Attachment, Trauma

Where Do I Even Start?

I’m in Forth Worth, Texas.  Phew.  Leaving the crew is always a rocky proposition.  I never know how each individual kid is going to react.  I wasn’t sure at all how to explain my absence to Gigi.  Yesterday, I told her that when she woke up she would drive me to the airport and I would go on an airplane and stay someplace else for six sleeps.

She woke up today, saw me and signed “Today, drive mama airport.  Sleeps, home.”  She’s so stinking smart.  We Face-timed tonight.  I signed ‘I love you’ about one thousand times.  She signed it back and giggled like crazy.

I adore that girl.

On the plane on my way to Fort Worth today I re-read my very dog-eared copy of The Connected Child.  There are so many notes in the margins that were made during times when I was barely making it through the day.  One of the notes said “Where do I even start?”

I flipped the page and this is highlighted…

If, out of fear or embarrassment in admitting there is a problem, you wait too long to take corrective action with your child, you risk becoming too depleted and worn-out to be effective when you finally do take action (Purvis, 2007).

Written below, in my handwriting is another note, start wherever, but start now.

That was written in 2011.  She had been with us for two years and she was still struggling so badly.  I needed to do something.  So, I began with these goals.  We’ve made a lot of headway.

–Disarm your child’s fear response.

She no longer reacts in fear to everything.  We’re still learning her cues though.  

–Establish clear and sensitive parental authority.

I’m the one who struggles here.  Sensitivity isn’t my strong suit.  I often get snappy, and bonding with a child who hated me is a struggle.  But, she listens and obeys because she wants to now, and not out of fear.  

–Provide a sensory-rich environment.

We learned so much from OT.

–Teach appropriate social skills.

We are working so hard on this.  She makes GREAT eye contact now.  

–Support healthy brain chemistry.

Food is such a trigger.  We had to work on this with all of our kids.  Some of them carried a granola bar with them wherever they went for the first few months they were home.  We eat on very strict schedules in our home now.  When we’re out I carry a HUGE bag with me, it has emergency food in it.  The knowledge that I have the bag is enough to reassure our kids.  

–Help your child connect with his or her own feelings.

Emotional intelligence and self-awareness are long-term goals in the Ketarkus House.

–Forge a strong emotional bond between you and your child.

This is why I’m in Fort Worth this week.  I have at least one child that I don’t feel I’m doing well enough with.  

So, I begin learning how to do more than just scratch the surface with these goals.  This is why I’m here.  My hope is that I will be able to go to churches, adoption support groups, pre-adoption trainings, etc, and talk to other families about each of these goals and all the 20-30 things we did to help achieve each one of them.

There is no end point here.  I thought this was a linear process.  I thought there would be a light at the end of the tunnel and we would move past all this.  We won’t, and that’s okay.  The goals change a little, the idea of what “connecting with his or her own feelings” means changes as our kids age.  Maybe at age three it meant not throwing screaming wagers.  Maybe at age ten it means not withdrawing completely and freezing me out.

Each stage brings a new challenge, but I knew I had to start somewhere.

–FullPlateMom, who can’t wait to start again tomorrow.

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