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So Hard being an adoptive Mummy

(23 Posts)
whenyouwishuponastar Sat 14-Feb-09 12:25:27

2 years in.. Thought things would be easier by now. Reality is I'm tired, worn down and I don't know how to make it better.

DD has attatchment issues - seems to hate me.. Defiant, tantrums about everything / anything that doesn't go her way. Am so worn down by all the screaming. She is as good as gold for everyone else.

Some of it is because she is 4 I guess, but she is such an angry child for me. 2 emotional states.. Happy or screaming. It's all so melodramatic. I know I need to be more empathetic but I just feel like nothing I say or do works.

Have read countless adoption books.. Am more confused than ever if I should be strict, permisive, nuture more or tighten up the boundaries.

Any suggestions from adopters out there gratefully received.

Thanks for listening.

CarGirl Sat 14-Feb-09 12:28:57

not an adopter but hugs for you.

It could partly just be her personality as well just to throw into the mix!! My dd2 only ever tantrums at home, no-one else believes us as she is so keen to please and compliant every where else. MIL had her for 2 nights for dh's 30th birthday - I think she now realises what a tough cookie she can be to bring up!!!

None of our other 3 dds are like this though!

cherrylips Sat 14-Feb-09 13:17:59

I am an adopted daughter!

When she has been good for a sustained amount of time give her lots if hugs and affection. Otherwise try not to want perfection, don't be too strict and don't spoil her. Get interested in what she loves to do/ her favourite things, so you've got common ground. Or do a very good job of feigning it!

Sorry - no hard and fast practical tips here. Do hope you feel happier soon.

For what its worth my kids drive me absolutely nuts a lot of the time. Its worse when I'm tired in the evening, and I end up screeching my head off!! I find it very hard work too!

cherrylips Sat 14-Feb-09 13:20:07

Do you try really hard to get down to her level, especially when playing with her? I think this would help. Also play lots with her. Do you work? What kind of child care do you use?

loflo Sat 14-Feb-09 14:46:15

hello wywuas - good name by the way! My DS is 5 now and has been with us for three years. I would honestly say that things have got a lot better in the last few months. Between 2 and 4 was pretty hairy at times. How long has your wee one been with you?

whenyouwishuponastar Sat 14-Feb-09 18:28:21

CHERRYLIPS : No childcare as such - Goes to School Nursery Class.

LOFLO : With us 2 years.

Thanks for all the replies.

SweetCheeksLovesSweetTalk Sat 14-Feb-09 18:34:55

I think her behaviour seems pretty normal for a child of that age. I was out with dd yesterday and a woman said to me, is your dd always this quiet and well behaved? I thought, you should see her at home!

Is it just toddler behaviour but because you are concerned about bonding due to the adoption that you are taking it maybe a bit personally?

I am an adopted daughter BTW. I'm sure things will get better as shes gets older

FriarKewcumber Sat 14-Feb-09 22:52:29

Impossible to know from your description whether she really has atachment problem or if its her age/personality or a BIT OF BOTH.

I'd strongly recommend you talking to the adoption team to try and access somepost adoption support for both of you. Out LA has drop in mornings once a month for parents of preschoolers.

My own personal view if that you should chose a paretning style which suits you but err on the side of nurturing (which doesn't preclude having firm boundaries at all) the BE CONSISTENT with it.

whenyouwishuponastar Sun 15-Feb-09 08:55:56

We knew she had attachment issues - Assessed as such before she came to us.

I think we grossly underestimated the impact that these issues would have on us all.

She is hurting and so are we.

cherrylips Sun 15-Feb-09 11:37:35

Agree with FriarKewcumber. Writing as an adopted daughter, I would advise you to use a nurturing form of parenting, still have firm boundries, and be consistent.

I also recommend you seek advice from the adoption team, so you can get some support.

My mother looked after us well, but was not the nurturing type or very affectionate. There was an absolutely huge chasm between us by the time I was about 8 years old. Relationship thawed in my 20's.

And the annoying thing is that she is the same with my children - Gaaahhh!!

