Cat Ann Martin lives in Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada and is married, with five children, four of whom have been adopted.
In 2006, Cat went to Liberia, West Africa, to adopt a little girl and planned to spend six months working on opening a health clinic. This experience was life changing, though we witnessed only a small portion of the trauma suffered by the children born and raised in a post-war environment. She left having adopted three children, ages two and a half, four and a half, and twelve years, knowing that each child had traumatic life experiences to overcome. At that point, she did not really know what that would be like for her family.
Beginning in 2008, Cat started attending conferences and education seminars, primarily professional conferences for social workers and physicians, in the hopes of learning more about the biological effects of trauma, what educational options were available, mental health issues, strategies for parenting and teaching, and, ultimately, how to help her children heal.
The experiences of childhood trauma, the behaviours that come from it, and the pain endured by families are difficult subjects to talk about. This book has afforded several parents an opportunity for parents to share their hands-on experiences and first-hand knowledge of living with the effects of trauma with teachers, physicians, social workers, adoption agencies, and other families.
In 2010, Cat completed her master’s degree in health studies through Athabasca University. Her studies focused largely on the effects of trauma in early childhood development.
Cat now works at Langara College in Vancouver, as a nursing instructor, where she teaches multiculturalism and health to internationally educate nurses. Cat has been a registered nurse for twenty-five years.
Sharing her experiences and helping other families facing the same issues is important to Cat. She has spent the last five years volunteering as a support parent for families in crisis, regularly speaking to prospective parents on adopting children of different ages, the effects of trauma, and, most recently, on parenting children with mental health issues.
Parenting a child with PTSD can push families to the breaking point. We are often in crisis by the time we are called by the teachers, arrive at the physician’s office, or talk with social workers and counsellors. Our families are falling apart, and we are seeking help for behaviours that we could never have predicted; we have run out of ideas as to how to manage these behaviours because they are not normal and can’t be managed by normal parenting techniques. Our families are desperate for help. As such, we want to share with all the professionals who work with families like ours, some of the issues we face, what works, and what we need from you in order to prevent the crisis and, ultimately, to help our children heal.
In this book, parents of children with PTSD provide a collective message. We thank all the professionals who have come to our aid, and now that we can breathe and reflect, we are ready to share our insights and thoughts.
Educators will better understand that school can be a terrifying place for children with PTSD, and they often require a very different approach to learning and socialization.
Physicians will better understand that their offices are usually a parent’s first stop, and parents show up feeling overwhelmed and completely confused. Doctors play a significant role providing support, as well as helping families access the unique resources they need but often don’t know which questions to ask.
Social workers and counsellors will learn that the behaviour from a traumatized child can push even the most together family to the limits, and resources are needed for children and parents alike, often for the long term. It is essential for the parents to remain the heads of the family and to feel supported even during the most horrible of times.
Adoption agencies will learn how important it is that parents are provided with enough information to let them make an informed decision. The child proposal must be complete and accurate, and post-adoption support must be available, if not mandatory, for early identification and intervention.
Prospective adoptive and foster families will gain a better understanding of what is involved in parenting children who have experienced early childhood trauma and be better equipped from the beginning.
Parents of traumatized children have some great insights to add to the world of childhood PTSD professionals.
Hear us and help us heal our children.