Attachment issues...

Discussion in 'Parent Emeritus' started by ksm, Mar 19, 2016.

  1. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    And why was I not educated about the possibility of attachment issues? Our DGD's have been to many therapists over the last 12 years. No one even brought this idea up!

    Both girls seem to be very manipulative, and question our authority about every thing. They don't seem to care if they ever get our approval, love or affection. Now, they are almost 16 and 18, and I dont know if we will ever have a close, satisfying relationship. I am tired of being used, just when they want something.

    I guess I need to find more help for me, as so feel hopeless that they will change.

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Wow, my heart reslly hurts for you on the attachment issue, sweet ksm. Adoptive parents and those who take on stepchildren who had early lack of nurturing and in utero trauma are never warned. We are not educated about attachment or what to do about it. And most mental health professionals dont understand it, don't diagnose it and give our beloved kids diagnoses and medications that don't complrtely work because attachment is not addressed.

    I believe every adoptive parent who takes on a beloved child who is not an infant (and maybe even infants) need to have this knowledge so that we can do our best parenting for our children. Not all adopted kids have attachment problems. I have three who don't. I had two who did. I had no idea. In this case ignorance is not bliss.

    Ksm, your story with your children is not finished. It is not unheard of for children to suddenly realize how much they are loved and to love back as adults. I've read a good book written by an adopted young man who had attachment disorder and he explains how he felt and why he did such defiant, hurtftlful things. It also explains when he started to attach and why.

    I think the book, on amazon, is called "detach" and the authors first name us Jesse. Its not hard to find. Put "attachment disorder" in the amazon book or kindle search.

    I am so sorry you are hurting. I have stood in your shoes and wish you a good ending. Its not over yet. Big hugs.
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  3. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    I think this issue is even worse for grandparents who adopt. Not only do they not respect you as an authority figure, but you lose your grandparent status as well. A double loss. They don't love and respect you as a parent...or a grandparent...

    I feel like a checkbook and a private detective.... I have to hunt for the truth in what they say and do. And they only interact when they have something they want from me.

  4. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Ksm, you did so much good for them. It probably is harder and I truly hope things improve as they mature and see the truth.

    You probably dont feel like a hero, but you are one.
  5. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Thanks, SWOT...mostly I feel like a failure... I know, logically, that we did the best we knew how at the time, with the options we had available to us. But can't really figure out how things went wrong... Or how to get them better. Youngest is dealing with depression and anxiety, mainly hides out in her room. Older has mood disorder, which is hard to deal with. No matter what I say, it is never the right thng. KSM
  6. New Leaf

    New Leaf Well-Known Member

    Ksm, you are a hero, please do not feel that you have failed, you have done and are doing the best you can under very difficult circumstances.

    My two had issues as teens, I attributed it to puberty and well, teen angst. There were good times peppered in between some hard. I think they both experimented with pot.
    Looking back, I wish I had done more, but retrospect is a product of learning as we go, when we know better, we do better.
    I think all teens have "attachment" issues, some more than others. It is a time of great change in their bodies, and they are trying to test their wings before they are ready to venture out into the world.

    You have been on a long hard road with both of these girls, and you have sacrificed so much for them. I do understand the grandparent/parent thing, as my grands were in and out of our home and our roles switched.

    You are a wonderful person in a challenging spot. My heart goes out to you and I pray for your peace of mind in knowing that you are doing a wonderful thing in providing, loving and caring for these girls. In their youth, they may not show appreciation, but hopefully one day they will look back and understand the blessings they have received growing up in your home.

  7. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    The system still doesn't bring up attachment issues in adoption, in general. They want the adoptions to go through - they don't want more kids stuck in "the system". Doesn't make it right or fair.

