Bonded with 1 adoptive child, not the other - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 44 Old 07-23-2010, 09:58 PM - Thread Starter
 
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This is really really hard for me to ask--it is about a family member, not me, and I guess I am just trying to find out if this is "normal". I am trying not to be too specific, even, in case anyone can identify them or me.

Years ago, a family member adopted an infant (10 months old) and had a pretty easy time of it--or as easy as an infant ever is . . . This was a foreign adoption and the baby was matched with them.

Fast forward a few years--they chose another child--same country of origin, different gender. This child was older at the time of adoption--3-1/2, and is just a year younger than the sibling. This was not an agency match--they specifically chose this child, albeit based on descriptions from afar.

It has been a year now, and IMHO, the 2nd child has adjusted beautifully--amazingly well, actually. An incredible bright, smart, loving child. Also, unbelievably cute and charming. In many ways, a very typical child of this age (now 4-1/2). But, the parents don't like the younger child. No other way to say it. They favor the older one to a great degree, and in every way. It is so obvious, they barely hide it, and in fact have pretty much admitted it. Part of it is the gender issue--they have a strong gender bias against one sex.

I don't pretend to understand the complicated issues surrounding adoption, especially foreign adoption, or adoption of an older child, and I hope I am not saying something too ignorant. But my heart is absolutely broken for this little one. Is there any hope that this will turn around? This is such a great kid and I wonder if there is any way a child can be raised like this and not be completely emotionally injured.
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#2 of 44 Old 07-23-2010, 10:09 PM
 
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This is such a great kid and I wonder if there is any way a child can be raised like this and not be completely emotionally injured.
Well, as an adoptee rejected by her AParents, I personally don't think a child (esp. an adopted one) can avoid being emotionally injured by being rejected while still having to endure people bleating about how they were "chosen." I'd like to hope that this kid's parents do not bring that up very often as they are rejecting the child emotionally.

OTOH, to be blunt though, you may not be seeing the whole aspect of the child. For all you know there could be some serious attachment issues or other stuff going on. Even *spouses* sometimes don't know about behaviors towards the other parent.

I also think that it is quite natural for a parent to find one child (who typically shares common interests, is "easier", has better chemistry with the parent) to be more companionable.

Personally, I think you call them on it--without inserting your own (not totally informed in all likelihood) judgements. For example, saying "You know, I don't know how to tell you this but I feel that you should know...I am uncomfortable sometimes when I am with you and the kids because some of your behavior gives the impression that you favor child A. I'm sure that you may not be aware of it, and I understand that I don't know the whole story--I just wanted to let you know that it's visible or might be interpreted that way."

They're going to be angry with you. Hopefully if this is benign though they might be more conscientious or it might be a wake up call.
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#3 of 44 Old 07-23-2010, 10:45 PM
 
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I am a teeny bit confused...the older child is also the child that joined their family second? So they feel closer to the older child who came later, vs. the infant?

 
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#4 of 44 Old 07-23-2010, 11:21 PM
 
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OP says that the child who was adopted as an infant is a year and some change older than the child who was adopted at 3.5
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#5 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 04:06 PM
 
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Thanks TC; so the child they feel closer to is the child that was adopted as an infant, and the child they don't feel as close to is the child that was adopted at age 3 1/2 (sleepy today I guess!)

 
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#6 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 07:36 PM
 
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I believe so! 'Sokay, I had to read that a few times last night too. My brain has been dewrinkled this week.
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#7 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 08:19 PM
 
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It has been a year now, and IMHO, the 2nd child has adjusted beautifully--amazingly well, actually. An incredible bright, smart, loving child. Also, unbelievably cute and charming.
This is exactly how outsiders describe my daugher. I could make a list of the negative behavior that only we see, but I am not sure that would help. I would give the parents the benefit of the doubt and say that you just don't know the whole story.
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#8 of 44 Old 07-24-2010, 10:40 PM
 
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This is exactly how outsiders describe my daugher.
Same here.

Also, a year in the grand scheme of things may just not be enough time. Bonding with older kids is often a long process.

I'm pro-adoption reform, but not anti-adoption.
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#9 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 06:22 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes--to clarify, at the risk of identifying myself , they adopted their 6-year old daughter as an infant. They adopted their 4-1/2 year old son as a 3-1/2 year old.

