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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

RAD

When we went through training prior to becoming foster parents we did a course on how to parent children who do not bond. I never gave it another thought. After all we knew how to care for children, give them lots of hugs n kisses, feed them healthy food and keep them warm n dry. What poor deprived child wouldn't be oh so, happy to be with people who would be their new mommy n daddy plus supply all their needs and a few wants besides? Turns out we were just pretty ignorant. No, we were very ignorant!

Five years later we are in a dark place of anger, fear, anxiety, rebellion and resentment. Who would have ever dreamed something so nasty could come from something a beautiful as adoption? Not us, but boy did we learn in a hurry!

If a child is not loved and nurtured as an infant, he looses his ability to bond with people naturally. A child is an open slate and generally a new mama has a blank page in her life story just waiting to be filled with love, snuggles and the excitement of new motherhood. That is how God intended it to be and I trust in most families that is how it works. What if mom however, was never loved as a child or maybe she was abused or this child was a product of abuse? How will she feel towards  this helpless newborn? Probably not very loving. Dear baby is all ready to love his mommy but she doesn't come when he cries, no one changes his diaper or cuddles him and eventually Baby does the only thing possible; he blocks out the pain and no longer acknowledges it. Soon, he doesn't even feel pain. When he first looked at mommy's face he expected to see love but if he only see's angry, depressed eyes glaring at him he learns to avoid looking at anyone. He blocks off his emotions as well. As he grows he learns he must care for himself. It is the survival of the fittest. Bite or be bitten.

Now this toddler is placed with  loving family. They feed him, hold him and try to play with him. Sonny pushes them away because he is sure they are going to desert him so why allow himself to become close to them. His first mommy didn't care for him so why should his new mommy? Daddy tries to give him a hug and Sonny gets all stiff and has a terrified look in his eyes. When baby grabs his cookie Sonny hits baby and pushes him over. No baby is taking his food! As he grows Sonny does all he can to control the lives around him. He is so scared and out of control inside that he needs to micromanage those around him. He gets a birthday gift and promptly breaks it because he doesn't feel worthy of receiving any gifts, besides gifts make a crack in the armor he has placed around himself and he feels a wee ray of love peeking through. So he breaks the toy and slams that door shut. In spite of himself Sonny does need love and hugs, rather than risk getting close to mama and daddy, he goes to others for his hugs. Doesn't matter if it is a complete stranger. He has also learned that when he hugs other people mommy gets a hurt look in her eye. That makes him feel in control, he can manipulate moms feelings. In order to do that he must keep hurting her and daddy so that they cannot love him. Maybe if he acts out bad enough they will send him away as he is sure they will do when he finally pushes them to far. He pulls out the "big guns" because maybe this time they will send him away and he will get that parting over with. It is inevitable right? They are not strong enough to care for me and my big feelings. I know it is going to hurt when you leave me. I spend hours worrying about it. The fear infiltrates my dreams, my play and my daily life.... oh, if only it would just happen so I could stop worrying about it!

This is where Dean, Braden and I are at. We try to love him and he reacts in fear. It is a constant push and pull. I keep reminding myself that with God all things are possible. At the same time years of stress are taking their toll on our family. Living in a state of heightened emotions for any length of time is not good, when it goes on for years......  Please pray for us!
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