Being Sheep

"I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep."John 10:14-15

Thursday, May 24, 2012

A Journey

Every time I sit down to blog lately I can't seem to say what I want without either

a) Sounding way more whiny or depressed than I'm actually feeling
or
b) Sharing things that are just too private to throw out there for the entire Internet ;)


Some of N's behaviors aren't things I can write in detail about for the general public. Who wants the world to know everything you did or said as a toddler, especially as it relates to how you processed your adoption?

I want to be very careful to respect N's privacy, but also be truthful about both the good and the bad of adoption. It's so easy to talk about only one or the other: "Adoption is a wonderful, beautiful thing that will change your life forever! You will immediately fall in love with your new child, and he will immediately fall in love with you!" or "Adoption is horrible! You never know what sort of needs your child will has, he's likely to come home and start setting fires or standing over you with a knife while you sleep."

Well, obviously those are two completely opposite extremes. :) Everyone's experience is going to be different. I can't tell anyone what it will be like to adopt an older baby/young toddler. I can tell you what we experienced, but not what everyone will experience. I can tell you things to watch out for, things to be prepared for, and so on, but your experience is not likely to be the same as mine.

We've had N for almost two years now, and I will say that these two years have been very different from what I was anticipating. The first few months didn't surprise me. While there was no way to predict the amount of screaming, the extreme anxiety, etc, N would have, we knew it was certainly a possibility. But when we'd reached almost a full year home and things were no longer getting better; in fact, some things were getting worse, we realized there was more going on than just N needing more time to adjust. And I was surprised at that. I never expected that my baby adopted at 9 months old would have a severe attachment disorder.

We started seeking out the help of a therapist, and certainly have made a lot of progress since then. We're now seeing a new attachment therapist (this is the same one I spoke of in my previous post), which is going very well. We're also doing occupational therapy to help N with his sensory processing disorder. We only started the OT a few weeks ago, as there was a waiting list to get in. Though at first we weren't sure it would work out because the therapist didn't understand N's specific needs related to his attachment disorder, it's going well now and I hope it will help N a lot.

I'm planning to post soon about the sensory things we're working on, and I hope to be able to report major progress in that area!

One big concern of mine, especially lately, has been my two older kids. They have really struggled with the massive amounts of screaming and raging from their little brother. When 3-4 hours of a day can be taken up in dealing with a violent and screaming two year old, the other boys haven't gotten as much attention as I wanted to give them.

Through our attachment therapist, we found an awesome support group for them to join for kids who have adopted siblings with challenging behaviors. We fit that description! And the boys have loved it. It's helped them to know that other kids are dealing with the same issues, it's been a safe place for them to express some of their feelings, and we've had some great discussions about what they talked about during the sessions.

Yesterday though, my fears were really put to rest. Though I still am trying to be very aware of their feelings, giving them plenty of attention, etc, I realized just how well they're really handling it all.

They asked what the occupational therapy is for exactly, and we had a long discussion about sensory processing disorder: what it is, how it can happen, what it looks like for N. They both expressed that they wished he didn't have that, but then said, "Hey, how can we help?" Proud Mama!! They immediately went to play in the noodle box with N, and of course that made it much more interesting for N to do.

Later, when I asked them to help N get his shoes on to go outside, I came back from switching laundry and my nine year old said, "Well Mom, we decided he should probably go barefoot. Ya know, that way he will feel the sensations of the grass on his feet. We thought it might help."

Yeah, they're pretty awesome kids. And though this hasn't been an easy journey, the most rewarding journeys usually aren't the easy ones. :)