Wednesday, July 1, 2009

It is Different

You do not want to believe that parenting your child from China is going to be different than how you parented your other kids. She is just your child, just like your others....right???? You love her just as much as if you had given birth to her yourself! But the reality is that it has to be different to meet the needs of this child. The child that comes to you with experiences that you will never know. Experiences that impact her ability to love and trust completely.

To be honest parenting Sophie is different in as many ways as it is/was the same with Ben and Hannah. Of course the initial differences are in the beginning when we were really focusing on the attachment with bottle feedings and carrying her as much as we could ( with hind sight being 20/20 those are two things that I wished we held on to longer). When Ben and Hannah were 16 months old we were fostering independence, for Sophie at 16 months we were trying to turn back the clock. My expectations for Sophie are the same as they are for Ben and Hannah, those things are not different.....the way we go about it is going to be different.

Yesterday we met with an attachment therapist. We are seeking help on the best way to set limits and give consequences and to increase her level of trust with us. Sophie has really done well considering all that she has been through in China as well as the surgeries and treatments she has endured here in the U.S. My girl amazes me with her strength! Sophie is very protective of her feelings. She is happy to get kisses and hugs from mommy and daddy, but more controlling when it comes "giving love". She also likes to control as much of her environment as she can, even if it is just lining up her crayons. We need to get our beautiful daughter to trust us completely....surrender to our love and care for her. I believe with help from the AT that we will be able to accomplish this in a short time.

One of the areas that I have really struggled with is discipline. The strategies I used with Ben and Hannah as well as with my kiddos in my classroom do not work. No stickers, or bribes will work. Potty training has been an eye opening experience. At this time Sophie does not demonstrate a desire to please me like most kiddos, although when she does something that she knows I will get excited about she will tell me "She did it" but when I try to help.....she fights me. Sophie is a good girl, but she has to learn consequences or we will have some big problems ahead of us! She can be defiant and oppositional. The challenge for me is shaking out the typical three year old stuff from the behaviors related to her trauma and loss. It is not so easy.

I am a student at heart. Give me books, resources, research and I will pour over it and discuss it to death:) So my friends I share with you my list;

The Connected Child. I read this before going to China. This is a must have!

Taming the Tiger while it is a Kitten. I wish I had listened to this before going to China. We are applying strategies now and I believe they are helping.

The Happiest Toddler on the Block. Recommended by Nancy Thomas. Kind of goofy but I have incorporated some of these strategies and they seem to help diffuse a hissy fit:)

Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control. Recommended by our AT. I like it! Every adoptive parent needs to read this book!

Beyond Consequences Volume 2. I have not started this one yet. It is a continuation of the first book and I expect it to be just as helpful.

All of our babies come to us with attachment issues of one type or another. Our children have suffered a loss. Foster care does not guarantee a child will not have attachment issues. Sure foster care is better than laying in a crib all day....that is if the foster care is good. Facilitating healthy attachment is a process that continues well beyond your one year "gotcha day".

If you have any other resources that you just loooove and can't do without leave me the info!


Isabella's Mommy and Daddy said...

Thank you sooo much for the information..
I have watched and really been paying attention to the ways that people do things in the adoption community..
I will go and get some of these books.. I want to try and do things right from the beginning..and my biggest fear is the fact that I have to work.. don't want issues from being away from her..
Have a great week.
Thanks for this post..

Wanda said...

Bless your heart for sharing this! We really need more honest and informative dialogue in this community.

As we get ready to return to China for DD#2 (prob. in Aug.)I am reminded (thanks to your post) that each step to attachment is vital. I just ordered the Tiger to kitten DVD and will dive into it today. I have several of your suggested books as well but really need to get my head screwed on straight and get ready.

Thanks again for the heads up!

Wanda (At Last...)

Lindsay said...

Best of luck with everything. I've got two books in particular which I like "Adoption Parenting: creating a tool box, building connections" Jean MacLeod and Sheena Macrae is a book I go back to again and again, and think I will as Hannah moves thru all the stages and transitions of childhood and the teen years.
The other is Caroline Archer's First Steps in parenting the child who hurts (Tiddlers and Toddlers).

Hope your AT can give you some really beneficial strategies to help Sophie 'let go'.

Special K said...

Adding to my reading list ....
Take notes with all the AT stuff. I'm learning from you. :)

Kateri said...

Thanks for this post. I'm going to check out the references on your list that I don't have yet.

I appreciate your thoughts about raising bio vs adopted. Though I agree completely with what you said, it's often hard to convince others(though I know that's not my job)that things can and should be handled differently in some situations. Take our church nursery, for example. I have dug my feet in on this week we cover nursery so Alayna is with our entire family. Another week is covered by close friends and I am planning to start leaving her with them. But the other two weeks are "manned" by virtual strangers. They are familiar faces, yes. They are kind and compassion folks, no doubt. But Alayna doesn't KNOW them. She doesn't TRUST them. And I'm not leaving her there! Now what does that mean for me and church?? Well I'm often missing the sermon and spending time in the nursery with her and that is hard. I'm not getting fed at church like I need to be...but this too shall pass. She's not going to be a 2.5 yr old girl with communication delays forever. Baby steps, right?! And when I have been approached and encouraged to just leave her in the nursery because she'll get over it eventually like all the other kids, I just try to smile sweetly and say, "In some situations, we treat her like all the other kids. But this isn't one of them."
Thanks, Maryellen, for reminding me that I'm not alone and that sometimes it's more than Ok to do things differently than I did with my bio kids.
Happy Summer vacation, btw!

