Thursday, February 25, 2010

Older Child Adoption- Attachment and Safety!

This is my impression for our daughter. Sarah wanted a Mommy, a Daddy and a family. She wanted to attach and bond but she did not know how.

I believe she was at great risk for having attachment issues, 8.5 years in an orphanage, failed Chinese adoption and as stubborn as can be.

After being home 4 -5 months Sarah played with a neighbor girl. It was spring and I was thinking that we were ready to expand our little world. She was excited to be outside and play with someone her age! I let my guard down and one thing led to another. They played outside in our driveway, then our yard, then her driveway, then her yard, then in her house. Before I realized what was happening my daughter was being given pop, candy, gum and chips in the neighbor's house- anyone of these treats could buy her love for the moment. Sarah was asking to play with her all the time and the other mom was beginning to hug Sarah and say sweet things to her. It was not feeling right at all. Red flags were going up all over and I was stumbling with what to do. After all, I had always let our birth children play in the neighborhood.

One evening as I was making dinner Sarah said to me "I'm going over to _____ house. I'll eat dinner with them."
I was in shock! I said, "Honey you can't do that."
"Yes I can" she said, "they told me I could come over anytime!"

At that moment I knew I had to pull in the reins. Bloggy friends were so supportive, they gave me great advice and they prayed for the situation.

The other mom was only semi cooperative and the girls playing together was not working out. Together they would challenge our rules and act inappropriately. We had to stop the play dates. Sarah could play but only while supervised closely. She needed time to realize who makes the rules and the importance of sticking to them. She needed time to learn how to play nicely with friends. She needed time to grow in character and in trustworthiness.

We all learned a lesson and thank goodness we could pull back and give her and us more time.

We were planning to homeschool Sarah and had been for the last 5 months but this just reinforced our decision. She needs to be with us a lot!

Many families bring home older child, they do not homeschool and they have been successful with attachment. For us it was our desire and a necessity. We would not be where we are today without homeschooling.

If I had sent her to school she would have attached to her teacher and a school friend (it would not have been the best behaved student either). Now she attached to her family and ME!! She has homeschool friends which we approve of and friends in her activities and friends from our FCC group.

Our daughter knew nothing about safety. There was never a person in her life that cared enough to make sure she did not get hurt. She was actually glad that parents did that!

Sarah had many stories of children getting severely injured. Some of them were quite gruesome. We had to do teach her safety rules as if she were a toddler. Of course she caught on quickly but still needed many reminders. Things like seat belts, the hot oven, slamming fingers in doors, running with scissors, tripping people, crossing the street, riding bikes next to cars, etc.

It wasn't just the rules she was missing it was the whole concept of taking care of yourself, not taking chances and playing it safe that was missing.

One time when we went to watch Johnny play soccer at an away field we brought the girls. The bleachers were a large tall cement structure. Some of the other younger sisters were hanging out on the highest seat. There was a wall surrounding it about 4.5 ft tall. Sarah boosted herself up onto it to look over the edge. On the other side was a 40ft drop onto cement. She was still quite uncoordinated. I thought my heart was going to just out of my chest. I screamed her name at the top of my lungs. She quickly got down and looked at me- like "what Mom?"

She sat with us for the rest of the game and I thanked the Lord for protecting her.

It is time to move onto regular blogging! If you think of something specific you want to ask please leave it with a comment or e-mail me!

Thank you!!


From the Erben Gang..... said...

You (all) and Sarah are so lucky to have found each other. You have such insight and compassion!

Jerry and Christy said...

Our daughters age 21 and 22 months (respectively) when we got them had no concept of safety. They both would have thrown themselves out of our arms or jumped down the stairs. It took both of them a long time to be trusted to go up and down stairs by themselves. It is so different than if they were taught these things by a loving parent.
Both of my daughters would have gone home with anyone if I would have let them. The older one (now 8) would never want to do that now. Our younger one, home for 17 months, is growing closer and closer. I see her attaching and am so happy with her progress, but it takes time as you know.
Thank you for sharing these posts. I can so relate.

Sammy said...

I agree with this. We adopted Arden at 11 y.o. She wanted to go to school ASAP and did. One reason was to make a new best friend. I wanted her to attach to us first. I also wanted her to experience all her firsts in America with us. So, besides school I kept her only around us and cousins for over a year.