was furious.

Only because of my Lady did we ever darken to the doorsteps of that church on Wednesday night. The pastor (ugh) also offered to take one of my children to his house for, I think, his daughter’s birthday or a get-together or something. Well, he called me and needed me to COME AND GET this child because my child was doing what she does best at the time and was causing conflict with excessive obsession. Too much for a bunch of 12-year-olds to handle. I get it.

He apologized for not ultimately seeing what we had been trying to convey to him for years. I appreciated that, but the damage to my family was already done. I stayed for the associate pastor and my Lady.

Filling in the Gaps

“Wounded kids needed to fill in the gaps in their childhood…acting out their emotional age.” Yes, yes, yes. When my kids were younger, though they were 6 and 2.5 years old (even my 21 mth old), we bought them diaper bags. We filled them full of things that one would buy for their newborn babies. I took my little pictures and made them a baby book (we also had a memory book for each of the foster care homes they were in). I asked them if they wanted me to put the information in the book like I had given birth to them or to try and fill in the book with what I knew about their birth mother. They both chose for me to fill it out like I had given birth.

Done and diaper bag packed.

We swaddled them, rocked them, sang nursery rhymes, fed them with a bottle, and had pacis (if they asked). Most every night, we would have two newborns at the ages of 2.5 and six years old. We were trying to help them feel like they belonged, were wanted, and loved. They would ask to do these things often, and we always tried to oblige.

When you talk about emotional age, I had a child who was 6, and emotionally she was 3. My 2.5-year-old was emotionally a newborn. It is and continues to be about 1/2 their biological age. You have to account for the diagnosis of each child and the age when the trauma started.

Stranger Danger

“Neither child displayed an ounce of stranger danger, a trait very common to children with attachment issues. Both kids would walk right up to a stranger and stand very close to them as if they were family. If we were present, the kids would stand closest to the strangers and as far away from us as possible. Someone walking into the situation would have incorrectly assumed the kids belonged to the stranger’s family. It was stressful trying to keep them safe.”

One child was pole dancing to the song Jesus Loves Me in the Sunday School class. The teachers freaked out and asked where she learned that. She said, “my mom.” At the time, they did not know us and didn’t know that we had adopted these children.

I often would find my kids in the laps of older men that I didn’t know. When I tried to talk to the teacher or person about boundaries, they got offended, and the pastor (the first church we attended when the kids came to live with us) cornered me in the stairwell and screamed at me for being such a horrible person. I mean, screamed. Though I kept asking to go to his office with my husband, he refused and continued to berate me.

Another child would show up, at a ballgame, with a wad of gum in the mouth or candy. I would ask where it came from and all that was said was that stranger over there. I’m like, “WHAT??!!” This child had no clue that this was not safe.

I Get It

These children are taken from all they know. The smells, tastes, sights, and familiarity plopped into a home where they knew nothing. These children were moving in with a stranger. They are asked to fit in, not cause ripples, and blend in with strangers. It makes sense always to seek comfort from a stranger. That’s what they were asked to do. Trust a stranger, and now we are telling them NOT to trust strangers. How difficult must that be for a young child?

Honestly, it all just sucks. Free-will sucks. God is still good and has a plan and a purpose for all things under heaven. I have to choose to have hope and believe that one day, either here or in heaven, all will be healed, and my family will all be reunited.

Book Processing

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 2

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 2

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 2


Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 2. Here is another quote by Jennie Owens “deeply wounded children push others away so no one else can get close enough to hurt them ever again. After being abandoned so many times, they reject you before you have the chance to reject and abandon them. In an effort to protect themselves, they especially push away the primary caregiver, and he or she becomes the target of their anger. They try to prove they don’t deserve love or anything good because they believe this about themselves.”

Another WILDLY Accurate Statement

I can’t say this is true for all my kids born in my heart, but for 1 in particular. It was from the moment we said “hello” that it was game on. After reading the backstory, learning as much as possible, and asking questions, I finally understood.

This particular child’s bio mom told her, at a VERY young age, that if this child were really bad, they would give her back. Of course, as sane-minded people, everyone that heard that knew it was a lie. Granted, bio mom could have gotten her child back had she followed the plan. She didn’t want to do that. That was entirely in her control, and she chose not to do anything on the plan. The courts’ hands were tied.

Yet, that statement carried with this particular child, and it was taken to the nth degree with many homes before our home became the final home. So because I never gave up, 99.9% of the anger and behavior were saved for me. Outside of my house, this child was “perfect and unscathed.”

I seriously wanted to smack people upside the head when they would say that.

Not Getting What was Wanted

This child wanted the nuclear family that left—a mom, dad, grandparents, and siblings. Honestly, every child wants that. Again, these kids are going through everything they have ever known and living with a stranger. How scary is that?

Eventually, some key people began to catch onto the actions of this child. That caught the eye of therapists, the school, doctors, people at church, and family. We did everything that was required of us (as foster parents and then adoptive parents) within our grasp. We wanted this child to know the world was just waiting and what a powerhouse this child could be.

That’s not what was wanted.

Bigger, Stronger, Powerful Darkness

These are words that this child would say how the darkness would consume this child and make this child feel bigger, stronger, and more powerful. Yet again, this was only directed at me. There were times when this child would “slightly” hurt someone younger when no one was looking and then be the one to “rescue” said hurt child. That was an aspect of life where we had to rule that an adult always had to be present for safety purposes.

Most of the hate was thrown my way, and it was always my fault when things didn’t go as planned. This child was trying to get me to change my mind. To fall out of love, get rid of, or return this child to the nuclear family that was so coveted.

