Transcript for Episode 11: Casual Q&A w/ Allison & Andie

Allison Sweatman & Andrea Coston

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Here’s the transcript for episode 011 of the Trauma-Informed Everything podcast:

I’m Allison

and I’m Andie and welcome to trauma informed everything.

On this podcast we examine how trauma shapes our individual family and societal experiences.

We demystify trauma and promote a world of trauma informed everything because like it or not trauma informed everything.

As always remember our disclaimer? Everything we say is for informational purposes only,

and nothing on this show is meant to replace treatment from a licensed mental health professional. Thanks for listening and enjoy the show.

Welcome back to trauma informed everything today we are keeping it casual, casual Thursday, casual Thursday. Well, you’re gonna be listening to this whenever you want. But

whatever day it is, it’s casual. It’s casual. Yes,

yes. I mean, I’m literally in my pajamas. So

Do you have to record another podcast this afternoon? I I know I’m recording a podcast like virtually but I’m gonna shower and get dressed so I can feel profesh Yes,

but our podcast is an exception. You don’t have to shower to show up to record our podcast. We come as we are

coming we are we bring our whole selves. Sometimes we’re wearing flannel pajama pants.

Well today, like I said, it’s gonna be casual. We’re just doing a little q&a with one another. So I came up with a couple of questions for Andie, based on things that she said on the podcast and in our in our working relationship. And then you did the same for me, right? Dead. Okay, good. I wanted to make sure I was gonna get a couple questions too. Who wants to go first? I want you to go first. Okay, you’ll get an idea. Okay. You want me to ask you? Yes. Okay, here I go. Okay, the first question that I have For you, I’ll do the one that’s a little more like, here’s something I’ve heard you say about trauma and I think people want you to unpack it. Okay. So I’ve heard you say, and we’ve all heard you say, all adoptees have trauma. I want to upfront say I agree with that statement. But can you help me with the tension between all adoptees have trauma and trauma is an individual experience, not an event? Do you see what I mean by that tension?

I do. And I think that a lot of adoptive parents want to sit in the individual experience because it is safer. Um, it is much easier and fits into the current marketing based rhetoric around adoption that says adoption is beautiful. There are elements of adoption that are beautiful, but essentially and this Why I and many other say that all adoptees have trauma is you are literally ripping a child away from its mother. Mm hm. And I know that sounds like a harsh term to use. And I know that that will offend some birth parents. When I say the word ripping, but you are, you are literally taking DNA away from DNA. And you are separating genetic mirroring from the genetic mirroring who needs to see and there are so many complex ways that science has yet to discover it. How connected a mother and a baby are bonded scientifically. Our brains are created to live in biology, we need to see our biology to survive to thrive. So when we are denied that biology that genetic mirroring it creates a long term slow burn trauma so that’s one way that I believe all adoptees have trauma is there’s this slow burn of Who am I?

Yeah, yeah yeah, I think I love the way that you explained it and the way that you started with part of the reason we need to say very blunt statements like that is because clear on the other end of it is just completely ignoring all the pain altogether because it’s more comfortable for the people with the most privilege right. And so I think that saying swinging the pendulum really far, even even though that is a pretty shocking statement for a lot of people, I think that it’s necessary right to kind of join us you know, kind of wake us up whenever Yeah, kind of in our whether it’s a fog the fog of an adoptee is experience or the privilege of an adoptive parents experience or the grief Have a have a birth parents experience kind of just like wake us up. We need statement like that. So

I mean, just think about it a child is separated from its mother like if you’re a parent, adoptive or biological. Either that that statement should shock you and I get so frustrated when adoptive parents get all up in arms about the possibility of having their child taken away adopted or biological. Like DHS isn’t going to come in and say I’m a bad parent and take my kid away. But you’re parenting a child who’s been taken away from their mother. And separation trauma is a valid trauma it there is scientific research that backs up that taking a child away from its mother at any point is Trump. Mm hmm. The difference is as an infant, it literally affects the development of the brain as an adult when our parents pass or even as a young adult. When our parents past we are more psychologically capable of processing that and are usually surrounded already by long term meaningful relationships that can walk through us through that. But when you’re an infant or a two year old or a foster child, you don’t have those long term meaningful relationships, your long term meaningful relationship was your biological parents who are now no longer there. So, yeah, it is hard for people to accept that it’s so hard, but it is. It’s science. It’s true. It’s true.