    Unfortunately, you are dealing with teenaged girls. While I know yours are more over-the-top than "normal", it doesn't hurt to be reminded that some portion of this is perfectly normal. There's almost nothing harder to deal with than a teenaged girl.**

    ** unless you are lucky like SWOT with her Jumper, who never seemed to go through that intense stage.
  8. savior no more

    savior no more Active Member

    Your thoughts on attachment hit a cord with me. I was not adopted, however, when I was a baby my father had medical problems and my mother was with him in the hospital and I was left with their friends from the age of 6 months to over a year old. During this time I'm sure my mother dealt with stress and I didn't have the optimum bonding or attachment then. How I dealt with it in later life was to try to "over attach" to anything or anyone that would give me attention. Various obsessions I think were in an attempt to feel connected to - such as food or shopping, etc. I had an intact family through all of the years, but the older I get the more I realize that birth to three years and attachment are huge issues - I can only imagine how some abandoned infants who later become adopted may react.

    Another possible resonse to lack of attention to needs is to become insulated to others and not know the depth of emotions others can feel due to the self (infant) never getting validation and feedback from their own needs. Of course knowing how it develops doesn't give a solution on how to help them or deal with the pain of disregard, however, I think it might be a start. Some of it could be just plain old teen years. My daughter became better when she reached 20 or so, but there are a few years I didn't like her. She had proper attachment. My Difficult Child son didn't. I had post-partum depression which I know affected my ability to respond to his needs. There is more research being done in psychology in the area of attachment and relationships and how to create this.
  9. Roxona

    Roxona Active Member

    SS10 was diagnosed with attachment disorder about this time last year, along with anxiety disorder and an emotional growth of a 3 year old. He exhibits everything you describe about your girls, KSM. He rejects everything we say. He will avert his eyes, turn his head or even turn his back to us when we are talking to him. He also over attaches like Savior mentions. He smothers people until they can't handle it anymore and end up pushing him away. I don't know how to approach it. He's overwhelming and defiant all at the same time. We went to counseling for four months, and the counselor could give us nothing on how to deal with it other than enabling his behaviors.
  10. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I think Insane Canadian deserves a huge "BINGO!" here. That's one reason they don't tell prospective adoptive parents about this. But, IC, I think another is lack of knowledge about the disorder by mental health professionals. After all, many stepparents inherit children who had horrible attachment issues in their early years and even just divorce and many caregivers who did not nurture enough can cause it. It is a real dilemma for those who have had to deal with it, such as myself with Goneboy and my foster/adopted child who killed our dogs and molested my younger kids...his outward charm to adults and meanness in private to other children was very cleverly done by him and due to his having stellar psychiatric reports (yes he even fooled the psychiatrists who are MDs), we did not watch him as carefully as we should have. I will always feel guilt over this and may have done a better job of bonding with Goneboy if I had known how.
    Forging an attachment is touchy and involves a lot of touching even if the child doesnt want it...but the "cures" are all in infancy as is the recognition of this disorder (not so much t hat nobody knew it existed, just t hat professionals are slow to be taught much about it and nobody knows for sure how to help an unattached child learn to attach so that he WANTS love and WANTS to behave). That is the key right t here.; Unattached kids/adults feel that nobody is trustworthy and that they owe nothing to anyone but themselves because only they care about themselves.They don't believe they are worthy of love and don't feel anyone else deserves their love due to early deprivation. Their brains actually warp. Everyone knows babies can die from lack of touch..."failture to thrive" babies. It hurts even more if the child had substances fed into them while they were still in the womb.

    It is a terrible disorder and it really needs more research regarding diagnosing and treatment, especially if a psychologist or psychiatrist KNOWS that a patient had horrific and chaotic early years and no consistent, stable caregiver to nurture.
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2016
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    This is much like ADHD. A child either can't focus or he over-focuses.

    My son Goneboy overattached to his wife. He dropped everyone else except her and they are attached at the hip. He literally forgot about everyone else after he met her because his ability to bond with many at once is impeded. He seemed fine, if a bit distant, until he met his now wife. After that, he dropped us like a hot potato and does not seem to miss us as we are still here if he wants to initiate contact. Been ten years.
  12. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    I think the jury is still out. As SWOT mentions a lot of teenage behavior looks like this. I think it is too easy to overuse psychological concepts and diagnoses. Even people with 30 years of education may not agree on diagnoses. In fact they typically do not. It is not uncommon for a patient to accumulate a dozen or more diagnoses only because diagnosing is an art as well as a science. There is a large element of subjectivity involved.
    I was born 3 months early and spent that time in an incubator in the hospital away from my parents. I had the croup and again was hospitalized twice before I was a year old.

