In the first part of the interview, we read how my guest became an adoptive mother, but now we explore the challenges she faced when her children moved in and how she dealt with them, and also how she prepared for adoption.
What particular problems did you encounter by adopting at different times, and what was made easier?
I would not say I have had any ‘problems’ as such with adopting at different times. Of course I had to redo the homestudy again, which was not easy but was in part necessary. However, I had to attend preparation group with first time adoptive parents. This did not teach me anything new, but it gave me new contacts and support through the process from the other prospective parents.
You also have to have many conversations with your existing children, many hours thinking about whether this is the right thing. I have always considered adoption to be a ‘family decision’. My existing children must be on board with it. I have encountered the attitude that if you want to adopt again you should, and your existing children can like it or lump it. I very much disagree with this sentiment. Children in non-adoptive families don’t get a choice when their parents get pregnant again.
“Waiting children deserve to be adopted into a family where EVERYONE in the house wants them to be there.” [click to tweet]
Thankfully, my two elder children have been totally on board. Indeed my first daughter actively pushed me towards my second adoption.
I also wouldn’t say anything was ‘easier’ about adopting at separate times. However it was definitely the right way forward for my family. As a single adoptive mother I did not feel able to take on more than one child at the same time. I was able to have one child and then assess their needs later to decide whether they could cope with a sibling or not, and also whether I could.
How did you prepare for your adopted children coming into your home?
The first time, my preparations involved looking around schools, doing a little reading (there was not a great deal about back then however) mostly about general parenting, and buying new furniture and various objects! I was very much unprepared for the child I adopted!
The second time I was much more knowledgeable and there were also a few more books around to read.
Top Tip: Check out Why Love Matters: How Affection Shapes a Baby’s Brain for a great book on adoption attachment issues.
Preparations for my second child involved my first daughter heavily. We talked together, we decorated together. I planned ahead about how to give my first daughter one on one attention and time once her sister arrived.
I knew many more adoptive families and was able to talk about sibling relationships with a couple. Indeed I think prospective parents’ being able to talk to adoptive parents in person is a great thing, which should be strongly encouraged. It would have been such a help to me the first time around, but I didn’t know any adoptive parents at all. I am very thankful for the internet for this reason!
Have you had any issues with attachment – if so, what sort of adoptive parenting techniques have you applied to your children?
My elder two daughters have special needs, and attachment issues. My youngest has some attachment related insecurities.
I would say that working with attachment issues has been ‘easiest’ with my youngest child. Largely because he has no other special needs aside from this, partly because by 2007 the amount of information about parenting a child with some attachment issues was huge.
I used many techniques to work with my son, from using touch, lot of hugging, laughter, attachment games etc. every day, to different methods of discipline, such as time in rather than time out and never using a naughty step, to special things to soothe his anxieties – sending him to school with something smelling of me was a great help for him. He is a joy to parent, he just has a couple of extra layers of issues for me to consider.
My eldest two are much harder. They have more pronounced attachment issues, among their other issues, and for my first daughter especially, was adopted at time where information about attachment issues was scant and social services did not mention attachment issues.
My eldest has/had attachment issues and complex PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and in her life my middle child has been evaluated for or diagnosed with: -
- Attachment issues;
- Attachment disorder (she was found not to have attachment disorder despite her attachment issues);
- Complex PTSD;
- Learning disabilities;
- Global developmental delays;
- Sensory integration disorder; and
- Foetal alcohol effects.
At the age of 17 she is a very complex girl, and very challenging to parent. She has flashbacks, nightmares, aggression, bad language, dissociation, sensory issues, hyper vigilance, friendship problems, little cause and effect thinking and so on. We have been through things I could not ever write about online.
The biggest help to my elder children’s many issues has been therapy. I have been privileged to receive therapy and support for my second daughter who has received EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitisation and Reprocessing) therapy and attachment focussed sessions. I was given a bit of counselling, a listening ear, and a support group. My eldest daughter has also been able to access counselling, EMDR and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) from other sources at a later age.
However, most attachment work happens at home. Normal discipline does not work with my second daughter. I use the following techniques:
- ‘Let’s sit calmly together’ time;
- ‘Let’s de-escalate this anger by suddenly breaking into song and dancing round the room’ time;
- One on one time and;
- Attachment games;
- Restraint when she’s out of control;
- Providing her with a snack bowl to combat her fear of hunger;
- Working on her sense of pain, so she can differentiate hunger from period cramps from anxiety;
- An alarm on her bedroom door to make her feel safer, and many other things like that.
The interview will conclude next week with some very useful tips, be sure to keep an eye out for ‘an interview with an adoptive mother – Part 3’.
About the Author: Andrew McDougallAndrew is an adoptive father, and stay at home dad. Having adopted his son in January 2013, he is a new adoptive parent, but well versed in the adoption process. He is a married, coffee drinker, Xbox addict, and a Marketing graduate. Andrew McDougall is an alias he uses to protect the identity of his adopted son.
Sites That Link to this Post
- The second part of my interview | Last Mother | May 1, 2013