My Triggers, Pt. 2

Ok, I can’t let the school thing go. I just can’t. I wish I could, but on the full real: I cannot.

I know that Hope struggles in school. It breaks my heart. I see how it affects her. Her self esteem is awful because she can’t perform at her full capacity. I know she’s bright, but the barriers to success…let’s just say they are more real than Trump’s wall will ever be.

But between the actual performance and the protective attitudes that Hope displays to downplay her performance issues…I. Just. Can’t.

This combo is the thing that I struggle with every single day.


I try to only look at her grades occasionally. I ask her about assignments and if she needs help. I encourage her to use a timer to help her manage time. I try desperately to leave it alone.

And it all drives me mad.

I have advocated for so many accommodations. I have spent a fortune on tutoring. I’ve tried new organizational tools. I’ve identified the incredible anxiety we both have about school.

I’ve tried to just let it be and try to work itself out along with Hope experiencing the consequences of not doing her part in the areas where she can.

And still I am filled with a mess of emotions about Hope and school.

I’m realizing that education is such a core value for me, something so important that 1) I can’t let it go and 2) I might not be able to fix this. And being a natural born fixer…this is a problem for me.

It’s not *just* that education is important; it’s been my gateway to upward mobility. I want that for Hope. I still have dreams of my daughter doing better than me in this life. I want her to have the cloak of protection that education kind of provides us. I want it so badly for her that the idea that school would be a struggle for her seriously never occurred to me during the adoption process. Her previous performance had been quite good. Now it’s the thing we struggle with the most.

Even after 3 years, I’m not prepared. I have exhausted all of my “I can fix this” pep talks. I have practiced laying this burden down, only to pick it up again a few hours later. I have pushed, coaxed, pleaded, bribed, and lovingly reassured with no change in results. I have watched my daughter sink deeper into depression and I assume a lot of blame for that because I don’t think anything I’ve done has made her feel better. I have developed no new coping skills.

I do not know how to deal with this.

I just don’t know how any more.

I looked at a special school, but the $50K tuition made me suddenly remember the padlock code to the liquor cabinet without having to look it up.

Weekly I get so frustrated even though I know it’s not all Hope’s fault. I go to meetings only to quietly seethe when Hope refuses to participate in a semi-adult conversation because her emotional IQ is about age 5.

The whole thing makes me angry with the world.

The whole thing makes me wonder why I chose this path.

The whole thing makes Hope feel like a failure.

The whole thing makes me also feel like a failure.

We both are mad and ridiculously sad, and I can’t see any light in the tunnel we’re in.

I’m back to looking at tutors and special programs in hopes of helping Hope be successful. I’m also back to just trying to let it go so that she doesn’t think I also believe she’s a failure. She’s not.

So, the educationally dilemma is my true Achilles heel. It brings out both the best and absolutely worst in me and I have no idea what to do about it.


About AdoptiveBlackMom

I'm a single Black professional woman living in the DC area. I adopted my now adult daughter in 2014, and this blog chronicles my journey. Feel free to contact me at, on Facebook at Adoptive Black Mom, and on Twitter @adoptiveblkmom. ©, 2013-2022. All rights reserved. (Don't copy my ish without credit!) View all posts by AdoptiveBlackMom

10 responses to “My Triggers, Pt. 2

  • Beth H

    Love to you and Hope. May you learn to let go. It’s so hard! But I believe you can do it. Call me if you need to blow off steam over a drink or a treadmill. ❤

  • thecollectivesystem

    Hi. Newbie reader to your blog here. I am not a mother and I wasn’t adopted as a child, but I was traumatized in horrendous ways multiple times and I went through the foster care system. I tell you this because I too was bright but awful at school. Awful! I could never concentrate, I was dissociated most, if not all, of the time. I had no self esteem and a really bad case of anger at everyone who tired to *help*. The way I saw them was pushing me to do what they wanted and I always failed them. And myself. My brain could not remember what I just read. I had no radio or tv or distractions. I just could not hold the information. Then came test times. Of course I had test anxiety. I had anxiety about everything, it came screaming out of me during high stress times like tests. The trauma I went through, although over, permeates my entire days. Even when I don’t talk about it. School was blindingly difficult. I loved to escape into books though. IDK if Hope likes to read but it gave me ways to educate (although not properly) myself. In my way, in my times, in the way I could. I love your blog. Raw, honest, sincere, hopeful, and painful sometimes. I just found it a week or so ago. Trauma kills whoever we were supposed to be. I wish I could have kept on in school. I hope Hope can find a way that she feels okay with education. I started online school and that was a huge help. I remember in foster care thinking I wish I could be home schooled so I wouldn’t have to face the ugliness of other kids or the constant problems I had with memory. I dont know if that would be an option for her. Just my thoughts. I wish you both well. -Lora

