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#1 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hi Guys,

 

My wife and I have had my wife's sister's daughter, who is now 7 years old, for about a year now.  When we first got her, there was a lot of defiance, talking back, trying to talk over my wife, etc.. but it's the same story now, a year later.   She cries hysterically when she doesn't get something she wants, even if she knows we don't have it.. constantly argues about (honestly 75%) of everything my wife says.. cries about 5 or 6 nights a week that we try to put her to bed.. when she's tired, you can absolutely be sure she's going to give us a hard time.. it's anywhere from 30 mins to 3 hours getting her to bed, every single night.

 

Her mother was a bit slow, and I believe she is as well.  (sometimes, she will ask if it's night or day.. has no concept of time and has slow'ish motor skills and poor co-ordination)  and I believe her emotions are probably at about a 2 or 3 year old level.

 

I really believed a lot of this was the trauma from being taken from her mom's house .. then living with her grandmother for 15 months and now she's been with us for almost 13 months but nothing seems to be helping.  She is going to trauma counseling weekly.. but it's been more like bi-weekly or worse. 

 

I'm really beginning to think that it's engraved in her mind that she can act out with no punishment due to the child's mom treating and talking to my wife disrespectfully and the child has taken wind of this and also gives her zero respect.  I'm at the point where I think this just cannot work, and am willing to give her up to a foster home or adoption.  My wife will resent me for the rest of my life and the grandparents will most likely as well.

 

She absolutely will not listen to anything my wife tells her to do, my wife has to threaten to take something away almost every time she is asked to do something (even basic things like: eat, wash her face, brush her teeth, put some clothes on, have a bath, etc)  She has consistently acted out in school, and even up north at our trailer park where she has scratched and hit other children, even older than her.  Her emotions are out of control and I believe that she feels she can act out because there will be no punishment.

 

She'll also do things like not flush the toilet, not wash her hands, and lie to us that she did.. as well as many other things.  I feel like she's a 7 year old compulsive liar.  The other day, she came home and said that her friend was holding a baby and dropped it.  Turns out, it was HER that dropped the baby. 

 

I have spoken countless times with my wife about it, and she's at her wit's end but no where near giving up.. I just don't get it.  I've called children's aid society to advise them of the behaviour as well as me growing tired of the constant nagging.

 

 

 

K

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#2 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 08:41 AM
 
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Originally Posted by Kmack1 View Post

 

My wife and I have had my wife's daughter, who is now 7 years old, for about a year now.

 

I'm really beginning to think that it's engraved in her mind that she can act out with no punishment due to the child's mom treating and talking to my wife disrespectfully and the child has taken wind of this and also gives her zero respect.  I'm at the point where I think this just cannot work, and am willing to give her up to a foster home or adoption.  My wife will resent me for the rest of my life and the grandparents will most likely as well.

 

I am a little confused.  Is this child your wife's daughter or your wife's niece?  I am going to assume niece.

 

That is an interesting idea that she is acting out because her mom treats your wife with no respect, but I have a feeling it has a lot more to do with the trauma she has experienced in her life.  I'm a social worker who has worked in foster and kinship care as well as adoption.  A year is a very short time to expect things to improve in these situations.  I know it is very tough, but this little girl has undoubtedly experienced a great deal of loss being moved from home to home, and separated from mom (no matter how "terrible" mom is).  I don't know her background, but I assume that there were some serious neglect or abuse issues that led to her removal from her birth mom in the first place.  These wounds take time to heal.  It takes time for kids to progress.  A lot of time.  One more loss in her little life is going to be extremely damaging to her.

 

There are ways for you to get help.  Call up your social worker and tell her/him that you are at the end of your rope and considering requesting her removal from the home.  Tell her that you need intensive intervention and services right now in your home.  In most states, kinship care is cheaper for the county or state than foster care.  Because of that, but even more so because social workers do not want to see kids bounced from home to home, if your social worker knows that you are feeling desperate, she will likely provide some additional services for you.  Request in home therapy (easier than taking her in and also good for therapist to see dynamic in the home), someone who can work with you and her on behavior management, and for them to provide you with paid respite care so you and your wife can get out to dinner alone or have a weekend to yourselves, or some sort of alternative (day camp for a week here or there...whatever to give yourselves a little break). 

