Ever since Angie Elliston was 9 years old, she knew she wanted to be a mother when she grew up. However, she didnt want to have children of her own. Even at such a young age she knew there were so many children in the world in need of a loving family, so she wanted to adopt.

Elliston is 48, and lives in Phoenix, Arizona. She and her husband have adopted a total of 13 children. Elliston knew were so many kids in the world already, and she wanted to make sure that they were loved.

According to the Adoption Network, 135,000 children are adopted in the United States alone each year. The reasons children are in need of an adoption range from parents who are unwilling to raise them to physical and sexual abuse.

Adoption and Trauma

When Elliston was 25, she and her husband adopted their first two children ages 6 and 10. The biological parents gave up the children, and the children had been subject to severe neglect. Elliston learned right away that raising her adoptive children wouldnt be easy.

The 6-year-old was quite quiet, and would confess to mischief that his 10-year-old brother was responsible for. The older brother was more of a handful. He would set fires in the house, and would play with the stove while Elliston and her husband slept. He was also a pathological liar who would often steal.

However, neglect was the least severe of the traumas that Ellistons adoptive children had been though. Many of their children had been physically and sexually abused. One of their children had even been thrown out of a second story window.

Elliston as a child
Elliston as a child
Angie Elliston wanted to adopt ever since she was 9 years old. (Courtesy of Angie Elliston)

“Just really awful things that kids shouldnt have to go through,” Elliston told The Epoch Times.

The trauma these children had endured profoundly affected their behavior. Some couldnt remember what had happened to them, and others didnt want to speak about their traumatic experiences. As children, it was difficult for them to cope with the trauma, and they often expressed themselves in anger.

The trauma affected the children in very different ways. Some children would lash out while others would go for hours without speaking or eating. Other children would have flashbacks about their traumatic experiences, and would lose their grip on reality.

Learning and Understanding

Elliston learned that many of her children suffered from Developmental Trauma Disorder. DTD makes it incredibly difficult for children to develop attachments.

“Because they didnt get the proper attachment when they were younger and they didnt get their needs met when they were younger then theyre not able to attach when theyre older,” Elliston explained.

DTD ultimately leads to behavioral problems like lying and stealing. For the children, its how they have learned to survive.

Elliston learned how to contend with these behavioral problems, and how to raise her children without taking their words or actions personally.

“I just learned to accept who they are, and go from there,” Elliston said.