My sanity was giving out, but my persistence paid off. Sadly, this is more common than not, especially when choosing older children. It feels impossible, especially when you do not have a support system.

Another Statement

“Sabotaging her own success at times and keeping herself out of an uncomfortable situation at other times, Brianna complained to others that we didn’t give her enough freedom, even though the situation was of her own making.”

I could write an ENTIRE BOOK on that statement alone. Yes. Yes. Yes. All we (Bart and I) ever wanted to do was give more yeses than nos. Can I have a snack cake for breakfast? Yes. Can I go outside and ride my bike? Yes. Can I have a sleepover at XYZ’s house? No. Honestly, this is why we don’t need to do sleepovers, but your friend can come over and play, or if it is okay with the other parent, you can go and play for a couple of hours.

We wanted the yeses, understanding that sometimes we would have to say no. Sometimes, I could give a reason. That reason was never accepted and would always end up being a constant argument, discussion, and pout session. Then, there were other times when this child (or any child) didn’t need a reason. We are the parent, and this is a rule, and we have rules to keep everyone happy, healthy, and safe.

One child would state that they would get “so excited” that that is why they self-sabotaged all good things. We had to parent differently, and I wouldn’t say I liked that, but it was for the betterment of a child, two or three, and so on. We would extend a privilege and then get a phone call later stating what happened and that we needed to come and get that child. From that point on, my child wasn’t welcomed.

When That Happened

We would distance ourselves from the entire event, family, church, etc. Yes, this child may have screwed up, but if you took the time to get to know this person and maybe the smallest of background info to help you understand. Perhaps it would have been different. Where one of us is not welcome, none of us are welcome. That’s how we lost a lot of friends, family, and churches. Even if these people had a legitimate reason, they did most of the time. They couldn’t see past that event and show grace and understanding.

My family didn’t fit into the mold of what most people thought we should fit into. My kids lost out on many things, standing up for this child. I know they have resentment, but I also know they have resilience. These things were created in their compassion, refinement, tolerance, and love, even though they sucked during that time.

Lots More to Unpack

But this blog post is getting too long. There may be many parts to this because I want to bring awareness where there may be no. Part 3 is coming soon! Promise to keep them shorter. If you want to check out the many children in the foster care system, please go to Adopt US Kids.


Book Processing

Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 1

Processing Through Dancing with a Porcupine Part 1


Processing Dancing with a Porcupine Part 1

Processing Through Dancing with a Porcupine Part 1. You can find my overall review of this book under the book reviews 2022 page. My posts will be the part where I will break down the book piece by piece. I won’t necessarily do this for every book, but this one had some things I will write about to process items in my head.


Jennie Owens states, “parenting one severely traumatized child was equal to parenting ten typical children” in her book Dancing with a Porcupine. Can we all stand up with our streamers and holler HELL YES, SISTER PREACH!!!???

So, I have four children that come from trauma. It means I am raising 40 children in those four-plus my 3 “typical” children. I feel like the word “typical” is subjective, but I get what she is saying here.

In saying that, I have a question. Where in the HELL are all the “supportive” people? The non-judgemental people who say they understand and will support you? Where might those people be?

Where They Are Not

In our homes, outside family, church, school, therapist offices, courtrooms, etc. There are exceptions to the rule, but finding an advocate that understands is like picking a flea off an elephant’s behind.

Maybe I’m bitter.

Okay, so I’m bitter.

But, I’m also telling the truth.

If you confide in a friend, they will either conveniently leave or disappear; they will call CPS, gossip about you and your parenting style, assume the worst in you and your spouse, and so on. A doctor and/or therapist will throw pills and tapping procedures at you. A family wants to love and not worry about what is going on. Schools are a joke. Courtrooms are also a fun fun fun time.

It’s hard.

Now, I Must Say

Right now, I have a sound support system. I have weeded through those wolves, the Lord has seen the mountains they have thrown in my path, and He crushed them. I love it when He puts people in their place.

We are in a good church with some very loving and supportive people, and our Richie and Jenny are excellent. My family has stepped up because I have allowed them to see more than I would typically.

Schools are a joke. Therapists are non-existent or so expensive I would have to sell a kidney to get the type of therapy my kids need. Luckily, the court system is not in our picture. I have a friend or two who get it because they have or are currently living it.

Had it not been for these people, I would have gone insane. I think I hit that moment where I officially should have been committed to an institution for help. My therapist told me that that was on her plan if I couldn’t process it. I dissociate very severely. We are working on that.

Add that Quote

To all the other things that were going on in my life. Home disruption, grandbaby being born, health issues, weddings, OMS, and life in general. Acute trauma was always present in all forms and ready to devour my family and me.

Raising kids with trauma is no joke. It is a war. Sometimes you lose the battle, and sometimes you win. In the end, we all know Who wins the war, and that is where my focus must be. As a believer, I must remember that I have read the book’s last page, and we win! That is what gives me hope.

Would I ever not choose any of my kids? I would choose them 1000 times because the Lord gave them to Bart and me. He entrusted us with all of our children. We have not always been good stewards of these gifts, but we try, love, and choose to release control of the things we cannot change. Adoption is a beautiful gift, but it is hard. It doesn’t matter if you decide to foster care adoption, international adoption, intrafamily adoption, or any other sort. Also, it doesn’t matter your child’s age when they come into the home. Adoption trauma is real. Embrace it. Learn from it. Get your child, yourself, and your family into therapy. You will be glad you did.

That, my friends, is progress.