You can hardly go anywhere without hearing about the Coronavirus, or COVID-19. Possibly, the last thing you want to hear right now is that your family–your precious adoptive or foster family–is at risk. Let me explain this further.
First: The Trauma the Kids Faced
The first thing you need to know about the Coronavirus and your kids is that their trauma is going to impact their health. Can we agree together that all adopted and foster children have faced trauma? In order to end up in foster care or an adoptive home, a child had to lose people. Additionally, in order to end up in foster care, children faced trauma. The child was either abused, neglected, abandoned, exposed to drugs or alcohol inside or outside of the womb or lived with a birth parent with severe mental illness. There is no doubt, these kids faced trauma!
Even infants who went straight to an adoptive family after birth faced trauma. These precious babies marinated in the womb of a mama who was stressed. She may have struggled daily over the decision of adoption or maybe even abortion. Whatever circumstances lead her to choose to place her baby up for adoption were most definitely stressful. Maybe it was about a lack of resources. Or, maybe she was being abused. Perhaps she was afraid that she wouldn’t be a good enough mom. Whatever her reasons–she was living a stressful life, while growing a baby in her womb.
Still, a baby knows his mama and what her heartbeat and voice sounds like. He is attached to her from infancy. When he is placed in the arms of a stranger, his brain is flooded with cortisol. His brain kicks into a state of fight or flight. Poor, sweet baby!
Second: The Trauma the Family Faces–Daily
The Coronavirus could impact your whole family because of Secondary Trauma. Traumatized people can’t help but traumatize other people, until they get healing.
Bessel A. van der Kolk M.D., author of The Body Keeps the Score, said:
We have learned that trauma is not just an event that took place sometime in the past; it is also the imprint left by that experience on mind, brain, and body. This imprint has ongoing consequences for how the human organism manages to survive in the present.
And, maybe the worst news of the day for families who give their all to these traumatized kids:
Trauma breeds further trauma; hurt people hurt other people.
But, if you’re living with kids from hard places, you probably already knew that. As an adoptive or foster family, you face stress in two different ways.
- You know your child’s traumatic story. Mental health care providers who hear traumatic stories from their patients end up with Secondary Trauma. Friend, if you’re parenting a child who lived through trauma, you’ve got secondary trauma, too.
- Your family lives through the stress that your adopted or foster-child creates because of his trauma. I’m sure you know what I’m talking about: the arguing, the crazy lying, the hoarding–it looks different for every kid. I think you get the idea, though. You live with it, and so does your spouse and so do your other kids. This experience is creating Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in everyone who lives with the traumatized child!
Don’t Blame the Child!
Try to have compassion for the child–she is not choosing to impact your family negatively. Early exposure to traumatic events created maladaptive behavior int he child. She couldn’t control that. You, hero, stepped up and decided to parent a child whose past was unthinkable. That decision impacts your daily life and your family. It’s hard–but not unbearable. Just remember that the child isn’t to blame, put on as much grace as you can muster, and persevere.
Third: What Trauma Does to the Body & Why A Traumatized Individual is More Susceptible to the Coronavirus
The Coronavirus, like all viruses and bacterial infections, is preying on people with weak immune systems. Friends, if you are a foster or adoptive family, I have bad news: your immune system is weaker.
I got to meet the lovely Dr. Leslie Korn at a Nutrtional Therapy conference in Portland last year. She wrote a book called Nutrition Essentials for Mental Health. Since I study nutrition and also live with trauma-behaviors that sometimes look like mental illness, I bought her book! I have page 104 tabbed and highlighted, and I want to share with you this bit of insight:
People with PTSD [YOU & your adoptive/foster family!] have increased levels of inflammatory markers, increased allergies, and are vulnerable to higher rates of autoimmune diseases, depressed immune function, and therefore increased risk of infections. PTSD is associated with disruption of cortisol levels and depletion of NT’s [Neurotransmitters].
Brackets, italics and bolded words added by me.
And, from TBRI, in an article by Emmelie Pickett:
Tragically, severe or prolonged abuse or neglect manifests in toxic stress which derails brain development and can even affect the immune system.
Another name for this is Post-Traumatic Immunosuppression, and it is well studied. Guys, your kids are at risk of Coronavirus and other illnesses because of their trauma. You are at risk because of their trauma, too. Maybe more than your children, because I haven’t heard of a single child dying from the Coronavirus (and praise God for that!).
Fourth: Let’s Talk about Hygiene
Are you sure your kids are washing their hands? Truly, this has been a battle in our home for ages. “Did you wash your hands?” “Really?” “Did you use soap?” It can go on and on. In fact, I got permission to share another adoptive mama’s Facebook story here. I think you will giggle–and probably relate.
We know that hand-washing is one of the best ways to stop diseases like Coronavirus from spreading. And yet, we live in a family where some of our members lived through trauma. That trauma shapes daily behaviors, and sometimes those daily behaviors create a lack of hygiene.
And then there are potty issues. Praise God, we don’t have any children who pee or poop in inappropriate areas of the home–but I know many people face this. I imagine this can feel nearly impossible to stay on top of. How does one keep their home clean and germ-free with poop in the corner? Ugh.
We’re All Bound to Get Sick 🙁
Let’s face it, adoptive and foster parents: we live in a germ-infested home, as well as a trauma-infused home. If the Coronavirus comes within 100 miles of our town, somehow, it will strike all of us first. Yikes!
The Good News!
I urge you, don’t sit in a place of fear. Let’s press on, stay positive, and think about the good news:
- We, adoptive and foster families, are RESILIENT! Think of everything you have faced together as a family. You’re still standing, right?
- If we haven’t died yet, then….There have been plenty of viruses and bacterial infections that have passed through our areas. We’re still here–we didn’t die yet. Let’s remember that, as Coronavirus is in the air.
- Plus, while people are dying, many more are getting the virus and living. I’m pretty sure, with all we endure on a daily basis, we might just be some of the best fighters out there. Who’s with me on this?!
What to Do About It
I started writing some posts about what to stock up on in case we are quarantined like Italy. Be watching for those, I will share soon.
For now, try to get your kids to wash their hands as much as possible. I know it’s a battle. Maybe it’s time to let your kids play in the bath tub or in the kitchen sink. Fill it up with soapy water and let them soak their hands for a good thirty minutes…every hour! 😉 Do whatever it takes, mama–you’ve got this!
What are your thoughts? How are you preparing for the Coronavirus?
I would love to hear your thoughts and how you plan to attack this virus. Feel free to share below! I read all of your comments!