Monday, 01 March 2021
Success Stories Print
Along this journey, we experience periods of amazing progress as well as moments of immense joy. Celebrate with us as we share our stories!

I was thinking about how my heart smiles when my son "sticks" my kisses by pressing his hand on top. I just love it. I can kiss him while he is talking and he'll continue to tell his story but presses his hand on top of the kiss.

When we were in the beginning of our understanding of attachment disorders (the ugliest time), he would wipe our kisses away and tell us not to kiss him. I began to kiss him on top of the head and tell him he couldn't wipe the kisses away because they were hiding somewhere under his hair. I then began to "stick" the kisses by pressing them gently before he could wipe them away. Now he wants my kisses to stick! (a. 4.5mo, FC)

Yesterday I decided to go for a walk with my son. When we were walking down the pier (we live on the harbor), the ferry was coming in, so I decided to take an impromptu boat ride. We got on the ferry, and I put him on the seat next to me. He was holding onto my neck and looking at the water saying, "Water, water! Nemo! Dory!" So we pretended that we saw Nemo and Dory and Crush (all Finding Nemo characters, his favorite). The whole boat ride he hugged me and stayed close to me. At one point he sat on my lap, took my hands, and crossed them over his stomach. Then he played with my hands and fingers as we watched the boats sail by. His gentle little touch felt so amazing! I love these times with him when I truly feel like he loves me as his mommy! People around us didn't bat an eye at our interaction, but I wanted to stand up and say..."LOOK AT MY LITTLE BOY!!! HE LOVES ME!!!!" (a. 7.5mo, FC)

We were taking a nap together, and when he woke up, we were just playing in bed for a while. He has a large stuffed monkey in his crib, and I sat him up and we talked to Murry for a while. Then Murry got tired and needed to go night-night. I tipped him over gently and placed him down on the pillow. My son patted him gently (gentle is a struggle for him). Then he sat Murry upright. I said, "Oh, is it time for Murry to get up? Let's sing him the morning song." As I sang the song I sing to my son every single morning, my son held the monkey's paws and swung them. When the "it's time to get up" part came he stood Murry up (JUST like I do with him). Then "so I can play with you, you, you" and he kissed Murry on all the "yous" (JUST like I do!). Then he gave him a BIG hug at the end of the song!

I sing this song to my son every morning, and I do it the same way my mom sang it to me. Every day he has the same blank look on his face. Frankly I've only continued it out of my own stubbornness. This is the song you hear first thing in the morning in this family, kid! =) I'm so excited that it means something to him. And, that he wants to be like his mama! (a. 6mo, FC)

Last night we took a family walk and my husband was telling me how our son is just a different child--totally different--and he's proud of me. My husband isn't one to say things like this so it meant a lot. He said that it took a lot of courage on my part to take a step back and see that we had big problems. It took courage because even though it's not true, it's almost like admitting that my way of being a mom just wasn't working; some would associate this to being a bad mom, but I had the courage to step up and do what needed to be done for our son so that he was happy and healthy and not just acting like it. To hear my husband say this to me after such a long and hard year meant the world to me. NOBODY else seemed to understand. I didn't think my husband really did. I just thought he tried. After this conversation last night I think he does get it, and that is so important to me. (a. 6mo, FC)

My daughter is as sick as can be right now. Her poor little nose is a gooey fountain, and she is coughing like an 80-year-old Emphysema patient. She coughed all night long, meaning that she threw up about 7 or 8 times. She has a hair trigger gag reflex, so she throws up almost every time she has a coughing fit. I was rocking her to sit her up a bit to help her breathe, and she threw up. I was wearing pj bottoms and a sports bra. I could feel the throw up running down my back and trickling into my bra. When stuff like that happens, it always amazes me how I don't get nearly as grossed out as I would think I would. You know you are a mom when you assess the damage to the sports bra, decide that if you just get a wet wash cloth and blot it off, blot the puke off the ends of your hair, you are clean enough to get back into bed--since she will only be throwing up again very shortly!!!!!

The amazing thing about this is how my baby was last night. How can I explain this? With my two boys, I had many, many, long nights of sitting up rocking them through an illness. All they wanted was to be held all night long. They would cry really hard if I laid them in their cribs. I would be sleep deprived and look like something the cat dragged in by the time morning would roll around. Even so, there was always a sense of satisfaction that I was doing exactly what my babies needed me to be doing--satisfying their every need--even at the expense of my own.