Yeah, I think that an understanding of trauma, like what we talked about here on the podcast is what will help people accept those statements that just feel so strongly worded? They feel so intense, they feel so like too much? Surely, that’s not true. You know, like, how can you make an all or nothing statement like that, but it’s like, no, I really can You know if you understand what’s happening, what we mean when we say trauma and what we mean when we say trauma informed, then that statement makes a lot more sense even though it’s still hard.

So yeah, and I and I hear a lot I get the kickback. Well, I know an adoptee or I am an adoptee and I don’t believe that’s happened to me. But when I start to sit down, and when I have actual conversations with either adoptees or people who know adoptees or adoptive parents who don’t believe that statement, and we start to break down and I can start to point out the signs of the trauma to them, then you know, the fog starts to get lifted, but usually a massive case of denial. Or they’re still in that fog, or they’re still believing that adoption is beautiful rhetoric while ignoring you know, self sabotaging is usually the first one that comes up. Yeah, I could go on for hours.

Ah, no good. I’m glad you unpacked it. And I’m glad you did it here because it’s something that we’ve talked about all the elements of, but I feel like that’s worth that’s worth talking through and parsing out. So,

thank you. You’re welcome. Um, I’m going to turn it around and ask you a question about adoption as well. Okay. I was gonna give you a really easy one. Oh, but we’re gonna stay on the same. Oh, no, the same level as an eight. I know. You will appreciate staying on the same emotional. Yes, the word you use intensity, match my intensity. I’m gonna match your intensity. So my question to you and this is something that you and I have never discussed is why did you choose to adopt?

A Why did I choose to adopt?

Yeah, that’s it. That’s the question.

Yeah. Oh, okay. So, um, like everything else. There’s a short answer and a long answer. I would say that for like, if I’m being if I’m being brief with someone and they asked me that I like I would just say, we just wanted to like we’ve we had talked about it since before we even before we got married. And at the time, we were definitely entrenched in an ideology in which adoption was inseparable from a savior complex. And I would say we hadn’t completely and we still haven’t completely unlearned that savior complex, but we hadn’t even begun to do that. until probably mid adoption process and our adoption process was really fast. So I started kind of unloading that savior narrative in the middle of the adoption process as I was becoming very close with those birth mom. And planning, you know, the details of our open adoption and realizing how messed up so many things are in adoption. You know, like Yeah, I I learned all of that in the middle of our process when there was already a boy who I had been asked to parent him, you know, and I that’s what I tell people all the time. It’s so much harder. Once there is a child who might be your child, you know who you might be able to adopt. Once that child once you’ve been asked to parent that child, I think it’s a lot harder to unlearn the things that need to be unlearned. So start from the very beginning before there is a child who you have seen a picture of and you know, all of that.

There are some people who have to start after years after already adopting this child and it is so difficult because then you have to rewind everything. Yep, yep, yep, yep.