 

This little girl has grown up in chaos.  Chaos is what feels normal to her, and it isn't unusual at all for children to create chaos in their environment because it is what they are used to and what they are comfortable with.  She is creating chaos in your home, school, etc. now because that is what she knows.  It takes years to unravel those patterns.  You point out that her emotions are out of control.  She doesn't know what to expect.  I am assuming there is no TPR so she has no clue if she'll ever live with her mom again.  She also doesn't know that she'll stay with you as obviously her stay with grandma came to an end in a fairly short amount of time.  If you put yourself in these shoes, you can understand why she is so emotionally out of balance.  She is only seven and this is too much for her to process without a lot of ongoing help.  I have seen children who have acted out much much worse than you are describing eventually stablize with the right resources in place (appropriate parenting techniques, therapy, consistency, etc.). 

 

Hang in there.  Call your social worker and demand that they assist you.  Realize that her behavior is less about punishment and more about her history of trauma and not knowing who she'll be living with or where she'll be next week or the week after that.  You can get through this and she can too. 

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#3 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 09:43 AM
 
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Havent read the previous reply so some of this may be a repeat...it sounds your your foster daughter needs therapy and possibly medication. From what you describe, she likely has attachment issues, or issues related to prenatal alcohol exposure (do you know if her bmom drank at any point at all during pg??), or a host of other issues that can account for that type of behavior. Its a bit crazy making but kids with issues such as hers dont usually respond to typical parent techniques. I totally get how it feels to live with a manipulative liar who doesnt listen to a think you say and feeling like everyone would be better off if she didnt live in the home. As the previous poster said, a year isnt really such a long time when it comes to trying to undo the damage of years of neglect and bad parenting, but frankly its long enough for you to feel like you can't do it anymore, or that something MUST change for you to deal with this situation.

 

The motor skills problem, the problem with understanding time, etc...those could be signs of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder and i'd encourage you to at least research that if you havent already. The fits of crying can be attachment related, could even be ADHD stuff....my daughter's overly emotional behavior and extreme attention seeking behavior improved ALOT when she was placed on meds for ADHD. Her teacher went from saying "i cant do this all year, i just wont!" to being able to deal with her. Have you read any Love and Logic books? That might help you deal matter of factly with her arguing etc. (For example, with my daughter when she first came she'd beg for everything...if i said it was time to leave the park in ten minutes, she'd whine and cry and plead, but once i started saying "oh, i see you are ready to leave now then? Do you want your ten more minutes or do you choose to leave now?" that put an end to that. )

 

Is she placed with you via foster care? i'd ask for therapy, respite, parenting classes, any help at all you can get.

 

I'll try to think of more and come back to this but i want to say this....kids with issues like this are MASTERS at coming between two people esp husband and wife. She thinks she is winning if she can get the two of you to fight about her. You MUST get on the same page, together, about how to deal with her. And if you feel you truly cannot parent this child, your wife and you will need to have a very honest conversation about that. Is she willing to leave her marriage for this child? While i feel for the little girl and believe she deserves a stable loving family....you also deserve a home free from chaos and strife. Her behavior may get better...or it may not. Do you have other children? Kids with big issues can have a negative effect on everyone in the home.


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#4 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 09:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much for the insight, really appreciate it.

 

Yes, sorry, she is my wife's niece.. kind of.   My wife was adopted so they're not exactly blood but my wife had been very defensive of her sister over the years growing up.. Her sister (the child's mom) always gave my wife attitude even though she was always there giving them things and helping out when she could.  So naturally, my wife is always very defensive of the child.. which I think also contributes to her behavior being out of control.

 

The really interesting thing about the behaviour is that, when people offer to take her to do something.. she's an angel and always listens.  Just doesn't listen at all with us.  Is it possible that she acts out with us because she somehow feels we might be responsible for her switching houses, yet again.   We were up at the trailer park, and someone offered to take her out in the boat swimming.. we're always really skeptical about anyone taking her, because she is very emotional at times.  But she was a complete angel.. even when my brother takes her in the boat, there are never any issues. 

 

The one that really disturbs me...(this isn't even the first time this has happened -- but everyone in my family noticed this one)  the other day, my sister in law takes her to the beach swimming.. everything was great.. as soon as my wife and I show up.. she starts with the attitude.. says NO to everything, and the whole show..  this is mostly what leads me to believe that maybe this just isn't a fit at all.

 

I have heard that another move will absolutely devastate her, but I don't know how we could possibly carry on like this for even another month, let alone years.  I have to live my own life as well.. I just don't enjoy going home after work.  My wife and her argue and yell and scream at each other, absolutely every single day and usually it's 3-4 times per day.. then my wife loses her patience, walks away and the child cries her head off until she is able to get some sort of calming attention.  My wife is unable to cope with it when it gets to that point.  I'm usually the one that will get her out of the "funk"  but I'm not there throughout the day to deal with any of this.  I maybe see her for 2 hrs per day during the week and usually at least another hour of bedtime struggles, arguing and downright defiance.  Makes me wonder what goes on during the day..

