Why Loving Your Child Through Their Trauma Isn’t Enough.

Author of 5 books, podcaster, parent trainer, husband and father.

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As much as we wish we were super-humans with the power to export the trauma out of our children's lives, we're not. How do we love them through the darkness of their past, but also help them grow?

We were excited to take our two brand new sons to Florida for the first time. Although they were foster placements, we were going to be their forever home. They settled in with us just 2 weeks before the trip. When their case manager asked me what we were planning to do with them when we went to Florida, without hesitation I answered, “Take them, of course!”

My reason was simple- they were mine. Even though I barely knew them, I saw my sons every time I looked in their eyes. So, we packed up our 12-passenger van, filled up a trailer full of luggage and necessities for taking care of babies, and headed south. The trip was magical…until we reached the beach. In retrospect, I realize that, until that moment, Kristin had never put the younger of the two boys down. For 2 weeks she had carried him everywhere. He had just turned 1 but had not begun to walk. The moment she bent down to place him on the blanket we had spread out on the warm sand, he freaked out. For the next hour he flung his body across the blanket, tossing and turning as if he were on fire. His screams alarmed other sun-bathers, who haughtily looked sharply in our direction.

We finally gave up and went back to our vacation house. Every night for the next several months he screamed in the night. Car rides were also coated with tirades. Cereal bowls were flung across the room, Kristin’s hair was pulled, her arms scratched. There were even bruises up and down my legs from ongoing kicks. We suddenly began to realize the depth of this little boy’s trauma. After glancing through the files given to us by the Department of Family Services, we caught a glimpse of his journey. He was separated from his birth mom early on, and every visit with him ended early because of constant screaming. The trauma deepened as he moved from his biological grandparent’s home to multiple foster care placements.

We hadn’t even scratched the surface of his story. “No problem,” we thought. “We’ll love him through this.” But in the process, we discovered this just wouldn’t be enough. We needed more.

Love was never meant to stand alone.

As much as we wanted to be Superheroes who could snap our fingers and change the story, we weren’t. We couldn’t just pick this child up, hold him closer, and make his fears, anxiety, and stress go away. We’d all like to believe that we possess the power to transform a child, who we’ve brought into our care from a traumatic past. But the truth is, we don’t. Sure, our love must be unconditional, with no strings attached, but it cannot stand alone. For the first several months that our son was in our care, we ignored resources, because we believed that all he needed was to be loved through the darkness of his trauma. We also felt like we would be failing as parents if we used the help of therapists, or state-provided resources.

We were wrong.

Depending on our love, alone, puts an unfair burden on our shoulders. You and I were never meant to fight through this alone. Love must be the blanket that you wrap around your child’s entire journey. Within the blanket of love, there’s you, your spouse or partner, the resources you have available to you, and this precious child.

Look at it this way: If you were driving down the road, and suddenly one of your tires blew out, you wouldn’t continue to drive, ignoring the reality of your situation would you? Sure, you love this car and you want to believe you’re a good enough driver to get it to a service station, but you’d cause more damage by trying to do this. Instead, you’d stop, pull out your tire iron, jack, and spare tire, and change the flat. Or, you would call roadside assistance for help. These are all resources you have available to you to keep the car you love from sustaining more damage.

The same is true for your child. You must connect your love to action and partner with resources available to you to change the circumstances. You aren’t taking action in-spite of your love for your child, you’re taking action because of your love for your child. Doing this consistently will bring healing over time.

Love in partnership heals all wounds.

Connecting love with action, resources, and consistency will heal the wounds of trauma. Maybe not in a few months, or even a few years, but it will happen. We brought our two sons home to live with us in March of 2009. For years, our little one threw tantrums, went into screaming fits that caused us to leave public places. We fought to see the light at the end of the tunnel. But we refused to give up. We kept pursuing resources- trauma informed counselors and therapists, online courses and videos, specialists in the areas of disorders sustained by children who’ve come from difficult places, and much more.

We wrapped our unending love for this little boy around all of this. Today, more than 7 years later, our son (who is now 8) is healthier than ever. He is one of the most joyful kids we’ve ever met. You wouldn’t believe that he’s the same little boy who screamed at the top of his lungs for hours on the beach in the spring of 2009.

If we’ve learned one thing it’s this: love does heal. But love on it’s own when it comes to healing a child from a traumatic place, is not enough. It was never meant to exist on it’s own. It was meant to stand in partnership with the resources we’ve been blessed with.

Are you raising a child from a traumatic place? What are your biggest trials? Share your story with us.

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Mike and Kristin Berry are the Co-Founders of The Honestly Adoption Company and have been parents for nearly two decades. They are the authors of six books, and the host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.

Sarah Gray

Sarah Gray is the executive assistant to Mike and Kristin Berry. And she is the best in the land. In addition to providing a warm and friendly response to the many emails our company receives on a weekly basis, she also manages Mike and Kristin’s speaking and meeting schedules, and makes sure that team events go off without a hitch.

Nicole Goerges

Nicole Goerges is a Content Contributor & Special Consultant for The Honestly Adoption Company. She works with Mike and Kristin as a recurring co-host for the Honestly Adoption Podcast, and co-host of Kitchen Table Talks, exclusive video content for Oasis Community, along with Kristin. She is a fellow adoptive mom, and former foster parent.

Matt McCarrick

Matt McCarrick is the Content Production Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. If you’ve loved listening to our podcast, or enjoyed any of the videos trainings we’ve published, you have Matt to thank. He oversees all of our content production, from video edits, to making sure the tags are correct on YouTube, to uploading new videos to Oasis, to hitting publish on a podcast episode, he’s a content wonder!

Karen Anderson

Karen Anderson is the Community Engagement Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends the bulk of her time interacting with, and helping, people through our various social media channels, as well as providing support for Oasis Community members through chat support or Zoom calls. In the same spirit as Beaver, Karen is also passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and supported. Karen is also an FASD trainer and travels often, equipping and encouraging parents.

Beaver Trumble

Beaver Trumble is the Customer Care Specialist for The Honestly Adoption Company. Chances are, if you have been in need of technical support, or forgotten your password to one of our courses, you have interacted with Beaver. He is an absolute pro at customer care. In fact, he single-handedly revolutionized our customer care department last year. Beaver is passionate about connecting with parents and making them feel loved and encouraged.

Kristin Berry

Kristin Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Content Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. She spends most of her time researching and connecting with guests for our podcast, as well as direction, designing and publishing a lot of the content for our social media channels, blog and podcast. She loves to connect with fellow parents around the world, and share the message of hope with them.

Mike Berry

Mike Berry is the co-founder of, and Chief Marketing Specialist for, The Honestly Adoption Company. He spends the bulk of his time and energy designing and building many of the resources you see within our company, as well as social media and email campaigns. His goal is to use media as a means to encourage and equip parents around the world. He is also the co-host of The Honestly Adoption Podcast.