I'm hoping to get some advice about how to respond to our 8 year old DD. She has lived with us for 2.5 years through a fairly informal arrangement with her birth mother, who is my sister. The adults (incl. birth dad) finally got everything squared away for her permanency plan and they signed their TPR documents. About 5 weeks ago we told DD that we would be formally adopting her. We talked a bit about what that meant too, specifically the forever part. She responded like she thought it was good news and enthusiastically shared the news with those close to her. She asked me once whether we'd have to go to a judge when it's time to unadopt her so we had a long talk about how that doesn't happen because the agency and judge are working really hard to get to know our family to make sure that that won't happen.
Anyway, over the past week or so she's started really acting up. Any little thing can be cause for a tantrum (yes, she's 8), she withdraws to her room, and has been sneaking stuff into school on an almost daily basis (stuff like fancy shoes and her DS). At the same time, she also writes me little love notes and is an angel child for parts of the day. I've been thinking a ton about it, and then today as we walked home from school, I told DD about what I'd been wondering and asked her point-blank. "DD, I'm wondering if you have been making choices that you know daddy and I don't like, kind of on purpose. I'm wondering if you've been thinking about whether we'll still adopt you, even if you make lots of choices that we don't like." She didn't answer right away but then said "well, yes. Actually, that's exactly it... I really do want to live with my birth mom, I wish I could live with her." I reminded her that the plan has been made and that her birth parents and her dad and I all together agreed that this was the place where she would live, that this was the safest and best place for her to live, and that that wouldn't change no matter what choices she made. I told her I could understand her sadness and felt sad with her for it. I also told her that I know God made her just right, and that I love her dearly, and that I want to be her mom forever
So I know it's going to take her a long time to truly believe my words and get the whole adoption thing. I'm wondering, what do we do in the meantime? Other than just continue to be her parents and love on her, how do we deal when she acts in such difficult ways? Are there alternatives we can suggest to her? What has worked for other families?