Hello, and WELCOME to Adoption Roots and Wings!
My name is Sandi Lerman, and I’m so glad you are here!
I created this blog as a place to share my journey as a mom and the wisdom I have gained along the way. My hope is to provide ideas, inspiration, and encouragement for other families with children who were adopted.
Here is our story….
In 2007, I met a wonderful little 6-year old in a Guatemalan orphanage. In January of 2011, after a nearly four-year adoption struggle of epic proportions, my son came home to live with me and we began life together as a family.
My son is profoundly deaf and had very minimal communication growing up in the orphanage as the only deaf child there. While he knew a few words and phrases in Spanish, he came to me with basically no fully developed language at all at age 10.
Life as a single mom has been an amazing heart and soul adventure but at times also a daily Warrior Mama battle. Our daily routine in the early years included teaching all the basics – how to be in a family, how to communicate emotions, and what to do with them when instead of throwing major violent/destructive tantrums (think Helen Keller the first few days with Annie Sullivan).
Because of my son’s very traumatic childhood and resulting mental health challenges, he was acting out in severe and sometimes life-threatening ways – exhibiting violence towards me and self-harming behaviors towards himself.
He received several weeks of inpatient treatment in a psychiatric hospital for a total of nine times in his first three years home. In addition to the hospitalizations, we also required police safety presence over 20 times for explosive behaviors.
During those very challenging first few years after the adoption, I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. Several people suggested that I put my kiddo in long-term residential treatment care. One adoption therapist suggested that I give up custody to the state. But the more others counseled me to give up, the more determined I was to make things better.
I read all the books on trauma and attachment, went to trainings, and hired three different parent coaches. We went to traditional therapy, art therapy, family therapy, horse therapy, and everything we did at home could be described as therapeutic parenting. Most of all, I focused on building a strong, connected relationship of trust to help reduce stress-based reactions to so many trauma triggers. I implemented strategies to teach him how to get his needs met effectively without meltdowns, and to solve problems collaboratively.
With a lot of patience, forgiveness, and guidance, his meltdowns decreased in length, intensity, and frequency… until they eventually disappeared completely.
All the raging violent episodes are now GONE! My son has learned so much about what to do to cope with overwhelming feelings. He is also now completely fluent in American Sign Language and is a brilliant artist! He is an absolute delight, and my number one hero for his amazing courage and resilience. I am so thrilled to see such amazing progress since he first came home in 2011… and I look forward to even more!
I want you to know that it is absolutely possible for YOU to see massive change in your own child, too. I call myself a Transforming Trauma Parent Coach because I have seen my own child transform from an out-of-control 10-year-old who was having daily explosive meltdowns to a calm, connected teenager who has normal ups and downs but is able to cope with them and maintain a positive relationship of trust.
The trauma behaviors were so challenging when we first started this journey together, and I want you to know that I remember how incredibly hard and isolating it feels.
Don’t give up! Reach out and get the support you need – whether that’s working with a coach like me, or finding support in your local area – don’t wait until you are exhausted from compassion fatigue. Keep fighting for your child – it is SO worth it when you see progress!
Click here for more information about my training and coaching services:
Special Note: My child is aware that I am sharing very personal details of our lives and story on this blog. He has given me permission to share these details in order to make life better for other families and adopted children. His decision to allow this transparency is just another example of what a brave person he is.
I am so proud and honored to be the Mama of this wonderful teenager!