I am hoping that it is exactly as some of you have described--that there is more going on than I know. They have been pretty open about it, actually, but even what they say seems normal to me. "We tell him not to touch the stove, and he touches it . . ." That, while frustrating, seems like fairly normal behavior for his age. It very much seems like a boy-girl thing. They just don't like boys. They wanted another girl, but the wait was very very long. I helped "talk them into" going for the boy. I have boys myself, whom I adore, and talked up all the positives. Now, I feel really guilty, as well as worried.
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#10 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Same here.

Also, a year in the grand scheme of things may just not be enough time. Bonding with older kids is often a long process.
I am hoping this, too. It certainly seems reasonable.
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#11 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 06:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, as an adoptee rejected by her AParents, I personally don't think a child (esp. an adopted one) can avoid being emotionally injured by being rejected while still having to endure people bleating about how they were "chosen."

Personally, I think you call them on it--without inserting your own (not totally informed in all likelihood) judgements. For example, saying "You know, I don't know how to tell you this but I feel that you should know...I am uncomfortable sometimes when I am with you and the kids because some of your behavior gives the impression that you favor child A. I'm sure that you may not be aware of it, and I understand that I don't know the whole story--I just wanted to let you know that it's visible or might be interpreted that way."

They're going to be angry with you. Hopefully if this is benign though they might be more conscientious or it might be a wake up call.
Sorry to hear that you experienced this yourself.

I basically did have a conversation about this with the mom. To her credit, she didn't seem angry. She was trying to explain it the way others do here--that there is a lot that we don't see.

Maybe I am just worried too much. I do tend to do that. The one thing I can say is that this kid has some real positive internal qualities--seems very self assured and is confident and charming--as well as smart (they actually thought about having him skip a grade, amazing considering he has only been in this country & speaking English for 1 year!).

sigh--I hope it will change. I know I had a LOT harder time bonding with my 2nd child--not that it compares to this situation exactly, but still . . .

Thanks for your input.
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#12 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 07:58 PM
 
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The "confident and "charming" part are kind of worrisome. Children with attachment problems can appear to be both to outsiders while at home be completely different.
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#13 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 08:48 PM
 
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They have been pretty open about it, actually, but even what they say seems normal to me. "We tell him not to touch the stove, and he touches it . . ." That, while frustrating, seems like fairly normal behavior for his age. It very much seems like a boy-girl thing..
Once again, this can be a warning sign. It can be normal for a kid to be defiant, but for my daughter, it is the most joyous thing in her life. And this doesn't mean he has insurmountable problems, but it could mean your family members are impatient with him because they are exhausted by the behavior.
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#14 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 08:51 PM
 
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I basically did have a conversation about this with the mom. To her credit, she didn't seem angry. She was trying to explain it the way others do here--that there is a lot that we don't see.
Well, there is your answer. Is there a reason you think she is lying?
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#15 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 09:18 PM
 
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I am not suggesting that the child has reactive attachment disorder, but it may be helpful for you to read something like this.

http://www.center4familydevelop.com/helpteachrad.htm

You're not a teacher, you're a concerned family member. There is a lot to learn about these issues. It may be most helpful to your family member--if you begin to understand more what they might be going through.

 
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#16 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 11:12 PM
 
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Thanks for posting this Lauren : ) I think the best way to support any child in this situation is to support the parents.
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#17 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 11:32 PM
 
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I am not suggesting that the child has reactive attachment disorder, but it may be helpful for you to read something like this.

http://www.center4familydevelop.com/helpteachrad.htm

You're not a teacher, you're a concerned family member. There is a lot to learn about these issues. It may be most helpful to your family member--if you begin to understand more what they might be going through.


Delurking . . . .

http://nospank.net/njasp.htm
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#18 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 11:45 PM
 
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It can take a very long time to fully bond with a child. The fact that this child came home as an older child, and that the mother says there's a lot that outsiders don't see makes me feel VERY sympathetic toward the parents. I wouldn't put any judgment or pressure on them at all...they probably just need time and support in order to work on and complete the bonding process.

For some perspective, our dd came home at 9.5 months and--2 years+ later--we are STILL making progress on bonding. So she was younger AND we've had more time than your friends have had, but STILL I would say we're a work in progress. There is progress , it's just slow.

...and for what it's worth, others describe our daughter as very charming and adorable, etc. etc. etc. All of that is true. BUT, at home, she is a challenging little personality with a lot of button-pushing issues. It could be just personality. It could be attachment-related (thankfully, we're seeing progress). It could be adoption-related. It's mild enough that we haven't pursued help. But we HAVE found immense comfort in being able to be open and honest with our friends (adoptive families and otherwise) about the true state of our relationship. If we had encountered judgment from people, that would have been tough. Sometimes when you're slogging it out with a child (before you really fall in love), it can be a long lonely road.

