Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Mama's boy

On June 4, 2005, Paul and I took a 4-hour class at CCAI called "Developmental Aspects of Attachment." The class focused on ways to initiate the bonding process with the adopted child and made us aware of signs and signals that needed to be dealt with. One that struck us both was that an un-attached child will do everything in his power to turn away from comfort. If he is angry, he will not let you hold him to comfort him, for example. If he is hungry, he will not look you in the eye when you feed him a bottle. Things like this, our instructor warned, can be important ways to forge the bonding with your child. HOLD YOUR CHILD...even if she tries to hit you, or is screaming at the top of her lungs. Feed your baby in such a position that she MUST look you in the eye. Even better, when feeding solid food, wait for eye contact before giving a bite. Eventually, the child will learn to trust you; she will let her guard down, and bonding will timidly begin.
Well. Much of what this instructor talked about applied exactly to Sam. A difficult, fussy baby, I often resorted to putting him in his crib, setting the timer for 15minutes, and then returning to him (he was always still screaming)...refreshed enough to try again. I could seldom comfort him if he was angry or hurt...he preferred to comfort himself. Nothing dramatic...he was obviously aware that I was his mama and everything...but he still preferred, even as a baby, to take matters into his own hands. That class shook me up. Badly. I went home that afternoon and began parenting him differently. When he threw things across the room and screamed and screamed in a rage, I didn't put him in his crib and shut the door. I held him. I talked to him. The most successful was filling his sippy cup with milk and letting him gulp it down while holding him. S-l-o-w-l-y, he began to mellow. He became amazingly attached to me. Ted has never shown a real preference for Paul or me...he's happy to accept either of us. This is unusual but handy. Sam is a true Mama's boy now. When he hurts himself he wants me. When Ted hurts his feelings, he wants me. It is wonderful! I am SO SO glad we took that particular class. It has made a real difference in Sam's personality. He is happier, more mellow, more confident, and much less angry. I have been too guilty to post about this. But for some reason, today I got over it and instead decided to post it. Perhaps some of my other blogger friends have a child who is this way. Perhaps Mae will be this way, especially in the beginning. Why should she trust me, anyway? It will take time. And thanks to Sam, I know that I can do it. I can bring this child in...it just takes time and patience. Thank you, CCAI, for requiring these courses. I'm sure they will help me parent Mae. I didn't realize they would also save my relationship with my beautiful son.


Anonymous said...

This is a wonderful technique! I'm so glad you decided to talk about it, because it may be just as helpful to some others who read this blog. Dear little Sam! I'm glad he is now a Mama's Boy!
... Mom

Bee's Blog said...

E-Thank you for posting your story. It really warmed my heart for you. And knowing these methods work reassures me I can do it as well. I am nervous being a first time mom, but we are in this together. I am also happy that we were required to take these classes. Thanks again for your story. It makes a difference.

Trixie said...

Thank thank you for opening up about this aspect of parenting adopted children!!

I was so puzzled for so long why the China adoption community never discussed attachment in an open manner especially on our blogs. Now I can tell you of five families which have mentioned it recently and repeatedly.

Most have just returned and are mentioning some of these things (and not in a scary frightening way but in a good, helpful sharing way). It has helped my husband realize that there is truth to what we were taught and what we have read. Seeing real people deal with this - even the smallest aspects of it - has been a real help.

Thank thanks thanks!

Ellen said...

I am so glad I posted this. That this information would be helpful to anyone makes it all worthwhile. Thanks for your comments!