PamelaJ

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Nancy, Mar 13, 2007.

  1. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I thought I would start a new topic to you on your question about attachment in children adopted at birth.

    Yes yes yes it can and does happen. Many of the good books on attachment that have been written speak about this, some more than others.

    We started seeking therapy for our daughter at age seven, although we knew from when she was a toddler that we had problems. We also treated each symptom as it came up and we didn't have much luck. As she got older the problems became worse.

    We finally took her to a center that deals exclusively with attachment and bonding, the founder is very well known and has written several books on the topic. While I am not advocating this type of therapy and I am not sure I truly believe it works, at least for many, it did teach me many things. The first thing was that during the time of our therapy there were nine other families that they were treating who had all adopted their children at birth. That fact just cannot be denied any longer.

    Another thing that the therapy taught me was that my child blamed me for the fact that she was adopted. It made no matter that we had a wonderful home, loving family, she had every opportunity that she could want, that her life was good if she only took the time to stop and realize it. There was a hole in heart that even we couldn't fill.

    While my difficult child hated the therapy, I credit it for turning the corner for her in being able to put her anger where it belonged and away from me. Finally someone said out lout that it was not our fault that she was adopted, that she never adopted us like we adopted her, that she was intent on not being part of the family, that she was holding out in hopes that her birthmother would come back, that she was afraid to show us love for fear of us going away, that we put up with her for 13(at the time) years and if we were going to give up we surely would have by now. That her birthmother cared more about drinking than caring for her.

    These things were hard for her to hear, heck they were hard for us to hear for her. In the end I think she was finally able to put away some of her anger and accept us as her family. It was interesting that until then she did everything she could to differentiate herself from us, let everyone know she was adopted and we weren't her real family. After that she began talking as if she were part of us, even began using our family as her source when projects came us, e.g., making ethnic food for cultural day or a family tree.

    I know she still wants to find her birthmother when she is 18 but I believe it is more now a curiosity and she had finally decided she can love all of us.

    We stopped the therapy because she hated it so and it was hard for us to put her through and in all honesty I was skiddish and she was in her worst time. It took several months after stopping to realize the full impact it had on her.

    Life did not turn completely around for the better. Two summers ago she began running away to hang with thugs, going to the skate park, trying to act like a :censored2: and everyone was starting to call her that. Then it extended into the school year with her getting detentions and suspensions and cutting school and drinking and experimenting with drugs.

    We were at our breaking point and I honestly was beginning to think about alternative living arrangements. We began calling the police when she didn't come home or when she went into her wild rages. She had charges filed on her several times. We were lucky because the juvenile officers we dealt with were wonderful and they sized up the situation and wanted to help. We made appointments to have the juvenile detective talk to her, husband and I and even Grandpa went with her. They saw that we wanted help, not punishment.

    The last straw came when she cut school and I found her at a boy's house with about fourteen other kids, drinking and using drugs. I called the police, had her charged, took her to a lab for testing and she went to juvenile court. She ended up having to spent the weekend in detention and finally it was the shock that she needed to make her realize what she was doing.

    I know this doesn't work for everyone but it did for us. Very few people know what we went through in all those years trying to get help for her. She resisted our love for 15 years. This year she wrote an essay for English class in which she said after staying in detention she finally decided to change her life for the better. She is now getting decent grades, has not had any detention this school year, has a whole new set of friends that she hangs with, has not done any drinking or using(we caught it way early thank goodness, after only trying pot once and snorting adderall once). Her behavior at home is so much improved. She got her driving permit this winter and she hasn't gotten into any trouble since last summer.

    We have many friends who have adopted children. I would have to say that only one family is not having problems with their children. The others have had far worse than we have in some instances and some have had milder problems. Many of them report the same thing we have experienced, that adopting children at birth is not a cure for attachment problems. That many of these children carry problems that make their road in life much more difficult. Last year difficult child briefly became involved with another girl at school who was adopted. It did not take long to realize this girl had issues. When I finally met her mom to discuss some things that needed discussing, we just both hugged each other, knowing without speaking the pain we were both going through.

    I've written a book, I hope some of it helps, if just to let you know that you aren't alone.

    Nancy
     
  2. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Pamela,

    I was just wondering if you saw this post I made to you. It's helpful to the person who takes the time to write to know that the person has read it, especially when it is a long response.

    Hope today is a better day.

    Nancy
     
  3. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Sorry, Nancy, I hadn't seen it yet. We've been en route to MA from TX to see our daughter. I'll read it and respond.
     
  4. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    Oh Nancy, thanks so much for sharing all this. Perhaps attachment IS part of difficult child's problem. He's asked very, very little about his bio mom and zip about his bio father. He knows very little about any of it. I DO have a fear of his reaction when he finds out his bio mom kept his other four siblings. He's the only one she let be adopted. We, too, have lots more to offer him and more love than anyone could imagine. He's only asked once about when he could meet his bio mom and we told him when he was eighteen, if he still wanted to meet her we would contact her to see if it was okay with her. I guess all this time I couldn't imagine any of his behavior being an attachment problem. We had one therapist that told us we loved him too much.

    You have certainly been through the mill with your difficult child. I'm terrified of the teen years and hope we make it through it. I spent hours yesterday looking into day hospitalizations, etc. I just plain cannot see myself doing that, but on the other hand, I can't imagine living with him the way we are, either.

    We don't know a soul who have also adopted, so we feel like we're flailing out there on our own. difficult child's bio father has many, many issues and he's not even adopted. He's had drug and alcohol problems for many years and has been in the pen for six years this time. Do you know anything about your difficult child's bio family?

    Thanks again for sharing with me/us. This board and its members have been a lifeline to me.

