Monday, May 18, 2009

Still here!

The end of the week got kind of busy, and now I've picked up Mark's cold and haven't felt much like posting. I still don't feel very good, but figured you might be wondering if we had driven our new van off of a highway or something and I better post. ;)

The girls had their first pediatrician appointment on Thursday and that went really well. I LOVE our new pediatrician! She is great and will be a great resource for us. She's actually never had a patient with cleft palate before and is excited to follow the process and learn with us. She was very impressed that we had already set up Emily's TEAM meeting and surgery.

On Friday I contacted the cerebral palsy (CP) department at Children's Hospital for Danielle but the woman I needed to speak with was out of the office. I left our information with someone else and they are supposed to be getting back with me. The process to be evaluated sounded very complicated over the phone so I'm hoping it's easier (and faster) than it sounds.

The boys are slowly adjusting to having their sisters here. We've been having some behavior issues from both boys that were happening before the girls came home that we're still dealing with. A good portion of that is coming because it's the end of the school year and their routines at school have been tossed in the trash. Every day is different and our boys really need routine to function well (as do most kids). The increase in behavior problems has been with their whole classes, not just the boys, but then those behaviors tend to spill over into home life which just doesn't work. We're trying to be as consistent as possible and weather this last week of school. Then they're home with me all day, which will be a rude awakening I think. ;)

Danielle is picking up English pretty quickly, and we're using lots of signs with Emily. She is picking up a lot and has several she does without prompting. She's got a good head on her shoulders but she's never been expected to communicate so we are starting from scratch with actual give-and-take communication. Emily is also our indiscriminately affectionate one and will go to anyone who will pick her up. Please don't be offended if we ask you not to pick her up or even touch her--we've got to establish some clear boundaries and bonding for her before she can spend time with anyone else. At this point, she still does not know that I am mama--if you ask her where mama is she will go looking all over the house, even if she started in the same room as me, and she will not identify me as mama. She is very affectionate with me and loves to be held by me, she just doesn't realize I'm any different than any other person. This is not unexpected and will just take some time for her to learn. She has been in the orphanage since birth and has never experienced a mama before.

Danielle is pretty firmly attached already and cries anytime she thinks we might be leaving her somewhere else (and also puts a death grip on our necks or whatever else she can get hold of). Both girls are starting to sleep better at night and we usually only have one of the other waking up once at night. Emily is doing okay with potty training, although we're still working on getting her to tell us when she needs to go. She does go in the toilet if she is placed there, so we're just working a lot on the communication aspect.

The dogs like Danielle's therapy stretches

Not all 6 of us, but it takes one of us to work the camera and the other to get all of the kids looking at it ;)


Katie said...

Courtney, your family is so lovely... what happy kids! It's so fun to read about how they're changing and adjusting!

Tami said...

What a good looking crew! :) Glad to hear the girls are adjusting. We're still working with Maddie on bonding, over a year later. She's getting much better, but we still have a ways to go. Hope your process is a little more smooth. ;)

Diana said...

What cuties! I love the cheesy grins! It is so good to finally see them all together at HOME where they belong.

Yes, definately keep your girls' world very small for a little while. Since especially the really little kids usually call their orphanage workers "Mama" that may be who she's looking for and why she's bypassing you. Until she figures out that you are her only mom/mama now and YOU are her primary caregiver, you do need to keep others away from her.

As for Danielle, tempting as it is to consider her attachment complete and not worry too much about it, try resist the urge. Yes, attachment is a learned skill and can be transfered to a new primary caregiver. In order for that transference to happen, though, she needs to have been genuinely attatched to only one primary caregiver who consistantly met her needs over a long period of time. If she wasn't placed in the orphanage at birth and was consistantly parented and nurtured (especially during her first two years) by someone (birth mother, grandparent, etc) then the transerance of attachment can happen over the coarse of a few months, but more likely it takes closer to a year for it to be really secure and genuine...and longer than that if there are attachment issues (including insecure attachment, which often falls on the low end of the RAD spectrum) or if they've never been attached to a caregiver before.

I hate to be the one to burst your bubble on this one, but as one who's BTDT and still doing it, what you've described here (and also in the past) Danielle's behavior sound much more like surfacing abandonment issues than secure attachment. For your sake and hers, I really hope I'm wrong about that one!!! Only time will tell for sure. In the mean time, just keep doing what you're doing, keep on loving her, and keep on meeting her needs (which we all know is a given.)

