Thursday, February 5, 2015

I Stick to You!

Parenting children who have been in foster care is very different from parenting biological children in many ways.  I can't speak for all adoptive parents, but for myself I can say that when our girls came to us, I loved them immediately with the mother's love I have for Caleb, our biological child - but I didn't KNOW them like I knew him.

Most times biological kids have a natural attachment to their parents - what I call an emotional leash. We still have to watch toddlers carefully, but most of the time, a kid is not going to wander too far from their mommy.  And the mommy knows the child well enough to anticipate their next move.  Not so with a child that has attachment disorder, lack of impulse control due to brain damage or trauma, and no trust of the adult who is caring for them.

In a store, I could expect that Caleb would stay near the cart, or if he would walk away, would come back in to check in and see that I was still close by.  The girls, however, after living in four homes prior to us, had no such attachment, no emotional leash that linked them to me.  I have worked very hard for 4 years to create this attachment, and we are finally at a place where (most of the time!) I can take them to a store and know they won't just wander away and walk off with someone else.  And I know them well enough now to anticipate their actions.

One phrase I have used over and over and over (which you have to do with children with FASD who have memory issues) is "We stick together."  We hold hands, we hold the shopping cart, we stay together, we stick together.  I finally knew the phrase had taken hold just recently when I realized shopping with them was not as stressful as it usually is, and then especially one afternoon in the car. Amie was upset with Annie about something that didn't go her way.  "Fine!  You not my sister anymore!" she said.  I looked in the rearview mirror at Amie.  "Oh, we don't say that.  We are family, and sisters are forever.  We...." Annie interrupted at this point.  "I STICK TO YOU AMIE!!!".  Don't you just love it?  This concept of we belong to each other, we stay together, I STICK to you has made it's way into Annie's understanding.

Oh, these two.  Yeah, we're stuck to them, and I couldn't be happier about it.

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