Attachment Issues…


We knew in our adoption journey we would face attachment issues. Yet here I am frustrated and angry and worn out, despite all my preparation. Really, when dealing with attachment issues (much like everything else in the parenting world) you can train and prepare all you want, but nothing will help you get ready to face the ins and outs of it on a daily basis.

We are seeing attachment issues in our oldest, S and our middle C. I have to say that even though they are sisters, their attachment issues are so very different. With C we are reinforcing that this is her forever home and she cannot live with whoever she meets and enjoys hanging out with. That seems much easier to me. Sure there are other things, but that is the big one.

With S is where things get super challenging for me. I completely (logically) understand that these negative behaviors we are seeing are attachment behaviors, but that doesn’t make it any easier. Let me be clear for all the well-meaning people out there, I do not want advice (unless you have specifically dealt with attachment behaviors). This is not normal pre-teen emotional behavior, this is not adjustment, this is attachment and the difference is HUGE!!!!! S does so well with Joel, she is respectful (for the most part), listens, and in general acts like her happy little self. With me however, she is a different kid. She is disrespectful, short, and down right mean. She gets super angry every time I speak with Joel and she is not there. She constantly says she is “Telling Dad” on me (which makes me laugh inside). She is just displaying very obvious behavior that she wants nothing to do with me, but then cries when I attempt to leave the playroom at the therapy office. It is so confusing and frustrating. We thought maybe some fun time would be good for S and I so we tried that tonight and it was an EPIC fail.

It is so frustrating to try and give S special alone time, when we don’t have time to do that with all 3 kids and yet she is behaving like a crazy child! The other two get less time with both parents as a result and that is not fair to them. And when I am with the other two I actually feel like a good mom, not this horrible evil mom I feel like when I am with S.

We just aren’t really sure what more to do. We present a united front yet S says that one day Dad will take her side over mine. We explained that we don’t want to have any sides in our house and we want everyone to be on the same side. We self clear limits about behavior and respect of everyone in the house.

Today I am just tired of being treated like poop on the bottom of a shoe by someone I am just trying to love. That is the reality of adoption sometimes. It’s not pretty, it would not go nicely on a finalization card, but it is the truth. It won’t always be like that, but today it is.


12 thoughts on “Attachment Issues…

  1. Okay. I don’t have any answers. I do know that attachment takes time–time to heal, time to trust–hey, you know all of that. You think of all those years the kids were dealing with the not so good things. It’s going to take just as much time if not more to start to heal and repair–and we all know that we will never know if complete healing and repair is possible. I think of all the pregnant moms I used to train, they were so frustrated after they had their babies…they just wanted their old body back–like three months after their baby was born. I used to tell them, you have to remember it took 10 plus months for your body to transform throughout your pregnancy, so remember that it will take time to get it back–but it will never come back to exactly the way it was before. Dumb comparison. haha.

    and then I think of what your dear children experienced with their first mother–and why that is being directed back at you–as a mother. The younger ones have experienced a different life than the oldest. They remember different. They are all different.

    Know that I am thinking of you. I don’t know your specific challenges, but I do know challenges. Hang in there. Take deep breaths. I tend to do a little emotional eating. haha. But if I could, I would rather workout. Or I just sit and wish I could. It is tough stuff. I’m always here if you need to chat, vent, whatever…


  2. Attachment issues are THE WORST!!!! Good people like you and me go into adoption of these difficult children thinking love will cure all. I’ve been in the same situation you have and it does SUCK! It does get better, but I don’t think kiddos with RAD can ever get over their disastrous early years.

    • I agree that you can never fully erase the effects of those early years, but I hope that they can get better. The funny thing is, I knew full well going into this about attachment and all that because of my work, but for some reason I didn’t think it would be as frustrating for ME as it has been.

  3. I am a child (now 20) and still dealing with attachment-related trauma from my mom. It is so hard, and I’m in the stage of attachment where I try to make everyone my momma. I suppose the advantage I do have is that I switch into younger ego states quite often so I can relate to S. Sometimes I act disrespectful and sassy to people to provoke a reaction. The whole “you say you won’t leave me, but what if I do this? Or this! Or what about this? See! You got mad and you said you wouldn’t. You promised and you broke your promise. You lied to me. You’re mean and I don’t like you!” The other thing is that S may view you as a threat- the whole transference thing going on, and she may projecting her anger from past trauma onto you because you’re now her mom. I do not know the circumstances that led her being put into the foster care system and, in turn, being adopted by you and your husband. Obviously it was traumatic, and S may have no idea how to function in a stable family environment. She may be trying to mess it up to get the stability (i.e. dysfunction) that makes sense with her. Have you tried Schema therapy with her? I will be praying for y’all. In the name of Jesus I ask healing, endurance, patience, faith, and strength over this family. I pray that S will come to know the love of Jesus and see that love manifested in you and your husband. I pray that her fears, anxieties, confusion, and anger will one day make sense to her and she can accept love and give love in a healthy way.

    • Thank you so much for your comments and your prayers. I can so see S in what you mean about seeing it people are really who they say, even if they are mad. She does that with me all the time and will tell me, “but you said…” This usually happens with tiny things that I barely remember, like “we will see if we can go to the park after lunch” type things. It is like she is trying to prove that I am really lying to her. Poor girl, I feel so bad for everything that she has had to go through and the effects that it has had on her. We have not tried Schema therapy, but we just switched S from talk based therapy to play therapy which fits way better for her emotional age.

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