As we all know, parenting a kid with an attachment disorder is so much different. My daughter would rarely let me comfort her, and if she did--it was briefly. Well, all that changed last night. My daughter was ALL OVER me in bed. She kept climbing up on top of me, (I was on my back), straddling me, burying her face in my chest. It was like she was trying to crawl inside of me! Of course, I couldn't get a wink of sleep, but who cares? My baby NEEDED me last night and she LET ME MOTHER HER! When we kind of rolled over onto our sides, she kept scooting INTO me. She wanted to be close! I asked her at one point, "Do you want Mommy to put you in your crib to sleep?" (I was testing her. She ALWAYS nods an enthusiastic "yes.") She shook her head and snuggled in closer. It was just so NORMAL!!!! Even though I am a sleep deprived MESS today, I am so happy because my little sickie just allowed herself to be a sick baby last night. (a. 7mo, FC)

Tomorrow is one year since I held my baby boy for the first time at the Newark airport. I have been looking at pictures of his "gotcha day" and how happy he looks...but they make me sad. Sad to know that those smiles are not real. More sad that I did not know what I should have about attachment and how much my baby would struggle and how hard my life was going to be. I was truly unprepared.

I am willing to mention this here, but not in my "real life". I spent a great deal of this year dealing with sadness, anger, depression, self-pity, and resentment. This was not at all how I envisioned motherhood, and boy did it throw me for a loop! My beautiful baby hated me. He did not want me to be his mother. And he pushed me away hard. Many days I thought of packing up and leaving. Many days I cried when my husband went to work wishing I was teaching...I was such a good teacher...I was a horrible mother. Many days I begged my husband to come home because I could not be this child's mother. I could not be alone with him. I struggled with thoughts that I did not love him and I did not like him. He was truly unlikable. Well, at least when it came to me. He was such a sweetheart for everyone but me.

This year has been so long, so hard, and so slow. But at the end of the year there is something to smile about. I realized last week how different life has been lately. I don't exactly know when it happened, but I stopped walking on eggshells around here, and I am in love. For the first time in a year I do not feel defeated. In fact, I feel pretty normal. I still have a beautiful little boy, but the difference is I am in love with him...I like him a lot too! Our days have been so smooth and he has truly opened his heart to me. The baby who was miserable 95% of the time is happy, smiling, laughing, and loving his mommy 95% of the time. If anyone were to tell me 9, 6, even 3 months ago that being a mommy felt this good, I would not have believed it for a second.

Last week when my husband was home and my son was napping, I had some shopping I needed to do, but I couldn't go. Now in the past I couldn't go out of fear...how would my leaving or not being home when he woke up affect him? What would I come back to and did I have the strength to deal with the aftermath? But this time it was different. I couldn't go shopping because I WOULD MISS MY SON! I never until last week felt like I could not be away from him for any reason other than fear. I never missed him...in fact I would pray during naps "please sleep longer, longer, longer!" and now I can't wait for him to wake up.

This is what being a mom is supposed to feel like. This is what I have been working so hard for. This feels better than anything in the world. It took one year and a lot of tears. I know we're not "cured"...trust me Lala Land is not on my itinerary! But I am happy to say that one year later I would do it all over again...I don't know if I would have said that 6 months ago.

I am very lucky. It could have been a lot worse if I did not have someone in my "caring community" help shed some light on the subject.

Tomorrow we are spending time together as a family. We will be taking lots of pictures, and I am delighted that the smiles and laughs we get on film this year will be real. (a. 6mo, FC)

Last night my husband was going to give my son his bath. (Usually I bathe with my son.) I hear my husband and son in there just having a ball. My husband's being silly and making up a Gilligan's Island parody with a bathtub boat toy while the tub is filling and I'm sitting on the couch thinking about how great this is. "Now THIS is what I signed up for!"

Then my son makes a break for it. He comes running out of the bathroom naked, runs right up to me with his hands in the air, laughing and saying his version of "bath" over and over! I leaned over to hug him and he just held on. He leaned back a bit and said, "Bath, bath," again, like "C'mon Mom, the water's all ready for us!" He wasn't demanding, he was just excited, and he wanted me there. Of course I dropped everything in an instant and went to take a bath with my boy!

This is my favorite Mom moment to date. It's the first time I've ever really seen him demonstrate that he wants me around. He was just so joyous and innocent...you know, like kids are supposed to be! I'm still glowing. =) (a. 6mo, FC)

I wanted to give a little update on the changes I am seeing in my daughter since our intensive with an attachment therapist. My daughter is so eager to be near me. She has started putting her head on my shoulder, almost every time I pick her up. She puts her little tiny arms around me and just melts into me. This is such a new behavior. She wants to sleep with me at night. She even lies down on the bed sometimes, pats the space next to her and says, "Mama." It really is just amazing. Another thing is that she is strongly favoring me over my husband. It is a little bit hard for him, but I feel like it is a good sign. I was just telling him today that I feel like our daughter is about 4 months old emotionally. I remember both of my boys just wanting to be held and cuddled. They wanted me at night, and they both strongly favored me at that age.

