Learning to Be a Trust-Based Family

Adoptive parents Gretchen and Matt talk about their journey of building trust and connection with their son.

Gretchen:  “So, when we first got Benjy’s paperwork, it was really overwhelming. He was described as a very angry child and his neural psych evaluation had described him with so much trauma and abuse, neglect, things that we were just not equipped or really ready to handle. And we already had four biological kids and kind of were in a sweet spot. They were all out of diapers and done being potty trained. And so to introduce a child into the home with the hard things he had gone through was really overwhelming for us and made us rethink the decision we had made to get involved in foster care.”

Matt:  “And so especially when we’re taking into account our biological children, bringing into our home this, this child that has such this different background, we were more than concerned. We were scared.”

Gretchen:  “I threw myself into books and resources and just trying to understand how to parent this child that had been brought up so differently from our kids. And so we needed those resources that taught us how to have a trust-based relationship, especially because we were adopting a six-year-old where we missed all those years of bonding and that connection that builds. And so there’s a lot of ‘yeses’ involved because that builds trust and connection. There’s a lot of overlooking things and letting things go that you may not with your own biological child, because that trust has been there. A lot of second chances where a child reacts in a way, and instead of reacting to that, we had to learn to give that grace. And the second chance to say, ‘OK, do you want to try that again with respect?’ ‘Do you want to try that again in a way that, you know, might be a little more kind or a little less angry?’ And so we had a lot of those situations.”

Matt:  “The hardest part for me, I think for both of us was getting all these pats on the back from people that didn’t know what we were going through. Like, ‘Good for you guys. Like you guys are amazing. I’m so proud of you. You’re awesome.’ And we’re like, we’re drowning. This is not going great. You know, we, we feel so inadequate. But you don’t want to share that with someone that thinks you’re Superman.”

Gretchen:  “We had to know that we were not enough for him. And it took a lot of being vulnerable so that people could speak into our lives and help us understand that everything we were going through was normal and that we would fail. We would get upset. We would react and that it’s part of the process.”



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