To My Father & All the Silent Heroes

Powerful testimony of an adult child of trauma with parents who didn’t have all the answers, but loved anyway.

ADOPTING FAITH: A Father's Unconditional Love

My son Alex penned this sincere message from his jail cell, as he continues serving time for an addiction problem that eventually erupted in violence. I hope you will take it to heart.

I could write about all the pain and darkness that was my life. I could speak of the horrors that I saw as a child. But you and I already know the kinds of thing your children saw and what they went through. What I will tell you is that I understand completely what life is like for an abused child and neglected child.

Looking out Jail CellI remember everything that happened to me.

And I remember clearly what it was like to be that child each day as I survive in prison.

No, I’m not here to call attention to evil. Instead, I’m here to offer hope. It could be that one of you is at the point where…

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How facing ACEs makes us happier, healthier and more hopeful

Knowing and understanding your Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) score can get you to happy and healthier. Take the 10-question quiz!

ACEs Too High

Ahappy

Won’t it depress people?

Isn’t it triggering?

Aren’t the topics troubling?

Won’t it make people sad or upset?

Fear is what I often fight when talking about ACEs — adverse childhood experiences. It’s not my fear though. It’s the fear others have about all things ACEs. Adversity. Abuse. Addiction. Abandonment. Neglect. Dsyfunction.

I don’t think this fear actually belongs to those of us who have lived with ACEs, who have lived through ACEs, who live with the aftermath of ACEs as adults.

When I found out about ACEs I was overwhelmed with joy. I felt radical relief. What I experienced was a profound sense of validation. It was epic.

I also felt rage because the CDC-Kaiser Permanente Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACE) Study and related science hadn’t been shared with me. Not my doctors, therapists, shrinks, teachers, social workers or anyone while I got ready to become a parent.

Why?

This one study…

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Thankful for 20 Years

Important reflections from an adoptive dad who has been transformed on the journey–and is thankful. Welcome, Donald Craig Peterson.

ADOPTING FAITH: A Father's Unconditional Love

It’s that time of year – to reflect and be thankful. As the 20th year of my parenting journey begins, here are 20 things I have learned.

  1. Like nearly all parents, I know my children best – even when not using fancy words or technical jargon.
  1. I care deeply about my children – as I have seen in countless moms, dads, grandparents, step-parents and other caregivers.three-boys-in-a-tub
  1. I’m not a perfect parent. Yet I’ve grown stronger from my mistakes.
  1. Eventually, I learned to be on own worst critic – because I could become a better parent by listening. First to my children and then to others. While my children are unique, their challenges are strikingly similar to thousands of other children.
  1. Adoption is trauma. My children had a life before they came to me. So many unanswered questions for them. How easily people forget!
  1. Triggers are real. They can easily…

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On Radical Acceptance (& Not Fixing Your Kid)

Take a few moments and breathe in this stunning tale of Radical Acceptance by Heather Kirnlanier. I needed to hear this. Maybe you do too.

Star In Her Eye

There’s a small town in Belgium named Geel (pronounced hale with a throaty, Germanic H). By 1930, a quarter of its residents were mentally ill. If you know about Geel, you know this was not because something lurked in the water or food supply. It was because for 700 years families in Geel accepted mentally ill patients, or “boarders,” to live with them in their own homes. The town got a nickname: “Paradise for the Insane.”

I’ve never been to Geel, but I recently heard about it on NPR’s Invisibilia podcast. In the episode, reporter Lulu Miller interviews Ellen Baxter, a researcher who earned a grant to live in Geel for a year. Prior to this trip, Baxter had faked her way into a mental institution, wanting to find out about the therapeutic practices used. She saw virtually none. What she did see: people watching television, looking out the…

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7 ways childhood adversity changes a child’s brain

“The number of adverse childhood experiences an individual had predicted the amount of medical care she’d require as an adult with surprising accuracy…” –Donna Jackson Nakazawa (ACES Too High News)

ACEs Too High

anakazawa

If you’ve ever wondered why you’ve been struggling a little too hard for a little too long with chronic emotional and physical health conditions that just won’t abate, or feeling as if you’ve been swimming against some invisible current that never ceases, a new field of scientific research may offer hope, answers, and healing insights.
In 1995, physicians Vincent Felitti and Robert Anda launched a large-scale epidemiological study that probed the child and adolescent histories of 17,000 people, comparing their childhood experiences to their later adult health records. The results were shocking: Nearly two-thirds of individuals had encountered one or more adverse childhood experiences (ACEs)—a term Felitti and Anda coined to encompass the chronic, unpredictable, and stress-inducing events that many children face.
These included growing up with a depressed or alcoholic parent; losing a parent to divorce or other causes; or enduring chronic humiliation, emotional neglect, or sexual or physical abuse. These…

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