 

If we give her even a 5 minute timeout, she'll sit there and cry and scream and be very destructive, kicking doors, pulling blinds, gets the dog barking..

 

The child also has an issue with requiring a lot of attention.  Her mother talked on the phone about 12 hours per day, so the child was always neglected, I also know her Mom yelled and screamed at her on a daily basis, and

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#5 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 10:32 AM
 
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I have heard that another move will absolutely devastate her, but I don't know how we could possibly carry on like this for even another month, let alone years.  I have to live my own life as well.. I just don't enjoy going home after work.  My wife and her argue and yell and scream at each other, absolutely every single day and usually it's 3-4 times per day.. then my wife loses her patience, walks away and the child cries her head off until she is able to get some sort of calming attention.  My wife is unable to cope with it when it gets to that point.  I'm usually the one that will get her out of the "funk"  but I'm not there throughout the day to deal with any of this.  I maybe see her for 2 hrs per day during the week and usually at least another hour of bedtime struggles, arguing and downright defiance.  Makes me wonder what goes on during the day..

 

 


This kid isn't going to even begin to change her behavior patterns until the adults in her home get a grip on their over the top reactions.  She's stirring the pot to create the chaos she feels is normal, and the adults are just going along with it.  

 

You and your wife need to get on the same page- no yelling, no screaming, no arguing.  Simply statements, simple and consistent routines, a predictable pattern to every day.  When she lashes out, it is met with firm reinforcement of what has been asked and follow through.

 

Stop fighting back.  It is entirely possible for a parent to create structure and routine without having to scream (or reason) to do it.  

 

She's going to keep lashing out- she is going to test and test to see if this really might be home for her- she doesn't need to test to see if people really care with everyone else, but she needs to know that of you and your wife and so she will keep testing.  Yelling, screaming, stomping off- aren't exactly giving her what she needs to feel safe.  They give her more reason to doubt her security. 

 

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#6 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 11:33 AM
 
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Just wanted to respond to a few things you said....

 

As far as her being an angel for others, this is the classic pattern for a child with attachment issues or an attachment disorder.  If you google "reactive attachment disorder", you will likely see many behaviors you recognize in her.  There is a long continuum as far as attachment related issues go, and it could be as serious as reactive attachment disorder, or it could be much more mild attachment issues.  Virtually no child is separated from their parents at this age and then bounced from one home to another without developing significant attachment issues.  If you are not currently working with a therapist who is VERY well versed in attachment disorders, you should find one asap. Family therapy is frequently very important in these situations.  At the very least, the therapist should not just be talking to your niece.  She/he should be working with you to advise you on how to address her behavior, emotional needs, etc.  It is extremely frustrating for foster/kinship/adoptive parents to see their child behave with others, and lash out at them, but it is totally typical.  Many areas will have attachment related support groups for these parents.  If not, I am sure some other parents on here can suggest an online community as well. 

 

You also mentioned how stressful this is on you and your wife.  You are not alone in being pushed to the edge by a child who comes with such a history of trauma.  You need to find time for yourselves and each other through respite care or having a friend or relative babysit.  You may want to consider counseling together.  I have never met a couple whose relationship wasn't tremendously affected by adding a child to their home through foster or kinship care, especially if that child had significant attachment issues.  It is normal to be feeling how you are feeling and be angry and frustrated, but you need to find a way to dial it down.  Continuing to yell and argue with each other or with your niece is going to prevent her from starting to process her grief and loss.  Take a close look at what you and your wife need to have your own personal and relationship needs met and do what you can to meet those needs.  Start scheduling regular date nights, think about counseling and don't blame each other or yourselves for the position you're in.  It takes a huge toll on any relationship, but people can and do get through it and learn a lot in the process. 

 


And as far as your wife being defensive and that contributing to the behavior--all I can say is the two of you need to consult with a therapist who knows a lot about early trauma, loss, and attachment, and come up with an appropriate plan to address your niece's behavior.  Along with addresing the behavior, the emotional needs really need to be met or you'll make no progress.  Good luck to you.... Truly try to hang in there.   Demand the resources you need, find a therapist who can help. 
 

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So naturally, my wife is always very defensive of the child.. which I think also contributes to her behavior being out of control.

 

The really interesting thing about the behaviour is that, when people offer to take her to do something.. she's an angel and always listens.  Just doesn't listen at all with us.  Is it possible that she acts out with us because she somehow feels we might be responsible for her switching houses, yet again.  

