Post-Adoption Parenting: How I went from feeling like a failure as a parent to thriving in my relationships with my children.

By Amanda Purvis

I remember the first time I went to a training about trauma and caring for kids from hard places. I remember watching the video clips and hearing from the trainers about how trauma changes the brain. As an educated woman who had worked in the field of child welfare for over a decade, I understood brain science, risk, and maltreatment; yet deep within me there was a resounding “Not me.” This wouldn’t happen in our home.

The video clips I saw of children melting down, the stories of raging and the looks of despair from the parents being interviewed didn’t hit home for me. Although I knew in my head what we had signed up for in parenting children from trauma, but in my heart I never imagined the visceral despair and righteous anger I saw in the kids and parents on the screen ever taking root in our home.

I was sitting in that room; I am sure my naiveté glowing, with a brown baby tied around my white waist, seven years ago this month. If only I could tell that woman the things I know now. After 12 foster placements and adopting three kiddos from care over the past seven years, there are definitely things I wish I could have changed.

I can’t remember the exact date, but I am sure it involved screaming, tears and another night I lay down feeling like I had let everyone down — my adopted kids were struggling, my biological kids were struggling and my marriage was struggling. It all felt so hard. But, as I lay there, I knew that we needed help. And mostly, I needed help. I was feeling like a failure.

I do remember the first time I went to a training post-adoption. I remember hearing the material from an entirely new light. Wait, I was LIVING these stories Every. Single. Day. Were these trainers in my house this morning?! (My husband and I joked with one another, “Did you tell her about this morning?!”)

And now we’re hooked! We try and attend at least one training a quarter as a couple. Although I don’t always learn new information when I attend trainings, I am ALWAYS reminded of things I can be doing differently. I am surrounded by other parents who get it, and I usually leave with a renewed sense of hope. I can do this hard thing called parenting children from trauma. I have new tools in my tool box, and I don’t feel like a failure. These lessons are priceless, and have kept our family going strong. We have bumps in the road, often, but since we have begun attending trainings again, I always have a bag of new tips and tricks, new books to read, and a sense of hope. I know how to help my child heal from the trauma they’ve endured. And that feels good!

Amanda Purvis, is the Project Director at Colorado’s Post Adoption Resource Center. She has been in the child welfare field for over a decade. She is a wife and mother to five children, two biological and three adopted through the foster care system.  

If you are looking to refresh your trauma informed parenting skills, or learn some new things, join Amanda Purvis, the Colorado Post Adoption Resource Center’s Project Director, at some of their upcoming classes and events. You can see all of their training opportunities here www.adoptex.org/COPARCevents. Amanda especially recommends the TBRI Caregiver Training: Introduction & Overview- a TBRI Primer that The Adoption Exchange is hosting. Register on their website.

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