In our first few days with Ethan, we’ve talked openly about the struggle that taking Ethan from his foster family and bringing him into ours has been.
However, we want to be clear: we were never concerned about the long term. We’ve always believed that Ethan will adjust, in time. While in Korea, our concerns were mostly immediate — getting Ethan home by way of a very long trip.
It was painful to watch, at times. Occasionally, we’d ask ourselves, “How long can he go on like this?” At the time, we didn’t know the answer to that question.
We also know that while people, and perhaps especially children, are pretty resilient, the reality is, trauma leaves a lasting mark on people, even on babies who will someday not remember the events that caused the trauma.
So, our concern hasn’t been so much, “Will Ethan survive this and come to know we love him?” Our bigger concern is how do we need to respond so that this trauma does not have a lasting negative impact on Ethan, and even, how can we respond so that Ethan can actually become a stronger person as a result of this traumatic experience.
In fact, it’s probably an even more important concern for children than it is for adults. As an adult, I have a better chance of processing trauma that happens to me, but children may not be able to fully process what’s happened to them. The adults around children must respond, and help them respond, in ways that minimize the damage caused by the trauma. If done well, the trauma can actually make them *more* resilient! (BTW, this was the thinking behind our Shaping a High AQ Culture a while back.)
Actually, this is a concern we all should have about the things we go through. None of us can completely control what happens to us, we only get to choose how we respond, and how we respond matters!