Linda Vincent lets you know straight away: Being a foster parent can be terrifying.
“Ter-ri-fy-ing,” she says for emphasis. “My kids come into my home and I see behaviors that would blow other people’s minds. They call them ‘trauma rages’ sometimes.”
Foster children tend to have encountered trauma. They tend to have high ACE scores. They typically haven’t encountered stabilizers in their lives.
Then they come into the lives of foster parents. They come into lives like Vincent’s.
“I’ve watched my children go from name-calling that I’ve never heard from a grown-up to months later my children coming and sitting down in front of me saying, ‘Mama Linda, my heart’s hurting right now. I just need to talk about it,’ ” Vincent says. “Or, ‘I need a hug.’ ”
Vincent, a Tulsa real estate agent when she isn’t fostering her 8-, 5- and 4-year-old children, offers a perspective that sounds straight out of a parenting class.
“When a child feels completely overwhelmed and overstimulated and they’ve never been shown healthy regulation ... It’s tough,” she says. “What they’re really trying to say is, ‘I’m hurting and I don’t know how to tell you that. And I’m scared to tell you that because you might hurt me or make fun of me.’ But they can’t say that so they call you really bad words.”
This is where adult stabilizers come in.
Teachers, counselors or mentors give children affected by adversity attention and empathy for periods beyond a moment, and it opens paths.
The children have a sympathetic figure, someone they did not have before, and what can result is dialogue, understanding and some healing.
Vincent presents that figure as a foster mom.
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