Saturday, July 24, 2010

Gotcha Day Reflections

On July 24th 2 years ago two scared little boys moved into our home. They brought with them tons of toys, books, clothes and trauma. I had no idea how hard it would get before it started to get better. That very first day that they were here one of them smeared feces all over a chair while they were watching a movie and we cleaning up from lunch. It was a interesting start to my life as a parent.

For the rest of that summer I felt like I was in a fog, I moved through each day wondering what might happen next, wondering what else they might break, destroy or ruin. I learned that they could both turn on the tears at the drop of a hat and that manipulation was their middle name. I learned that putting them to bed was a dance that took 2 adults and at least 2 hours. I learned to not leave them unsupervised for even a minute and that it is possible for a kid to pretend to forget every skill they have ever learned just to make you crazy. I learned that trauma and neglect effect brain development and for things to change we would effectively need to rewire their brains. I learned that I would need help, lots of help and that it was ok to ask for it. I learned that a small boy could break an adults toe with their fist and that watering cans make great projectiles. I learned that rage must be contained ( in my kid) because once started it would take hours and hours for him to calm himself down. I learned that markers and pens where for drawing on everything but paper and that throwing rocks cars seemed like good idea at the time.

As I walked the path of parenting older adopted children I learned that there would be rest stops along way, spaces where everything would be good for a little while, where I could glimpse at what the future might hold. I learned that when one kid was really struggling the other was bound to be angelic. I learned to ignore what parents of typical kids told me about parenting because I was not on the same field nor was I even playing the same game. I learned to lean on my partner for support and I went back to having my own therapaist. I learned to provide structure at every turn and to advocate for my kids within a school system that does not understand trauma and attachment. I learned that even when you think that things are going really well the littlest thing can throw everything off and you can take weeks to get back to where you were.

I learned to read every book related to attachment that I could get my hands on and to listen to other parents who had been there. I learned to tell a lie from the truth in a master liar and to pull out the feelings behind the behaviour rather than just assigning a consequence. I learned that no matter how hard I try I will never be perfect and I will always be learning how to parent my children effectively because they will continue to grow and change. I learned to not worry about what the future might hold for them but to live in the moment and do everything I can to help them heal now. I learned that I need to do my best and let that be good enough because my best is all I have to offer.

Now 2 years later I am listening to them play together, they are using their imaginations, they are not yelling, or breaking toys or smearing feces on furniture, they are just playing like children, that's what children should do. If I had known then what I know I know I would of done things differently but I would never change that we adopted them. They are who they are and some days that puts me pretty close to the edge but I love them and I am grateful that they are a part of my life.

14 comments:

K- floortime lite mama said...

J

how marvelous and satisfying it must be to see the transformation u and your partner have brought about

Bravo!!!

They are beautiful

Most excellent advice

". I learned to ignore what parents of typical kids told me about parenting because I was not on the same field nor was I even playing the same game"

Kerrie said...

Wow. You didn't get a "honeymoon" either, did you.

GB's Mom said...

Honeymoons are highly overrated any how! You learning, they are healing; Congratulations!

Diana said...

Amen, Sister! I could have written this post myself...except it was 3 years ago on Monday that we brought our two terrified little boys home from Ukraine. We didn't get a honeymoon either, BTW. It's been a crazy wicked ride at times, but so very, very worth it.

Jenny said...

What an awesome post! It really enjoyed reading about your journey. I agree, some days are great and a little thing can throw everything out of control.

waldenbunch said...

What a great job you have done and how blessed your boys are. It's all about perspective isn't it? So hard in the middle of the roughest times, so needed to get through those very same times. 10 years and counting. Still working on getting to their heart after so many years.

Mama Drama Times Two said...

I may need to print this post and carry it with me for some on the spot "pocket wisdom" as we continue to parent traumatised kids. I echo floor-lite mama: "I learned to ignore what parents of typical kids told me about parenting because I was not on the same field nor was I even playing the same game." So beautifully said. Thank you.

Essie the Accidental Mommy said...

What a lovely post.

I find myself wanting to say more, but that just sums it up so well. Beautiful.

Annie said...

This is probably typical... Two of mine adapted with ease (lucky me!) One never got so bad as to do anything with pee or poop (God has been good to me!!!) but tantrums ran rampant for awhile, and now with puberty [sadly] have re-surfaced.

My Ilya probably had the most typical entry - a period when he had to vent a lot of anger. I don't think he really wanted to break anything important; little did he know that rickety old stool he smashed in the yard held deep meaning for me, or that the third floor walls [with wallboard from the early 50's was THAT thin!] Exciting times.

SECRET PEPPER PERSON: said...

Nice post. Thank you!

Mom 4 Kids said...

Good job! You still rock! :0)

Diana said...

I left a little love for you over on my blog today :-)

Acceptance with Joy said...

So how about a whole post on ways to rewire brains? Please?

marythemom said...

Great job! It's such an amazing feeling to know we've made such a huge difference in our children's lives.

Mary in TX