By: An Adopt4Life Community Parent
I always knew I wanted to adopt since a very young age. It was no surprise when I woke up one morning with a feeling of urgency and told my husband: “Time has come for us to start our family.” Within weeks I had conducted the needed researched to start the process and booked our private PRIDE Training. Our trainer was so amazing and truly led us through the process using videos and workshops so that we could feel the reality of what our children may have experienced prior entering the child welfare system and joining our family.
One of the videos she played found me in tears. It was the story of a little girl who was sexually abused and coming into care for the first time. She was filled with fears but her foster mother used all the approaches and words I wished my mom had used when I disclosed my sexual abuse. I was seven years old when it first happened and sexual abuse back in the early 1980 was still a taboo.
I turned to my husband and told him that I felt within my bones, that our child(ren) would also be survivor(s) of sexual abuse. Thankfully, I knew I still had much work to do, to become a solid anchor like the foster mom in the video. I knew that, in order to pave the way for our child(ren) to heal, I’d have to also find ways to speak my truth and find some healing. Within months I dove into my childhood, slowly but surely I was able to come to some peace.
Little did we know when we attended our first ARE (Adoption Resource Exchange), that the sibling we inquired about (although we had never dreamed of adopting a larger sibling group) had also suffered from sexual abuse. As soon as we found out, they had been victims, I (we) knew, they were our children.
During their transition and post finalization, our children never confessed their sexual abuse. It was like a deeply hidden box with triple locks holding their secret and each of them had lost the key to unveil it.
Yet life has another trick in its hat, it decided to truly pull the carpet under our feet and send us a cursed gift. A few weeks after we finalized their adoptions, I was the victim of a sexual assault.
Within seconds, my life tumbled; fears, hyper-vigilance entered my world, and trauma paralyzed my every move. Me, the strong advocate for our children, the one pushing through thick and thin, could barely walk out of our home. After reporting my assault to the police, we sat down with our children and shared the terrible news with them. We knew, without truly knowing why, it was a secret we couldn’t hide from them.
For days, weeks, months, I was the shadow of who I was. But deep inside me, I knew I had to expose (to some level), my inner state to our children, so they could see me, slowly but surely pull through this challenge. In the darkness of the destructive ramifications of my assault, I knew that I had and would remain strong and stand up for me, for our children and for all the women, men and youth that are working towards speaking their truth.
As I slowly worked towards healing and also bringing my assailant to court, one of our children started their journey speak up as well stating: “If mom can do it, I can”. The day when our child disclosed to the therapist and decided to make a victim statement, was the day I realized that my sexual assault was my cursed gift to help our children find the lost keys to their deeply hidden secret.
Today, three years later, like other victims of sexual abuse and assault, I have good and bad days. But “thanks” to this destructive event in my life, I have been able to show our children that healing is possible, even though it is a long journey. Today I can now have honest discussions with our teenagers and young adults about some of the realities, victims like us, can experience. They don’t need to share their stories, but I can and do share mine. Why one may wonder? It’s simple, I can use “me” as a safe subject to speak about it and at the same time show them that they are not alone.
Ultimately, this cursed gift has allowed me to reconnect with trauma, understand it on a deeper level, which allowed me to understand theirs in a more meaningful way. It also allowed me to teach by example that we can, with the right support in place, overcome trauma.
To all parents who have experienced sexual abuse, our stories of how we overcame any destructive hurtles we experienced, can give hope to our children, that one day, they too, can overcome their traumas, their sexual abuse.