Another improvement we are seeing is that her little happy personality emerges here and there throughout the day. Don't get me wrong. It is not a miracle where all of a sudden, Poof!, she is healed. She still has a long, long way to go. But I feel like I KNOW what to do when she withdraws or starts being really avoidant. I am also not all freaked out when she acts attached in the morning, then after a couple of hours starts acting really avoidant. That really, really, bothered me before. I think I thought of attachment as a linear progression rather than a cyclical one. I understand now that she can cycle through from a zero (being totally attached in that moment) to a 10 (totally unattached in that moment) many times in one day. Nothing to be freaked out about--just all part of the process. I really believe that as she becomes more and more attached, she will ACT more and more attached during the day. I really look forward to the day when she is at zero for more than half the day! (a. 7mo, FC)

Just had to share about a recent change in my daughter. She always has sleep disturbances somewhere between 2 and 4 AM. I always pat her--sometimes she goes right back into a deep sleep, but sometimes she wakes up all the way. If she wakes, she usually tolerates my hand on her for a couple of minutes, then shoves it away or wriggles out from under my hand. The last 2 nights, though, she has grabbed my hand like she was going to shove it away but instead has stroked the back of my hand lightly until she falls asleep. That sweet little touch just brings tears of joy to my eyes!

This past weekend was so great with my daughter that I'm walking on clouds!!

Saturday afternoon we went to a birthday party for another sweetie from China. Her mommy is Thai, and the friend that my daughter adamantly wanted to go home with when we'd just been home for 2 weeks. There were about a dozen women there, most of them Asian. My daughter maintained eye contact with me the whole evening, allowed me to touch her, feed her, pick her up. She played with other kids, but checked in with me periodically. When a girl would push her or grab a toy from her, my daughter would look to me for how to react. My friend picked her up at one point, and my daughter looked at me, "squidged" down, and then ran to me and wanted to be picked up. SHE DID NOT CALL ANYONE BUT ME "MOMMA"!!!!!!! (Do you know how HUGE this is? Of course you do!!)

Later, I was in the living room talking to my friend, and my daughter was down in the family room playing (my husband was there, too). My daughter fell and hurt her arm. My husband picked her up, but she wanted me and came upstairs, fell into my arms crying, "told" me all about the owie, and then just sat in my arms, facing me and rocking for the last 1/2 hour we were there. My friend commented on how MUCH my daughter's improved even since we were last together (about 3 weeks ago), and that she seems like a completely different child than we brought home!

Sunday, we went to church. I took the girls to their Sunday School room as usual--took coats off, my daughter ran to play, I hung the coats up, kissed my oldest "bye," said "bye" to my daughter from across the room. She stopped dead in her tracks, started sobbing, ran to me and just clung to me as if her life depended on melding to me. The teacher asked if she should take my daughter. I told her, through tears, that it may seem weird, but this is a wonderful big step in our relationship. I carried my daughter to big church for the children's message, held her the whole time (it would have taken the jaws of life to get us apart), then took her to the play room. She got down to play, but kept checking in with me. I stayed for about 30 minutes, then said "good-bye" again, and she was fine for me to leave.

My heart feels like it's grown 100%!!! I'm THE mommy, now, I really feel it. Not just A mommy (mommies come, mommies go, who cares), but THE mommy--irreplacable, necessary, loved!

After working very, very hard at this for 1.5 years, our son's heart has almost healed. The journey has been indescribable, rich with the highest highs and lowest lows one could ever imagine. But we are almost there. And when my son says, "I love you, Mommy," reaches for me, and gives me hugs and kisses, it means more to me than a simple gesture of love. It means life. My son has been given an immense gift; for the rest of his life, he will be able to give and receive love. What greater miracle could anyone ever wish for? (a. 5.5mo, FC)

And a final word of wisdom:

With our kids, Mama must be strong. We must always be mindful that this is not just our children's journey, but the whole family's. Our babies had a very different beginning, one we cannot change. Ours is a different path. I don't believe it can be defined as "abnormal" or "bad". It is most definitely longer and harder, but we WILL get to that peaceful place called "normal". Our vision of "normal" will morph during our journey and will probably be completely different than the imaginings prior to adoption. Along the way we must learn to adjust our own attitudes, beliefs, and learned behaviors. Isn't that what growing is about? Our babies' emotional radar is fine-tuned. It has to be. They are survivors. They know when we're not confident and strong. That scares them and they revert to the need for control. This may sound odd, but I am a better parent than I ever believed I could be because of, not in spite of, dealing with my daughter's issues. (a. 10.5mo, OR)

This is the first section of the Serenity prayer. I think it really goes to the heart of our journey.

"May God grant me the the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
Courage to change the things I can;
And wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time;
Enjoying one moment at a time;
Accepting hardships as the pathway to peace (and healing)."
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