Spring is trauma season at our house. This means that along with flowers blooming, spring vacations, and deep cleaning, we are also tending our daughter’s wounds. We’re immersed in self care and holding onto the bright spots. We’re reminding ourselves that all things move and change. This poetry series is my way of wrapping love around a challenging time and documenting our journey of building a family through adoption. Enjoy!
This is part one of a ten-part series of adoption poems by Allison Kenny.
Trauma is like an oil spill in your home.
It seeps into the floorboards. Makes the bathtub slippery.
You scrub and scrub until you’re raw.
But the evidence lingers.
Sleek, slick, evasive and deeply corrosive. That’s what trauma is like.
She looks like every other kid. Typical.
Precocious. Chatty. Says the right things at the right times.
You tell us what a delight she is.
You are right.
SHE is delightful.
SHE is fierce and creative and vulnerable and beyond funny.
But her trauma
Her trauma is not funny at all.
Her trauma is an oil spill.
Puts that look in her eye.
The one you don’t notice but her Mama’s do.
This look means she’ll soon pick up her babydoll and make it hit itself.
This look means a grenade could go off any minute in her body.
She’ll try to hurt herself. She’ll try to hurt her Mama’s.
The neighbors will mutter, “Why don’t they discipline that girl?”
Birth parents will say, “That’s normal. All kids throw tantrums.”
The babysitters will say, “Really? She’s so sweet with me! We have such a good time.”
I believe you. You are babysitting HER. Sometimes her anxiety. But mostly, you are getting my actual little girl. Enjoy her.
I am mostly getting her trauma.
I am getting reactivity. I am getting her aggression. Rage. Despair. And Grief.
A lot of the time.
I read all the trauma books.
I know how to get low and quiet. How to hum and breathe and move breakables out of the way.
I know how to appropriately restrain my daughter when her trauma tries to hurt her, or me, or others.
Intellectually, I know to wrap love around her trauma and hold it like the hurting baby it is.
But there’s been an oil spill in my home.
So…I’m very busy scrubbing.
I text with our family therapist almost daily.
I meet with her occupational therapist, her teacher, her team of learning specialists.
We’re all tangled in a therapeutic web.
The best there is for a little girl like her, they say.
We’re all so lucky, they say.
We actively practice gratitude.
Every Single Day
to keep our brains from sinking totally.
But none of us
None of us
But we are staying