Every international adoptive parent I've ever met both before and since adopting fell in love with their child before they even met them. It was just "something" they couldn't quite identify or put words to that told them this was their child. Many times this "something" is part of a written biography of sorts that may at times includes poorly focused and out of date photos if any photos at all.
As a believer I felt it was the small voice of G*d leading me to my child. However I've talked to many non-believers who had the very same experience and some folks in the alternative health community call this the energy or Qi being recognized. In Chinese culture it's referred to as the red thread philosophy. The Chinese believe that every person we are to come into contact with in our lifetimes is connected to us by an invisible red thread. Whatever your personal belief system now that your child is home you have certainly started to learn more about their personality than what was ever included on a biography through your placement agency. This is particularly true of international adoption.
It may sound like Rager Rick, Nervous Nelly, Fearful Fred and People Pleaser Patty have nothing in common given that their personality manifestations are so differed. However, what I've learned from studying the work of Dr. Bessel van der Kolk, Stephen Porges PhD, Rachel Yehuda PhD, Ed Tronick PhD, Dr. Alexander McFarlane and Karyn Purvis PhD is that all these personalities have a lot in common. They're all coming from a place of disconnectedness, a place lacking in felt-safety and a place where they feel that they have no one but themselves to count on.
Rager Rick/Rhonda takes this disconnectedness, lack of safety and lack of stable trustworthy care providers and gets angry and lashes out at every perceivable slight they encounter. Anything and everything from the wrong tone of voice or facial expression to someone accidentally brushing against them and more.
Nervous Nelly/Nic takes this same data set and is always on high alert. Never trusting anything even that which they see or hear for themselves, always waiting for the "other shoe to fall" for the next person to disappoint them, etc. Always vigilant so they can prepare for whatever it is and act accordingly. Nelly/Nic is unable to put their trust in others because they've been let down so many times.
Fearful Fred/Francine takes this data set and gets stuck in time. Completely shuts down and is incapable of making decisions because s/he doesn't trust themselves and is afraid to make the wrong decision and make matters worse. Fearful that no matter what decision they make it's going to be the wrong decision and it's going to make matters worse so they just want to wash their hands of the whole mess. There are a lot of avoidance issues with this personality. "I"m not going to be successful so I'm not going to even try."
People Pleaser Patty/Paul takes the data set and determines to do whatever it takes to change their circumstance. This can be a surefire recipe for disaster as it opens them up to abuse and victimization. They just want to be accepted and are frequently willing to deny who they truly are to be acceptable in someone else's eyes. In this day and age with human trafficking being what it is, we must be very mindful of our children who are people pleasers and watch out for their safety and whom they're hanging out with.
Just as many have first and middle names it's not uncommon for the trauma child to manifest more than one of these personalities. You may see Rager Rick and Nervous Ned on the same day or People Pleaser Patty may turn into Fearful Francine for any or no reason at all. You may also see personalities not expanded on in this post. Controlling Conrad/Christine, Manipulating Mary or Mark, and/or Negative Ned or Nancy.
Don't give up hope. There is much that can be done to support your efforts to nurture your child to a place of wholeness. See my next blog post “Trauma Personalities and Clinical Aromatherapy “ to learn more about neurophysiology and Clinical Aromatherapy on Friday afternoon, February 10th.
©2017 Cynthia Tamlyn-CCA
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