What is Secondary Traumatic Stress? Compassion fatigue, or secondary traumatic stress disorder, is a natural but disruptive by-product Foster parents often silently suffer from when dealing with children of trauma. The symptoms of compassion fatigue may include feelings of isolation, anxiety, dissociation, physical ailments, and sleep disturbances.
We are foster parents right? We don’t sleep. Other parents think we are saints so we are isolated from peer relationships often and anxiety? Ha! Anxiety is our middle name!!!
We truck on! Through court, and night terrors from our kids, visitations that leave our kids disregulated, confused and some times re-traumarized.
My favorite part of the gig? WE CANT COMPLAIN! We signed UP FOR THIS! No literally ...we did. We feel like we have no right to complain or show any sign of distress. We are labled “saints” by our neighbors, under the watchful eye of caseworkers almost daily and
are often role models or leaders in our churches.
We cry at night when our kids go to sleep over the traumatic experiences they told to us over bath time routine because WE are their only trusted adult. We sob alone in the shower over the heartache and pain our babies have suffered at the very hands of the parents we know “reunification at all costs“ is the goal for.
When they leave us...when OUR kids we raised and advocated for walk out our door for the last time sometimes years after they walked in...we grieve in silence. Isolated and alone grieving the death of a child very much alive in another life.
Secondary trauma is very real. It’s very taboo in our community to discuss and very underserved in terms of support.
Like a thief it slowly steals our joy a small bit a day so we don’t notice it’s gone. Lack of empathy, feelings of disconnect, feeling alone and riddled with anxiety...it’s not how we started this journey.
But with help, it’s not where it ends.
We are starting a series to discuss secondary Traumatic Stress, we hope you’ll come back week after week as we unpack this disorder and how we can find ourselves again!