This site might really help you understand the scope of what it's like: http://a4everfamily.org/index.php

Information for family and friends of adoptive families: http://a4everfamily.org/index.php?op...d=30&Itemid=90

Dos and don't for friends and families: http://a4everfamily.org/index.php?op...d=93&Itemid=90

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#19 of 44 Old 07-25-2010, 11:51 PM
 
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Skeezix, I'm not sure if you are a planning to be a regular member here with this one post. Most of us here are aware that there are a number of fringe sites out there that say a lot about attachment disorders, and then there are some good solid sites, also listed in our sticky. The fringe sites recommend some controversial and/or harmful interventions for children. I would never link to a fringe site that recommends harmful interventions. Thanks for your concern.

 
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#20 of 44 Old 07-26-2010, 12:57 AM
 
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I think there are so many different explanations/understandings/reasons for what you are seeing, and there is no way for you to know which of the possibilities are true. I agree there are some statements you make (about the positives you see in this child) that would make me wonder about attachment difficulties, that on the other hand it hasn't been long in terms of attachment, and the list could go on and on.

I am wondering if what would be best would be for you to ask open-ended non-judgmental questions of your friend and let her know that you are a supportive ear/sounding board for her. For example, "Hmmn, your ds has been home for about a year now, right? How has it been for you? Or "Does it feel like its been a year to you?" Things along those lines.

My daughter was home at 11 mos. She and I bonded very quickly, but nevertheless she did have some significant behavioral and attachment-related issues (for several years) that she never exhibited in public. She acted like the perfect angel, and home was quite another story. Everyone talked about how mellow she was, etc, and no one believed me when I told them differently. It would have been great to have someone who truly listened/believed what I had to say...and how things were not what they seemed to be.
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#21 of 44 Old 07-28-2010, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks so much for all of this great information.

I realize how judgmental my posts sound, and I beg for your understanding--first of all, because it is hard to express myself here as easily as it would be in person, and secondly, because I fully admit my complete and total ignorance on this topic. I came here to educate myself a little better.

The family lives 1,000 mile away and we just spent a week's vacation together. Despite all the reasons and explanations that may account for the "imbalanced treatment" of the two kids, it was still really really painful to witness. I have a lot of sympathy for my family member and am begining to appreciate the complexity of the whole situation. Still, I cannot help but have sympathy for the child, as well. It is something I have never experienced before and I guess I have a lot to learn.
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#22 of 44 Old 07-28-2010, 11:46 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Originally Posted by RedOakMomma View Post
This site might really help you understand the scope of what it's like: http://a4everfamily.org/index.php

Information for family and friends of adoptive families: http://a4everfamily.org/index.php?op...d=30&Itemid=90

Dos and don't for friends and families: http://a4everfamily.org/index.php?op...d=93&Itemid=90
I'd like to look at this site, but cannot get the site to open. Is there a new website link?
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#23 of 44 Old 07-28-2010, 11:52 AM
 
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I don't think so. I opened the site, then copied directly from the navigation bar. Hm...maybe try just the plain http://a4everfamily.org and go from there? Or search google for "a4everfamily.org"?

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#24 of 44 Old 07-28-2010, 04:42 PM
 
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Not to hijack, but I am personally having similar problems. We're on the road to adoption through foster care. We got our DS when he was 2.5. His little sister got to our home a few weeks before he did at the age of 3 weeks. Bonding was instant for me with DD. I don't know if I could feel more like her "real" mom if I tried. She's my baby.

It's been a year and a half now. My husband claims that he has bonded with DS. I guess I take his word for it. I struggle constantly, and often I don't even know that I'm still trying.

DS was the third in very long process of 2.5 year old foster sons we got in the space of 6 months. For the first 9 months of our kids' time with us, we had another boy of the same age as DS in the home. My life was trying to maintain sanity and not let them harm each other.

Things have been calmer since the other boy moved (by his choice) in Nov. I'm still not "in love" though. I don't even know if I'm "in like".

DH is sure that our son's "love language" is touch and says that since I'm not making an effort to be touchy feely that I'm not going to get anywhere. I am not a touch person. I had to work at it with DH (he's touchy too) and I'm ok touching my daughter, giving hugs or whatever, but she's not creepy and cuddly all the time like DS would be if I let him.

Someone in the thread mentioned that a year may not be long enough in the adoption of an older child. I guess that gives me hope.

