Sunday, July 31, 2011

Attachment Therapy- a report

(These pics have no relation to my post... but aren't these two ridiculously cute?)

So, M* and I have visited the attachment therapist 3 times now. Actually, we have spent our last 3 Friday nights with her and I wanted to blog a little bit about it.

The first session I thought was useless. A lot of info I already had. She had him play a game where I asked him to do something and then he needed to look me in the eyes and say "Yes mom". I had already been trying that and I wan't sure if it was working. But, she gave him homework... she told him he needed to practice the "Yes mom" game all week and she would check with me the next visit to see how it went.

On the way home something happened though that gave me hope. Sweet M* told me he missed his family in Ethiopia A LOT and that he still loved them. This was the first time he said those words and knew what he was feeling. So, maybe this therapy thing was going to help? Then as the week went on and I could see he was really trying to give me the eye contact and the "Yes moms". We still had a couple tantrums and one rage. But, not nearly as much defiance as we had been having since the vacations.

Before session 2 I received the first current photo of Shea's family ever (I had recently hired a searcher to go back to his birth family). I brought it with me to the next session. The therapist and I talked to M* about the people in the picture and about his feelings. We also did some thinking out loud to each other about what we thought he might be feeling... or how his family might be feeling. M* talked about feeling happy to see the photo but mad and sad that his family had left him. He is so smart... he nailed those feelings perfectly! On the way home we stopped at Costco and got the family photo blown up. Sweet M* asked me to tape it on the wall by his pillow which made me a little nervous bc I wasn't sure if it would upset him each morning. But, at night I have caught him talking to his family... and each morning he has woke up just fine! I am SO glad to have this photo and I can't wait to receive the dvd to see what other photos we might get from the searcher.

The therapist also talked to Sweet M* about not getting to have me when he was a baby at the second session. So, that week we started rocking and bottle feeding again. He NEEDS this. I had started it when he was first home from Ethiopia but I stopped shortly after. It is amazing how much he loves that bottle time with me though. I am glad we started it back up now that he has more language and I can talk to him about how I wish I had him as a baby but how glad I am that he had that time with his first mom etc.... I think it helps him understand how I feel and it reassures him that he can be sad that I was not there. And, that it is okay to love his first mom etc... it is really helping him connect with me. He is coming to me when he is scared instead of hiding under a blanket and relying on himself. I also made a necklace with a note and my photo so when I live him to go to work he can wear it and think of me. And, I sprayed a stuffed animal with my body spray. He naps with this and my mom tells me she catches him smelling it when he gets sad. I am so glad he is starting to miss me :)
The week following session two went by pretty smoothly really no big tantrums... and lots of compliance. "Yes mom's" have never been better and I started seeing my boy again. When M* gets caught up in his mad and sad (and scared) he is hyper-vigilant. He is on guard and he tries to press everyone's buttons to see if he is "stronger" than them. This is hard to live with. He is so smart and he knows all of our buttons. And, when he is in that state he does not play or just have fun. He looks stressed, he breaks down very easily, he doesn't sleep sound, he scarfs food etc... But, when we give him that structure, loving leadership, consequences and snuggle time we start to pull the kid back out of him. He begins to have imaginative play again, he laughs, he has more patience, he can regulate his moods better etc...

The third session of therapy I did not even have a story to report. So, we read some books about feelings. Practiced appropriate ways to get our mad out. Sweet M* thought blowing bubbles to get mad out was pretty cool... but not as cool as beating up play doh or stomping on pillows ;) But, Friday night M* regressed. He had been on such an upswing it was hard to watch him fall back. This time hubby and I were prepared though. We tightened the structure back up... gave action not conversation. We used each other to make sure he wasn't wearing us down. We were able to keep the laughter in the house and by Sunday morning our boy was back.

So, attachment therapy is helping us. It is helping us have much more compliance ("Yes moms"), we have more tools to help us bring him back from his stages of regression, he is feeling better by talking about his story with me and the therapist (I think he is getting reassurance that we did not kidnap him- Yikes!), and he is feeling much closer to me. The therapist is far (1 1/2 hour drive each way). But, she is worth it! I highly recommend others to find someone good and take a chance.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

There are Others Like Us...

As I was up researching attachment in the wee hours of the night I came across a great blogger Christine. I was so excited to finally be able to read stories of people that are in the same boat. To no I am not alone is powerful and I encourage you to check out her blog and the other bloggers of RAD kiddos.

Christine also linked to this article that you might enjoy:

Monday, July 11, 2011

Attachment/ RAD... hopefully finding a way to heal

Well... I have completely lacked any enthusiasm lately to blog. Between my business life and my nosedive with M*'s attachment issues lately I haven't had it in me to say much of anything. Frankly, (and to be honest) I think I was scared. Parenting an attachment challenged child is tough (and I mean REALLY TOUGH!!!). So much of the pain and suffering gets turned into rage and in my case it is rage directed almost solely on me just because I am "MOM".

And, than because no one else sees the behaviors that you (the mom) sees it is hard to get any "real" support. The fact that in adoption we chose this path we are on also has some stigma bc you feel like you can't complain bc people will say something like "you got yourself into this" or "I warned you". So, sometimes it is easier to suck it up and just try to "get through" each day.

I have spent many sleepless nights recently up reading about attachment. About the horrible diagnosis all of us adoptive parents don't even want to mention in fear it might make it come true for our child- RAD. But, thankfully this huge support/ network of Ethiopian adoptive families has restored me. You have given me hope. My son can heal. It can be done.

We have our first appointment with an attachment therapist this week. I am excited. It feels good to finally be able to admit to myself, my husband and my family and friends that my son is still struggling greatly after being home over a year. And, that his issues are pretty intense and I am not capable of addressing them alone. That I need help!

It feels good because I think that just getting those words out of my mouth was the hardest part. I am hoping that we will move forward now with a better understanding of how to handle our son's behavior's and how to help him with his BIG sad and mad feelings. I know there are others like us out there that need help, encouragement and ideas. I am going to post about our failures and our successes in hopes that we can help others as so many have been helping us.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Attachment on days like these...

Oh, back and forth flow of attachment how I hate you so. My Sweet M* has been home since May 7, 2010 and still there are days where I look into his eyes and all I see is fear. My little boy is still so scared... so frightened of so many things that he doesn't even have words to express. There are so many deep sorrows buried within his soul... there is grief, loss, trauma all hidden behind those beautiful espresso bean eyes. Days like these are hard.

I want to scoop him up and tell him how much I love him... how we will never leave him... how he was made perfect and beautiful by his creator. How he has an amazing story that will help him become an amazing person. How I think he is strong and brave. And, how lucky and blessed we are to have him in our lives. And, I do. BUT... he on days like these he doesn't believe me.

Usually, on days like these I see a side of my son that is ugly. A side that is hurt and struggling, and the only way to get rid of those internal feelings is to be mad and defiant. I brace myself, take deep breaths and pray for patience and wisdom. I try to ride out the storm bc really one year + later that is the best advice I have.

On days like this I want to rewind his story and find a way to keep him with his birth family. I know I can't but sometimes (on days like these) I am NOT sure adoption is a great thing for the child/ victim involved.