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Bit of reassurance?(33 Posts)
Adoptive daughter (10months) has been with us nearly a month. After a rocky start, I am much better bar one thing...her crying. I need some reassurance from fellow adopters.
During the day my daughter gets all my attention and is generally happy (minus teething etc). I comfort her and tend to her needs quickly. She has become clingy to me and that's fine, she is happiest sitting on my lap playing (god I have a bad back now!).
She has suddenly got into the habit of crying before sleep though. She came with a good routine, always liked sleep. We have kept that routine, including all the music etc she was played at fc. She has begun crying the minute I put her down. It can be a grizzle or full on scream.
This is where I feel like I'm failing her...i suppose I have been doing some gentle "controlled crying", or trying to but I'm not sure that is a good idea as she has had a big life change. I'm also extremely sensitive to her grumbling/crying, to the point where It gives me upset tummy. I'm getting through anxiety but this is the last sticking point!
When I leave her room, a lot of the time her screams will suddenly silence or turn into a grizzle. If they don't, I go back to check and shush her, then leave again. She gets furious! However, she is normally asleep within 10-30mins.
I feel like I should be picking her up and comforting her but I know that all her needs have been met and as soon as she sees me she turns the tears off and starts giggling! Then yells when I leave.
I'm utterly torn. On one hand I don't want her to feel abandoned but on the other, she needs to sleep and I won't survive if I have no sleep.
Sorry, this is such a ramble. I don't want her to be unhappy and she is always so happy to see me. Is it normal for her to grumble? She has developed a lot in the month with us and seems more aware.
Just need reassurance I'm not damaging her. Or advice!!
I think you know what you should be doing because you say so several times in your post ('I feel like I should be picking her up and comforting her', 'I'm not sure cc is a good idea as she's had such a big life change')
Why are you so reluctant to listen to yourself on this? Are people around you telling you you need to leave her? Controlled crying is absolutely not recommended for adopted children and if you look on the NHS website it very specifically states that there is no evidence that it is safe for children who have suffered trauma.
I realise that you'll be tired and need your own rest and that this seems like a step too far at the moment. But her needs haven't been met if she still needs reassurance that you're there as she goes to sleep.
I think I worry that if I start doing something not in her routine, it could upset things more? I feel utterly clueless to be honest. Her fc, my mum etc have all suggested not picking her up or talking to her. I do talk to her though, and reassure her I'm there. I think I feel confused because going back into her room upsets her even more. Maybe because she needs a cuddle? I will try a cuddle next time. Thank you
I'm going to say this as gently as I possibly can, because it's very hard to hear when already so exhausted - please follow your instincts and stay with her. She is anxious and needs comfort. Through the day, she is finding her safety through you and your touch, and that's so brilliant - well done! In the night, and especially through the tricky transitions (day-night-day), she will be more emotionally rocky, so she will need you to help her even more. It's early days, and she will take time to trust that you are coming back - she is testing that as part of a survival mechanism, not because she's being cheeky or playful. I suspect what you see when you go back in is her relief, and her desire to please you and keep you close.
When you say "suddenly got into the habit" of crying at bedtime, after a month, I think it's a brave positive step in her bonding with you - having the courage to show you her feelings, because she's learned you will respond to her. I know at this point in placement you'll be on your knees, but dig even deeper if you can, keep going into her and helping her to calm, and the rewards will come in the deeper trust she'll grow. this bit is bloody hard.
Thank you, she is doing really well and she really has become the centre of our world. She has slotted right in and seems so happy. Have discussed with my husband and we will try lengthening the bedtime bit, staying in her room longer and reassuring her more. Thank you again
DD was a similar age at placement and bedtimes were also a nightmare (having been in a good routine at foster carers where they just put her down and left her). I stayed in her room until she was asleep, and gradually was able to move further away from her cot without her getting upset, until eventually I could leave her. I have no idea how long that took as those first months were some kind of weird time warp! 3 years later I still often stay with her until she's asleep. The best advice my SW gave me was to go with my instincts and not worry that I was going to irrevocably damage her. Have some and
Bluesky, it's exhausting isn't it! Our foster carer (and my mum..) both suggested LO to cry would be ok. In a settled foster placement, surrounded by familiarity, that might be ok but she is still in very early days and struggling with the nights. Go with your instincts and make your own routines. What works in foster care doesn't always translate when in a new environment and in grief. You are clearly tuned into her which is wonderful - try creating a big-time routine that works for you both now. Ignore the doom mongers who tell you that you are mollycoddling or creating over dependency.
Sounds like you're doing a great job.
On a very practical basis, you might find you need to move bedtime back a little or reduce one of her daytime naps, as she's alert enough to be looking for you when you're putting her down so I suspect she's not quiet tired enough. The amount of sleep babies need seem to change roughly every three months, I find. I'm a mum of 4 and my youngest ( AC ) has started to resist that morning sleep, little older than yours. AC is standing up and putting arms up to me, screaming until I pick up. I need to tweak our routine slightly.