So anyway, so. So I’m sure just to be completely honest, I’m sure that a lot of savior complex stuff was there. When it came to why we adopted You know, there was Definitely a feeling like this is what we should do. You know, if I’m being honest but also even though I hadn’t completely unlearned a lot of ableism that I’m that I’m still working out and everything you know, Rosie, my biological child has Down syndrome and the the the Savior complex when it comes to adopting children with disabilities is kind of on steroids

if you will. And totally, that makes it a

whole lot of Yeah, from foster care aspect like it, it is totally on steroids. Like, if you adopt a child with disabilities, you get like saintil dar Yeah, yeah,

yeah. And so, as much as we were trying to deflect statements like that, whenever we would tell people that we were adopting another child with Down syndrome. There was always you know, there’s ease Like there was part of me that that enjoyed that kind of attention, but definitely, definitely. I think I unlearned the ableism are a big part of the ableism before I started on learning all the adoption, narrative stuff, you know, like, like the big savior ism. And so we were just telling people know, like, we’re adopting because we want to adopt, and because we’re being asked to, and we’re, we’re genuinely not afraid of the fact that this child has Down syndrome. Like, we know that, unfortunately, a lot of people in the world are afraid of having a child with Down syndrome. And we’re, we’re really, we’re really just not because of the parenting journey that we’ve been given. And so it’s really hard for me to separate our adoption story and our why behind it from my kids like that part of their identity, you know, and so, yeah, I don’t know if that answers your question, but that is such a big question. Yeah, we we’ve talked about it for a long time. We always said yeah, I think we’ll adopt, and also the opportunity. I don’t have time to tell the story but the opportunity to adopt came like, a ton of bricks. Like it happened so fast it happened so fast. Yeah. That we were, we definitely chose I mean, obviously, but it was definitely like a whirlwind and so

little aspect of once the process starts and it happened when when it happens that fast some people you know, it takes forever It feels like but there are some times where it happens so quickly that you get to the end and it’s like having whiplash. Oh, 100% for us. That was the case. I mean, I can tell you the dates. It was November 8 was when I first learned about a little boy named Bo. And he was home by Christmas. Oh my gosh. That’s that’s like a record.

Yeah, people don’t i don’t tell very many people that so here we go world But yeah, yeah, it was. It was incredibly fast. I’m really, really bad. It’s really fast. Um, we and we got really close with I got really close with those birth mom and still am. And you know, it’s really, really complicated. That’s, that’s why whenever I posted you know, a while back, there was a really, really difficult story in the news about a young boy who is autistic and was adopted and was the adoption was dissolved and I feel like we weren’t talking about the fact that the boy has autism enough like like, that is the reason that he was placed in a different family and I posted we like adoption community, we have to start talking about ableism you know, like we have start talking about it. And that was when I feel like I was like, Okay, I Guess I’m going to be talking about adoption more because I can’t, I can’t divorce. A lot of these problems, these things that we’re trying to confront in adoption without also saying, okay, here’s what that looks like, whenever your child has Down syndrome. Here’s what it looks like whenever your child has autism. And here’s how that is magnified and almost acceptable. Those things that we’re trying to like weed out in adoption. If that child has a diagnosis, we’re like, oh, but it’s okay.

Yeah, I’m saying Oh, my goodness.

Yeah. So that that’s the kind of thing that was kind of like I said, it was a whirlwind. He came home so fast. And then I feel like I just started like just unlearning and relearning all of that so quickly, and it’s only been three years. Yeah. So anyway, that’s, that’s the haphazard version of that answer. I like it. Thank you. Yeah, of course. Of course. Okay, my turn to ask.

Okay. She looks evil guys. We’re on we’re on Skype so we can see each other’s faces and she just gave this like,

Yeah, can you like rubbing my hands together? Here we go. Okay. Um, where do you see yourself professionally in five years old? She’s 2025 sep tember 2025 and here’s what I want to encourage you to do. I want to encourage you to let your mind really go there and and say the things you know what I’m saying?

Like I know exactly okay good Okay, that’s fine so hesitant. Uh huh, because I have this very specific idea of where I want to be in five years. But I feel currently like I’m a tiny little snail creeping along so In five years, I’m, obviously have my Master’s in social work. I’d like to be licensed. But that may or may not happen, because that requires a lot. A lot of hours that if I’m going to put hours into being licensed, I don’t know if the other things will happen. That all social workers out there,

understand, oh, this dilemma is a nightmare.


let me think. Okay, so in five years, I want to have my master’s degree, I’d like to be licensed. I’d like to have a part time practice that is supplemented by income from being from speaking, podcasting, and I would like to have written a book.