    While I would not equate this with what my son experienced which was his first 22 months in a crisis nursery, it is on the continuum. My son bonded immediately to me as did I to him. He called me Mama the first time he met me. Nobody coached him. While I am not saying he does not or did not suffer from attachment issues, that there was a vulnerability would have never been a reason to not adopt him.

    Remember that there is not one person on this forum that knows your granddaughters. You know them. When we are hurt and afraid it is almost as if we cannot not consider worst case possibilities. I would try to remember this.

  13. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    That wasn't my post.
    That one came from SOAPBOX.
  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Sorry, insane. Sorry, soapbox.

    Every foster child we ever had willingly called us mom and dad. Although, copa, I believe your perception about your son bonding, calling a parent a coveted name doesnt show a bond. Goneboy called us dad and mom at once too.

    It is the behavior that indicates a bond. For example. Copa, like your son did, my sonic was two when we met him and he bonded at once and is still very bonded. Never questioned that as his behavior toward us is obvious. Princess smiled at me and bonded instantly at six months. During her worst years, hobestly, she just wanted us to love her. Goneboy,,,we missed the subtle clues of attachment didorder because he was so well behaved and acted content until he was almost 25, when he met his wife. And the child we adopted who killed our animals etc. knew how to act normal in front of adults and how to terrify five sets of his foster parents children into silence.

    He admitted to assaulting even infants in various homes by the time he was five and in an early foster home. This was in Residential Treatment Center (RTC) after he had finally been caught.

    This issue in my opinion needs to be addressed in detail to prosoective adoptive parents of all stripes. The state specialists in this also need to be given to everyone so they know who to contact if this becomes an issue.

    Yes, all countries prefer them out of their system, but then they still may face failed adoptions. After we heard what this second child had done, we called to have him permanently removed. He was really not suitable for family life. He did not miss us...his diagnosis, which I doubt anyone would dispute given his history and remorseless harm of others, was severe reactive attahment disorder. Asked if he missed us, he said, "the toys," when asked why he did the other stuff, he shrugged. I believe he doesnt know why...probably blocked out his own abuse, which must have happened.

    He is 23 now and I fear for anyone who trusts him. His good guy act is so perfected. He was listed as a sexual predator. He did not, to any adults who knew him, even act sexually interested. He seemed to almost lack any interest. I know why he was so careful now.
    Last edited: Mar 20, 2016
  15. Roxona

    Roxona Active Member

    I can see this happening in the teenage years. J wouldn't have anything to do with me "mostly" for years once he hit his teens. He wouldn't eat dinner with me or got to the movies, and really anything unless I made him. He'd stay in his room and hardly ever come out. He never liked to be touched, even when he was a toddler. He was diagnosed with Asperger's when he was 5 or 6, so the doctors attributed it to that. I was not a permissive parent, but I wasn't a nagger either. Mentally I had my A basket for emergencies and my B basket for everything. If it wasn't an A basket type of thing, I didn't worry about it much. It was just the two of us, so I had a live and let live approach to things. When he was older and could go out, he always made his curfews, although he hardly ever went out. He didn't really get into any trouble until he was 18, and that's when all hell broke loose. Two years later, things are getting better every day, and he comes to me more and more to talk, but eating with me and hugs are still hard to come by.

    SS10, who has been diagnosed with attachment disorder is so much different. He is non-compliant with every fiber in his body. Over three years ago we put rules into effect, and to this day he will not obey them. He just says he's sorry and tries to walk away when we engage him on it, or he'll sit down and stare off into space because he's bored and doesn't want to listen to what we have to say. He rejects what we tell him and doesn't seem to care. The thing that hangs me up on this diagnosis is that he does want to be touched. He'd ooze all over us, if we let him, but it's not appropriate. It's smothering. So, at the end of the day I don't know if the diagnosis is right. He has ADHS for sure...anxiety for emotional growth of 3 years...most likely, but AD? I don't know. Guess we'll find out when the new evaluation is done at Children's.

