So one of my big concerns going into older child/foster care adoption was the ability to attach on both ends of the relationship. I worried that I wouldn’t particularly like my new kids and that would mean that I would not love them. I detailed my concerns in a pre-placement post from over a year ago here. I also wrote a letter to my kids that I had to re-read, it is here. (Although I’m only two weeks in and I can’t believe I gave them full permission to test me as much as they wanted. Thankfully they haven’t seen the letter yet).
Anyways, prior to placement I had a ton of worried about how the attachment process would go. I wanted to write today as an update on that specific aspect of our adoption. To be honest, some of the things that I worried about are not the things that ended up being an issue. However, other things have become a struggle at times.
I worried if I would be able to attach to them. Would I love them like they were my kids? Because they are! Would I think of them as my children or would that take time. To be honest, from the moment I heard about them and knew that they would be mine I loved each one of them with my whole heart.
Now, I have to say, personality-wise I don’t necessarily get along with all of my children the same at all times. There are children that I get along with better then others (those that seem to be attaching easier are by far easier to get along with). The children that are having some attachment issues can be difficult to enjoy at all times. I still love them with my whole heart, but I don’t always seek them out for extra time and act as patiently as I want to. Basically there are some children where the relationship seems more natural and easy and some where I need to work at it. If I was a statistician I would say the relationship between the ease of getting along and the testing behaviors shows a significant inverse correlation. Wow, what a nerd! I know, but don’t you feel like you know a little bit about me that you didn’t before?
When you are constantly being tested and second guessed it is hard to be peaceful and enjoy the relationship. So with some kids I am peaceful and enjoying and with some kids I am impatient (but working on that) and setting clear and consistent boundaries with lots of love mixed in.
The aspect of my attachment to them that I didn’t realize would effect me so much was the children’s relationship with each other. Some kids try to be the parent and take that role back from me and become very upset when I refuse to let them control their siblings like their own personal life-size dolls. Some kids ask their siblings for permission because that is what they are used to doing. I find that, at times, I am jealous of their relationships with each other. They have known each other longer than I have, they hold each other’s memories and a fountain of knowledge and stories. It is hardest for me when they try to be the parent because then I feel worthless, like if you are doing that what is the point of me being here. At times this lead me to be short with the kid trying to be the parent.
Their attachment to Joel and I is something that I wish I could more accurately assess, like if there was a standardized test for attachment (if there is and I don’t know about it can you tell me in the comments?). One of the kids seems to be attaching pretty well, identifying me as their primary attachment figure. Two of the kids are doing a TON of push/pull dynamics, with one being obviously trying to figure out if we are safe and will always be there. Then there is one that is doing this push/pull and saying that they want to live at our friends’ house that we went to visit and refusing to come home from the park as it is fun there and they will live there now. This child is the one that I am worried about with regards to attachment. There are times that are really good and then there are times that are really hard. The child that is obviously testing to see if we are safe and consistent seems to be having more rough times now and is more difficult for me to get along with.
I am hoping that over time, all three children will see that Joel and I will be here no matter what and begin to think of us truly as their “mom and dad” instead of simply calling us by that name. Some kids I think do think of us as mom and dad and some don’t yet, which is perfectly natural as today is our 2 week family anniversary.
So that is all I have for today, other than to report that today went MUCH better than yesterday and ended with a highlight of me putting P to bed. P was scared (as he has been for a couple days) and wanted Joel or I to be with him. So while he was scared we decided to talk about all the fun things that we were doing tomorrow, which was easy to think of since we are going to the zoo. The entire conversation was awesome but this was the highlight:
Mom: And we get to have lunch at the zoo! How fun will a picnic be?
P: Maybe a monkey will steal my sandwich!
Mom: Oh no, what would you have to eat? Would you get it back?
P: Ya, I climb a tree and get it back.
Mom: Good plan! Maybe a giraffe will steal your lunch too.
P: (As if it was the most obvious thing in the world) No mom, the giraffe steal YOUR lunch!