I love all of those things.

So yeah, and this morning It’s funny that you asked me that because this morning, I had a divine moment of inspiration if you will, and literally wrote down jotted down the idea and the actual chapters for the book.

I love that. So how does it feel to say those things out loud to everyone?

It’s big. So it’s good though. It feels good. Because for so, so, so long, I didn’t know what I wanted to do with my life. Yeah. And I was just kind of dragging myself or letting myself be dragged on the coattails of what other people thought my life should look like. Hmm, that’s that’s how I ended up married with children. Not that I regret it. Absolutely.

I feel the same way. Yeah, yeah.

There’s a societal expectation. as well, but it was expected of me to graduate to go to college to get a degree to marry a good man to have children. And when I came out of when I graduated high school and went into college, I hit this is incredibly common for adoptees, I hit this wall of not feeling safe. And that spiraled into seven years of complete and utter chaos in which it took those seven years to get a degree. I changed my major at least seven times. I have 240 credits in marketing and theater. But it’s a minor figure school figures. Um, anyway, so like I went through this, all of that to say I went through this huge period of time in my life where I was just doing what other people wanted and expected and it’s only been within the last two years that I’ve had Any idea of what I want to do and what I feel God is calling me to do. And I don’t even want to say what I feel like he’s calling me to do because it is very, like I say this all the time. When God wants you to do something, he will use your full name like your mom does when you’re in trouble at networking right now, so it feels good to have a purpose that I have chosen and have the ability it means to work towards Yeah,

I feel like you are just speaking to what I have been returning to again and again in my own healing. And just everything is I know who I am, like, how can you choose a path which that’s what that’s what majors in college feel like it feels like, you know, a path for your whole life right which most people don’t have a job within their degree besides a few degrees that are very Like narrow, right? But

pretty bad, but

no one. But that doesn’t really feel any better when people tell you that you’re like, well, I still don’t want to waste my time, you know, for the last four years and so it’s just really stressful when you don’t have a solid sense of self as a foundation from which to make all of those big life decisions, you know, so you are you’re, you’re kind of merging with other expectations of yourself, you know. So, all that to say, I can’t wait to read your book. Good. I genuinely like, I don’t mean to, like get serious because we haven’t had this conversation, but I genuinely hope we’re still business partners in five years. Wow. Yeah, it’s gonna look different, but we’re gonna flex and it’ll be great.

No, I’ve already got plans for that. Oh, I’m not going anywhere. Speaking. We’re gonna have workshops. Yes, we are gonna have materials that we sell for profit. We’re gonna Yeah, we’re gonna make money. Yeah, and we’re gonna be on Good Morning America, not the outside. Outside, we’ll be inside. Good Morning America.

Love it. Love that.

We can we can go some time and stand outside. But

I love this little This is like a little verbal vision board.

Well, we’re gonna go back to this in five years. Yes. And then we’re gonna laugh at how it looks nothing like this, but we’re still satisfied and happy.

Yeah, love it.

All right, well, thanks. Um, this isn’t one of my questions, but I’m gonna ask the same thing of you. Since we’re getting this recorded and documented, you can’t talk about like, we’re together. So yeah, I can just talk. Just me.

