Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Bitterness and Attachment Issues

No, there's nothing new to complain about. Other than him reverting to "angry Paxton" during the few days we were snowed in, he's been pretty great. In fact, adorable, enjoyable, and generally fun to be around. We've actually been enjoying being his parents considerably since he started school. That's not to say we ever disliked being his parents, or that we had any regrets following his adoption, but things have certainly been easier around here. And thus, we're mapping out the next few years with school or camps to keep him occupied. The benefit, to the whole family, is tremendous and I somewhat wish we'd done it sooner (though I'm really not sure he would've been ready for it...).

All that aside...

It's been on my mind lately that bitterness and a child's attachment issues go hand in hand. I read many, many blogs (most of which I've never commented on) and most of them pertain to adoption. So many people have adopted an older child or children, domestically or internationally, and many of them have experienced attachment issues.

And every single time they do, you can sense the bitterness in their writing.

Sometimes it's blatant, with them openly expressing resentment toward the children they're working so hard to parent. Sometimes it's subdued, with only exasperation being allowed into their words. Sometimes it's nearly hidden, but a comment here or there allows you to peek behind the happy facade and see the truth within.

And the truth is... it's hard.

Very, very, very hard.

You work and you wait and you hope and you pray that you and your child will find each other and everything will work out such that you can be joined as a family. And you read and talk and prepare so much. You educate yourself on everything, including attachment, just in case. And then, you're finally together and suddenly there are issues. They may be minor, they may be major. They might be constant, temporary, or recurring. They could be bad, very bad. So many people I know have brought home a RAD child. They could be minor, to the point that others will wonder why you even consider it an issue.

We're in the latter category, thankfully. And yet, it was still so hard. Hard enough that the thought of living with a child who does have bad attachment issues instead of just anxious attachment... well, I'm not sure I could live with that.

There were times with Paxton where I was literally scared OF him, scared not only of the type of person he was seemingly turning into but of the "little beast" he was. Scared to pick him up since it usually resulted in him head butting, biting my nose, punching my eyes, etc. Scared to hug him since he'd pinch and scratch and kick. Scared to go shopping since he'd either run away when not in the cart or bite and pinch my hands while in the cart. Scared to put him down to bed because it usually involved a lot of violence and screaming bloody terror for at least an hour. Scared, scared, scared. And it seemed to never end, no matter what form of discipline I tried (up until we tried physical discipline).

On top of the violence there was the fear, the screaming for anyone but me. And the anger. And the defiance, Lordy the defiance!!! Stubborn as a rock that one.

But it's gotten better, loads better, and he's truly 99.999% normal 4 year old boy now.

And yet... I remember it all too well. The wait, the anticipation, the preparation, the tears of both sorrow and joy, and finally the big meeting and bringing him home only to be followed by... well, you just read about it. And there's a bit of bitterness there. I'm a bit bitter about it, even now. And I hate that.

And for those people dealing with RAD kids, with harming other children or smearing feces or acting out sexually, I can guess that the bitterness is even worse.

We work our butts off just to get these kids home, work our butts off to raise them, and then we're rewarded with this? With them not wanting to attach to us?

Sometimes it's enough to make me scream.

But then I sit down and think rationally about it.

I think about the choices made, and who made them, and I know I, personally, can't (or shouldn't) complain.

You see, we chose this. We chose to adopt a child of a certain age. We chose to adopt at all. We accepted his referral. And we chose to get on that plane and bring him home. We also chose to not seek help, thinking that it "wasn't that bad" or it "was normal".

What did Paxton choose?


He didn't choose his birth history. He didn't choose to be orphaned. He didn't choose to be moved around then separated from his first family. He didn't choose to be adopted. He didn't choose to come to the US.

He didn't get a choice in anything. We had all the choices.

And yet, still, some days I do blame him for how rough that first year was. Fair? No, not at all. But human. A human reaction.

I'm working on it :)

And I'm working on emptying myself of the bitterness I once held and sometimes still hold, and working toward being more relaxed and realizing that I'm no longer parenting a damaged child, but a real, happy, functional, loving little boy who's very, very normal.

And even if he wasn't, it would still be my choice to parent him, my choice to love him, my choice to be there for him his whole life. And it's a choice I don't regret in the least. Even if sometimes I probably sound like I do :)


Paxton will wake up soon. Silly boy, he got to have his daddy help out in school today. That means he got to ring the bell for clean up, use a pointer during circle time to point to the words on the chalkboard, and wear a cape to be the "weather wizard" and let everyone in class know how the weather was outside. He came home super excited. As soon as he walked in the door he screamed, "Mommy, SURPRISE!" I don't know what was supposed to be surprising but whatever :)

Oh, and yesterday was the 8th anniversary of Nik and my first date :) We got to go out. Nik got me flowers, which I discovered once I got to the car. I brought them in and carelessly left the bouquet on the shelf last night. This morning Paxton found them and brought them to me, screaming out, "I love you mommy! Here's some flowers for you!" Such a sweetie pie :)


Ambrose is in "baby time out" right now. He doesn't have teeth yet but he's trying his damnedest to bite my nipples off. Little nut. Hurts like a witch too. So I put him on the ground and said, firmly, "no, hurts mommy!" He smiled and laughed. *Sigh* Now he's in his Bumbo babbling to himself while I recover in front of the computer. I wish I could somehow effectively communicate that clamping down, twisting and yanking your head back will not get you anything good. Ugh. My boys.

1 comment:

Stephanie said...

Big hugs! I can't imagine it- but I have nothing but a whole lot of respect for those that adopt.

Oh- and I've met your kid. ;-) I've never seen a 4 year old BOY be so loving toward babies! So there's a perk!