The Gang's Momma said...

Great post! I appreciate the resources and will be adding some of them to my list of "To Do's" for this summer. I also appreciate the mentality that each kid, bio or adopted, is so different and requires different things from us as we parent them.

I also really appreciate Kateri's honesty and openness. It can be a very lonely place and I do get tired of the explanations or the comments that others (who know nothing of what we are trying to accomplish with our methods!) make. Even those I am closest to have questioned me with a slant toward the "you are spoiling her" or "you are being too protective" attitude. We chose to "drop out" of most of our outside obligations and activities for this first year and sometimes it feels lonely - the church thing, the school stuff, the social life, dates alone with hubby, etc. But we know it's been right for us as a whole family and for Li'l Empress individually. Not easy to explain when pressed tho.

Thanks guys for a good conversation!

Carol said...

Thanks for saying this!

Emily is not fully potty trained yet and people (Family) look at me when I tell them like I have two heads....Emily will be 4 in August. She is working on it, but am I pushing her? No! We have put this little one thru enough in the last year and a half.......

Kudo said...

Thanks for sharing this post and pointing out that our kidos are different then bio kids. I have had trouble with my daycare telling me that I give in to her too much that adults are allowed to have conversations and kids need to wait. But when I am picking her up at daycare and she has not had my attention for almost 8 hours she comes first her needs come first and I don’t have time to chitchat. We are having power struggles around food and this is causing some trouble down the road if you know what I mean. I feel like I am at a loss sometimes on what to do. I hope being home for the summer and developing a good routine will help her to trust me and know she does not need to control me to get what she wants. You are so right attachment is an ongoing process that goes well beyond the first year. We have a lot of work ahead of us too.

Liz and Ava said...

Stickers, bribes didn't work for my just 4 year old daughter regarding potty training either. She had no interest in them. I didn't think she would ever be potty trained. During her evalulation for NR(neuro reorganization) I found out that her ability to sense light touch was way off and her abiltity to feel deep pain was almost non existant. So she probably couldn't feel the sensation to go either. Not even six weeks into neuro reorganization she is day time trained and I have seen a huge increase in her eye contact on my terms during intimate times whereas prior it was almost non existant also. My daughter has also had numerous(about six, the most recent one today) surgeries and medical appt's since coming home two years ago. I think this makes the attachment process even harder.
This is my list of books that I suggest if anyone asks. I see you already have mentioned some of them.

1-The Connected Child(Bringing Hope and Healing to Your Adopted Family)-by Karyn B. Purvis

2-Attaching in Adoption- by Deborah Gray

3- Building the Bonds of Attachment- by Dr. Daniel A Hughs
(Toronto Childrens Aid Society and School Board frequently have him com from Maine for conference for him...he is an excellent speaker and very knowlegeable)

4-The Out of Sync Child- by Carol Stock Kranowitz(Great for Sensory Issues which are very commom with adopted children)

5-Parenting your Internationally Adopted Child-by Patty Cogen

6-When Love is Not Enough- A Guide to Parenting Children with RAD-Reactive Attachment Disorder-by Nancy Thomas

7-Therapeutic Parenting-Its a Matter of Attitude.-by Deborah Hage

8- Taming the Tiger while it is still a Kitten- Nancy Thomas
check out

9-Beyond Consequences, Logic and Control

10- The boy who was raised as a dog-what traumatized children can teach us about loss, love and healing

Kris said...

thank you so much for posting this... i have a lot of catching up to do on reading before i board that plane in just a matter of weeks really :O) i'm so glad you are getting the help you need with sophie.

Buckeyes & Eggrolls said...

great post! I have to say.. I was totally disturbed by a book one of your commenters read... a boy being raised as a dog. :0( So sad!!

I'm glad to hear some of the suggestions from the AT are helping!

Catherine said...

Thank you so much for sharing this! Trying to learn as much as I can before meeting Hannah later this year. Information you and other friends are sharing is worth a million dollars. Thank you!!

Praying for you as you seek to do all you can for Sophie.

PIPO said...

Good stuff....lots of it!

I read like a fool before ever going to China but started the same materials over again after being home. No matter how much I thought I was prepared...the reality of your child is a whole new ballgame. I'm learning as we move forward (or more truthfully backward so we can move forward) ;0)

Thanks for you input on this process too. I wish more people would take it seriously from the beginning. Love, alone, is NOT enough and too many people still believe it is.

Polar Bear said...

You don't know how much I appreciate these posts. I have listened to most of Taming the Tiger. I have also ordered several of your suggestions and am taking notes on the others and the books commenters have mentioned.

Thanks again.

a Tonggu Momma said...

I second (or third) the book "Adoption Parenting: creating a tool box, building connections" and can't rave enough about "The Out-of-Sync Child." Great list!