Monday, May 7, 2012

Attachment Update

Attaching with your children after adoption is always a subject of interest and I've been meaning to post about how it's going for us.

Tegegn: It's a lot easier to write about his attachment because it has been very straightforward and linear. I posted before that we were quite concerned when we met him in December. He was not a happy camper for the first few days when we spent time together and therefore the few pictures we have of him during that time are all similar to the ones posted above. He cried and wanted to be held the entire time. Checking him out of the orphanage last month was one of the most gut wrenching experiences of my life. He'd obviously been told ahead of time what was happening and was then unceremoniously plopped in our arms and we were sent on our way. He screamed, thrashed, and sobbed. When we got back to the guest house, he refused to eat for the rest of the day and did his now-patented silent Tegegn head shake whenever we tried to offer him anything. It was heartbreaking to watch and I thought we were in for a very long haul. However, in the middle of that night he sat up, accepted a bottle, and then fell sound asleep back on my chest. When he got up the next morning, it was like a switch had flipped and he was mostly okay being with us. It wasn't a magical overnight transformation, but he seemed to have decided that he liked us, we were his people, and he was therefore okay. He's doing great now. He is genuinely happy and playful almost all of the time when we're home as a family. He seeks comfort from both me and Paul and still loves to be held. He shakes and screams with excitement each day when we pick Atticus and Norah up at school. He still tends to be quite shy around people outside of his immediate family, but we take this as a good sign. Truly, we're thrilled with how well he is progressing.

Tiruye: Tiruye is also blending in beautifully and making steady progress, but she's been a tougher riddle to figure out. She's an extrovert by nature - as evidenced by some of the first pictures we took of her - and it can be difficult to tell whether she's seeking attention from strangers indiscriminately (a warning sign in Attachment Land) or if it's simply her personality to be bubbly in public. Norah is similarly social and will initiate conversations with everyone she meets. Yesterday she had a chance encounter with a drag queen dressed in full regalia. "Oh, I just love your [hot pink, patent leather, thigh-high] shoes! Can you walk in them? I'm Norah and this is my mom, Mama. How come you're dressed like a girl but talking with a voice like a man?" In Norah's case, we don't worry anymore that her sociable nature is a sign of problems, since she is so clearly is attached to our family. With Tiruye, however, it's still a work in progress and every time some well-meaning person says, "She'll just go to anybody! Isn't that adorable?!" it's like a knife to my heart. On a more positive note, Tiruye has already made lots of strides. The first week she was with us, she absolutely did NOT want to be touched when she was falling asleep. Now she demands to put her head on mine and wants to sleep that way all night. She has moments during each day when she cries, reaches for one of us, and then angrily swats us away when we try to pick her up, but she also seeks us out for comfort regularly and is happy to be carried around much of the time. Tiruye's developing relationship with her older siblings has also been more complicated. Much of the time she's happy to follow them around and loves playing chase with them. However, the big kids' love is a full-contact sport and Tiruye doesn't always appreciate that. She's not used to having someone hone in on her personal space and this little girl is not afraid to let her opinions be known. If the other kids are bothering her, she feels free to swat and squawk at them and has also been known to spit at offenders.  Overall, however, I think she's doing really well and we've seen a lot of growth in her attachment and comfort levels at home.

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