It's not easy being a parent. Yeah I know I thought I'd start with the obvious. One of the reasons I've decided to focus this blog to writing about our family is to reach out to other families who are going through similar situations. Today my younger daughter is on my mind. We adopted her from China when she was 9 months old. Looking back the signs were there and we did see them. I just don't think we fully grasped the depth of attachment disorder and the struggles that would come with it. She is 8 years old now and we are now beginning to understand what this means for us as a family and a little for her as an individual.
I can say without a doubt that although she does care about us, she could take us or leave us. That is a very difficult thing to accept. That became clear to me yesterday. You see, on Tuesday morning Rob and I brought her to a respite care group home. That was the hardest decision we have had to make as parents. It became clear after her two younger brothers met with the therapist and they are obviously very stressed over her regular outbursts and various other behaviours that play havoc on our daily life. I was so accustomed to the stress level in our home (and having grown up in a very stress filled home) that I didn't realize the effect it was having on the other kids. It became clear that we needed some time to work together as a family and work on strategies to help decrease the stress and help the 6 of us feel that we have some control when she is out of control.
So yesterday Rob and I went to pick her up for her therapy session. She was sitting at the table doing school work when we arrived. She came over said hello and I love you and then bounced back over to the table. We were surprised that she didn't go get her stuff to come with us. We asked the hosue manager if our daughter was aware of why we were there. She looked quizzically over at her and said that they had been talking about it all morning. So Rob went over and told her it was time to go.
Rob left from there to go to the Math Olympics for our oldest two children while I took her to therapy.
What can I say, when asked if she would prefer staying at the house vs home she actually said, "That's a hard question." When asked about if she missed us she looked at me and said, "I don't really think of mom. Not to hurt your feelings. I just don't think about mom." She has become very excited about her new "friends" H who left the house already and was only there for her first day and M who is her other new "friend". You would think they were long lost friends. She was so animated when talking about them. When asked about her family she seemed to ponder the question trying to figure out what the therapist wanted to hear, what the "right" answer was. It was very clear that she is not allowing herself to feel anything towards us. Worse she may not have deep feelings towards us. Rob and I know that this is the truth. We've known our daughter for almost 8 years now and have never felt that we were any more to her than anyone else she comes across in life. It is a painfully sad realization. I don't want to believe this. How can someone not have affection for their own parents or even if she just thinks of us as people she lives with... it's been almost 8 years and still nothing or possibly the most basic feelings towards us. We love this little girl so much and are willing to do whatever it takes to help get through to her heart, to break down these thick walls that she seems to have put up to protect herself. (These are my hopes, that she is capable of real feelings towards others... the other option is something I am not ready to accept)
If you have a child with attachment disorder I would love to hear from you. We are prepared to take this journey wherever it takes us but would love to have a heads up from anyone who has btdt (been there done that). It can seem like a lonely journey a lot of the times. Please keep our daughter and the rest of our family in your prayers.