Not perfect, just present: Everyday trauma-informed parenting


Caronline Bailey
Focus on Adoption magazine

In our summer issue, we explored how difficult but important it is to share our not-so-perfect moments. In this piece, Caroline shares one of hers. We hope it encourages you.

“Mom, when did Mamoo see me for the first time?” My child asked this question completely out of the blue. (By the way, Mamoo is my mom.)

I turned to my child and explained that Mamoo came the very next day after my child arrived at our home.

“Did she hold me like this? How did I act to her? Show me how I was held.”

I mimicked the way that we all held this child. After this was done, my child grabbed me and we hugged tightly.

Today, I trained foster parents on some trauma information. We spent time talking about adoption and kids who find themselves growing up with parents other than their biological ones. The timing of my child’s question does not fall too far from my thoughts.

I know I’ve said it a lot and I am sure that I will continue to say it. As a parent through adoption, you have to be ready for on-the-spot questions. You have to just go with the flow, answer the best you can and go beyond your comfort zone.

Affirmation and nurturing touch means so much. While we were discussing this, I made sure to keep in close contact and when my child reached out for hug, I returned it in full.

This is parenting from a trauma-informed perspective. This is parenting through adoption. This is doing a gut-check before responding. This is about our kids.

If you find yourself caught off guard by your (adopted) child’s questions, be yourself. Be honest. Nurture their questions and answer them. Don’t be afraid. Hug and hold them closely.

We are the gatekeepers of their history. That is a huge undertaking and can be wrought with sorrow. However, in many ways, we are also the gatekeepers of their futures. Don’t forget your importance. Don’t forget your promise to always put your children first—even when you struggle to do so.

It truly is both a blessing and a challenge to be an adoptive parent. You don’t have to be perfect. Just be present. 

Caroline is a mother to three children through adoption, and a strong advocate for foster children and families. Currently, Caroline works for a Christian child welfare agency in Missouri. She shares her life experience about foster parenting, adoption, barrenness, and faith on her blog,