Raising Other People’s Children with Deborah Ausburn

Aug 18, 2021


There is a wide range of adverse childhood experiences which can negatively impact people for the rest of their lives. Today’s guest, social worker turned lawyer, Debbie Ausburn, has spent the majority of her adult life caring for children who have gone through some form of trauma. She has fostered approximately 30 children, and was the step-mother of five more, all while running a law firm! We are so grateful to have her join us on the show today to share some of the vital learnings she has had while raising other people’s children (which is also the title of her new book).

Debbie explains why children who have experienced trauma are often not able to function at their full capacity (and why she ensured her children knew that going to college is not a prerequisite for a good life), the importance of building a safety net for yourself if you are looking after traumatized children, some of the strategies she used to find a balance between her work and home life, and the importance of understanding that if you are a foster parent or a step-parent you will never replace a biological parent (and what this means for the parent-child relationship.) Although raising other people’s children was the hardest thing Debbie has ever done, it has also been the most rewarding, and Debbie has invaluable advice for anyone who is on a similar journey.

What you’ll learn about in this episode:

  • How Debbie’s upbringing inspired her to do the work that she does.
  • Why Debbie transitioned from social work to law.
  • An adverse childhood experience which is often overlooked.
  • Impacts that childhood trauma has on children.
  • How parents can mitigate their children’s trauma.
  • Factors that can result in differentiated experiences of trauma for children.
  • Educational levels that children who grew up in foster care commonly achieve.
  • Career advice that Debbie has given to the children she has fostered.
  • Why long-term thinking is difficult for children dealing with trauma.
  • The approximate number of children who Debbie fostered full time in her home, and the kind of care she is hoping to offer in the future.
  • Debbie explains the premise of her book, Raising Other People’s Children.
  • Important things that Debbie’s step-children have taught her about being a step-parent.
  • An example of a boundary that Debbie has set with the children she has raised.
  • Sharon explains how she manages her relationship with her great niece.
  • How Debbie balanced her work life and her home life when she was looking after foster and step-children.
  • Debbie’s approach to parenting with regard to school work and appointments.
  • A story which highlights the importance of having a safety net if you are embarking on a journey with traumatized children.
  • Advice for anyone who is looking after, or thinking of looking after, children who are not biologically theirs.
  • The importance of focusing on your relationship with your partner (if you have one), as well as your relationship with your children.

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