Adoption & trauma: Why are my adopted children so noisy?

Adoption & trauma: Why are my adopted children so noisy?

This was something no-one really mentioned, that my adopted children would be so noisy. I mean really, really noisy. Our background music is constant chatter, non-stop questioning, tiffs with each other and arguing with us, add a dash of back-chat, and topped off with always needing to have the last word on every topic and every conversation. And it never, ever seems to stop.

Why are my adopted children so noisy?

On a clear, crisp November morning,  after having completed the Brighton 10k, this new little family took a short walk to the beach to watch the waves crash on the pebbles.

Picture the scene, a family, all wrapped up and cosy, sitting on the Brighton beach, watching the sea, warming themselves with piping hot chocolates.

That wasn’t us, that was the family sitting next to us.

King of the Mountains and I were sitting on the beach. But my two were standing at the water’s edge, screaming, shouting, hurling the biggest pebbles and rocks they could find into the sea.

Both kids releasing glass-shattering squeals of glee as the stones it the water.

This was when I realised, that maybe we were just a bit different. We were noisy.

Impact of trauma

My adopted children are affected by trauma and neglect. This has left its mark both emotionally and psychologically.

Evidence shows that how we are cared for in our early childhood affects how our brain develops and this, in turn, affects our ability to form relationships, regulate ourselves, deal with our emotions, handle stressful situations.

It was clear that my adopted children’s early life experiences have had a tangible impact on their lives.

My children seem out of synch

When I look at my kids I feel they are out of synch with their environment, and how they react to new or changing situations.

When it comes to their noise output levels, the volume control is set to very high.


The noise masks our feelings

During the early days, I felt I was struggling to bond with Super Girl. At the same time, she was rejecting the idea of having a permanent mother fixture in her life.

To the world, she was the perfect little girl, smiley, charming and giggly. You couldn’t help but fall in love with Super Girl. (And she still is that charming, smiling giggly little girl).

Except, I never got the charm. I was the recipient of anger and fear which showed itself through shouting, arguments that spun into tantrums with the odd bit of kicking and hitting.

Super Girl was scared. Scared I might change her for a newer, nicer Super Girl. She needed to test me. Could I stick with her, was I up to the job of being her mother.

By the time Super Girl arrived with us, she had lived in three different foster homes, plus stints in respite care when her foster carer went on holiday.

Now she was living with us, in her forever home. But are we really forever?

For a tiny person, that’s a lot of uncertainty to deal with, and that uncertainty, fear, and trauma came out as noise.

How to survive the noise

This is our normal. We live in surround sound.

Over the years, its got better, a lot better. We are a noisy household. But we have strategies in place to cope with the noise.

1. Taking time out for me

This is easy to forget, and in the early days I wouldn’t do this, thinking if I wasn’t always present in my kids’ lives, I was somehow failing.

But taking time out, to experience quiet, listen to silence, be alone with my own thoughts, is important, it’s a must.


  • I go running with the dog (Yup got my mojo back!)
  • I take an art class
  • As a special treat, I might go see a grown up film on my own (utter bliss)
  • A walk down the road, to a local café, to sit and sip a good coffee, in quiet, is so very good

2. Get mindful

Mindfulness is an amazing. By simply regulating our breath we can calm the mind, lower blood pressure and induce a good night’s sleep.

I started using Mindfulness just after we arrived in Paris, when stress levels sky-rocketed. Teddy breathing really works for us.

3. Make our routine visual

This is one thing I haven’t tried yet, and I’m not sure why it’s taken me so long. Creating a visual schedule of our morning and evening routine.

For Wonder Boy, mornings are tough. They always have been.

He loves to drag out a morning, distracting himself by reading a  comic, looking for a lost sock, staring into space, finally packing his school bag.

Anything that will draw attention, make me nag, turn me into ‘shouty mum’ and before we know it, we heading toward meltdown.

I want to change this, help our mornings be calmer, less noisy, and maybe a visual timetable will help.

I want to say thank you to @Thepotatogroup who introduced me to Do2Learn, it is jammed packed with excellent resources.

