By Brittney Martin, The Imprint, January 6, 2021
Tara Hutton remembers how the little girl she had been fostering for a year began acting out on the day a new social worker came to their house in Magnolia, Texas. As Hutton and the social worker talked, the girl kept interrupting and trying to get Hutton’s attention. She insisted on bringing her Play-Doh outside, despite knowing it was an inside-only toy.
Though the girl likely couldn’t explain why she felt rattled by the appearance of a new social worker, Hutton recognized that it had triggered her. When she was 3 years old, a social worker took the girl away from her biological family and she entered the foster care system. The experience was traumatizing, and acting out when she saw a new social worker was her brain’s way of communicating that she was scared of being taken away again.
Hutton could have easily misinterpreted the girl’s reaction as bad behavior if she hadn’t been educated about trauma. Hutton underwent some initial trauma-informed care training when she and her husband first became foster parents in 2015, and she has continued researching the topic to help her better understand what goes on in the minds of her two adopted daughters.