However, on the flip side, is your little one getting over stimulated? In which case the cry will be more high pitched and frantic ( than her normal attention cry). I've found that AC get more over stimulated ( than BC babes) as all is so new to them, especially just a month in. My AC would get over stimulated just doing simple things like a trip to the park, as didn't do this much with FC, consequently AC needed more sleep in the daytime compared to when in foster care. So, to completely contradict the 'drop nap' idea, also think about whether AC is over tired, needing more daytime sleep, and so hopefully being less screamy at bedtime. Basically just tweak sleeps slightly until you find your new fit.
And regarding finding the screaming hard, I find my AC crying much harder to cope with than my BC. My AC cries are very shrill and I didn't at first feel 'hard wired' to them. I found focussing on the fact that those little shrill cries were cries for me helped ( sometimes!)
And final tip, if tweaking naps doesn't work, and LO still not going down, bring her into your bed, cuddle up and go to sleep together. It might be 6.30pm, but exhausted mums definately benefit from a 6.30pm-7.30pm doze I find!
Best wishes, Lego
I don't understand why she slept without incident at fc, makes me feel inadequate. All she needed was her comforter but now she doesn't even look at it, just wants me. That's a good thing I guess! She has also turned from being this easy going baby to such a cheeky monkey, she has definitely found her voice! I hope it is because I spend so much time listening to her and talking to her. She tells me off if I'm not doing something quickly enough!
We thought at first she was over stimulated so we have adopted the "dinner, bath, story, bed" routine. We don't play with toys after her bath, she is happy to look at her books with me and poke them! I sing to her as well.
Yes, she is shortening her naps herself now but still seems tired...I'm just wading through the sea of "what could it be" lol. Wish I knew her better, then I might understand more. Feel like a shit first time parent, with the added shitness that I'm a shit first time ADOPTIVE mum! Who clearly hasn't a clue about what's best, despite doing a lot of reading!
A quiet child may be a contented child. Or it may be a child who realises there is no point in crying because no-one is going to come...
You're not inadequate for wanting to cuddle your baby. Quite the opposite.
She wants you. That's great news.
Don't worry too much about tweaking routines - you're the expert on her now, so if you think something needs to change, go ahead.
DS did this about a month into placement. Previously went to bed and to sleep with no issues and had for all previous carers. He also stopped sleeping through, waking 2 or 3 times a night. It was a bit hit and miss but eventually I found what worked. All he wanted was me in the room so I had a few weeks of laying on the floor next to his cot with my hand poking through the cot bars that he then held onto (brings a tear to my eye just thinking about it now!) and he wouldn't cry and would be asleep within 20 minutes.
Anyway it took about 3ish weeks (it's all a blur now!) but eventually he first started sleeping through and then finally getting himself off to sleep without me being in the room.
I tried to never take him out of the cot once he was in and other than singing to him for the first five min it was radio silence from me but ensuring he had the physical contact of holding hand through cot. This seemed to calm him much quicker than being picked up or chatting to him. I think he just needed to know I wasn't going to vanish now in early days of working out what worked for him I would bring him in with me and co sleep which served its purpose but we're both 'active' sleepers so someone
me would get up getting kicked in the face a few times
He was just 2 at the time and has the odd blip now (6 months later)
how the chuf did that happen!!! when he's poorly but generally I put him to bed now, leave the room and he's asleep (happily, no crying or complaints other than bellowing seeeeeeeya as I creep down the stairs!) within 20 min.
Do whatever you feel is best, it might be trial and error for a while but you'll eventually find what works.
Oh I sacked off the bedtime bath he had with FC after a few weeks as it just seemed to rile him up! Morning baths now and it works great. X
It's really, really common for a child to be very different for their adopters than they were for FCs (or at least, that's what everyone told me when I was going mad, with a "sleeps really well in FC" child who didn't sleep for more than 30 minutes at a time for me!!). I am guessing here, but there are loads of potential reasons for it: possibly the child was very withdrawn/still a bit in shock in FC, definitely there will be some grief and disturbance from the move to adopters, making a new bond is scary and intense and is going to be different each time...
You are not rubbish at this at all based on what you write. You're always looking for ways to connect to your child, to be attuned to their needs and emotions. It is not always about guessing a magic right answer (if there is one!) but more about your child learning that you stick by them through the big emotions, and you stay steady, riding it out with them and learning as you go. Maybe it's over-stimulation, maybe it's tweaking naps...but as long as you know they are not unwell or hungry, my guess is there's a good chance that it's they miss you when they can't see you. That's potentially a wonderful sign, based on all your daytime "work" with her, but it means now she wants even more from you - perhaps she has tasted nurture being with you, and been able to respond positively to it (an excellent thing if that's the case) by asking you for more.
Hi OP, I haven't adopted (I think I'd like to in future so I'm always drawn to these threads) but I just wanted to say that you are in no way a shit first time mum. It sounds like you care for her very much and are simply trying to do what is best for her which is all anyone can ask.
