life on the funny farm

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.5

Before I start in on today's post about attachment, I'd like to give a shout out to a bloggy friend of mine named Denise. Denise is author of the blog Fostering a Blessing, and she is a single foster Mom to two boys.

And she is struggling.

She is new to parenting. She is new to adoption issues and trauma issues and attachment issues. It has NOT been a walk in the park for her.

When I write my pieces on attachment, she is right there in the front of my mind as I write, although I wasn't sure if she was reading them or not.

But last week, I was catching up on her blog, as I had missed a few posts, and I saw this:

On Tuesday mornings I so look forward to reading my friend Anne's blog. On Tuesday she writes about a topic that is near and dear to me...attachment.

Today I love her it. It is about parenting a kiddo with RAD. I could have written it...except for the part about how to parent through it. My natural instinct is the type of parenting where I throw gas on the fire. I am learning...slowly learning.

Here is Anne's post....Attachment.

Thanks Anne for enlightening me every single week. For being a constant reminder that these kids need something "different".

God....thank you for bringing Anne into "my life". I hope to one day meet her in person. Through you all things are possible.

Wow. Denise, I'm so glad that my blog has been helpful to you. Having never met you, this will sound strange, but I am so very proud of you. I think you're doing an amazing job with these boys. Please know that even if you don't hear from me (I often have trouble commenting on your blog), you are always in my thoughts and in my prayers. God bless.....

Now then. Today's post on attachment.

I'd like to touch on the cyclical nature of attachment with traumatized kids.

When parenting a child with attachment issues, you go through some pretty tough, very intense times. Times that make you question whether you can continue in this role. Times when you wonder how much longer you can make it the way things are.

And then suddenly, it's better.

And you think, "I MADE IT!!!!"

You crossed the finish line and you're lying in an exhausted heap, but your child is lying next to you and you're both breathless, but you hold hands and your heart rate begins to return to normal.

And you think that easy days are stretched before you and you can breathe again, and you pat yourself on the back for having made it.

Cue sound of needle scratching across the record.

Sadly, this is NOT the way of it. With attachment disorders, it's two steps forward, one step back, and parents need to be prepared for this.

Because generally speaking, the timeline goes a little something like this:

1) Adopted or foster child joins family.
2) Everyone enjoys a nice, comfortable honeymoon period.
3) Child starts to feel safe enough to scare himself.
4) Child begins to act out and push away. There is an "epispode".
5) Everyone is stressed and things unravel a bit.
6) It ends and things settle a bit. The calm after the storm.
7) Parents feel a false sense of security. Child begins to feel safe and secure, b/c he just went through the Tunnel of Stress with his parents, and yet he's still with the family, and there are still feelings of affection.
8) The safe and secure feelings scare the bejesus out of the kid. When he's felt this way in the past, it hasn't ended well for him, so yeah, he gets scared.

Numbers 4 - 8 get repeated on a loop. Hopefully, if things are going well, and learning is taking place, there will be more and more time in the calm after the storm phase, and fewer and fewer incidents, with less intensity. With any luck skill and patience and love and support, the acting-out behaviors will eventually be extinguished.

So. Bottom line: when you hit a smooth stretch, enjoy it, but don't let your hair down. Appreciate it for what it is, and turn up the volume on the attachment activities, but don't fool yourself into thinking you've hit the homestretch. Chances are, that's still a long ways off.

If you'd like to read the other posts in my series on attachment, you can find them here:

Attachment The Attachment Tree
Attachment.2 I Love You
Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky
Attachment.4 Control

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