My 5 year old adopted son seems very angry!. Please help!

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Celticdawn, Mar 20, 2012.

  1. Celticdawn

    Celticdawn New Member

    Hi. I will provide a brief background and then will go into the behavior issues that we are seeing. My 5 year old son was adopted by my partner and myself when he was 1 year old and has been in our custody since he was 3 months old. He was born to my adopted cousin who has significant attachment/mental health issues. She was adopted by my aunt and uncle when she was about 3 years old and struggled with attachment issues until she ended up back in the system at about age 9. She admittedly smoked marijuana while pregnant with my son and took other medications prescribed by her psychiatrist. I'm not sure what drugs those were though. My partner has stayed home with him since we got custody of him. He has only been to babysitters a handful of times. He has a good relationship with my partners parents and my mom as well. He has limited contact with his birth family and has had no contact with his birth mom. Now on to the behaviors we are seeing now.

    He has always been a very well behaved child. He made his own sleep schedule at about 4-5 months of age, 7pm-7am with a 2 hour nap from 12-2pm. He potty trained with no problem. He always listened well and did what was asked of him. This past September he began preschool (we started him a bit late). His behavior problems began when he started urinating in his room, not because he was having an accident, but because "look mom, it disappears in the carpet." We explained to him where it REALLY went, but this didn't stop the behavior. He urinates in his heater vent, between his dresser and the wall, at the foot of his bed, and the last time was on his bed (after he had just gone to the restroom). Apparently the cat that he is best buddies with was in his room, and he was trying to pee on the cat. The other behavior he has exhibited recently is when we ask him to do something, he is either saying "no" flat out (but usually still doing it) or he is making a hissing sound as he does it, usually directed toward me. Then, about a week ago, I caught him taking steak knives into his bedroom and then hiding them under the bed. When my partner did a search of his room, we found more steak knives hidden under his bed. He did this when he was about 3 years old also, but that time he got up in the middle of the night and was trying to "cut the cat's hair". Then, yesterday he "stole" the scissors from his preschool class and hid them under his bed. He had paper under there that he was cutting. He admitted to doing this. I asked him why he didn't ask his teacher if he could borrow them, and his response was "because the children can't take them home.". So, he knew flat out that it was wrong to take them. We had him take them back to class today and tell his teachers and apologize.

    I need some feedback on this. I can't express enough that I LOVe my child's personality. He is extremely intelligent and not a push over at all. I love his leadership qualities and that he questions authority. I need to know how to channel these personality traits in positive ways. I don't want to squash his spirit. We give him time outs for talking back, not doing what he is asked to do, etc. We are both very consistent with this. We warned him once about the peeing, but when he did it again, he didn't get to go play with his cousin and aunt, and he also lost his toys for a week (all but his puzzles and books. We don't want him to get too bored). He kicked his grandma (she has spoiled him rotten since the day he walked into her family. He stays with her and his grandpa one night and one day per week) when she wouldn't buy him something. He was warned that if he did it again, he wouldn't get to go the following week. He did it again, and then didn't get to go. He has done better since then. He also told me recently that I'm not his real mom and that he had a mom when he was born and she gave him to me. I'm wondering if he is needing to grieve the loss of his birth mom? He is extremely attached to us. Especially to my partner who has been home with him since he came to us. Overall, he is a happy, ACTIVE (very athletically inclined. He begins soccer this month), intelligent child.. He is also stubborn, strong willed, and defiant.

    Can anyone offer helpful feedback? I really do appreciate it. I love him very much and want to help him become all that he can be without squashing his spirit.
  2. TeDo

    TeDo Guest

    I can't address the peeing issue because I've never had to deal with that. As for the knives, difficult child 1 hoarded knives for a while (until I found some and we talked about the need). He was being treated so horribly at school by staff that he "needed the knives for protection". Against who in our house, I have no idea but that was his rationale. Since I pulled him out of that school, he hasn't felt the need. I agree that something is going on. You really should have him evaluated by a neuropsychologist as soon as you can. I highly recommend you read The Explosive Child by Ross Greene. He has a unique approach to behaviors that pretty literally saved my family. It made ME think differently about difficult child 1's behavior.

    Welcome to our little corner of the world. Others will be along so check back often. The wealth of knowledge here is unfathomable and the support is even better!!
    Lasted edited by : Mar 20, 2012
  3. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Did his birthmother drink when she was pregnant?

    in my opinion he has more problems than you want to acknowledge. Hoarding knives at age three in my opinion is a sign of anger. He could have attachment issues.

    Have you ever taken him for an evaluation? I would be little bit nervous about many of his behaviors and would want to check and see what a neuropsychologist may find so that he could get help. I mean, kicking your mother is not normal either...I'd try to get it as sorted out as you can...and to start early interventions.

    Almost all adopted kids feel abandoned and think about their birthmothers, but not all adopted kids hide knives or kick Grandma...something is going on.

