Building a relationship with a traumatized child will require a great investment of love and time.
Frequently foster parents and adoptive parents believe that they can bring children into their home and erase the impact of their previous lives and trauma. The overwhelming majority of foster and adoptive children have experienced trauma.
Today we know more about the impact of trauma than ever before. We know that children are impacted emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually by the trauma they experience.
As a foster or adoptive parent, you need to be realistic about what you can and can’t do for children who have experienced trauma. By setting realistic expectations, you will be better equipped to help the children who come into your lives. First, you need to recognize that no matter how much you love a child, it will never be enough to erase the effects of everything bad that happened before the child came into your life. Your child needs professional assistance to help him or her learn how to cope with previous trauma.
Second, you need to recognize that the children you bring into your home will not immediately be grateful and love you as much as you love them. Keep in mind that birth children are frequently ungrateful and unkind to parents.
Third, your child may resent you because he or she may blame you for not being able to live with an abusive parent. As a general rule, children are loyal to their abusive parents and love them unconditionally. Keep in mind that your child recognizes that he or she is connected to their abusive parent genetically. If a birth parent is “bad,” a child will frequently believe that he or she must also be “bad.”
Your child will not just move on and forget past painful experiences. Your child has to face his or her trauma and work through the impact of that trauma to be able to heal and love you.