 

The one that really disturbs me...(this isn't even the first time this has happened -- but everyone in my family noticed this one)  the other day, my sister in law takes her to the beach swimming.. everything was great.. as soon as my wife and I show up.. she starts with the attitude.. says NO to everything, and the whole show..  this is mostly what leads me to believe that maybe this just isn't a fit at all.

 

My wife and her argue and yell and scream at each other, absolutely every single day and usually it's 3-4 times per day.. then my wife loses her patience, walks away and the child cries her head off until she is able to get some sort of calming attention.  My wife is unable to cope with it when it gets to that point. 

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She's going to keep lashing out- she is going to test and test to see if this really might be home for her- she doesn't need to test to see if people really care with everyone else, but she needs to know that of you and your wife and so she will keep testing.  Yelling, screaming, stomping off- aren't exactly giving her what she needs to feel safe.  They give her more reason to doubt her security. 

 



Excellent point insidevoice.  Kmack--she has already lived in three homes and she is only seven years old.  That has to leave a kid feeling pretty insecure and worthless.  Her mom couldn't do what she needed to do to parent her daughter, grandma was not able to for whatever reason, and now she surely senses that she is on borrowed time in your home.  This really is her way of testing and also something nearly all children her age in foster/kinship care will do. Right now, she doesn't trust you and quite frankly, that is wise of her as well as protective.  How can she and why should she trust anyone given what she has been through?    If you react to her in a calm, reassuring manner, eventually (not today, tomorrow, next week or even next month), she will begin to trust that maybe she is staying and maybe she can quit trying to sabotage her placement with you. 

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#8 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 12:04 PM
 
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We are raising a relatives child. he was just dx with R.A.D. We have a lot of the same things going on in our house. Medication will not work for RAD. They need behaviour therapy, and you guys will need to get yourself into a "positive parenting class" But please read up on attachment disorders and see if this is something you can handle long term.


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#9 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 12:37 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yes, I totally agree with you guys on that point that she is trying to sabotage her placement because she does feel like she is on borrowed time.  I have toned down raising my voice and reacting to her.  My guess, is that a lot of the issues she has at school and with the children in the trailer park, are part of her sabotage.  I've told my wife on more than one occasion (while the child has not been around -- we actually don't yell at each other at all -- it's like a cold war usually.. ) to stop yelling and freaking out at her.  I went to a family counselor myself, and he advised that the worst things we could say to her is that she is moving out of she keeps it up.. but my wife continues to play this card.. and it's becoming more and more evident that it will never get better if she continues to play this card.

 

I do believe she has an extreme attachment disorder, (this is the part of the reason that nobody wants to test her for anything else, in the realm of ADHD or something that requires medication)  The local children's aid society knows about this, yet has done absolutely nothing in terms of getting her any therapy for it.  She does see a trauma counselor, and she's very positive about the outcome.  I just don't see a commitment from my wife getting her there or the counselor in scheduling the meetings.  We're supposed to go on Wednesday to discuss it all.

 

Grandma is taking her for the next 3 nights so we'll have some time to think about things and see what sort of game plan there will be going forward.  My wife certainly has more of an attachment then me, but I just feel like I'm putting more of an effort to be self-conscious about how I say things to her and what.. (including swearing around her -- which my wife "slips" a whole lot more with)

 

But how do you really discipline a child like this?  We won't hit her, we obviously can't yell at her.. she freaks out every time we try and give her a timeout for 10 minutes.. she does not care in the least if we take something away from her..  anything we take away from her that she likes, just means more boredom time for her to cause havoc.  Our dog already bit her once for holding her face too tightly.. (3 stiches in the bottom lip!)

 

 

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#10 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 12:41 PM
 
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You cant really discipline a child like this. They love when you react. And our ds therapist told us that he is absolutely doing things to anger me. That way , when I get upset he is in control. They want that response. When you dont react, then they just move on.

 

I said it before, but it is the more important. She needs a behavior therapist. And they need to pay for you guys to go to a positive parenting class if you decide to keep parenting her. 


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#11 of 36 Old 08-08-2011, 02:01 PM
 
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 I went to a family counselor myself, and he advised that the worst things we could say to her is that she is moving out of she keeps it up.. but my wife continues to play this card.. and it's becoming more and more evident that it will never get better if she continues to play this card.

 

I hate to say this, as I am certain your wife has nothing but the best of intentions, however, your wife is sabotaging any hope that this is going to work out just as much as your niece by threatening her this way.  There is literally zero chance your niece's behavior is going to improve if she feels absolutely no sense of safety and security.  Attachment is a very scary thing for kids who have been separated from parents and caregivers.  I also would say that there is very little chance of improvement unless your niece has regular and intensive therapy, and unless you and your wife are able to work with the therapist to come up with a good solution for managing her behavior.

