No matter how great the foster parents turn out to be, the thought of having to move from place to place can have negative consequences on the child’s mental state. Sometimes, it takes years for foster children to overcome the trauma of getting taken away from their families and being placed in the system.
Actress Sandra Bullock became a mother later in life. She adopted son Louis in 2010 and daughter Laila in 2015.
Laila ended up in the foster system early in life and at the age of 2 and a half, she had already changed three different homes. That experience made her scared and prevented her from trusting people. Dealing with Laila’s trauma took some time, and now the famous actress decided to open up about the ordeal her girl suffered and how she managed to help her overcome those fears of being abandoned again.
During an appearance on the Facebook Watch show Red Table Talk, hosted by Willow Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, and Adrienne Banfield-Norris, Bullock revealed how Laila’s trauma was visible from the beginning.
“I had my kids in my [walk-in] closet with their little beds because I was so afraid to not have them super close to me,” Bullock explained. “And I would walk in and I wouldn’t be able to find her. She’d be in the closet, with all her clothes on, she’d be on a book shelf, she’d be hiding and she’d always be ready to leave. She was always telling me she was leaving.”
She would always assure the little girl that she would always be there for her.
“My partner [photographer Bryan Randall] said to me, ‘When she’s been with us longer than she hasn’t been, I have a feeling we’re going to see a change.’ And you love by leaning in and hugging and holding and letting them know that they are not going anywhere,” Bullock said.
“I saw triggers happening on a daily basis that I could not identify ’cause I took it personally.
“It was really hard to separate yourself and not be hurt because all you wanna do is love, but guess what? Your love is not going to cut it right then and there.
“Laila would hide food. You know, and it’s survival. Absolute survival. And her spirit and just who she is has pushed forward beyond the triggers and the fears.
“They’ll come up for the rest of her life, they’ll be fears that she has, but she knows that where she chooses to go to school, I’m moving there. That’s the joke in the house. You guys need to pick the same college if you go, the same city to live in, because I’m gonna be living there,” the Bird Box star revealed.
Being a parent to an emotionally-damaged child was far from easy and Bullock needed to take classes that prepared her for the future with Laila, but it was all worth it.
“[Foster care] is a system that exists and people don’t know about it because it’s a difficult thing to talk about,” Bullock explained. “It gets deep and it gets dark. When I first went into the process myself, you have to prove that you’re a capable parent — you’re in the judgment cage. And I got halfway through it and I said, ‘I can’t do this.'”
Eventually, Laila started feeling like home and was able to accept her new, beautiful life. It took some time, but she eventually found her comfort zone and she’s now a happy child.