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Online school is an option for the fall; what I think might work is a hybrid. Some in class and some online. We’ll see. But I see all of what you’ve described with her and it’s just so painful to watch as well as to endure. My heart breaks for her and that’s why I keep fighting for her; but I know it probably feels like I’m fighting her to Hope. It just feels miserable all around and I just want her to achieve some success–not for me, but for her. Thanks so much for reading and sharing. I really appreciate it. ❤

      • thecollectivesystem

        I’m sorry you both go through this. It’s heart-wrenching. What I like most about your blog is that your love for your daughter shines through every post. Also, your honesty of your frustrations tells how you love her, because how frustrated could a person get with someone they don’t care about. I’m sorry it’s miserable now. Maybe gaining some success in her life to lift her up can come from outside the school halls. A hybrid situation sounds good. I would have given anything to not have to deal with the social aspects of education. My emotional IQ was low for my age too (trauma does that) and the social parts of school was too much for me. I graduated, barely. By the time I got out of high school I was done. I am 50 now. I went to college for a year and a half. That was all I could tolerate. I hope she finds a way to take her all the way through because I agree with you, education is one of the best ways to overcome some of the harsher realities in life. Take care. -Lora

        • HerdingChickens

          Trauma can alter so much. Stress makes it so the child is functioning at a basic fight/flight level most of the time. When you’re being hyper vigilant for any environmental signs of danger, you can’t access the fronts love of your brain. The place where reasoning and logical thinking happens. Your hybrid idea is great. The work you are doing is great. It takes time for kids to feel safe. There are some days when our adopted children are afraid to leave for school because we may not be there when they get home. Logically they know we will be there. Emotionally? They are totally triggered.
          Cut yourself some slack. You aren’t failing. You’re doing. And so is she. The fact that both of you are fighting trauma together? THAT is success. The definition of success changes from grades, to feeling safe. Good job.

  • Caitlin

    Oh friend, I hear and feel your pain. Education is truly wasted on youth…before we have the awareness and appreciation for the true opportunity that education affords. That being said, is there any way to push “pause” on Hope’s education until her emotional IQ does some catching up? Are there any outside-the-box options? Online classes, alternative schools in your district, some type of homeschooling? Could she hold back a year in school to repeat the material and feel the sense of success, which might motivate her? Just some ideas…I’m sure you’ve thought of all of these. Hang in there. You’re still a wonderful parent and education is NOT the only marker of Hope’s success and value. Sending love.

    • AdoptiveBlackMom

      Thanks. Lots of options are on the table. Traditional homeschooling isn’t really an option as a single parent, but I am looking at some options. I don’t think it would be a bad thing to repeat a year and I wish I had done it when she moved here, but I was afraid of the impact it would have on our new relationship. That’s all caught up with us now. She will pass this grade, it really is a matter of squeaking by. I’m just so exhausted and I know she is too. 😦 Sigh! Many thanks.

  • AdoptiveNYMomma

    I am sorry this is a struggle for you. Yes you are right education is key but does it have to be education right now? Yes she needs to graduate high school and yes I agree college is important but it doesn’t have to be done in a specific time frame. OK maybe high school but if she has an IEP can she get extended time until graduation? If she really is not at a place to succeed doing it all and you have worked all the magic you can work, and I believe you have, maybe stretch it out. M1 was suppose to graduate next June, we had to stretch it out to get her to a point to master it better. Don’t pressure yourself with HS, college, grad school…nope there can be breaks and time outs and when ready go back because yes education is very important. No one times the journey.

  • lisa

    It’s never too late for education! With you in her life, she can always learn the material when she is ready, do 2 years community college, and transfer to a good state school if she does well and go from there. Being a teenager is hard….

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