September 18th, 2007
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Julie wrote two posts that caught my attention regarding compassion fatigue and the walking wounded. My caseworker and I were already on the phone today talking about this as we both have sons who are in psychiatric hospitals at the moment. They are the same age and share the same birthday 10/31/94. Yep, Halloween. No further comments needed.

I found this compassion fatigue test/checklist and discovered I’m apparently not suffering any ill effects, I won’t burn out. For me I’m just tired of either taking the blame for my adopted children’s issues that they came to me with, or having professionals blame it on the number of children I have. If that were the case, then what about all these only children in therapy? Gimme a break, let’s look at the real issues. Let’s discuss the trauma that they’ve endured over the years, the multiple moves, the abuse and the neglect and then let’s not wonder why now that they are safe, they feel comfortable in acting out. Duh, this is Adoption 101.


I do feel like one of the walking wounded at times. When I stagger exhaustedly to my room at night, hoping I’ll sleep and hoping I’ll have an appetite the next day. It’s not always this way, sometimes as a family we go through long, blissful periods of calm then someone pulls the plug on the sanity tub and we feel the swirling vortex of issues sucking us down.

Pick any one of my severely troubled children and I guarantee you that it’d be the same with that child in a large family or a small one. That’s not the issue. If anything my friend, Claudia, explained it best, how adopted children more often thrive in a large family.

I’d suggest to all parents of troubled children or special needs children, or any children for that matter, that they, the adults, have some sort of creative outlet. For me it is gardening/farming. I can physically release my tensions or even my anger in a safe, productive manner. Some mamas knit or bake beautiful concoctions. One friend of mine periodically repainted his house when he was stressed out. Each room in their home was always freshly painted. I often weed furiously until I calm down. I don’t like for the children to see me react to their games, their button pushing exercises. It has taken me twenty years to get a handle on that.

I appreciate Julie’s candor and her pointing this out to us. Some of us feel as if we’re figuratively limping along, we’ll tend to our wounds later, maybe when the kids are grown, yet we all know that we can’t take good care of the children if we don’t also take care of ourselves.

5 Responses to “Stress and Fatigue”

  1. getting old says:

    I often get the comment that my son should have been an only child somewhere… I pity the soul that would have only experienced him as a child. I mean that in a positve way. I know he didn’t sign up for it as a baby. But can you imagine only ever parenting this kid who does everthing to push you or any parent away…
    I only have 3… but I can tell you, he did not need to be an only… You’d have no other kids to vouch for you..

  2. lmg1567 says:

    We had a child psychiatrist who had the simple theory that my kids acted the way they did because they were in a big family – period. Their FASD, Bi-polar, ADHD didn’t matter a bit to her. If I went in with one of them and told her what was going on at home or school that I felt was inappropriate, she would simply say, “Well, what do you expect when they live in such a big family?” After several visits, it became abundantly clear that this was her ONLY theory and it was time to find someone new. None of my adopted kids would have been only children. The first three would have been in a family of six siblings, the second two would have had each other and our youngest would have been in a sib group of four. It wasn’t their destiny to be onlies and I’m sure not going to beat myself up about it now. It sure is funny how opinionated these professionals can be when they’re trying to point the finger of blame.

  3. Holly says:

    Cindy, I went and took that test. I am at EXTREMELY HIGH RISK in both categories. What a shock. Not.

  4. Cindy Bodie says:

    Holly, Take care of yourself. I know that’s easier said than done but you gotta do so.

    IMG1567, I face it constantly, more with new people than with folks who’ve been alongside of us for years yet I still just don’t understand their thinking.

    Getting Old, I wish I’d have thought of your screen name. It’s exactly how I feel. “You’d have no other kids to vouch for you.” Amen to that and I’m so thankful for my kids that do speak up and validate our normalcy.

  5. nancyderen says:

    My creative outlet is scrapbooking, which has the added benefit of providing me reminders of all the good times with my daughter at moments when the challenges are much closer to the front of my mind! Swimming, hiking and journalling used to be outlets, and I know I need to try get back to those activities. Almost all of my energy goes to making sure my daughter has all the therapies and activities she needs, not to my own, and the rest of my energy goes to my job. My daughter is certainly proof that only children can have plenty of challenges!I can’t believe anyone would try to blame family size for a kid’s issues. I think every kid is different, and for my daughter who spent over 6 years in group residential care longing for 1:1 attention (after the usual years of abuse in foster care) it’s been very positive for her to be an only child, but sure not a cure-all! And there have sure been down-sides, too. Lots of the other kids who had been in the same residential program but for fewer years would have freaked out if they’d had to be only children. And I get plenty of comments on the flip side, telling me how her constant need for attention must be because she is a spoiled only child- yeah, the 12 years of abuse and trauma and rejection have nothing to do with it!

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