Photo credit: Jon Nicholls courtesy of Flickr

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  1. November 16, 2016 / 1:31 pm

    I learn so much from reading your blog about adopted children and you are always so in tune with them, These are great tips and even though my girls are not adopted I could see them being useful for me too. I hope any adoptive parents arrive at your blog, as this would be incredibly useful. Thank you for joining us at #SharingtheBlogLove x
    Laura – dear bear and beany recently posted…Homemade Snowman Christmas Card…My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 17, 2016 / 9:44 pm

      Thank you for your comment, that’s such a nice thing to say. One of the reasons for starting the blog was to share experiences. I do hope parents adoptive or not find it useful.

  2. November 16, 2016 / 8:57 am

    These are such great tips, whether you are a parent to biological children or adopted, but I can see how much more important it is for an adoptive parent. As always, you’re so in tune with what your kids need from you, and what you need as a parent too, it’s great to read! Thanks for joining us again at #SharingtheBlogLove
    Katy – Hot Pink Wellingtons recently posted…Whatever the Weather Style with Lighthouse ClothingMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 17, 2016 / 9:41 pm

      Aww thank you so much for your comment. I love the #SharingtheBlogLove linky

  3. November 15, 2016 / 11:55 am

    I think taking the time out is a must for me too. I really like the idea of routine visual. It is constantly noisy over at this house too I must say! lol! Thank you so much for linking up with us on #FabFridayPost xx
    Su {Ethan & Evelyn} recently posted…#FabFridayPost Linky #57 {11.11.16}My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 15, 2016 / 10:38 pm

      Thank you Su! Go on take some time out, you deserve it! We all do!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:21 am

      Quiet, quiet! Wow! I know not all adopted kids are going to be noisy. I’d welcome a little peace once in a while – we’ve had a really shouty weekend!

      I love the Do2Learn website as well there are so many great resources, I really need to sort myself out with some visual timetables to keep my two on track.

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 10:39 am

      Thank you! I sort of do hope we are getting there, but then we’ve just had a weekend of tantrums, not sure why, just out of nowhere, but we survived!

  4. November 11, 2016 / 9:13 pm

    You are doing great with your children. Sounds like you have come so far with them. Such a sad thought of children who have no one around for them. Glad to hear your getting your running mojo back. I keep trying to run with my dog 🙂
    clairejustine recently posted…My Winter Travel Bucket List..My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 14, 2016 / 11:03 am

      Thank you! The kids have come so far which has been so great to watch. I’m pleased I am running again, I’m eating way too many pain au chocolats! Running with the dog is fab, I’ve been eyeing up dog fit for when I get back to the UK – looks fab! Get fit with the pup!

  5. Zena's Suitcase
    November 11, 2016 / 1:39 pm

    This was really interesting to read. My own children are noisy, and fight a lot. Even though your children have had an unusual start in life, what I take from this the most is that they are normal children. You are doing such an amazing thing, and I get how you need those coping strategies.
    Zena’s Suitcase recently posted…#Win! 3D Magic Maker Christmas #GiveawayMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 11, 2016 / 5:18 pm

      He, he, I hope we are getting there! Thank you so much!

  6. November 11, 2016 / 10:22 am

    Such an interesting post, how moving too, I can see why the noise helps masks anything new or unknown and trauma can affect kids and adults in so many ways. This was fascinating. You are such a wonderful parent, loved the tips at the end. My kids are definitely incredibly noisy too, particularly my youngest. I do come from quite a loud Greek family (not all Greeks are loud of course) but the bigger the family, the louder I suppose.
    Honest Mum recently posted…The Importance of Date NightMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 11, 2016 / 5:30 pm

      Thank you for your comment! I’ve been pondering over this question for a while, observing my two, how they interact with each other and with the world. I do think they are pretty noisy, one doesn’t pause for breath, and the other doesn’t really have an edit button – a stream of consciousness spills out! But hey got to love them, and when they are not with me, the silence is deafening!

  7. November 11, 2016 / 9:52 am

    Adoptive parents do an amazing job.I wouldn’t have considered how early experiences affect the ‘noise’ level of children but it makes sense.
    Keep up the good work. it’s good that you have found ways of caring for yourself too.

  8. November 10, 2016 / 11:40 pm

    Your posts are very educational and always give me an insight into your life. You are and amazing mother! And I can imagine things must be a little harder when your children are adopted but you are amazing.