Yeah. Okay. So, I so five years 2025 I want to be licensed. I do think yeah, that’s that’s where I was gonna start. I do think I want to be licensed. I that’s a new like thing that I’ve settled into because I probably have spent all of 2020 wondering Do I really want to get my clinical licensure, which is called an LC SW in Arkansas, so that I can work clinically like therapeutically with people? And I do, I have decided I do and I have decided I want to do it right after graduation. That’s another thing. It’s like, I don’t have to do it immediately. either. I could, like try to get so anyway, but that’s, that’s new, like, just in the last week or so I have decided that I want to do that. Um, so I think it’s

easier to do it right after graduation because anybody who’s had to get licensure like that, you it’s, it’s almost like getting another degree. Totally. Like you’re not done. Yeah, you’re not dumb. It’s like getting a pre med degree, but not going to med school or going to med school and not doing your residency, right. Um, exactly. Please do your best. And so it’s almost like there’s momentum, like if you’re gonna do it, you got to do it right away, because otherwise you’d like it. Mm hmm.

Yeah. And it also kind of makes sense. So my husband is starting his Master of Social Work in January, and his his He’s going to be part time and that’s about a two and a half year degree. So the hope is that we’ll be really close in like him graduating with his master’s and me finishing my licensure around the same time so that’s about two and a half years from now. And then after that, I don’t know dude, like if the job that I do if I get the right job that I can be working towards clinical licensure for like, and I have a handful of them that it’s like I would actually enjoy doing this and it would get me hours for my license then then I might stay you know, I and continue for as long as I can. But I feel the same way about those those other things that we want to do. Like I also want to write a book we we are not sure if we’re done having kids,

you know or acquiring kids as a We call it being in committee. Yeah, yeah,

we’re in committee. Yeah. And so so there’s just a lot of things going on with that. And, um, and then you know, we have just different different things about our family life like like we don’t want to live in the house that we’re living in right now forever but it’s definitely we are here until we find a wheelchair accessible home you know, that we actually like for the foreseeable future you know, like and that’s how we feel. So yeah, I I have a book kind of like you’re talking about with like, the structure of the book the bones of a book has been has been written I just haven’t started the meat of it yet. And um, and then why are you busy? I’m well busy. Yeah, I cannot wait to graduate that’s that’s an immediate thing. Like like forget the five years from now thing that’s that’s fun talking about

just make it till December. Oh, my gosh. Yes.

Yeah. So so that’s that’s pretty much it. By basically talked about two and a half years from now, but really beyond that, I don’t know, like, I don’t know if I want to be actually in the therapy room at that point. Or if that’s something that I want to have, as, you know, an option further down the line, but I’ve also thought about a PhD or a JD, like, I’ve thought about law school for the last several months as well. And I just need to decide if I actually want to practice law. Some people are like, like, all my friends who are in law school are like you absolutely do not want to practice law, you want to, you want to go get a doctorate in public policy or something like that. And, you know, maybe that’s true, but the pandemic changed everything for me because I started out this program and my field placement thinking I want to work in special education. And that was probably what led me to wanting to be an attorney. And now I’m like, I don’t know if I can handle this education system. I don’t know if I can like even work with it.

like everybody’s feeling that way.

Yeah, absolutely.

Are we gonna do something about it? Probably not. Probably

not. So. Yeah, that is. That’s my answer my five year, my five year, my verbal vision board.

There you go. I do want to add that I also want to get a PhD, but I don’t think it’ll be within the next five years. Yeah. Yeah. I’ve kind of promised my husband that I will wait to get my PhD until our youngest is 13. But then I was like, I argue with him because I started so late in life. I’m like, then what if I get don’t get to use it?

Yeah, yeah, yeah.

Yeah. And he I want like requires medical schooling. Yeah. So there’s that

that’s, that’s heavy stuff. Yeah, that’s some heavy lifting.

Apparently, being the daughter of a surgeon does not qualify you for an honorary medical degree to come again. Even though I sat and watched surgery videos growing up,

come on American Medical Board. I don’t know if that’s what’s a board? Is that

a board? American met? Well, there’s several different medical boards will like

what’s the what’s the one that would give you an honorary medical degree?

I don’t have to have to come from a college. Okay, well, so we just have to in the next five years get so big, like brown a brown bag that somebody will give me an honorary medical degree.

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