Sunday, December 12, 2010

Attachment: So Much More Than Meets The Eye......

Last week Russ Bone gave a seminar on Attachment in Adoption here in Colorado Springs - it was great and I would recommend this type of education to anyone dealing with kids from hard places.  By hard places I am thinking of any child who endured high stress or exposures to drugs/alcohol/tobacco in utero, those who were neglected or abused in their original homes or those who have moved through the foster care/orphanage systems.   Basically any child who's normal neurological development was impaired in those first few years after conception due to exposures, experiences or lack of experiences - which includes many of the kids we love.

Unfortunately, between the seminar last Thursday and tonight my folder has disappeared from my nightstand and I have a pretty strong hunch that one of my own kids from a hard place has hoarded it away somewhere.   What that means is that I can not use my copious notes to write a nice, tight, fact filled post about the seminar - relying instead on the impact points that have stuck deepest in my brain.

Point One:  Adopted kids who have been with us from infancy can still have serious attachment issues.  Attachment is not just a 'feeling'  or 'trust' issue it is also having the correct neurological/emotional development to process the emotions. "Getting them early' doesn't guarantee that we wont experience attachment issues.

Point Two: There is no guarantee that 'normal' two-way attachment can be expected with a child who has been traumatized prior to entering our family.  As much as we want it to be within our control, it's not our decision (as parents) to determine the quality or quantity of our children's attachment.

Point Three:  People who haven't experienced attachment issues will very rarely understand what we are living with.  I can't be mad at them for judging my parenting or my kids behavior - they are simply ignorant and I don't have time to worry too much about educating the general public (except through blogging!)

Point Four:  There can be a very physical, very real medical aspect to the attachment issues that our children exhibit.  Because of their early  exposures/experiences they may not have enough of the appropriate receptors to receive the hormones that they need to experience and develop the attachment that we crave. (This is where I want my notes!)

Point Five: Attachment is a life long challenge for many people and something that we need to recognize with more weight within the adoption community.  It's real, it can be devastating and it's just a fact we should expect when adopting children from hard places.

7 comments:

Kari said...

Sounds like it was a great seminar! Thanks for sharing your mental notes...hope you find your paper ones!

~Kari

Lisa said...

I believe all of these points are so real - I'm living them. The whole "you got them when they were so young...why would they have attachment issues?" dilemma had me reeling for quite awhile. The implied message is always "WHAT DID YOU DO?" I have three - placed with us at newborn, 9 mo and 25 mos. The youngest seems the least affected in all areas, but she definitely has her deficits. The other two are just off the charts. I didn't even know about RAD until a few years ago which just makes me sad in the grand scheme of their lives. They're 15, 16, 17 now and things are definitely not pretty with the oldest two. Ah...the things we all wish we'd known sooner! Thank you for this info. - it all helps in some way.

Blujeanmama said...

I'm bummed that I missed this. Nothing in my schedule seems manageable right now :o( . On the other hand, in light of what you wrote. What do you think about pre-adoptive education? I know a family that's adopting internationally, their starry-eyed and sweet. I don't want to be doom and gloom on them. But I want to them to have an awareness and reality check. Some parents think that adopting an older child (1+) will be easier. . . . but in actuality it can be harder because there are more exposures and environmental controls that come into play. . .

Anonymous said...

I'm also asking what to say to people who consider adoption. We have adopted a sweet little boy from birth and I'm thankful things are going well so far. But through adoption blogs and litterature I'm aware that it's no walk in the forrest to adopt a child. Now my brother tells me they are thinking about adopting. What should I tell them? What should I recommend they read?

Anonymous said...

Thank you for this post. We're working on a third adoption, a 7-year-old child who is known to be happy and self-confident, though an introvert. Our first two adoptions were infants (6 months and 10 months) who are now 3 years and 18 months. We love both children so desperately but struggle with their various issues and with knowing what to do from one behavior pattern to the next. Is this or that particular behavior just preschool stuff? Is it neurological? Is it FASD? Is it autism? Is it RAD? How do we respond? And that makes us wonder if we are fools for embarking on this third adoption. Don't we have enough to deal with as it is? What if this third child upsets what balance we do have with the first two? What if our first two children turn out to be a problem for the third? The third appears to have normal intelligence and a normal emotional life, but what if all that changes for her when we bring her to the craziness of our home? What if our first two "grow into" far more difficult issues than they have now? And in view of all this experience and the knowledge we're gaining about the realities of adoption, what on earth do we tell our "sweet and starry-eyed" wanna-adopt friends, as another poster described her friends?

Posts like this attachment one drive me crazy because I know I need to know this information, and I know that it is precious information because I'm not going to be able to learn it just anywhere, and I know that it is "hard won" information on your part and that I'm learning it "easily" through your willingness to pass it along, but I don't know, yet, how much it applies to -my- children, and I don't know, for lack of a better way to phrase it, how "terrified" I should be that this is a very strong possibility for our children's future. What if our children are different? But that's a naive question, isn't it? Sigh. Feeling freaked out. :-)

Love your website! Thank you for your ministry through it. Praying for you and your family.

--SleepyKnitter

tscarlet said...

Thank you for sharing this, Dorothy. Do you know if Russ Bone has a book or other printed or recorded information on this? I googled and looked up on Amazon but didn't find anything.

Shonni said...

I’m so glad that you are sharing what you learned there. I wish I could have gone.
Hope to hear more!!!