Doula and SAHM to Xander (4) and Lorelei (1.5). EC gave me courage to CD! Our children are intact. Our surprise 1st bio baby due Dec 2010!
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#25 of 44 Old 07-28-2010, 09:18 PM
 
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Hdeering,

As a social worker who now works with teenage foster children who never had their attachment issues resolved or even appropriately addressed...

...Yes, I know it can feel "creepy" when a child hangs on you and touches you in a way that feels uncomfortable (I've watched it and it makes me feel uncomfortable). But if you don't figure out a way to give him appropriate touch and physical affection, he's not going to improve.

He's probably old enough for you to reinforce positive touch and to mirror appropriate ways for him to touch you and your husband. I would do my best not to negatively reinforce anything, because in all likelihood, he will take that as rejection.

Simple shows of affection go on a long way to making him feel loved and showing him the appropriate way to express his love and affection in an age appropriate way. Simple hugs, quick kisses, brushing his hair off his face, sitting close by when watching a movie or cartoon, holding his hand for no other reason but than to do it, etc. All those things are simply but send a powerful and important message.
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#26 of 44 Old 07-28-2010, 11:56 PM
 
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Still, I cannot help but have sympathy for the child, as well. It is something I have never experienced before and I guess I have a lot to learn.
Sympathy for the child is a good thing But with attachment it cannot be about choosing sides between the child and the parent. My dd's therapist always tells us you have to approach the situation with the assumption that the parent and the child are doing their best. So I guess my advice would be don't feel sorry for the child because the parent mistreats the child. Feel sorry for the whole family that they have not been able to "come together" as a family.
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#27 of 44 Old 07-29-2010, 02:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I don't think so. I opened the site, then copied directly from the navigation bar. Hm...maybe try just the plain http://a4everfamily.org and go from there? Or search google for "a4everfamily.org"?
OK--it worked today. Very interesting. I truly had no idea about any of this, and will have a different attitude next time I am in conact with this family.

Thanks again to everyone for all of this information.
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#28 of 44 Old 07-29-2010, 06:48 PM
 
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I really appreciate the efforts you are making to educate yourself and be supportive. It's really isolating to have a child who appears "perfect" to the outside world, and yet is having serious problems in private, at home. We went through this with our daughter for a couple of years, and it was difficult. I basically stopped talking to anyone about it except for my therapist and her therapist.
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#29 of 44 Old 07-29-2010, 07:24 PM
 
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I really appreciate the efforts you are making to educate yourself and be supportive. It's really isolating to have a child who appears "perfect" to the outside world, and yet is having serious problems in private, at home. We went through this with our daughter for a couple of years, and it was difficult. I basically stopped talking to anyone about it except for my therapist and her therapist.
I agree with this. Thanks for learning more and searching out information, rather than deciding on a judgment. I wish more people did the same!

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#30 of 44 Old 07-29-2010, 07:28 PM
 
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I really appreciate the efforts you are making to educate yourself and be supportive. It's really isolating to have a child who appears "perfect" to the outside world, and yet is having serious problems in private, at home. We went through this with our daughter for a couple of years, and it was difficult. I basically stopped talking to anyone about it except for my therapist and her therapist.
this. I have a fourteen year old, adopted at age five with 10 foster placements and three years (on and off) of life with first mom...he had RAD, conduct disorder, bipolar disorder, ptsd, adhd, sexual reactivity, and dissociative disorder diagnoses made for him all in the span of a year (not all accurate dx's but the RAD was accurate).

but, for people just meeting him or who saw him only on and off, I'm sure it looked like he was perfect--so sweet--b/c of disinhibited type attachment style. Looked like I was crazy, then, and making up stories. For me, some days, just not disrupting was the only evidence of a bond! That's not true anymore, my kid and I have bonded, but it did take years of cuddles and therapy and just hanging on for that to come about in an enduring way.

Oh, and, not in a snarky way, the way I handled the judgments from totally innocent bystanders was to invite those folks to babysit for me . after having the opportunity to get close to my kid, the judgments dropped, and sometimes changed to "maybe he needs institutionalized"(?!). With teachers who were sure that they were gonna save my kid...a few weeks in the classroom and they had a more compassionate view of the teachers who came before them.

OP, that is why I think it's really admirable that you are taking the time to look into things before making judgments.

Oh the other thing is, sometimes attachment disordered kids DO get abused, emotionally rejected, or scapegoated their adoptive homes--I've definitely struggled not to scapegoat my child...so, while on the one hand, you don't want to judge families for having differences between bonding levels and parenting styles between kids, it's not impossible that there are real problems with what the parents are doing...so...I think you just have to keep an open mind and heart for parents and child...and hope for the best.
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