So what exactly is the RADish Patch?
In a nutshell, it’s a place in which those of us who are raising “children of trauma” reside. It isn’t a picture perfect garden filled with orderly rows, straight, healthy plants, and sun-shining days, but the plants are loved and the light does break through from time to time allowing for a glimpse of the potential growing there.
Many (most) of us who live in “the Patch” are adoptive and foster parents. The children we love have journeyed to our homes and hearts, having arrived here after traveling great emotional distance and experiencing trauma and loss. Their bios are as diverse and storied as the degree of pain they carry and it is the rare child who is not affected in some way — most significantly.
They come to this place through no fault of their own. It is the adults in this world who have failed them and it is up to the adults in this world to do what we can to lead them into the light — a trek that sometimes requires we carry them and challenging enough that we sometimes need to be carried ourselves.
Along the way we encounter things like RAD, ODD, PDD, ADHD, obsessive lying, stealing, eloping, physical and emotional violence, prenatal drug affectation, using, master manipulation, unpredictable and explosive behaviors, self-hatred that results in cutting…
It is a gut-wrenching, soul breaking place to be for everyone involved.
But here’s the thing. For those of us who choose to parent in the RADish patch, we have this extra chamber in our hearts. It’s not a medically documented phenomena — in fact it’s quite rare and, sadly, not researched nearly enough. But, this “abnormal” heart allows us to parent the children in our care in a far different way than those who have not walked this journey.
Our hearts sustain our bodies and our minds at a level different from those who aren’t raising RADishes. It opens our eyes and provides them the ability to see who our children are beyond the behaviors, from a completely different perspective — who they are inside — who they have the potential to be. It allows for our bodies to keep on keeping on through mindless exhaustion and sometimes physical pain. It broadens our minds as we learn about things we never even knew existed and educate ourselves in every way possible to try and help our kids. It opens our mouths as we become the voice of advocacy throughout the journey and when everyone else turns away.
Raising an adopted or foster child is often a difficult road — it is also one of the most heart-filling, beautiful adventures upon which one can endeavor. It would be safe to say, however, that one of the greatest challenges lies in “helping” people to understand the reality that raising a child of trauma is NOT anything at all like raising one who is not.
Life in the RADish patch is often a very lonely and isolated place to be and I know I speak for fellow parents, who are traveling similar paths, when I say that communication and the sharing of experiences and support is a life-line that we cling to with nothing less than a death grip.
My purpose in sharing here is to offer a glimpse into what many adoptive/foster parents experience — what life can be like in the valleys — how beautiful it can be when the sun shines. A place for fellow RADish parents to touch down and a way to help open the eyes of those who cannot see what we see because they have not walked where we’ve walked.
I am also hoping to offer posts from several guest bloggers who are fellow adoptive parents, who live in “the patch,” and who work in the fields of child welfare, counseling, and adoption/foster care law advocacy.
Thanks for stopping by!
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Not my images.