‘I cried and cried.’: Adoptive mom in tears after school rewards trauma-ravaged son for his kindness

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Understanding Trauma

“Y’all, I cannot stop crying. For two years my adopted son has given me a run for my money at school. I’m talking, days and days spent at the school with him, write-ups galore, phone calls to pick him up because it was too much. Trauma is hard.

I’m no trauma expert. In fact, I’m not even close to scratching the surface of all there is to know. But I do know it’s messy, it’s hard, and it’s very unpredictable.

Adoptive mom embracing son at grassy field
Courtesy of Amber Kait Photography

There is no handbook on how to raise a child ravaged with trauma that abuse and neglect have left behind. There are no written guidelines on how to love someone that’s been broken. There is no possible way to be prepared or ready.

My only good knowledge is to bring truckloads of grace and when your truck is empty, fill it back up. You always need to be prepared to dump grace at any given time.

Prior to adoption, I got a phone call from the school. It was just like any other day. Just like any other phone call. ‘Ms. Pollard, we’re having another bad day. Can you come?’ ‘Sure. I’ll be right there,’ I reply.

I get there and my boy is silent. Something seems different. I pull him in close and ask what’s going on. It’s mid-September and he’s asking if he can have a race car for Christmas, followed by a game for his birthday in March.

It would be easy to become frustrated that I just left work and drove 30 minutes because my son is acting a fool at school and when I get there he starts asking if he can have gifts. As if his behavior warrants a gift in this moment. But this is trauma.

You see, it’s not about the gift to him. It’s about his heart and his need to feel safe. If I can reassure him that he’ll get that race car for Christmas, he knows he’s safe until then. No social worker will come pick him up. He’s safe here. At least for three more months.

My boy’s story is less than ideal. No one wants his story. No one wants our story. But what we know is that before we had a name, there was God that started writing the pages of our stories. When you thumb through those pages, you’ll start to see a theme. It runs deep. It’s rescue.

Selfie of adopted boy and mom inside car
Courtesy of Amy Pollard

Celebrating Behavioral Progress

Our family was in a bit of a transitional season several months ago. We had an opportunity to leave the school district we were in to pursue opportunities that might be a better fit for the future of my boys.

However, that meant we would have to leave the one place where we knew everyone and everyone knew us. The one place and people that knew our story. The ones that pulled us in close and loved us through all the messy days.

Leaving would mean we had to trust new people and I wasn’t ready trust again. I wasn’t ready to go.

Someone very special in our lives patiently came alongside me and helped me to see there was a beautiful thing just on the other side of where I felt most safe and comfortable. I needed to be rescued from myself.

While I kicked and screamed because I couldn’t see how this is what was best for our family, I went anyway. I said yes. I was utterly scared, but it wasn’t the first time I was called to the unknown and scary and hard and messy, and it certainly won’t be the last. I now know the importance of trusting the process.

We started in our new schools three weeks ago. So, when my son’s new principal called me this week to tell me he had him in his office, my heart sank and I immediately thought to myself, ‘Jesus! Here we go again!’ He had been written up.

Only this time he got written up for being ready to learn, being intentionally kind to others, for being courageous, positive, considerate, polite, prepared, and for working hard. Because that’s a thing at his new school, and I am here for that kind of write up!

This journey has had more lows than highs but I’m not mad about it because it makes these moments more precious than I could dream up. This may seem small, but it is by far one of the most significant moments I’ve had on this journey.

I cried and I cried, and I cried some more. Then we celebrated. I know for certain the principal thinks I’m a lunatic. I immediately started the ugly cry and told him, ‘You just don’t understand! You just don’t know what we’ve been through to get to this place!’

He responded by thanking me for being a wonderful parent, yet nothing in me feels like a wonderful parent.

Don’t we all feel like we’re failing our kids?

Don’t we all doubt every single decision we make regarding their lives?

Don’t we all just hold onto to any bit of hope that somehow beauty will rise from the messes we make?

Positive school behavioral report
Courtesy of Amy Pollard

Parenting Advice

I don’t know the places you find yourself in today. You might feel like you know what you need. You might feel like you don’t have a clue what you need right now. You might need rescue. You might need rescue from yourself just like I did.

You might need rescue from that person or thing. You might be called to something that seems impossible. Something you can’t possibly see how beauty will rise from all of the ashes that lay on the floor from what was. Something you can’t understand the reasoning in. Maybe it’s something you don’t even want.

While I can’t promise you it will be easy now or easy ever, I can promise you that life will never be found going your own way. If you trust the process, you will wake up one day and you will look back through your pages and you will see beautiful fate rescuing you from yourself and from what you thought you wanted and needed.

You will find yourself in a place you couldn’t have ever imagined. You won’t feel worthy to be there but remember that you are. You couldn’t have even imagined it. And somehow, there will be a new page in your story.

A page of how grateful you are for the mess and the unknown and the beautiful leading. That thing you lost hope in, that thing you didn’t want, that thing that was hard and messy, that thing that scared you the most, it’s now your most treasured gift.

Trust the process.

Trust your faith.

I may not have chosen this story, but I am here for it.

I cannot believe I get to watch these boys grow, overcome, and work hard to pull themselves out of the pits of hell they found themselves in. I’m believing the best for their lives and this is just the beginning of all the things we’ll see them do. I know it.”

Little boy flexing arm muscles on grassy field
Courtesy of Amber Kait Photography

This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Amy Pollard of Gulfport, Mississippi. You can follow their journey on Instagram. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories.

Read Amy’s heartwarming backstory adopting these 3 brothers:

‘Momma, can you please call the judge? He’s moving too slow. Does he know I need you to be my momma? I’ll tell him. I need to be adopted. I can’t wait anymore.’ My boys waited 3 long years.’

‘THOSE. ARE. MY. BROTHERS!,’ she pointed across the courtroom, yelling proudly. The boys stood to their feet, the proudest I’ve ever seen them.’: 3 adopted brothers ecstatic to attend biological sister’s adoption day after ‘tragic’ childhood

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