ByTheSea Sun 15-Feb-09 13:21:21

While I'm not officially an adoptive mum, I have been raising my two (step)sons since they were quite small and they have no contact with their birth mother. DS1-13 has attachment issues and DS2-12 has RAD. I just want to offer you some support as I feel your pain and totally understand how incredibly hard it can be. It is particularly hard when you are the brunt of all the anger and she is perfect for others. You are lucky that you know this early on that she does have attachment issues as we didn't really understand why were were having these problems until much later and always thought that our provision of unlimited love and a loving home was the answer for our boys, and clearly it wasn't. The younger the child is, the more opportunity you will have to heal her. If you can possibly get post-adoption support, you should try. If you are in or near London, then Family Futures specialises in therapy and I believe there is a centre in Manchester that specialises in attachment problems as well. Your DD needs quite strongly defined boundaries, lots of cuddles and you may need to treat her as quite a bit younger than she is. There are five key things you should try to always have with your DD, according to Daniel Hughes, who is one of the world's leading experts on helping children with attachment problems: empathy, acceptance, curiosity, playfulness and love. Always try to surprise your DD and keep her on her toes, as if she knows something will get a certain response from you, she will use it. Hope this helps. There are some great forums on the internet that offer lots of support, as it's really hard for those who haven't lived it to really understand what it's like.

blithedance Sun 15-Feb-09 19:20:01

WYWUS (is that right). I am an adoptive parent although (touch wood) my DC's seem not to be doing too badly.

Have you read Dan Hughes - Building the Bonds of attachment? (as By the Sea said?)
IKWYM about book overload but IMO it is THE ONE.

1) Suggest you get in touch with post-adoption team, be prepared to be forceful as some LA are a bit slow off the mark.

2) Try and get on the Piece of Cake course run by Adoption UK, your LA may fund it

3) try and build up your personal support network (YOU and your DP and rest of family) so you are strong enough to lead your DD on her journey. If family can't cope with your DD, get them to be nice to you!

4) Know that you are not the problem, or part of it. The people who caused your DD to have poor attachment in the first place are the problem that you and she have inherited. You are doing a great job already, it's just a very uphill struggle.

5) If not already done, join Adoption UK and subscribe to magazine and forums, where there is lots of specific advice and also sad other families going through the same thing.

I feel for you, do hang in there, and hope you find some good times soon.

FriarKewcumber Sun 15-Feb-09 20:25:07

I too have heard very good things about Family futures but I think you would need to be refered by your Adption team as they are quite expensive.

MrsMattie Sun 15-Feb-09 20:29:04

I'm not an adopter but just wanted to send my support and hugs to you. My son is a wonderful but extremely demanding 4 yr old with possible ADHD and/or ASD (still being assessed by SEN folks) and it is extremely difficult a lot of the time to manage him. Parenthood is hard no matter how you come to it (not trying to belittle the particular stresses of adoption). Hope you can get the help you need xxx

whenyouwishuponastar Mon 16-Feb-09 07:22:02

Thank you all for your kind messages..

Am going to try and write down exactly what I feel, need, want and contact the LA to see if they can help.

Your kindness has really touched me.

Thank you

loflo Tue 17-Feb-09 14:27:53

good luck - hope your LA is able to offer you some support. Do you know any other adopters in RL? Just a thought but the only folk that really "get it" are other adopters. We have kept close touch with the folk we did our prep group with and at times we have been each others support. Take care.

KristinaM Mon 23-Feb-09 15:31:42

information on family futures here

are you member of adoption uk? if not i suggest you join asap. You need to meet local adopters face to face and also contact their head office for more advice

dreamylady Wed 11-Mar-09 21:31:14

Hello - if you're still watching this post-our DD is semi-adopted - in that I am with her birth father (for about 2 years now) and as her mum died when she was 8 months I have now 'become' her second mummy. She's now almost 4 and she only really kicks off with me and him.

I think all children of her age are like this to some extent - its a question of degrees maybe -but I would advise that, whether its 'attachment issues' or not, you try not to dwell too much on that. Many birth parents have difficulties too, due to post natal depression, practical problems, their own struggle with becoming parents. Though of course its right to maintain an awareness that her security/attachment needs are very likely to be more extreme, I'm not sure the techniques need to be any different or that it means you can't expect to have a close loving relationship with her.

So by all means get specific adopter support, (I've not had any myself as I don't fit anyone's criteria!) but at the same time just try use more generic 'parenting' approach to do what feels comfortable for you, bcs that's the easiest way to be consistent.

