Identifying Trauma Triggers of Adopted/Foster Kids

Being a newbie about this trauma stuff and being an adoptee who’s recently realized there is a smoke alarm going off her my brain, I have to think about the complexities of trauma in simple ways.

With that in mind, think about why adoptees and foster kids get triggered to the point of meltdowns or  shut downs.

Here’s a simple illustration of trauma:

Ten-year-old Jimmy, now living in his sixth foster home, rages on the floor, seemingly without reason.

His parents didn’t have a clue about the cause of the rage. Nothing could stop him.

After the rage, Jimmy’s sense of shame will spread, like mold in a musty basement. And, as he matures, he will wonder why he can’t control himself. Is there something wrong with him? Is that why he was placed for adoption?

Here’s Jimmy’s backstory.

A previous foster dad belonged to a bowling league that sported green team shirts. Jimmy dreamed of bowling on such a team.

On bowling nights, dad returned late, but Jimmy stayed awake to say goodnight.

It was then that something horrific happened…sexual abuse… that would haunt Jimmy for a lifetime. Dad ordered it to be a secret.IdenAnd so. in the future, whenever Jimmy saw the color green, his seemingly unexplainable rage engaged, like a roaring freight train. He couldn’t control himself. What was wrong with him? Did he have bad genes?

Green became the trigger.

It would take time and professional help for Jimmy to recover from this childhood trauma…or at least for his anger and shame to become manageable.

There was nothing wrong with Jimmy, even though he was convinced otherwise.

In time, through prayer and professional help, Jimmy would begin to see himself through God’s eyes…as His jewel.


Suggested resource: THE BODY KEEPS THE SCORE…Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma, by Bessel Van der Kolk, M.D.

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