Thursday, October 21, 2010

Attachment Part 2

As I started sharing in my last post, I have been learning more and more on attachment issues in children who have been adopted. Although Olivia does NOT have RAD, she has always had some issues emanating from the realm of attachment. As a 3 1/2 year old first coming to live with us, Olivia had already lived in two other homes, both of which were highly unstable. I had to TEACH her how to hug, she had no idea. She would be a robot mechanically putting her arms around you to mimic what you are doing in a hug, but would not really hold you, squeeze a bit as you do in a hug. If I picked her up, she held her body away from me, her legs remained straight, and I had to teach her to wrap her legs around the side of my body, something infants just "do" and grow up knowing to do. We worked on these with Olivia for over a year, and she still needs help remembering how to really hug.

After watching some great You*Tube videos on attachment issues such as Nonsense questions and Acting Dumb, I began rethinking some of these behaviors I've seen in Olivia more and more over the past couple years. Tuesday night after the boys were in bed I sat with Olivia and we talked a bit. I began by explaining that many times when little children/infants aren't properly cared for, they basically are taught and thus learn that adults can't be trusted to care for them. When a baby cries, caregivers are supposed to answer that by picking up the child, seeing if they're hungry or wet or just needing attention. When that doesn't happen, the child is taught that it can only count on itself. At infancy... so sad. The same goes for the first couple years especially in a young child's life. If there isn't food, love, clothing, cleanliness, etc the child learns to count only on itself and finds ways to control their environment however they can to SURVIVE.

I explained to her that I don't know much of her background, but that it was "bad" enough to have her removed not once but twice from the homes she was living in. I explained that she was unfortunately taught to not trust the one or ones caring for her to meet all of her needs, and that in a small way this has been transferred onto me. I talked in length about how it's not her fault that these deep-seated needs weren't met, that it's not her fault that these "feelings" (I guess you'd call them) are in there somewhere, but that I wanted her to start becoming aware and that I would also help her in times of struggle to identify where those things are coming from so that we can work together to check what is really going on inside her at these times of control and battle.

While I was talking to Olivia about all of this, she had a few tears struggle their way down her cheeks. I wiped them away as I spoke, but knew that she was beginning to "get" what I was saying. We weren't in the middle of a battle, we were in a calm safe place, and she was listening.

Yesterday in the car on the way to school, after the boys had been dropped off, she said, "Mom, why is it you I don't trust, why isn't it my birth mom? You've always cared for me."

Wow. I told her that it's not something she thinks about, that it's there in her so deep from things that happened when she was a baby and couldn't "think" about what was going on and that as I'm now her caregiver, I'm the adult that she feels somewhere inside that she can't trust. She said, "I'm sorry mom." And while this doesn't sound major, this is a great step for Olivia. My mom and I both have talked to her over and over again about how she says "Sorry" for every LITTLE thing, and therefore doesn't mean a whole lot. And the times when she "should" say and feel sorry for something are the times she usually doesn't say it. So for her to say it in this context, appropriately, and mean it, was HUGE for me to hear. I thanked her, reminded her that that is exactly the kind of time when she should use that term and then reaffirmed that I know that it's not completely her fault (I also don't want this to become an "excuse" to act out either so am walking a fine line at how I explain things.).

My Olivia is growing up. And with that she is understanding more of her past, more of what makes her tick, and more of who she wants to become as she grows up. And I love each and every part.


beautiful! thanks!

Anjolcake said...

Thanks for your honesty and willingness to share your story.

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About Me

I am a single mom to four amazing kids; each of whom just happen to have been adopted. The first three were adopted through foster care, and we just completed an international adoption from Haiti. Our family has grown through adoption and I am all the more blessed to know each of my children. I worship a mighty God, teach Special Ed, love bargains, and am inspired by Pinterest... come along with us for the ride!

Olivia - 14

Olivia - 14

Braeden - 11

Braeden - 11

Liam - 9

Liam - 9

Macy - 5

Macy - 5

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What you should know about HIV

-HIV can NOT be spread through casual/household contact. HIV is not spread through hugging, kissing, shaking hands, sharing toys, sneezing, coughing, sharing food, sharing drinks, bathing, swimming or any other casual way. It has been proven that HIV and AIDS can only be spread through sexual contact, birth, breastfeeding and blood to blood contact (such as sharing needles). - HIV is now considered a chronic but manageable disease. With treatment, people who are HIV+ can live indefinitely without developing AIDS and can live long and full lives. - People who are HIV+ deserve to be treated with love, respect, support and acceptance as all people do. Additional information on transmission of HIV can be found on the Center for Disease Control website:

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Orphan Crisis

• 147 million orphans in the world
• 50 million orphans in Africa 
• Every 14 seconds a child is orphaned by AIDS
• 16,000,000 have been orphaned by AIDS
• Every week, AIDS claims as many lives as American fatalities in the Vietnam War
• 854 million people do not have enough to eat
• Malnutrition is associated with the deaths of 5 million children under the age of five
• Every 2 seconds an orphan dies from malnutrition

Hence the title of my blog

Little Did I Know

Little did I know that the road would be so rocky
Little did I know that the trip would take so long
Little did I know that my heart could hurt so much
Little did I know that God is never wrong

Little did I know that love could be so powerful
Little did I know that a dream so far could go
Little did I know that God would place the right ones
Little did I know that my heart, so large, could grow

Little did I know that a dream has it’s own timing
Little did I know that this day would finally come
Little did I know that four souls would be sent to guide me
Little did I know that they would choose to call me mom

But God knew all along and He had a plan to follow
God knew all along that my dream would soon come true
God knew all along that we five should be together
God knew all along that I’d share it all with you