Pre-adoptive DD - suddenly acting up - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 7 Old 03-08-2011, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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?

 

 


Married to DH since 2006.  Adoptive mom to DD1 (June 2002), DS (Jan 2006), and bio mom to DD2 (May 2009).

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#2 of 7 Old 03-09-2011, 09:12 AM
 
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I would make it clear to her that unadopting is not an option and will not happen, ever, no matter what. 

 

I suspect her issue is that she is afraid that her adoption can be undone, but biology cannot. Sounds like she is insecure. Keep up with discipline, while reminding her that no matter what she does, she is your daughter. Don't even mention the agency or anyone else working to keep an unadoption from happening, because that leaves it seeming as if an unadoption can happen. You need to convince her that it cannot happen, no matter what, ever. After disciplining her, make a point of letting her know how no matter what she does, you will STILL be her mom, discipline and all. 

 

Congratulations on being close to finishing the adoption!!!

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#3 of 7 Old 03-09-2011, 10:00 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Lisa1970 View Post

I would make it clear to her that unadopting is not an option and will not happen, ever, no matter what. 

 

I suspect her issue is that she is afraid that her adoption can be undone, but biology cannot. Sounds like she is insecure. Keep up with discipline, while reminding her that no matter what she does, she is your daughter. Don't even mention the agency or anyone else working to keep an unadoption from happening, because that leaves it seeming as if an unadoption can happen. You need to convince her that it cannot happen, no matter what, ever. After disciplining her, make a point of letting her know how no matter what she does, you will STILL be her mom, discipline and all. 

 

Congratulations on being close to finishing the adoption!!!

I don't know, as an adoptee, I have problems with the bolded part.  I don't think drilling into an adopted child that you are her/his mom is the most positive thing you can do, especially for older kids.

 

OP, I was adopted when I was four years old, so I was well aware of what was happening to me.  I think that naturally there is a certain sadness and mourning that older adoptees go through.  She is in a very precarious position right now and has a lot of emotions to deal with.  She needs time to work through this.  Heck, I still think about these things 44 years later.  Yes, my adoptive mother is the one I identify as "mom" now and I love her.  It doesn't take away the fact that I went through a loss at a very young age and that loss is still part of my identity.  (bwtn:  my previous mother didn't die, she just left, which left me with a sense of abandonment as well).  I didn't really act out until I was nearing my teens and I think part of that was due to how the whole subject was brushed under the table.  One reason that I was so depressed and cynical is that no one would talk to me about any of this.  I felt I absolutely had no control over my life.  Everyone just assumed that I should be happy and feel safe and grateful for having a new mother.  It seemed that no one would address or acknowledge the disconnectedness that I felt, even though I had no ill feelings toward my new "mother."

 

I think that you are on the right track in providing safety and security and love and support for her.  Personally, I would be as open as possible about everything and avoid any language which would infer that her entire identity is controlled by you and your DH now.  Just because you and your DH are her adoptive parents now doesn't close the book on the story, if you know what I mean? 

 

 


"Lawyers, I suppose, were children once." Charles Lamb.
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#4 of 7 Old 03-09-2011, 02:34 PM
 
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There's a children's book about termination of parental rights. I can't remember the exact title but I can find it later if you can't.

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#5 of 7 Old 03-10-2011, 06:23 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you everyone for your responses.  I think I was looking through a lens of either doing our normal consequences or trying to be understanding of how hard this all is.  It's funny how tunnel vision you can get.  Reading the posts I'm reminded that of course I can do both!  It sounds like as we do our regular responses to these behaviors, we also need to be really aware of stating our love for her, as well as reiterating the permanence of adoption.  We've been reading lots of children's books on the topic as well.  It's just so hard to see her pushing our buttons intentionally (or so it seems?) and I just want to have a quick fix, but I need to remember that there isn't one.  Thanks again!


Married to DH since 2006.  Adoptive mom to DD1 (June 2002), DS (Jan 2006), and bio mom to DD2 (May 2009).

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#6 of 7 Old 03-10-2011, 06:40 AM
 
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This is the book that I was referring too. http://www.amazon.com/Families-Change-Experiencing-Termination-Important/dp/1575422093/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1299767918&sr=8-1. What others do you have? I've seen lots about foster care and adoption but this is the only TPR one I've seen.

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#7 of 7 Old 03-10-2011, 07:02 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks Polliwog, that looks like a great book!  I requested it from the library.  I didn't find any TPR books yet, I meant books about adoption and also about uncertainty (Waiting Days comes to mind).  Most books are about infant adoptions which does make it quite tricky.  Our DD was 6 when she moved in with us, and has been waiting for a permanent plan ever since. I'm so grateful we finally have one but it's definitely so hard for her.  Especially also because she just saw her birthdad this past weekend (he rarely visits) and her birthmom the weekend before (she visits every 3 weeks).  I think it's wonderful that she can have these relationships, but right now it's definitely bringing a lot of questions and confusion to the surface.  She knows that all four of us adults worked together to make a really good plan for her, one where she knows what's up and a family where she can be safe.  So while she knows there's no conflict and all the grown-ups agree about what's best for her in terms of this, of course that also adds the difficulty of knowing that her birth parents were part of the decision to "give her away" as kids sometimes put it.  It's all just so heart-breaking.


Married to DH since 2006.  Adoptive mom to DD1 (June 2002), DS (Jan 2006), and bio mom to DD2 (May 2009).

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