Frustration 101 or is it fear?

Hope’s adoption went from plenty of time for decisions (weeks/ month, waiting for ICPC) to finalizing in Texas in three weeks. Now the decisions and necessary tasks look a little overwhelming. Hope’s name is not Hope- It is Marsee Hope. That it will stay unless I figure out something else ( I left the name blank in the papers). The school says one particular person needs to take information about Hope and suggest appropriate placements. Unfortunately, that person hasn’t responded to an email or phone call in two weeks. I sent the Director of Special Education a request to replace this non responsive person with herself and avoid the legal fees.

The current plan is to fly (GB, me, and the Dad) to Texas, sometime the week of August 22, depending on when the court date is, finalizing Hope and bringing her home. I figured I could coach the parents on what to say.

I haven’t figured out the logistics of incorporating her into the family. A small room of her own, with nothing to hurt herself as she rages… or maybe bunk beds in GB room… or maybe keep her next to me, in my room. Keep here name/ change her name? …  Start her in the neighborhood kindergarten… and let them convince me she doesn’t belong? … or insist on the special education preschool that GB attended, since by Texas law that’s were she should be/ was approved to be… How do you toilet train a 4 1/2 year old who was toilet trained for over a year, including at night, and is no longer. I have no mountains to walk her up.

I have been reading everything on attachment and adopting older children I can get my hands on. There seem to be two different camps- the work on attachment, do not get caught up in the behavior camp and the you can’t let the child succeed at manipulation and triangulation camp. Are they diametrically opposed or can they work together?

All of a sudden I feel 9 months pregnant.

11 thoughts on “Frustration 101 or is it fear?

  1. That's a great summary of the two attachment camps! My compromise is that the manipulations that my kid "knows I know about", I have to address (either with consequences, or not earning a treat, or just letting her know I know and that I hope one day she can be honest with me) so she will see me as a strong safe person. However the manipulation is constant 24/7 so realistically there is not enough time in the day to deal with all of them and also if everyday is always so negative no relationship builds. So some things I don't know about and lots of little smaller things I have to pretend I don't know about. Because we have to focus on a few big things first.Also sometimes for the smaller things, as I said above, I let her know I know and that I hope one day she will trust me enough to tell the truth, also we have nightly confessions to encourage truth where there will be no consequence in most cases. Just to let her get things off her chest and feel the nice freedom, also the honesty helps us become closer.Also I try different techniques from each camp and keep whatever works, because kids are not exactly alike, so I just keep trying.I do limit her world very much though, fewer toys, stay at home a lot, try not to spend too much time with the friends and family who don't get it and enable her manipulations.

  2. Wow, what Anon said. And stop stressing! Most of these questions will answer themselves as Hope settles in. And then the answers will change. And then change again. But you know that. *massaging your shoulders*Come see me.

  3. Talk about being thrown in the deep end! You are on top of it so try to calm down and take things one at a time. Her name is something that she should already call herself. If she introduces herself as hope then call her Hope. I like Hope, but Marsee is cute to. Stop fretting because right now you need to truck on through. Three weeks, man that is craziness. I say put her in the special needs class because she is in need of special attention. Do not throw her in the deep end of education. She will have enough to adjust to without being expected to act like the average 4-5 year old. And, toilet training will be a breeze once she feels safe and sound in her new comfortable home. I would give her her own room because GB needs her own safe haven. And remember…I have no kids so I could be wrong.

  4. My advice for what it's worth:Room: You might think about having her in her own room since it sounds feasible. We tried the sharing the room since Kitty and Bob (biodaughter) were "best friends," and that lasted just a couple of days before we realized it was too overwhelming for Kitty. (Unfortunately it was many months before we could fix the situation, and did some serious damage to the girls' relationship – and the walls!). Kitty needed to have a safe place without a lot of overwhelming clutter. She also needed a bedtime routine with lots of Mommy time and way less sibling rivalry (and also provide some privacy regarding potty issues). Bob needed a place of her own too where she didn't have to share or worry about her stuff getting broken, stolen, or ruined.Speaking of Potty issues, we actually found that most of these never materialized for us. Kitty'd been pooing her pants on purpose in foster care and she didn't do that here. The only problem we had was wetting the bed at night and not telling us (she apparently hated the pull-ups and would just sleep in the urine night after night). Name change – Kitty arrived at age 11 wanting to change her first name and after much consideration and discussion between her therapist and I we allowed it. We kept her birth first name as her middle name and dropped her original middle name (neither of my kids were familiar with or could even spell their middle names and they were 11 and 13 when we got them). I say if you want to change her name, it's totally up to you. Any other name can always be a nickname or a family name. (My bioson goes by a nickname of his middle name. Only family and people who've known him since he was a baby use it. At age 6 he decided to switch to his first name.)School – I'd fight for the special ed preschool. If you get it and decide she doesn't need it then she feels better about herself. If you don't request it and discover you should have then you've lost the bargaining chip of the fact that it was recommended by her previous school. If you try but don't get it you haven't lost anything, and you can point to the fact that it was believed she needed it and the school turned her down – as an argument for helping you get it later if needed. If she tries regular kindergarten and fails then that could damage her self-esteem. If she is in regular kindergarten and you see that she is failing or would be better served by the special programs, but the school doesn't agree, then you've lost some of your bargaining chips and you have to advocate that much harder to get her in the program. It's easier to get her out then in!Two camps of attachment therapists – I'm going to mention Katharine Leslie again who I believe walks the line of the two and does it well.Hugs and much prayers! Wish I was closer to San Antonio (which I'm assuming Hope is near) so I could be of more help!Mary in TX

