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Roughin' It...

D getting into the recycling - but what the heck - it was just too darn cute!
It's been one month... and it will probably take just as long to type this.

We have been on a rollar coaster here at the V house. When we came home from Russia, we had no idea what was in store for us. We did absolutely no research on how to raise a toddler that came from an orphanage... and we were hit with a culture shock. No one told us otherwise, and I just assumed life would change because we would be adjusting from a 3 person family to a 4 person family. And we would also have to deal with some jealousy issues with the kids... but I had no idea that my daughter would barely show me any love and affection. I didn't think at her slight age of 3 that we would hear her cry wolf when she "needed" to go potty. I never thought she would bite, hit, bang her head, etc.... and throw monster fits when she didn't get her way. I never thought I would have to baby-proof everything at this stage of her life. I never thought she would shun me a million times a day - and just when my heart couldn't break into any more pieces, she would turn around and stomp on it once more.

Deeana prefers her father. Not because he is a kind gentle man. But because... it happens. No one knows why some children turn on their mothers. They could be infants and not realize they are bonding and attaching to their "new" mom... or they could be older and have been institutionalized longer and traumatized emotionally. We have come to assume (through research) that Deeana is putting me through a kind of test, she is showing me the emotions she feels. She is scared and powerless. And she is trying with all her might to see if she can break me down and make me leave.

When you meet Deeana, she presents herself as a timid and shy girl. She may quickly warm up to you, either by playing peek-a-boo, or smiles from the other side of the room. Eventually, she will stray from my lap or Michael's (yes in this case she will sit on my lap, when strangers are near). She will then become very cherry and hyper and engaged with strangers, leaving mom behind in the dust - shunning me as usual. This is probably an attachment disorder behavior and I see Deeana behave this way at the store, with my girlfriends, with therapists, etc.

Deeana is also a fighter, a strong-willed, and a very persistent little girl. If you tell her no - to her it means, "let's try that a couple more times and see if they REALLY mean no". In the adult world we know these are great traits to have, but to get her mommy to break through that hard shell and let me in - is like knocking down the Great Wall all over again.

So, now Michael is back in school teaching. I have more of an opportunity to spend time and bond with Deeana. Little by little I see improvement. She can now speak over 25 words and she said her first English sentence just the other day... "Hayden, no close the door!" - Hayden had closed himself in the office to play a game for quiet time. She still prefers to be Hayden's shadow by day and Papa's companion at night. During the day I struggle with her to eat and play by herself - all of which are almost impossible.

Come bed time, we are utterly sleep deprived. Hayden sleeps in our finished basement and finds it "Cool!". This is to avoid being woken up a dozen times a night. We feel like we have brought in a newborn who has no idea what sleep is! We "nap" in her room until she falls asleep, which until we get the air mattress (tomorrow) is the best scenario. She can then wake up either 20 mins after we leave the room or every hour or 2 hours. She has a hard time soothing herself to sleep when she is alone.

We have had a few "play dates", my best friend and her son is about the gist of it. We really haven't had much family over - not because we don't want to, just because of people's schedule. She does love shopping though - ooops! :) If we go out somewhere, she always yells "SHOPPING!". She is going to be broke when she gets birthday money or an allowance.

Right now we are just riding the waves. I know things take time... when given the choice of Mama or Papa, who knows when she will run into my arms and give me a kiss or a hug. These days, those chances are slim. But I know the possibility is out there... making it there is the hard part. It's not easy.

~Mel

4 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sorry to hear things have been a struggle lately. I'm afraid that is to be expected with a terrified little girl. I know it is so hard to be the mother when they don't want you to mother them though. One thing that I found helped SO MUCH was to co-sleep with our daughter for the first couple of years after we adopted her from St. Petersburg. It was almost a miracle how much our lives improved when we put her in bed with us. She was so much more calm the next day. I think some of her crazy, insane freak-out tantrums were really from being sleep-deprived. But when she slept with us, she would sleep so much longer and better than in her room alone. I know it can be a hassle, sometimes my husband slept in another bed, so he could get better sleep, but I would really, really, highly recommend it. We started out with the Aero bed in her room, with one of us on it as she fell asleep, and then we'd go to our own bed, only to hear screams and then we were right back on it again. It is VERY irritating to spend nights like that. With co-sleeping, you all 3 get a great nights rest, and it is wonderful for attachment. I hope you give it a try! :) It will make your life so much easier. :) Wishing you all the best - love reading your blog!

Victoria

Michele said...

Oh Mel your post brings back so many memories I'd already forgotten and Denis hasn't been home 7 months yet.
I too highly recommend co-sleeping. Denis is so much better, but it was really rough those first few months. It was so hard those nights when he would scream and fight. Then during the day we had to be out of the house. I was having to go our 3 to 4 times a day (and that was February) I took up mall walking with him in the stroller as he was up before 7 and demanding to go out.
It will get better and it will get better every single week. In a month you'll be amazed at the changes.
The gregarious behaviour is a coping strategy. I often think with Denis that it was the kind of behaviour that was rewarded in the baby house in the sense of getting more attention and/or food (his beloved candy).

Laura said...

Oh, Mel...this is definitely the hardest time for you. Kristina was younger (28 mos) but bedtime was by far the most challenging time for us. And there is nothing worse than a sleep-deprived child and mommy! I did all the Super Nanny techs -- and was vigilant for about 4 months. And then I took the path of least resistance and brought her into bed with us and wha-la...life was so much better. I never thought we'd co-sleep. But like Victoria suggested, it did work for us, too. Now K goes to bed in her bed (while I scratch her back and then tip toe out of the room) and sometimes crawls into our bed in the wee hours of the am.

As for bonding, she wanted nothing of Papa the first 3 months home. It was heartbreaking to see and I know it hurt Jon. But the time off he took from work when I went back gave them the oppty to bond...and it worked. I pray this time works for you, too.

Keep doing what you're doing, be very structured in your daily routines (they are used to this!) and definitely keep your world "small" while attaching. For your reference, here's a letter I posted on my blog just as an FYI for my family and friends:
http://ourrussianangel.blogspot.com/2009/05/letter-from-kristina.html

Best wishes, Mel!

~Laura

Karon and John said...

Hey, I just wanted to send you some encoragment that you will make it through this time. Really expect it to take 6 months to a year for a toddler to feel part of your family. Anything sooner is nice, but not really that normal because you have so much backing up to do before getting to move forward. We adopted a 3.5 year old boy last year and he is just now emotionaly showing signs of being a toddler and not a baby. He came to us with 0 words, major fits, meltdowns and violent behavior. Now he intelectulay caught up, chaters away, can play with friends and is doing great in pre-school. Yes, we still have our reverting to baby moments. What I have come to realize is that everyone needs a certain amount of babying. If they don't get it when they are a baby, they behave like one until the get enough of it. Hang in there.