Monday, February 20, 2012

The Suffering Child

How can writers and illustrators empower suffering children?
   Using specific strategies and techniques taught to parents of at-risk children, authors can produce stories that will allow children to make connections to their suffering and be able to free themselves from it. 
The Connected Child  by Karyn B. Purvis, Ph. D., David R. Cross, Ph. D., and Wendy L. Sunshine is a must read for those who would seek to understand and help bring healing to at-risk children. The book helps adoptive parents work with children who have experienced early trauma and/or deprivation. There is also a website ( which offers an online library of sources for anyone desiring to delve deeper into the science and techniques of empowering children on how to bring hope and peace into their lives.
"Empowered To Connect"' is a conference whose sole  purpose is to equip adults with the tools necessary to heal and bring hope to children with emotional or behavioral needs.  As conference attendees, my husband and I went to learn to love at-risk children in a way that would bring healing to them.  A way that would bring some normalcy into their developing childhood.  We learned that love was not enough.  What we needed was insight into how to break down the walls they had built to protect themselves from a hurting environment.  

How can I best connect to this child?
Our daughter and son-in-law, whose desire is to foster and adopt children, were there with us.  The fact that they were there with us made it a tremendous learning experience.  We shared our thoughts, on what we'd learned, during our breaks and in the evenings.  We discussed our roles in the lives of their future adoptive children.  How would we, as grandparents, be able to provide a nurturing atmosphere for their children?  Would we be allowed to be a part of their family life in the early stages of adoption?  (This is a time when the adoptive child or children need intense one-on-one with their parents.)  If you ever saw the original Helen Keller movie, The Miracle Worker, you may remember how Anne Sullivan struggled to teach the blind and deaf Helen Keller how to communicate and connect to her outside world.  Anne Sullivan ended up cloistering herself with Helen in order to do some intense healing and teaching.

The 3-day conference offered strategies for the main caretakers of at-risk children.  It provided the science of why some children lash out in disturbing violence or hide within themselves while in the loving arms of caring parents.   

I learned that children are affected with trauma even while being carried in their mother's womb.  They can also be affected by trauma of a difficult birth delivery.  I didn't know this.  I thought a child's behavioral or emotional need was impacted after birth while in the care of adults.  (Of course, this also can be a factor in hurting and stunting the development of a child.)
Even when provided with a nurturing environment, an at-risk child
 can have violent episodes, seizures, and seemingly refuse love.
   Is this a topic that children's authors should be interested in learning more about?  You bet.  Imagine the healing and hope your book could bring to a child and his family.


  1. So true, Brenda. What a wonderful post, and what a wonderful thing you and your family are doing!

  2. Hi Susanna. The conference opened my eyes to the possibility of writing stories that may help at-risk children bond with their parents. I think this may be possible. If a writer causes the main character to solve his problem by using some of the strategies at-risk kids are taught to help them diffuse the stress they are in, then maybe the young readers will use these strategies in their own lives. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing this. My husband and I are adopted. We have been talking about adopting children. I've been thinking about writing a picture book around the theme of adoption. I'm sure The Connected Child book will be helpful.

  4. I love the idea of you writing a picture book dealing with some aspect of adoption. How much more authentic can a story on adoption be than when it comes from an author who has shared in the experience. I wish you success. :)