Monday, September 14, 2009

Sometimes love is just not enough

If you had told me a year ago, as my arms ached to hold my new daughter, that I would not be happy 11 months into having her, I would have laughed and called you crazy. But now, here we are. 11 months in and life is hard. When I thought about what it would be like to add a child to our family who was almost 3, of course I knew it would be harder than adding Sage as a baby. I knew we would have much to work through. However, I believed that because I already loved her so much, because I KNEW she was meant to be my daughter, my love would be enough to carry us through. That my love for her would heal all wounds. That my love for her would give me patience for anything we encountered. And for awhile, it did. For me anyways. Her screaming was cute. Her tantrums were understandable. Her peeing on my couch, or in her bed or anywhere she wanted to make me mad, were "just a part of adjustment". Then I found out her heart was sick, and took her through 3 hospital stays. I tried to push through homeschooling my kids, while dealing w/ pee on my couch and tantrums. All of a sudden I had to remind myself that she has been through alot. I lost all patience somewhere in there, and went from endless patience to NONE. It was like a switch was turned. We prayed, we cried, we tried asking for help. We met with the doctor who told us to try the Occupational Therapy for ADHD and sensory. Ahh, relief. We thought. We reminded ourselves that we were seeing progress. Instead of tantrums every 15 minutes, we were going an hour. Instead of screaming about EVERYTHING, she used words. Most of the time. Then, we hit a point where we felt we were not seeing progress. We kept thinking, when we get to a YEAR home, she will magically be better! But we were getting closer and closer and things were not changing. I was feeling like I had failed, and the kids were not liking her.
I tried to be like everyone else I know or read about. Have a good attitude. PRAY, wait, ignore, hope that it just gets better in time, on its own, LIVE WITH IT. But that was just not working for my children, or for ME. And so I got help.
When we saw the first doctor about behaviour she handed me a card and said, "This is a family therapist, if things get to bad and you need to talk, call her". I tucked it away, never even looking at the name. Who needs therapy? That is not for ME. God will help me deal with this, and besides, if I can just get through, we will all be ok. Thankfully God did handle it and He reminded me about that card. I still struggled. THERAPY? Isn't that like MAJOR stuff to have to go sit on a couch and talk to someone? Doesn't that mean that I ADMIT I CAN'T handle it? And what if we want to adopt again? Does this therapy session go on my "record"? (as if adding another is even a thought with what we are going through!) But desperate times call for desperate measures and when I spoke with this lady on the phone and asked for help (for ME) she said, "Your daughter sounds like she has attachment disorder and I can save, I mean help you. " I made the appointment and hung up leery. My daughter loves me, she IS attached, she looks for me, she looks in my eyes, the first doctor told me she was happy with our bonding process. Tell me you are going to give me a magic pill, not some guess that we are not attached!
So we met. And what we heard made our hearts ache & the tears fall as we listened to her describe our child, our lives, the road we are walking down with Mavery.
I have read ALOT in adoption world and I have not read much on attachment. My first lesson I learned is that Bonding and attachment are 2 different things. Yes, Mavery is bonded to us. BUT Mavery is not attached. AND it is not MY fault. I guess that is what was the hardest for me to think about. I felt as if I did something wrong along the way. It has been so freeing to hear her say "This is Maverys story, this is who she is and what she came with". Along with "NO ONE UNDERSTANDS unless they have a child that is not attached". We hear alot of "well my kid did this or my kid did that, I know it is frustrating." And so we feel that we are going through what every parent goes through. To hear the therapist say " It is HARD and no one has any clue just how hard it is for you", literally made me want to get down and kiss her feet. SOMEONE gets me and has pity on me!! (of course she is making big bucks to say that to me, but you know!)
I do not understand why I have never heard of the book " The Connected Child" in my life till she told me. If you have adopted you know how much WORK you go through to get these children home. Instead of making me do 15 sets of fingerprints, how about TELL ME I am required to buy this book? And make me read it BEFORE I go, but also every few months when I get home? Because before I went, I would have blown it off and said, not MY child. And even in those first few months I would have said, " She just needs TIME". But maybe, something would have clicked sooner and we could have been on the right road much earlier had I read it. So, here we are, ELEVEN months later, and our eyes are finally open to the needs our daughter has. There could still be sensory or ADHD, but it could all be attachment. She is most difficult for me, when I am not around, it is said she is a perfect angel. I walk in the room, she automatically throws a fit, begins to whine. Therapist tells us this is normal, that they make it most difficult on moms. We are learning a whole new way to parent, and it is HARD. If she were our only child, things would be easier, but she is not. We are trying to teach Mavery that we are her forever family, we are NOT LEAVING HER, which is what the therapist says she is waiting for. We are trying to keep our cool when she "accidentally" whacks Sage in the head with a heavy object, or kicks me over and over as I sit with her in "time in." We are working through teaching her that she will not starve, she will get food. We do not have to scream and whine to talk, and sometimes Mommy can't answer you right away, but she WILL talk to you as soon as she can.
I am reminded over and over that God CLEARLY brought this child to our family. We have no doubt that HE put her with us for a reason. She was meant to be ours and He packed those bags that came along with her. And so while MY loving Mavery may not have been enough to heal her past yet, we know that Gods love is enough to keep us walking on the road to our future with her.
I have to say I LOVE my therapist. At first, walking in, sitting on that leather couch with the stream running in the background and her sitting there "how do you feel" almost made me want to giggle. But the more I go and she GETS me and she listens, it is actually wonderful. I regret not making that call a long while back.
I think my battle with Mavery is probably how our Father feels about us sometimes. If only we could BELIEVE the love God has for us is real and He is not EVER going to leave us. No matter how many tantrums we throw, how much we mess up, how many times we kick Him or scream at Him or whine or shake our fists. He ADOPTED us and all that came with us. Someday I know that Mavery will heal, that we will look back on this season with awe & wonder. And for now we just keep marching forward, loving, laughing and leaning on God.


