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Adoption Blog: The Perfect Blend

Attachment and Adjustment: The Hard Work of Adoption

The honeymoon is over. My husband, Jeremiah, and our two daughters have comfortably settled into their individual roles of being members of our blended family of five. But Dylan, now home from Korea for three months, has begun the hard, hard work of adjustment, and as a result, I'm struggling too.

After multiple conversations we've had with our post-placement social worker, I now know that the problems he's had are fairly typical. He alternates between reaching out to strange women on the subway ("You look nice. Want to be my next mom?") and exhibiting full-blown panic attacks, complete with body-drenching sweats and hyperventilation, if I leave him with Jeremiah and the girls for a quick trip to the gym. But to see your child suffer the way Dylan does is intense, to say the least. As a parent, I want to take all the pain away. As an adoptive parent, I know that he needs to weather this storm in order to come out more whole on the other end.

It's all been a bit hard on me, too. Sure, I've had fantasies of my getting, say, appendicitis. You know, just serious enough for a brief break—er, hospitalization. Of course, I'm being silly, but a breather from the intensity—even just an afternoon date with Jeremiah—does sound amazing, and I don't see one coming in our near future. I can’t imagine leaving Dylan with our sitter, even though she’s the absolute best.

I'm glad, though—even relieved, I guess—that we're finally sinking our teeth into the tough stuff like separation anxiety. Now that Dylan is showing signs of being attached enough to fear my loss, I can begin the process of earning his trust, in addition to that beautiful all-encompassing love. And I can begin to prove to him that I'll keep coming back. For now, after each and every (long, exhausting) day, I promise my son that, although I'm not his first mommy, I will be his last. He doesn't understand the words yet but, as he settles into my arms and touches my cheek, I think he's beginning to get the picture.

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Hi, I’m an older Mom (51) with 5 children, 4 biological sons and an adopted daughter.  My daughter was placed in four different foster home situations during her first year of life - some thirteen years ago.  I had three weeks with her in Vietnam in which we became quite close.  When we returned to Colorado, Rachel would not let me out of her sight without crying.  Eventually, she bonded with her Dad and her brothers.  For years, she seemed to be happy and was an integral part of our family. I never could have imagined that attachment problems would appear during adolesence. These difficulties surfaced when my daughter began to struggle with her identity.  It was if she no longer knew who she was and wanted to distinguish herself from the rest of the family. For some reason, she fought to separate herself from us.  I believe that many adopted children subconsciously feel unloveable and unloved.  Unable to put their emotions into words, they suffer from a deep intuitive sense that the person who should have loved them the most, rejected them.  They cope by trying to reject those who love them. Why am I sharing this?  I have come to realize that what adopted children need the most is to know that they can count on your love and your presence even when they push you away.  As Gayle shared, you can leave, but make sure your adoptive child knows that you will come back. Years later, when he/she inadertantly attempts to alienate you, you will want him to know that you are still there for him and love him despite his bad behavior.

By metanelson on Thursday, June 20, 2013 at 2:06 am.
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