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day one

Thursday, October 16, 2008

It took me a whole day to post on Maddie's first day, because it took me that long to process all that happened yesterday.
I have mixed emotions about it.
On the one hand I'm thrilled with the speech help she got and with how excited she was with her day.
On the other, I'm worried about the lack of bonding I witnessed and the HUGE amount of over stimulation three hours in a preschool can do to her.
It's interesting.
Maddie walked off with the speech pathologist without looking back.
I'm not sure how to take it.
Part of me is incredibly sad. If it would have been Alek, Anya or Nick at her age, they would have been VERY hesitant to go with her. Looking back the whole way...or at least waving goodbye.
I got nothing out of Maddie.
But then again, I keep thinking back to when we first got custody of Maddie almost nine (very short) months ago. When we were in Ukraine, Maddie would fight to get away from me...to go with anyone else who spoke Russian.
When we first got home she would lean out of our arms, putting her hands out for everyone to hold her.
And if we didn't have a strong hold on her hand, she would run away from us and climb up into the lap of the first stranger she could find.
She really has come a long way.
She no longer runs up to other people, grabbing their faces and smacking them on the cheek...or worse, lips.
She no longer calls every woman Mama and shops for the newest and pretties model at Wa!mart.
And she hasn't leaned out of our arms in a very long time.
One of the options in Maddie's IEP is the use of a counselor for Shad and I and I'm seriously thinking about taking her up on the offer. Not that the therapist is an expert in international adoption or anything...but maybe she could help us sort through some of these emotions.

sunflower seeds - day one

7 salty messages:

Tina in CT October 16, 2008 at 9:15 PM  

Remember that Rome was not built in a day. One small step at a time. You're in my thoughts.

Diana October 16, 2008 at 10:53 PM  

Give it time, give it patience - a LOT of it - and seeking help for yourself is one of the best gifts you'll ever give your kids. DO NOT feel bad even for a second about talking to the teachers about Maddie's former life. It is information that they critically need in order to understand her and not get in the way of her learning.

Some of the things we requested with the school (which are now part of the IEP) to lessen the impact of the flashing back at school include

#1: LIMIT PHYSICAL CONTACT with this child. NO hand holding, no nurturing, no hugging, no loving, no lap sitting, and pretty much no touching period unless it is absolutely necessary for safety reasons. Deflect all nurturing back to mom and dad. Appropriate contact with other kids is fine, but drastically limit it with all adults.

#2. If she has trouble making eye contact as many attachment challenged kids do, DO encourage the school to work on this and deliberately seek eye contact with her - as long as it doesn't involve touch. This will actually help a lot with attachment all the way around.

#3: Our son was given lollipops all the time at his orphanage to shut him up. They are now a trauma trigger for him. We insisted that sweets (including chocolate milk) not be served to him at school, and to especially limit candy. It is never to be used as a reward for him. Even if Maddie doesn't have issues with sweets, I would still request they limit all sweets including cake, cookies, etc at school - especially if has aquired a taste for them since her adoption. Only let her have them at home with you. That way she learns to associate those treats and sweetness with home and family and safety rather than it becoming a way for her to soothe her nerves and attempt to fill that emotional bucket with a hole in it - one that will never be filled using those means.

#4: Our son is potty trained now, even though he has occasional accidents. We mandated that he is NOT EVER to be assisted with toileting in any way, shape or form (except verbal reminders.) If he has a problem and needs to be cleaned up by an adult, they are to call us. They are also NEVER to put him in pull-ups.

I also found a letter on the internet directed to educators about RAD. I'm not saying your daughter has full blown RAD, but as I'm sure you're painfully aware, the attachment isn't secure. The advise in the letter I gave them would be prudent advise for educators in dealing with children with any attachment issues. It sounds harsh at first, but after reading it through again, I realized it was SPOT on with what we needed the school to do. So we gave it to them and mandated that anyone working with our son read it.

Finally, hang on and give it a few weeks for things to normalize, epsecially if she is only going 2 days a week. She will figure out very quickly that she doesn't stay at this school and that even when she leaves, she always comes home and you're still there.

Old DAN AND Little ANN October 17, 2008 at 1:44 AM  

Wow. All that must hurt an incredible amount even though you understand why it is the way it is -- that doesn't help it go down any easier. I am so thankful for your heart to try and understand what your feeling so that you can be emotionally there for Maddie too. I think I wouldn've died if I would've poored out my dear child's sad history to two other adults and only gotten a 'hmmmmmm'?! ARGH! I know not everyone 'gets it' but most people aren't that comatose.

DoveFamily October 17, 2008 at 6:05 AM  

It sounds like she's making some solid progress (just remember that every child progresses at their own speed!). If you guys feel comfortable with the counselor, then I say go for it. It could really make a difference for your entire family. In the mean time, I'll be praying for all of you as you transition to this new chapter with Maddie!

Christina October 17, 2008 at 3:45 PM  

You really do have to focus on the progress. But I know that feeling - last year at pre-school and church Zeeb started getting really affection with his teachers (touchy-feely and saying "I love you") and it just totally blindsided me because he'd been home for a year and I'd never seen him act that way before. I really didn't like it. I felt like a jealous wife or something.

And totally OT, but in reply to your comment on my blog... it just is such an encouragement to me to know that somewhere out there (in Wyoming to be exact!) there's someone who really understands what I'm feeling because you are feeling it too... God is cool that way, isn't He? :-)

Drew, Michelle, Luke and Tetyana October 18, 2008 at 8:18 PM  

As I read this post, I was thinking about when you first took Maddie from the orphanage and after you first came home. She has come a very long way. You have showed us video's of her in the middle of a circle of women and she only wanted to entertain them.

I think after a few weeks she will figure out that preschool is just that-school. She will return home every day to her forever family.

I say try the therapy. If you don't like the therapist then you can always stop. It may just be a great place to get things off your chest and some time for you and Shad to connect on these subjects.

Good luck and please post about it. It is a great way for all of us to learn!

Annie,  October 19, 2008 at 7:40 PM  

Well....the counselor sounds like a good idea so long as you keep in mind that all counselors are not good counselors. Some are downright awful. And some good counselors are not good for some people/situations.

Also, trust your instincts.

Couldn't Maddie get speech therapy in your home? I have a friend who is a speech therapist and that is exactly what she did (for the school district, too!) - home visits. If they did that you could even pick up ways to help her yourself.

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