As for actual attachment, do keep in mind that it is about more than just showing appropriate affection or recognizing you as her Mama. True and secure attachment is a deep, emotional connection between the child and caregiver that is build over thousands of repeated cycles of consistantly having their needs met. It's about the child completely trusting (to the point of taking it for granted) that you as their their primary caregiver WILL NOT LEAVE and WILL ALWAYS MEET THEIR NEEDS. I know you will be and are that for your kids and so do you...but until THEY believe it and until THEY can let down their guards and completely trust you and your ability to keep them safe, to love them unconditionally no matter what, and to always be there to meet ALL their needs, their attachment will remain insecure.

Especially since you don't have bio kids that's you've cared for and parented since conception (not that that is a bad thing or makes you any less of a real mom because it doesn't), I would strongly encourage doing some studying and research on what HEALTHY and NORMAL attachment looks like (as oposed to just looking at RAD or other attachment disorders that may or may not completely or accurately fit your kids.) While you're at it, study up on the various "normal" developmental stages and milestones for kids starting from birth to where they "should" be now.

One really great resource I've found is a book called "Learning the Dance of Attachment" by Holly van Gulden and Charolette Vick. It's very easy to find online. This is a super easy read book that is written specifically for adoptive parents. It discusses both healthy attachment and what happens when attachment is disrupted and developmental stages are skipped (as is pretty much guaranteed to be the case with PI kids.) Better yet, it gives LOTS of great ideas on how to help kids go back and pick up those missed steps and why it's so important. I think you'll find this resource really helpful in working with all your kids, actually.

Keep on keeping on. You're doing a great job! As always, you're welcome to email me offline if you have questions or whatever.

Bethany said...

So cute! They look like they've always belonged together!

DoveFamily said...

Thanks for sharing the picture - beautiful! Hope you feel better soon.

MamaPoRuski said...

Great update, so glad things are going well. I love the last photo, I know how hard you worked to get that one shot! LOL! Praying for you still! God Bless!

The Flying Eagle said...

SOOOO cute! You are so amazing how gracefuly you are handling all the transition and each individual child's needs :-) I had a flash back of the four of us at the restuaraunt the first night we met and I was overtaken with emotion on how wonderfully our lives have been impacted since then! 5 perfect little gifts from God (hopefully more soon :-) - what fun!!!!

Tonya said...

Courtney, Your kids are so darling! The boys are so handsome, Emily is as cute as she can be Danielle is quite the photogenic little beauty.

I know that Lyra was quite a bit younger when she came home, but she reacted in a lot of the same ways Danielle does. If we left, she cried, she clung, etc. She really and honestly did attach to us immediately in a very healthy way. She would not be left in the nursery or anywhere else for quite some time. She didn't care for strangers, she recognized me as Mommy very quickly. It was miraculous. You may be experiencing the same thing with your dd. As for Emily, you could try physically attaching her to your body? She doesn't look like she weighs too much and there are slings for that kind of thing hands free. I don't know how well you could care for the other three with her stuck to your hip (maybe just at certain times of the day and on trips to the grocery store, church, etc), but with littles sometimes the physical attachment promotes the emotional one. Just a thought...

Marsha said...

If it is any comfort to you, all 3 of my children went through the same "attachment" types of issues, but somewhere between ages 2 and 4. I couldn't leave them anywhere, or even have a closed door between us when they were going through that "phase" without near hysterics.
If you are interested, Olan Mills does an absolutely incredible job with family portraits - if you can keep from being talked into buying more than the initial package. I think it is under $15, with no sitting fee, at least at the one in Bridgeton.
You and Mark have a beautiful family! Enjoy them! They grow up SO fast!!

momto12 said...

Beautiful family! I do have one question - I read through your archives and your recent post on the kids names. Why do you call the boys by their now Ukraine middle names and the girls by the first names you gave them? Just wondering we have adopted 8 from the US and have done different things with different ones.

adoptedthree said...

oskana did not communicate either since she too had the cleft but she did speak in vowels. The vowels continued for at least a year with M's thrown forward three years later she is a talking machine! It will come definitely work with the signs!