The 3 T’s of Trauma


Camie Schuiteman, Family Resources Specialist for MLJ Adoptions, International

 “The nature of trauma is that its effects far outlast the event that caused it,” says the author of Suffering and the Heart of God. Trauma: we live with it. Our children live with it. Adoptive families are impacted by it. Of course, we hope that with enough love and security our adoptive children will overcome the trauma in their past. Quickly we realize, our hopes are an oversimplification of trauma recovery and just plain incorrect. Perhaps, just when we think we are progressing, a relapse reveals that the effects of trauma are still there, deeply imbedded in our children’s souls. Books are written about trauma. Conferences focus on trauma. I can’t seem to learn all there is to learn about trauma quickly enough. Maybe you feel like I do … there is so little time and so much to learn and my child needed recovery YESTERDAY.

What can I do today, this minute, to enter the world of healing with my precious child? Author, Diane Langberg, gave me great hope in three simple words: talking, tears, and time. Is it a magic healing wand? No, but they are things I can do right now, today, and every day.  

One result of trauma is that our children come to us with no voice. Trauma brings silence and a deep sense of emotional pain. Talking – talking with them, listening to them talk, and being attentive to their story and their feelings connects us. It tells them that they are important, and their words are worth listening to, over and over again. It a gives validation to their feeling and restores dignity because they matter. It gives them voice. “Trauma recovery requires talking, and as the story is repeated, strength to say and grasp the truth grows.”

Tears – we cry together as we face the grief and the pain of their past. Losses, all types of losses, have caused deep wounds and scars. I am reminded that there is purpose behind behavior. “Bad” behavior is a crying out of hurts. It is not willful disobedience or defiance. It is a crying out of, “I am fearful. I am overwhelmed.” Sometimes it’s all I can do but cry with my child. Cry for them, over them, and with them. Tears even matter to God. Psalm 56:8 says, “You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book.”

Lastly, the one unlimited resource I have to give to my child is time. However long it takes to help my child develop into wholeness, I am willing to endure. There is no timetable to healing. As a parent, I have the power to provide connection, support, and joy. Will I get tired? Yes. Will I fail some days? Yes. But as we live life together, each positive interaction and each time I meet my child’s need, I have deposited good memories into his or her emotional bank.  New experiences and new relationships can lead my child to new responses; however, time is required.

Talking, tears, and time … in various orders, at varying degrees, we all possess them, and we can use them to help our children recover from trauma. These three T’s are positive interventions worth remembering.

For additional support contact Camie is trained in TBRI and Back2Back’s Trauma Competent Care.

Camie serves as MLJ Adoption's Financial Resources Coordinator. She successfully raised over $50,000 for the adoption of her two daughters from Vietnam. Camie is a pastor’s wife, busy mother of five, educator, and advocate for the fatherless.