    KSM, when did your girls start acting this way. Have they always been distant, or is this new?
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) can look like attachment disorder. Or they can co exist. I wish ypu the best with the evaluation, rox.
  17. Copabanana

    Copabanana Well-Known Member

    Of course It does not. I did not say that it did. I was speaking about a pattern of behavior.

    Of course it felt good that my son called me Mama. I was coming from that place.
  18. ksm

    ksm Well-Known Member

    Back history on my two DGD's.

    J (just turned 18 today) always seemed out going and friendly as a small child. I noticed at doctor appointments she would grab a kids book and crawl up on a strange mans lap...if he would let her. At about 6 to 10 years old she didn't have any close friends at school. But she didn't seem to notice or care. She had A (DGD almost 16) around to play with and to boss around. Always had to choose the games, always had to be the princess and A had to be the servant who got the crown. When we would meet a new friend, like on vacation, and a child in the next condo, J would cry that she was loosing her best friend at the end of the week. In high school, J only seems to be able to keep a friend for several months. I think she is too overwhelming to people. It is hard to describe, but she kind of turns on the over the top on words and actions. I think it is just too much for "normal" teens. She hugs on people and won't let go. She even takes on an affected speech pattern... Like she is playing a part in a play.

    And when friendships go bad, and the person treats her really awful, it isn't long before she is willing to get all involved again...and gets hurt again...

    A is like the polar opposite of J. As a child she was withdrawn, shy. Didn't use verbal language as early as most children. Oh, she understood everything, but would just point at what she wanted, or let her older sister tell other adults what she wanted. She was a good student, very thoughtful of others. She had some friends. By 8th grade, I think anxiety issues got really bad. She has cut in the past, and even recently. Not dangerously, attempting suicide type cuts...but small thin lines on her arm. A is very good at learning things, like math and science, but is ok with doing the least amount to just barely pass.

    Last week she was finishing up a drivers education class, she had to do a series of online quizzes in a set amount of time. I had to remind her to do the quizzes every thing me. She never read the book that was provided, but was able to pass the 16 quizzes and the final exam by getting the bare minimum of questions correct. But, she said she was hurt that I didn't tell her I was proud of her for passing! I explained that I would have been prouder if she had studied and done her best, even if it was the same grade she got by not studying.

    Both girls have a love hate relationship with biomom. They keep getting sucked in to moms promises. I think they so want her to love them that they know it just sets them up to be hurt again and again. But they get their hopes up every time.

    Hope this info explains more... KSM
  19. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    So sad about their having to keep dealing with bio. mom. I have learned quite well that no matter how happy with us our adopted kids are, they almost all have a strong fantasy life about even absent bio. parents. It affects their self concept which is why, especially with sonic whose birthmom was a drig addict who used during his birth I paint her in a positive light. "She was too sick with addiction disease to raise a baby, but something inside of her must hsve been wonderful because you are."
    Jumper looked up her bio. dad and found his mug shot. She already knew he was a drug abuser who wad in jail during her birth. She has always been more interested in her birthmother, whom we loved. Princess can search through korean agency. I will help her, but for now she is afraid.
    Goneboy found his birthmother, sibs, aunts, uncles etc. on social media.
    Adoption is an emotional journey for most adopted kids. Ksm, your situation has a difficult spin to it. But ypu stepped up for these kids like a brave soldier and did so much for them. So much. You ARE a hero, even if the kids dont know it yet. And one day they will.
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  20. savior no more

    savior no more Active Member

    I have at times thought that if I got regular massages from a female caregiver (since it was the lack of mom bonding - well dad too, really ) which might be a "surrogate" way to get the touch that never occurred. Perhaps it wouldn't remap the brain such as in infancy, but it is a touch modality that might bring some healing. I just need to commit the time and $$ to do this.