I'm no expert but would agree with earlier poster to err on the nurturing side, let her know she's safe - but this doesn't have to mean spoiling her - just that when she can't have her own way, you can still empathise with her, let her know you understand how she's feeling, and you're sorry but things need to be this way (whatever that is). Suppose what I'm saying is you can be firm and have boundaries without being strict/harsh. In fact some people theorise that the boundaries make children feel safer, knowing there's someone in control. she's of an age where she can start learning to make decisions but maybe you can define what they are -eg choosing what to wear, park or library, what bedtime book to read.

My mum was widowed when i was very small and as a toddler i gave her a really hard time, to the extent her friends commented on how horrible i was to her sad blush. She once asked me why i was being so mean and apparently i said, if i can't be horrible to you mummy, who can i be horrible to? My mum took this as a kind of complement... and while i don't know the extent of your dd's behaviour and whether its extreme or not, maybe it would help to bear in mind that in fact its possible you are the only person she feels 'safe' behaving like this to - so try to remember that and not break that trust. At the same time please be gentle with yourself if/when you lose your rag occasionally. If i'm sounding a bit too good to be true here by the way, I had a bad weekend recently when I shouted too much at her - then felt so guilty i almost started being annoyed at her for making me that angry!It was at that point i got a grip shock

Also make sure you find 'down time' with her when it doesn't matter what you do and you can just chill and enjoy each other and have fun.

Finally, sorry if this is obvious but most common cause of tantrums IMO is tiredness/hunger/thirst so make sure her blood sugar is kept even - regular small healthy snacks - i always have a low sugar cereal bar or oat biscuit or something handy.

Do you have a partner? what's their take on it if so?

Hope this helps, will think on and post again if anything else occurs.Good luck! smile

GLaDOS Tue 24-Mar-09 14:49:40

We are thinking of adopting at some point but haven't yet so this is not advice from expoereince - actually it's from a book - The Pocket Parent. Its been a lifesaver for me at times.

In a great little chapter about tantrums it says about this specifically "Appreciate your childs ability to 'hold it together' around others and understand when they 'fll apart' with you..Some children let down their guard when they see/are with their parents, after holding it in and being good for others. Its possible to see it as a compliment to your rarenting, bacause your child feels comfortable expressing their feelings around you.

Hope this helps a tny bit smile

GLaDOS Tue 24-Mar-09 14:51:09

sorry - that should be *fall^ apart

cory Wed 01-Apr-09 09:22:00

my db who was adopted also had massive tantrums around the family but never ever at school; he was extremely affectionate, but had days when he had just had to work up to a tantrum; you could feel it coming hours in advance and it was often quite a relief when it finally broke

I think my mum did take it as a bit of a complement that he felt safe with us; also, as a huge relief that he wouldn't be messing up his life in the outside world

she was right: he is now a happily married man and a great father to his two boys

he hasn't messed up

and he is still very close to his parents

this was just a stage he had to go through

I think maybe it helped not thinking that there were any quick fixes

daisysue2 Mon 22-Jun-09 11:57:53

Do contact adoption UK as they have a buddy scheme. The buddies will call you once or three times a week if you need it just to have a chat and get the help you need. They are there for new adopters and for those who are having trouble. They also have a couselling service for RAD. Really worth getting in touch with them. I think your LA will do it for you or contact them directly.

NormaLeighLucid Mon 22-Jun-09 12:09:51

Hi I dont know anything really about attachment issues or indeed adoption or being an adoptive parent but just wanted you to know that I think it incredibly amazing what you do and also to let you know that my DD is 5 but when she was 4 she went through (and still does occasionally) a really bad tempered/ angry phase which made me question if I was doing things right as my DS was never like this.

All the things you said "Defiant, tantrums about everything / anything that doesn't go her way. Am so worn down by all the screaming. She is as good as gold for everyone else" rings true with me also.

A year on I truly just think it is her personality ( she is getting better at controlling her emotions with the help of a reward chart) every one at school and family think she is the sweetest quietest little thing and no one else ever sees the angry akward side except me.

So what Im trying to say is my DD is not adopted so maybe this is your DD personality coming out and isnt all to do with 'attachment issues'

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