    Take care and keep us updated!
  4. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Are you a stay-at-home Mom? or does he go to daycare or a babysitter?
    Not that I'm favoring one side or the other... but there is a slim chance of child abuse, and if it happens at a young age, the effect can be even more major than if it happens later.
  5. buddy

    buddy New Member

    Hi there! Wecome. I think it is great you were able to give this little guy a great home. Sounds like he had a shaky start. I would also suggest a neuropsychologist evaluation and if there is any way to find out which medications she was taking to bring that along. A neuropsychologist over other types of diagnosticians (in my humble opinion) at this point because he has neuro risk factors and a typical psychiatric or psychiatrist may only look at the behavior and give him a diagnosis related only to that which is often not helpful. (you can give him a label of something related to being explosive or aggressive or defiant or whatever yourself right? But the neuropsychologist can help look at behavior and how it is related to brain development and other social factors in his history a little more broadly, again in my humble opinion)

    I am a single adoptive mom to a boy from foster care. He has many behavioral issues and has lots of neurological damage your son does not have. But he does have the same adoption feelings as any child does and it helped me to talk to adoption professionals. In his case, he had developmentally appropriate (for his age) questions as your son does, but he did not have the emotional level to deal with it. Without being able to use words even....they may not even realize can develop all kinds of fears like if they can be taken once, why not again? Someone told a child in a group I was at, wow you have your forever home and he said...NOTHING is forever. Many kids "collect" things, mine does pamphlets and papers. It kind of sounds like he actually has a plan (maybe???) and he just gets very focused on it.

    How does he play with other kids? He sounds like he is really bright and full of potential. You say he is a leader, can he follow? At his age, it is not typical to question authority to too much of a degree. There are some kids who dont really understand the social rules of how we talk to peers versus familiar adults versus people in authority etc. If he struggles with that it may not be a personality trait as much as a skill deficit and it can be tricky to sort that out. If it is a personality thing and he does well most of the time then I would agree that shaping it to make it a positive aspect of his life.

    When did he start talking? Is he advanced in reading or numbers? It is great he is starting sports it will help you see how he does with playing by rules (which all kids have some issues with at his age, lol)...but when we have kids with behaviors it is helpful to notice things like he works with his team mates and how they do learning the strategy of the game (Is he a kid who gets the ball and wont give it to anyone else?? etc. just making stuff up for examples).

    The examples you gave about the behaviors you mentioned all have a common theme (on the surface here of course) of his having an idea set in his mind and being really locked in. How did he respond when you took the knives back?

    My son is 15 and things still get by me at times, but for the most part, I keep all sharps locked up. Not those stupid plastic drawer things that kids can break into, and since I rent I can't put locks into the outside wood but there are magnetic locked child protection locks that you can get anywhere...they are on the inside of drawers and you swipe a magnet across the outside of the door/drawer and it clicks it open. It is a PITA to have to get the magnet every time I want a knife etc. but those of us with kids with any kind of behavior challenge, once we are aware we need to keep them safe from themselves until (if) the problem can be solved. Small price to pay.

    I would say if you can arrange for the neuropsychology evaluation that would be great and since there is an issue with following directions it would be worth it to get a really good speech language pathology evaluation by someone who knows about auditory processing including language processing. You want someone who really gets it so using a clinic that works with kids with brain injuries or autism or something like that (kids who have diagnosis that include the risk of those issues, not saying your kid has those things) would be best. A new grad (again, just MHO because I am a Speech Language Pathologist (SLP)) may not have the experience for such a subtle and specialized kind of issue. If there are social communication issues as well, (as I said...tone of voice or choice of words with different types of people) that should be mentioned too.

    And for the pee issue, you might want to get an Occupational Therapist (OT) (occupational therapy) evaluation with someone who understands sensory integration disorder very well. He may be really into how things look, feel etc. It may just be an obsessive thing (like with the knives) too. But by checking each of these areas you can rule things out for now (things always change and evolve and may not fully show up at this young age but still good to check it out)

    If you do the sl and Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation now (usually easier to get those appointments) then you can bring the results to the neuropsychologist evaluation and that person can help you put things together even more completely.

    The books that were recommended are really helpful too. The explosive child by ross greene and what your explosive child is trying to tell you by doug riley. You can search here for more information on those books and what people think of them.....

    My best to you, hope you stick around and get to know all of us, we know the challenge of living with these wonderful kids who have some kind of intense behaviors! See ya around!
  6. Celticdawn

    Celticdawn New Member

    Thank you so much for your responses. I will definitely be checking out the two books recommended. I think that having a neuro evaluation is probably a really good idea. It's difficult for me because I really don't want him to struggle because of what his birth mother did, but it's not going to help him any if my head is burried in the sand.