Mom to my China Posse said...

Wish I lived closer to give you a big hug. I know this might sound like a cliche but adopting a older child is hard! Anyone who tells you otherwise is in denial. We have good days with Kamryn and then we have a set back but we keep on course and like you we remind her were her forever family. She has been home 10 months and at times I see she is still testing us but I see her guard coming down along the way. Hang in there, sounds like you have a good handle on things . help is good!

Love for Lilly Yin said...

So many of the things you mention with Mavery are the same with Lilly. She also does the tantrum thing and is the WORST to me. We have a long road ahead....but we can do it!

Mei Mei Journal said...

We have pretty much the same situation woith Paige. We had a pretty big breakthrough when she was home 18 months. She still isn't fully attached and still has some delays and attention issues. Sometimes I have to stop and remind myself how far she has come. It is so sad that life has been so hard on some of these kiddos. We have 5 children and I have had other challenges in my life, but parenting her has been my biggest. Rising to the challenge ultimately makes us better, stonger and more humble people, don't you think? I'll pray for your girl when I pray for ours.

Mom 2 six said...

Right there with you but I try to keep it in perspective...because I have challenges with some of the other children. I wish you were closer so we could support on another face to face. Praying for you. We will survive.

Cathie said...

Shannon, you brought tears to my eyes. I have no idea what you have been and are going through, but I will keep your family in my prayers. You have such a beautiful family, you are so blessed!

Anonymous said...

Do you know why, I love and only read your blog??? Because you are real, you tell it how is it, the good, the bad, the ugly. That is how more people need to blog.
I pray for you, parenting a high strung child is so hard. Lily was so hard the first year, I remember crying myself to sleep, thinking what did I do. Now things are so much better but it took time and understanding on her part as well as mine. I am here if you need me.

Anonymous said...

So beautifully said Shannon! I know it is so hard for you guys, but I also know that Mavery is exactly where God wants her to be -IN OUR FAMILY! I can't help but smile whenever I think about her running up with arms open wide calling my name (whatever she chooses to call me at that particular time!! LOL) She is a very special child and I know God will bring you all through this!


Anonymous said...

Shannon, dont forget that you are doing a great job with all of your children. Things will get better for you all. When things are getting bad think that tommorow is a new day and one step closer to Maverys attachment. You are in our prayers.

Karen Mercer said...

Shannon, God picked you and Mark becuase He knew you would fight tooth and nail for Mavery, whatever it takes. You are stronger becuase of your faith and God will continue to give you strength through this time. You and Mark are great parents and even all great parents just feel they are at wits end. And what a testiment you are to other parents.

Our House of Five said...

I love you Shannon!

Nancy said...

As I read your blog, my heart ached for you. Things are sure to get better.

Anonymous said...

I don't know you, but I can certainly relate to your experiences with attachment disorder. We have 7 adopted children, of which 5 have attachment disorder. It is tough. We searched everywhere to find out what was wrong with our kids. Finally, a therapist helped us. She understood. It was such a relief to find someone that understood what we were living with. We were misunderstood by so many people, thinking we were the problem. We had abuse reports filed against us. Christian people turned their backs on us. We were pushed out of our home church. We felt all alone in this world. At last, we found help and our kids are much better now. Life is rough, but it has improved dramatically. I am so thankful that these kids are ours, because I believe others would have given up and returned them to foster care. We pressed on, even after many professional recommendations to "let them go. you cannot help them". We thank God for our family and the healing that has taken place. Keep pressing on.

Party of Seven said...

You said it so well. We are dealing with all these same things including the way her brothers feel towards her. I was just told about the book about 2 weeks ago and just ordered and cant wait to get it! The therapist that you see does she specialize in adoption attachment?? Thanks for sharing your heart and you will really help a lot of families out there!!

ellie said...

Thanks for sharing this and I can honestly say I totally understand what you are going through (with my son from Ukraine) and it is so NOT easy. It is God's plan for Mavery to be your daughter. He wants us to grow to be more like him and it is painful painful painful.

Big hugs :0 and prayers.

xo ellie