    Jordanne ||
    Jordanne | Thelifeofaglasgowgirl recently posted…Playlist; My musical addictionMy Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 11, 2016 / 5:22 pm

      And so are you! Thanks so much for your comment, I am so touched!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 10, 2016 / 9:55 pm

      Thank you so much. It’s too true, there are many children in the social care system waiting for loving families. Let me know if you decide to adopt, I’d love to follow you’re journey.

  9. November 10, 2016 / 11:29 am

    What a wonderful insight you give into the world of Adoption. Thank you for sharing your fabulous journey with us, you sound an amazing Mum x

    • Tooting Mama
      November 10, 2016 / 9:59 pm

      Thank you so much!

  10. November 9, 2016 / 10:56 pm

    Awww, wishing you lots of luck. My brother has adopted a young child and I know that parenting isn’t easy for anyone but you do have some extra challenges. Sounds like you are taking them in your stride though 🙂 #BloggerClubUK
    Steph Curtis recently posted…Bring Barack Back!My Profile

    • Tooting Mama
      November 10, 2016 / 10:02 pm

      Thank you. The early days were seriously tough, but things have got easier in the sense that I know what to expect, can manage situations better, and am a bit more prepared. The do have extra challenges, but they are amazing kids, and I’m sure your brother’s kid is amazing too!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 10, 2016 / 10:03 pm

      I think that’s just essential for all of us, not just because I have adopted kids. It’s good to make this a habit, it becomes part of your day, and it’s not a luxury, it’s an essential.

  11. November 9, 2016 / 9:35 pm

    I found your article incredibly interesting. Especially since two of my 4 (soon to be 5 children) are adopted as well. And both of them come from situations of trauma and neglect. I am intrigued by the connection you make between trauma and being noisy, because in our household all 4 are equally noisy (when I say noisy, I mean off the decibel chart noisy). I am not disputing the importance of attachment and the fact that the lack thereof can have serious emotional and behavioral impacts on our children. Would you be open to the possibility that our kids are just noisy, because they are noisy not because of early trauma? You talk about the beach, maybe that experience was just exciting and incredibly meaningful to them. PLEASE don’t think I am being judgmental in any way. We all have different experiences, your article just sparked a conversation between my husband and I.

    • Tooting Mama
      November 10, 2016 / 10:14 pm

      This post was based purely on my observations,looking at my children, and seeing how they behave and how other kids are. I remember having conversations with my social worker about this too. She always said this behaviour was because of their early life trauma (my son experienced this for a number of years).

      Also, I’m pretty sure they are noisy because that’s who they are, two pretty mouthy kids, but it’s kind of noisy plus noisy if you get my meaning.

      Mine too can be totally off the decibel charts. The beach was a new experience, out of routine, something different, and when they do something new, different, out of routine, their behaviour pushes itself into another stratosphere. I find all of this so interesting – and thanks for taking the time to comment. I don’t think you are being judgemental at all. Our kids will react to experiences in different ways. There’s so set rules, no way to prescribe how they will be.

      Oh and five kids – you are amazingly, awesome!

  12. November 9, 2016 / 12:52 pm

    I never really thought how a child’s background could affect their outlook on life in this way – by being noisy. Obviously there will be many effects of what happened in their previous lives, but it’s interesting to learn this is one of the ways it comes out in their current lives. I am loving reading about your journey though.

    • Tooting Mama
      November 9, 2016 / 4:36 pm

      Aww – thank you! The noise was one of the unexpected things! And I hadn’t really realised until I started to look around and realised, WOW my kids are really loud! But hey I wouldn’t have them any other way!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 9, 2016 / 4:37 pm

      Thank you Talya, and thanks for the interview!

  13. Dean of Little Steps
    November 9, 2016 / 10:25 am

    My heart breaks for all those kids who are still waiting to be adopted. I can imagine though how difficult it must be for the kids to adjust and to trust. Same with the adoptive parents. But I must say you and your husband are doing a grand job!

    • Tooting Mama
      November 9, 2016 / 4:38 pm

      It is tough for little ones living through all that uncertainty. All they want is a loving home, a Mummy and Daddy who will give them a normal happy life. Thank you so much for your comment.

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