Getting off the Rollercoaster - Going for Adoption

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Trying too hard

When Theo was born he spent 4 weeks in NICU, recovering from his BM's drug habit. Now, I don't have any personal experience of withdrawing from class A drugs, but my guess is there is some considerable pain involved. Theo was a tiny baby, and couldn't possibly understand why he was suffering like this. In addition, there was no ever-present mummy to comfort him when he cried. He would have learnt pretty early on that pain is part of life, and that there is not much comfort offered by grown-ups.
He has had a few hard lessons.

He has developed a few strategies that make sense to him, but break my heart.

If I try and hold him if he is hurt or simply tired, he rarely allows it. He wails and wails, works himself up into a real state and struggles free - then he lies on the floor with his head down, his hands round his face. It's a 'leave me alone, I do this alone' pose.

I am trying soooo hard to help him to trust me. I know it will be a long process, but I need to be there, pick him up each time he falls, (prevent the fall even!), anticipate his every need, wish, frustration. Over time I need him to learn that I am reliable, will love him, will control his world and make it safe for him, that I will look after him, and he doesn't need to.

Some of this is a little different to what I might have been doing with a 16 month old birth child, and not many people understand what the issues are.

But this evening, after he had gone to bed, I cried buckets to R. I am exhausting myself but I can't put less into this relationship with Theo. I love him so much, it's physical. I feel so extraordinarily fiercely protective, but he has already been hurt - and I want SO MUCH to make him better.

One day I will write a post in praise of my fabulous social worker, KT. In the meantime, I will just leave you with her wise thoughts, which at least mean that someone understands the gap that I am trying so hard to fill. The thing is, Theo seems so incredibly normal, and is such a happy, sociable, bright and generally gorgeous child. But KT can see what I mean, and she said he wil be happy and secure, because I love him and that she absolutely believes he will be the best he can be. But she also said I need to realise he will never be the person he would have been if I had been his birth mother. Of course he won't - how could he be after what he has been through? I do know that.

How can I ever make it up to him?


  • Oh my dear. All you can do what you have been doing. Loving him, showing him he can trust you to help take away the hurt. It will take time but if you keep on showing him how much you love him, he will trust you and start to rely on you for kissing the boo-boo better.
    I can't imagine how much that breaks your heart. Your words show me how much you love him and I am sure those show only the smallest bit of how much you are showing him. Keep on doing what you are doing and he will learn that he doesn't have to do it all on his own.
    Wishing you the best of luck and I know he will come to love you as much if not more then you love him.

    By Blogger Shinny, at 2:56 pm  

  • I really hope this doesn't sound completely wrong but you can't "make it up to him" and that's not supposed to be your job. You can't change what he's been through and you can't change who he is.
    What you can do is exactly what you are doing - being there for him and letting him know that you will always be there.
    When children are born to you, they are absolutely dependent while in utero and once born they gradually become more and more independent. I see this in my daughter as she is exploring more and more but she knows that when something scary happens I will always be there for her. In another year she will learn that one of the daycare workers will be there when I'm not.
    It must be really difficult to need to work backwards to the type of trust and love that I'm convinced you will eventually have with Theo.
    When he is upset have you tried not forcibly holding him but just sitting quietly near him?
    You have so much love for him that I am sure he will eventually know that. But you don't need to anticipate his every need wish and frustration - that way lies madness CC. None of us can do that. You do need to let him know that it's okay to be frustrated and to cry and that the way he deals with it is okay but that you are also there for him if he changes the way he deals with being hurt or upset.
    Okay, I'll get off my soapbox now. And no, not many people (myself included) understand all the issues you're dealing with and no one other than you will fully understand all the issues because you're his mother.

    By Blogger DinosaurD, at 6:07 pm  

  • I read a bunch of stuff about attachment in adoption when we were considering going down that route. I'm sure you've done the same. One of the theories I read about suggested forcibly holding your child when they tried to push you away, to try and break through that barrier they've set up, I imagine. What do you think about that theory?

    I, like dino, think that you will eventually get through to Theo, just being there, being reliable, being structured, loving him. I don't know how to suggest you do this, but I do believe it will happen.

    By Blogger Thalia, at 8:39 pm  

  • First of all just wanted to say congratulations, i have not read your blog for a while and it was so lovely to see that you have finally got there! I replied to one of your posts a while back, we have started the adoption process (prep groups) and will be looking to start the homestudy shortly. Enough about me I just wanted to say that i am sure over time you will get there. You have to believe in yourself and not get too stressed out otherwise he will pick up on that. Your a wonderful mother you have proven that by looking at how far you have come. Luv n peace Ruth

    By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:22 pm  

  • I am no expert on attachment, but just continue to be there for him. Be the one who exclusively provides for him, feeds him, changes him. The "holding time" method Thalia was talking about helps so many and it's suggested by many professionals, but it didn't work for us. Weeks and weeks of alone time worked. Keeping his world small worked. My son is home a year now and has finally learned to trust me -- it's not perfect, I'm not sure if it can ever be, but consistency worked. may be a good resource for you in the future.

    These kids have been through so much. It's up to us to understand that and just be there.

    By Anonymous annmarie, at 4:05 pm  

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