    I want to try to answer some of the questions that came up. I think that Buddy was dead on with some of the patterns that my son has developed that weren't that obvious to me until you pointed them out. :) Anyway, at this point my son believes that we can fix anything. When we asked him what would happen if he accidently cut himself with the knives or scissors, he said, "you will grab me and pull me out of the way." He recently refused to come off ice on a lake when his grandmother asked him to (his behavior is definitely the worst with her. The lake was very shallow, but was still scary). I asked him what he thought would happen if the ice broke and he fell into the lake. He said, "Grammy will fish me out."

    He seems to play decently with other children. His teachers have mentioned that at first he was much more interested in the adult feedback, and he didn't really know how to interact with the kids. My partner stayed at home, so he really had no contact with children until preschool began. The teachers also stated that he is extremely well behaved, curious about everything, athletically inclined, and extremely distracted by other children. Since then, he's become more used to the other kids and has actually been able to make a couple of friends. All the kids seem to like him. His behavior problems do not exhibit themselves at school, other than the scissors incident. He was able to talk with his teachers about that, apologize, and he was completely upset about the entire thing. I'm not sure if it will happen again, but he didn't like having to apologize to them. The morning before he did it, he was very concerned about whether or not they would still like him. He isn't great at vocalizing his feelings, but he did ask me if I was "happy at him" and if the teachers would still be happy at him. We bought the game, Moody MOnsters, in hopes to help him name is emotions. So far he likes the game. Anyway, his authority issues only seem to show up with myself, my partner, and my partner's parents. He behaves better with my mom and with his teachers.

    As far as his development: He walked and talked very early. He was walking at 9 months.. Running at 10. He is excellent with numbers and with puzzles. He can build puzzles that take me twice as long to build. He isn't reading yet, though, and he isn't showing any signs of even wanting to read. He does enjoy being read to.

    He also seems to have some difficulty processing information. If we tell him to do something, sometimes it takes him a few seconds to even hear what we said (or to appear to hear it).. Now, sometimes he's very tuned in to us and responds to our requests or otehr conversation right away. Other times, he's very "disconnected" from us and it takes a lot longer to get him to tune in. I'm not sure if this is a processing issue or if it's just normal?

    Again, I really appreciate everyone's response. I hope to spend some time familiarizing myself with the site and look forward to getting to now you all!
  7. soapbox

    soapbox Member

    This could be a number of different things, and you may not be able to get solid answers on some of it for a few years yet... but... it could be a simple hearing problem, so he has to "fight" to hear, which means he then has to process what he heard as a second step. OR, it could be an Auditory Processing Disorders (APD)... do you have much background noise at home? TV/radio on a lot, computer game noises, etc? If so, start noting the "noise level" and his "response level". You may find that you have to reduce your background noise at home, to help him "hear".
  8. Celticdawn

    Celticdawn New Member

    Thank you for mentioning Auditory Processing Disorders (APD). I did some research on that, and he really does fit into that category well. He will cover his ears if someone blows their nose, and he loathes the shower because it's too loud. Any loud noise makes him unhappy. Also, he is easy to have conversations with on a one to one basis, but if there's anything else going on around him, he "checks out". He tends to have one sided conversations, and he has difficulty following directions with more than one step, sometimes even with only one step. I am going to work with him around the sound issues and see if that helps. It doesn't explain his peeing on the floor (I noticed he is peeing behind the toilet this morning, and GAG, in the bathtub), but it certainly explains why he doesn't always follow directions. He's too young for an evaluation, per the website I read, as he's only 5, but it's worth a shot for us to be aware that he may be struggling in this manner. Thanks again..
  9. InsaneCdn

    InsaneCdn Well-Known Member

    Has he ever had an Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation for sensory integration and motor skills?
    Sensory issues can also cause a LOT of overload.
    So can neuro-motor problems.

    Occupational Therapist (OT) also has therapies that help...

    This would be an out-of-school Occupational Therapist (OT) evaluation, though... it's an area schools don't usually get into.
  10. Ktllc

    Ktllc New Member

    I you really think Auditory Processing Disorders (APD) might be an issue: he is NOT too young for an evaluation.
    You might have to make a lot of phone calls to find a doctor willing to test him. But there are tests for 5 year olds.
    My son who is almost 5 will be tested in 2 weeks! It was really hard to find anyone, I had almost given up but Weet Pea's Speech Language Pathologist (SLP) found one for us.
  11. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Do you know if your child's birthmother exposed him to any substances before he was born? Adopted mom of three here.
  12. Celticdawn

    Celticdawn New Member

    Hello.. yes, he was exposed, for sure, to marijuana. I know this because he tested positive for it when he was born. She was also on assorted psychiatric medications, but unfortunately, I do not know which ones. I know that her doctor was aware that she was pregnant, and the medications were hand delivered to her home. She has never been a drinker of alcohol, so I highly doubt that she did any of that. I have never known her to do any other drugs.