Follow your instincts, she hasn't been with you long and hopefully her getting to sleep will settle over time. Give her as many cuddles as she needs for now, she'll soon learn that you are her mum for good and you won't be going anywhere.
You honestly sound like a wonderful mother
i don't understand why she slept without incident at fc - erm...maybe she didn't. However good a FC is, not sure you ever really get the whole truth.
It is exhausting but I would echo what others have said. Stroke her, comfort her, reassure her you are there. DS has been with us over 2.5 years (and is 5) and still won't go to sleep unless one of us is in the room with him...
I think I need to stop comparing her now to her with her fc. She was with fc from birth for 9months so of course she will be different for us. I just wish the anxiety could ease a bit, trying to recover from PAD isn't helping either. Thanks all for kind words and advice!
Dh just put her down for her nap...he stayed in there longer but apparently she found it too much fun and giggled at him (even though he tried to be soothing). He left and she grizzled a small bit then went to sleep. I'm not sure we will ever manage to get her to sleep whilst in the same room but we are going to try and leave the room on a "good" note each time.
Another thing that is different now for your dd than at her fcs, Blue is her age. A month is a vast developmental leap in the first year of life. She's actually not the same dc she was when she was living at her fc's. Separation anxiety (which may be involved in this behaviour) is part of normal development and happens in stages over a child's first year or so (if they're receiving secure and regular care). From about 8 months on, babiesstart to distinguish between their special people they want to be with all the time and other 'strangers' who start to be more scary to them. This peaks at about 1 year old (when often children cry if their mum leaves the room or appear more shy if a neighbour tries to play with them, for example).
When your dd was at her fc's she was probably too young to have developed strong separation anxiety. She was still at the age when she was working out that she was a separate entity from the world around her. So her fc can pat herself on the back about how she slept so well, but actually it's a lot easier to get a 6 month old to sleep alone than a 10 month old. Now with you, your dd's making that developmental leap big time and it shows that everything for her is going well (of course, acknowledging the fact that she's dealing with lots of extra stuff that's all mixed in too)..
You sound like a wonderful intuitive, lovely mum.
Thank you, she has made a lot of progress. In the last 2weeks she has mastered army crawling, pointy finger, pincer grip, shaking her head for no and waving! She is pretty amazing, so proud of her
Just as an additional observation - my LO's sleep patterns definitely become more up and own during a period when he is having a growth spurt or demonstrating new skills. It may be that your little girl is the same.
My dd came to me at the same age. I really, strongly recommend you don't leave her to cry. However, you don't have to pick her up for a cuddle either - unless she is really distressed - as it will stimulate her and confuse the message about bedtimes. With my dd, I used to sit beside the cot while she went to sleep. If necessary, I would gently place a hand on her tummy, but I would try to keep any patting/rubbing to a minimum. I would also keep myself calm, and try not to have too much eye contact (though I wouldn't be robotic either). Sometimes she would grizzle a little to be picked up but, unless she got really unhappy, I just used to stay like that - how distressed could she really be, with me next to her and my hand on her tummy?
As time went on, I reduced the tummy-holding and just sat beside her bed, reading my kindle. The kindle was essential as it kept me from going crazed with boredom - I think they really sense it when inside you're screaming, "GO TO SLEEP!!!".
The downside, and it's a big one, is that she is now 6 and I still sit with her while she goes to sleep! Which is not to say that she couldn't have been weaned off this by now. I guess she still likes the closeness and the comfort, and it doesn't bother me (I quite like sitting in the dark with my kindle). But I know that's not for everyone.
Anyway, that worked for us but I think the only critical thing is not to do controlled crying. At this stage, your priority is building your attachment and your child's sense of safety, NOT teaching them good sleep hygiene.
spookyrachel absolutely nails it. Sleep has been a big issue for my LO. she is 6 now and like Rachel I sit with her til she falls asleep. I also love the kindle app, only thing that keeps me sane. Mostly now my LO falls asleep quite quickly - 15 mins or so, but I have to stay in the room with her til she falls asleep. It's a real attachment and security thing for my daughter and it's taken years (sorry, really not trying to put you off!) to get to the point. She also has a second bed, mattress on floor next to my bed which she calls her emergency bed and which she is now able to settle herself into and go off to sleep if she wakes up in the night.
I had about six weeks of her sleeping through (ish) from 7-7 when she first came home at 2 and a bit and then it seemed that once she realised she was here for good the sleep went haywire. A good regular routine and endless endless reassurance and patience paid dividends in the end and now for the most part sleep is good, and even when she wakes in the night which still happens quite regularly, every few nights or so, she can now settle herself in her emergency bed and be secure enough to go off to sleep knowing that I am coming up to bed at some point and will be in the same room. It's my version of co sleeping because I like having my bed to myself far too much to share and even if we did share she's such a wriggler that neither of us would get any sleep. Tried it once and was beyond exhausted the next day.
It's bloody exhausting when they don't sleep properly but it does get better. Promise.
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