Saturday, July 25, 2015

Why My Son Cannot Bond

  I received this book in the mail yesterday and I am so fascinated with all of the information it pertains.  

  Here is the link to Amazon if you wish to buy the book yourself.
  I used to think providing a child with a "good" home is all they need to thrive. That idea went out the window when a toddler came into our home and threw us into the most intense years of our lives. As we learned more about attachment I came to understand why this was not the case but I still had questions. Then we learned about trauma and prebirth experiences and things made a little more sense but still questions remained. A big one for me was why can't Braden attach to me? Then he was diagnosed with FASD and a few more pieces fell in place but he still couldn't attach. He had a huge fear of me as mom. I did everything, the therapists, psychiatrist, folks at TAP, his FASD specialist, nothing worked. Then I spoke with a wise woman whom shall remain unnamed. She said, "Sandra, you broke his trust way back when you took him for visits and left him screaming at the door with the very people who neglected him and caused much of the trauma in his life. The neglect compounded with FASD makes it impossible for him to understand the situation and realize that he is now safe. He will possibly always view you in the same category as his birth parents. One of the people who cannot be trusted." That hurt to hear but it made sense and was also freeing. I agonized over his inability to bond with me, there must be something wrong with me if a child cannot love and trust me, was my reasoning.
  All that to say this book took all the bits and pieces of knowledge I had concerning attachment, trauma and the human brain and put it together in one place. Best of all it is written so people like me can understand it. (I did have to read the first chapter through a few times in order to wrap my brain around the content but now it makes sense). I am in awe at how fearfully and wonderfully we are made. 
       I will praise thee for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. 
                Psalm 139:14

    "Although the unborn child is unable to identify sensations and feelings of distress it can certainly experience neurological distress with which it's emotions are closely linked."
  While still in the womb the child is created in ways to best adapt to the world it will be born into. For instance, there was a study done during a war, I forget which one, where a whole city was closed off and the inhabitants were unable to get food when their supply ran out, so they existed on a few calories a day. There was a study done on the babies who were yet unborn at the time and they found that many of them were obese and had serious health issues. Why? Because the babies bodies' were "taught" to hang onto every calorie. When there was once more plenty of food, these babies, now grown, packed on the pounds.
  In light of that, many children who enter the foster system are the product of chaotic homes and distressed, depressed and fearful mothers. Their babies are born, expecting the world to be a fearful, dangerous place.
  The book talks about this phenomenon. It says that a child born under these conditions may "come around" if it receives good parenting. However many of these children are placed in the system or receive mediocre care so the sense that the world is a dangerous place is further cemented in their brains. The most crucial time for these brain pathways to be corrected or reconstructed is in the first three years of life. 
  Braden's first three years of life were anything but peaceful when one considers his chaotic home life, being moved to a foster home which is a traumatic experience in itself, having the person who should have been keeping him safe take him to see his birth parents.... no wonder he was controlling and manipulated people! He was only trying to protect himself!
 I know it is not helpful to look back and say, "If only." That is something I have to continually guard against when I think about Braden. "If only we would have known some of this information when he was placed with us!" I do realize that a lot of this information makes sense to me because I have witnessed it first hand. Just reading about it isn't enough for me to really comprehend some issues such as a child refusing to budge even if his very life was at stake. Really? Oh yes! For me there is something about witnessing these things first hand that is necessary in order for me to process what I read. So, even if I would have known all about attachment, trauma and brain damage prior to Braden coming into our home, I probably would have had a hard time believing and understanding it. That is why it is so helpful to have a therapist who has personally dealt with these problems. Once I asked a therapist how she can handle working with these problems all day. She replied, "I can go home at night and leave the problems at work, as parents you are responsible all the time, that is what makes trauma so hard."

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