Parenting Class, Week 6: Special Guests, Sexual Abuse

Hello! So sorry for the delay in posting this. I’ve literally been carrying the piece of paper around for almost 2 weeks but haven’t gotten around to typing it up.

This was another great class! We had guest speakers – a couple and their 3 adopted children. The children were all half siblings and were 4 days shy of their adoptiversary and becoming a family. First the parents sat with us, told their story and answered questions. Then the kids came in – they’d been in the playroom with one of our teachers – to answer and ask questions and pass out cupcakes. Our class is 3 hours, and they were with us for about half of it.

Mom had quite a few tidbits to share with us both about adoption in general, and about their family struggles. The children had lots of issues including not wanting to be adopted, move in, or accept their new parents. In the end, they almost immediately referred to the couple as mom and dad once they moved into their home.

  • “You have to fix the past before you can work on the future.”
  • When you’re pregnant, you have 9 months to plan. They had far less as they intended to adopt 1 or 2 and ended up with 3. They fought for all 3 as everyone involved wanted to split the kids up. They said all or none and adopted all 3.
  • To break a trigger for one of the kids that was beat with kitchen utensils, she made that child first help her cook, then make his own creations. In the end, she said this one loves cooking more than anything. The utensils are no longer a trigger either.
  • When asked about their names, the children decided to give themselves new names. As 8, 11 and 12, they chose their names – new first and middle and taking on their new parents last names. These were finalized at the adoption, but they changed them prior to that to have people call them by their new names.

After the family left, we switched back to regular class stuff learning about sexual abuse and behaviors, safety guidelines, and the signs of abuse.

75-85% of children in foster care experience some form of sexual abuse or exposure.

All adults are abuse reporters – foster parents, teachers, family members, adoptive parents, therapists, etc. Even if it is revealed well after the fact, any abuse must be reported so the abuser can be held accountable. The majority of abusers are close family members or friends, which is both sad and disgusting to me!

We also need to think about safety as we will have a teenager in our home within the year – hopefully! We have to change our habits to remove computers and phones from our bedroom to set an example. Right now, his desktop is in the kids room, my laptop is on the couch or dining room table, and we keep our phones in the room to charge and act as alarm clocks. If we institute a “no tech in the bedroom” rule, then I will need to buy 75 alarm clocks apparently. I may have a problem waking up.

But anyhow… if our child does disclose abuse to us, we need to reassure him that it’s not his fault and that we believe him right off the bat. We will have to monitor his friends – even before disclosure – to ensure safety, set boundaries, and keep an open dialogue. Above all else, we cannot react badly and must be non-judgmental with any revelations he has. How I’m going to do that though… I’m not sure. My facial expressions suck for sure and can’t be controlled most of the time.

I have been a HUGE FAN of Lauren’s Kids for many years and have been sporting their license plate since the day it went into circulation. If you’re unfamiliar with them, they are an amazing organization founded by Lauren Book, a victim of childhood sexual abuse by her female nanny. They educate, advocate, and raise awareness for children’s sexual abuse prevention around the globe. They’re one of my favorite charities to support and love that they are South Florida locals.

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