  5. 1. Hope's name. She has not had time to think about this either. Her life is going to be turned completely upside down and while I know in the long run you need her to break from the old, I would think that forcing a name change might feel like rejecting all that she has been. She may not like the way she has been behaving, but she is still who she was — to give her a new name and say "ok, now you are not who you were" and then she can't help but act like who she was, and that is failure. I would let her know, gently, as she comes to understand what has happened, that if she wants to change her name, you will support her in that. Her last name will change, and that, IMO, is enough to say she belongs to a new family now.2. Texas. I have had bad and very bad experiences in Texas courts (in my big-city child support case the judge questioned whether my daughter still needed support and felt there wasn't enough evidence that she would remain disabled.) You mentioned that you were going to do a little outside research on this lawyer. I hope you have done so. It seems like everything is going to ride on the judge.3. Her room. What you know about Hope is that she is attachment challenged in her current family and has been diagnosed Bipolar (which seems to be a reasonable diagnosis). Some of her attachment problems could have come from her being separated from her bio parents, some from her bipolar, and some from her parents giving up on her. If it were me, I think I would want two places that were mine. One, a place where I won't be alone and the other a place where I can be alone. Being in your bedroom all the time may well over-stimulate her. But being in her own, bare room might increase her fear and feelings of non-worth. I think I'd want to have "the place we want you to be" in your bedroom, and "the place you can go if you need to be alone" be the little room.4. School: Where has she been? She needs safety and support far more than she needs academics (at least at first). Would the preschool allow you to have her with you at home a few hours a day so that you can work on attachment with her? I suspect that would be easier to obtain with the special ed preschool than regular kindergarten. Also, having just had Mr P evaluated for (Texas) preschool, I think that if Hope qualifies for the special-ed preschool, she really needs it.5. Toilet training. Shelve this. She had her reasons for un-training, and she is going to go through huge transition and stress. We've been leaving Mr P in pull-ups in part because this is his way of keeping us as parents — he doesn't want to act like a baby, but I think he wants the safety of them. He also has sensation problems … we are working on other things first.6. Which camp? Well, I'm just about done reading Beyong Consequences. I've never read literature from the other camp. But some of the examples from BCLC about the "standard" way of doing things make my blood boil and have me shaking in fear at the same time. What I think is that you need to start with seeing Hope as Hope. She is a little girl whose family rejected her. How can her behaviors you see not be based on fear? The behaviors she had before may have been manipulative, but weren't they also her way of saying "LOVE ME!" I'm so ignorant. I just can't see how proving domination over a child can produce real feelings of love. (OK, I think of my dad here, so I am not exactly being objective.)Well, that was a bit more than $.02

  6. Hmm. Want more unsolicited advice?I would call her what she has been called. This name changing phenomenon is something WE as adults know about.. but Hope has always been in the same family. Her name is whatever she has always been called. She has no concept that it could be something else. Or why it would be.I would not room her with GB. I would put her in her own very plain, not-many-toys, clothes-in-another-room, room. (With an alarm on the door, but that is me.) And a video monitor in the room, so you can see and hear her. You could put a little foam chair bed next to your bed, but I would say that you would have to let the girls take turns sleeping there because GB might have big jealousy of the extra attention Hope is going to get from "her" mom.I would consider homeschooling her. Seriously. It's good for attachment, you will learn about her quickly, and you are going to be at least as successful as the school system. And you won't have to do battle with the school system. Toilet training.. I don't know.. I might just ask her what she thinks about it. Ask her if she thinks she needs the pull-ups. I'd be curious to see what she says.As far as attachment goes.. you are likely to see a LOT of crazy-making behavior, and you have to make like a duck and let it roll right off you. Practice saying "Huh. That was an interesting choice." Like "Huh. That was an interesting choice. (to pee on the carpet.) You must have been really angry that (xyz). Here's a spray bottle and washcloth so you can clean it up. When you're done, I'll be waiting push you on the swings (rock you in the rocking chair, give you a hug)." (The empathy part does not work with V, but hopefully you will be luckier with Hope.)

  7. omg – you have me all tingly for you, like I'm anticipating the contractions, not you! lolJesus, make it happen in your timing and extend your amazing wisdom to all adults in Hope's life and especially to GB'smom. Guide her steps in appropriate transitioning. I'm standing in faith that Hope's adjustment will be easier than anticipated, that she will have found the place she belongs and feel instantly safe and free of her RADish behaviors. Amen.

  8. I'm not an expert on RAD. bipolar, etc. My children are what used to be called normal and are now (I suppose) called "Neurotypical." For that I am very, very thankful. However, knowing what I know about children in general, having raised three to the ages of almost 22, 19 and 16 plus having taught autistic children for two years before coming to my senses and becoming a lawyer, I strongly suggest that you keep your new daughter's name. She's old enough to know it's hers and a name is a very strong part of one's identity. Changing her name would not only be confusing it would seem like a rejection of who she is. Her name was a gift from her biological parents and however you feel about them, it is a link to her past and it shows respect to her that it remains the same.The only other issue that I feel strongly about is schooling. If you're fairly certain she won't to well in a traditional kindergarten why subject her to failure early on in her new life with you? She'd be better off getting all the extra help that she can.Good luck. I'm sure it will be an exciting adventure to add another child to your family.

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