Ep 52: Fostering, Adopting, and Reparenting Ourselves: Tara Hutton.

When you are fostering, and perhaps even adopting a child, it’s important to be aware of how previous life experiences and trauma could shape their behavior and interactions. Today on the show we’re delighted to welcome Tara Hutton, host of the Mama’s Well podcast, and dear friend of the show. Tara describes her family as consisting of two rounds of parenting, the first being her three boys, who are currently in their late teens and early twenties, and the second being her two young adopted girls. In my conversation with Tara, we discuss her journey with mental health and how being a first-time parent prompted her initial experiences with therapy when she was feeling chronically overwhelmed. Tara shares how she felt called to foster after a family trip to Haiti and explains how she came to adopt her two daughters. She describes the initial fear she felt as a foster and adoptive parent, that she wouldn’t love someone else’s kids as much as she did her own, and how that turned out to not be true at all. We also discuss how Tara’s children have helped her gain awareness of her own traumas and learn how to reparent herself, along with the tremendously positive impact that has had on her relationship with her daughters. We end off today’s show with Tara’s advice for parents taking in a child with trauma, along with her unique story of hope. We hope you’ll join us for this special conversation on reparenting, trauma, adopting, and more.

Key Points From This Episode:

  • An introduction to today’s guest Tara Hutton, host of the podcast Mama’s Well.
  • Learn about Tara’s family: her husband Kyle, and her five children.
  • Tara shares what prompted the start of her mental health journey.
  • How Tara found herself chronically overwhelmed as a first-time parent.
  • Tara’s decision to pay for therapy a year in advance to hold herself accountable and commit to the process.
  • How Tara came to foster and then adopt her two daughters.
  • What Tara learned from the adoption process and having children who had significant trauma in her care.
  • Some of the trauma training that Tara went through as a parent who was adopting.
  • How small traumas can have a substantial cumulative impact on someone.
  • The way that trauma is present in the body and some of the tools that have helped Tara address that.
  • How Tara recognized her inability to regulate her emotions thanks to her daughters.
  • What Tara learned about herself from her reaction to certain types of behavior in her children.
  • How compassion for herself as a child has helped Tara be more compassionate with her daughters.
  • The challenges that come with having an adoptive child with past traumas.
  • The important distinction between controlling and influencing your child’s behavior.
  • How Tara’s young adult children have helped her learn about setting boundaries.
  • Why yoga has been such a great resource for Tara.
  • Tara’s advice for other parents taking in a child with trauma: be aware that you’re choosing something difficult and create a good support structure.
  • The troubling lack of resources available to the most vulnerable children in America.
  • How Tara’s children have helped her recognize the gaps in her life and reparent herself.

Tweetables:

“There’s a saying that I say all the time: awareness precedes change. So becoming aware of what was happening to me, becoming aware that it wasn’t all about my kids. It was really way deeper than that. It was about a kid, her name was Tara.” — Tara Hutton [0:10:57]

“I started to recognize that I struggled to regulate because when they would get dysregulated, I would just get dysregulated, escalating their dysregulation. It was just this horrible cycle. Nothing good ever happens in dysregulation, really.” — Tara Hutton [0:23:21]

“Of course, she struggles with that. Just think one second about her past and you know she struggles with belonging. Which shows up sometimes as jealousy, selfishness, manipulating to get what you want. When you don’t trust that you are safe, and you are going to be provided for and taken care of you fight for everything you can.” — Tara Hutton [0:29:30]

“It doesn’t get more vulnerable than losing your parents. And they have the bottom-of-the-barrel resources available to them. And it breaks my heart.” — Tara Hutton [0:49:32]

“What I’m doing is I’m reparenting myself, each one of my children have brought up things that were gaps.” — Tara Hutton [0:57:30]

Links Mentioned in Today’s Episode:

Mama’s Well

Mama’s Well Podcast

Mama’s Well on Instagram

Mama’s Well on Facebook

The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma

The Highly Sensitive Child: Helping Our Children Thrive When The World Overwhelms Them

Yoga With Adriene

Mosaics of Mercy

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