    Pamela
     
  5. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Very interesting Nancy. And powerful.

    Our difficult child is adopted and we have an open adoption. He sees his bmom and grandmother at Christmastime, although the agreement was to see them more often. The contact just faded away. When we knew we were going to be in their area, we tried on several occasions to plan get-togethers and it was like pulling teeth, so eventually we gave up and just stuck to the holidays.
    He can pick up the phone whenever he wants, but never does. When angry with-me, he'll sometimes yell he's going to go live with-his bmom. I'll hand him the phone but then he walks away. In his case, I think it's more that he's trying to push my buttons than really live with-her. Nearly every adopted child verbalizes their bmom fantasies, but as he grows, he's made comments about her weight, and unavailability (she works long hrs and also, goes out with-her friends a lot, leaving her mom to care for her other son) and how during one birthday party, she spent the entire time on her cell phone, so he's not blind to the circumstances.

    Much of his ODD is aimed at me... I don't know if that's the mom thing in general or more focused because of the bmom issue. We may never know. We just have to teach him that I am the boss, in addition to which, I am not, (nor is his bmother) responsible for his happiness. We can only give him the tools to create his own happiness and help him work it out.
     
  6. Nancy

    Nancy Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Pamela, I had a response all typed out last night but lost it in a storm we had.

    "difficult child's bio father has many, many issues and he's not even adopted. He's had drug and alcohol problems for many years and has been in the pen for six years this time. Do you know anything about your difficult child's bio family?"

    This statement probably gives you the best clue to his behavior. As I have been told, the character flaws or disorders that caused our daughter's b/m to act out in the way she did as most likely inherited by our daughter.

    Last year we got in contact with our b/m and asked if she could help us understand difficult child's behavior. She told us (through the social worker) that everything difficult child was doing she did and worse. he promised to write difficult child a letter to try to help her. She never wrote that letter. It became obvious to us that she still did not have her life in order.

    After finding out what I did last year it put everything into perspective. Our difficult child was doing the same things her b/m did even though she had no contact with her. We discovered that nature is just as important if not more important than nurture. We were naive in thinking almost 16 years ago that our love and stability would overcome any obstacle.

    Your son must be struggling with some pretty powerful feelings knowing that his b/m placed him for adoption but kept four siblings. He must be feeling like he was bad and so he is trying to prove to himself and everyone else that he wasn't worthy of keeping. Even though he isn't expressing many feelings about the adoption, this has to weigh heavily on his mind.

    Can you find him a hterapist that has experience with adoption issues? Someone he can talk to to put things into prespective?

    Terry, the reason our adopted difficult child's take everything out on us Mom's is because that is where they place the anger they have for their b/m's. They blame us although we adopted them and gave them love and security but they look at it like we took them from their b/m. They don't think about the b/f's role in all of this and he is rarely the object of their anger.

    Our difficult child found some pics of her b/m last year. She was a little shocked I think to see that her b/m had quite a weight problem. I know she was upset that her b/m never wrote the letter last year like she promised. It was shortly after that that she stopped talking about her b/m and how we weren't her real parents and she began trying to be part of the family.

    Nancy
     
  7. timer lady

    timer lady Queen of Hearts

    Pamela, Nancy & Terry,

    The tweedles have displayed so much ambivalence toward me. There are many times when in a rage directed at me, I want to scream "WRONG MOM".

    While I understand the conflict so many our adopted children experience, I am doing my best to keep kt & wm centered on the here & now. I agree with them that it's a sad thing to be separated from bio mom & the rest of the bio family...but I cannot change that. All we can concentrate on is the here & now. How do we make things better?

    wm has a "treasure" box for his bio brother (who he has very vague memories of). If/when he ever connects with bio brother he wants to give it to him.

    The tweedles are angry that their bio brother was adopted by maternal grandma & they weren't.

    Again, I keep them centered on the here & now. I let therapist deal with their feelings of anger; let therapist teach them coping skills & to share those out of control thoughts in the office.

    (husband & I are willing to speak with them about bio family if & when they are calm & reasonable.)

    It doesn't work all the time, however, we're seeing a better level of control in kt; not so much wm. It's all a very fine balancing act.

    And, in the end, the world isn't going to care that my tweedles are adopted. The world/society is going to expect a level of functionality & respect when the tweedles hit adult age.
     
  8. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    "Wrong Mom!" I love it! I'm going to say that sometime! :biggrin:

    The argument/discussion about nature vs nurture will continue until Kingdom Come, no matter what they print in Scientific American or elsewhere. I'm guessing 50%, just to stay on the safe side! :wink:
    But knowing who I'm dealing with in re: to my difficult child, that he's hard-headed, persistent, and very kinesthetic, allows me to deal with-those things and steer them into something useful. I've posted here b4 that he may end up being a lawyer, :censored2:, or lobbyist... he just never gives up. Hey, I've got it--he can file insurance claims for families like us! :biggrin:

    I agree that no one is going to care that these kids are adopted... just that they learn to function in society.

    Thanks for the support and info... this is interesting.

     
  9. wakeupcall

    wakeupcall Well-Known Member

    ***Since I just typed a long response and this thing ATE it, this will be abbreviated.***

    Nancy, my difficult child doesn't yet know about his bio siblings. He has two half-brothers and two full sisters. I dread the day we have that conversation. We've not had that part of the conversation because it seems like he's always in some kind of crisis and we don't want to complicate it further. Our therapists and psychiatrists say wait until he asks questions, and he never seems to do that.

    I totally agree on the nature vs nurture aspect; nature is this stronger of the two. We all love our children so much that we put up with all this day after day after day to help make them productive citizens. I SO pray that it works.
     
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