 

Parenting a child with attachment issues does not come naturally, and there is no shame in needing to learn more in order to parent her in a way that meets her needs.  It is something you absolutely have to learn, and unless your friends/family have dealt with it (successfully), they won't be able to give you advice to help you or her.  A therapist is really important for the whole family in these situations.  Attachment issues can be extremely complex. 

 

I'm glad you and your wife are going to have a few days to be alone and talk this through.  Unless you are both able to strongly commit to taking the time and energy to take your niece to therapy, learn appropriate strategies for parenting a child like this, and work to change some of your own behavior (ie your wife threatening her, yelling/reacting to behavior, etc), I would suggest you do tell your social worker that you have to have her removed from your home.  Things won't magically improve.  Your wife needs to know this.  It takes a ton of hard hard work, that many parents on these boards can testify to, to help a child with attachment issues heal.  There are times when things don't improve, but at this point, I don't think you've had the support you have needed or the resources in place to give you or your niece a fighting chance.  The majority of the time, with proper support, resources, therapy, parent education, and time, things do improve.  If you don't have the desire or ability to commit to all the things your niece will need though, I would give notice and give her a chance to get that in another home.  Good luck to your family.

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  It takes a ton of hard hard work, that many parents on these boards can testify to, to help a child with attachment issues heal.  There are times when things don't improve, but at this point, I don't think you've had the support you have needed or the resources in place to give you or your niece a fighting chance.  The majority of the time, with proper support, resources, therapy, parent education, and time, things do improve.  If you don't have the desire or ability to commit to all the things your niece will need though, I would give notice and give her a chance to get that in another home.  Good luck to your family.


Very well said. Parenting a child with a attachment issue is a full time, 24/7 365 job. My radling takes up more time with therapies, dealing with behaviors, reading up on stuff, and just trying to recharge from the day, after he is asleep then all my other 8 kids combined. 

 


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#13 of 36 Old 08-10-2011, 09:39 AM
 
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I would highly recommend this book to you:

Building the Bonds of Attachment: Awakening Love in Deeply Troubled Children [Paperback]

Daniel A. Hughes (Author)

 

Frankly, at the moment -from what you described- your wife is no where near being able to deal with this child. I cannot tell you what to do, but please read the book. Either your wife (and the whole family) needs to be able to make huge changes, or let go of the child. Otherwise I would dare bet that it is going to end very badly. The book I recommended tells the ficitional story of a girl in foster care, who is able to heal and stay in her 3rd or 4th foster home. It is written by a therapist who works with the sort of children you just described. The real lesson here is that the child needs a very good therapist, a very specific attitude of dealing with her (never anger, lots of compassion, playfulness, empathy, etc.) as well as 24/7 attention. In the beginning it is more like a job and less like normal parenting. In other words, I would imagine she needs a therapeutic foster home, not just any foster home. You might be able to become what she needs, but it would take a lot of sacrifice from everyone, especially your wife.

 

I hope I am totally wrong. Somehow I doubt it, though.

 


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#14 of 36 Old 08-10-2011, 11:48 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for all your very helpful replies.  I did do some reading on child attachment disorders and this sounds like my niece, to a tee.

Found that after reading the signs, this is her to an absolute tee.  She has every single symptom: (from http://helpguide.org/mental/parenting_bonding_reactive_attachment_disorder.htm)

(Aversion to touch and physical affection, Control issues, Anger problems, difficulty showing care for anything (i've always maintained she doesn't have a care in the world about anything except what is going on right now), and An underdeveloped conscience (she does not think about the outcome of anything she does or says -- told her grandma we didn't want her to come over one time)

Now we'll need to do as much reading as we can to see things we will need to change to make this work.  We have until August 30th as a 1 month trial to see if we are able to handle it.  The CAS told my wife they have a bed for her.. yet no mention of this to me.
 

Sucks that it took a year of having her to find out the specifics of what she is going through.  Makes me wonder if after a year of having her, may have set us back so far that it'll be too difficult for us to be the ones to help her through this, especially her being used to us being a certain way.

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#15 of 36 Old 08-10-2011, 05:30 PM
 
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Sucks that it took a year of having her to find out the specifics of what she is going through.  Makes me wonder if after a year of having her, may have set us back so far that it'll be too difficult for us to be the ones to help her through this, especially her being used to us being a certain way.


My daughter was in care with one relative for i think around 8 months (in addition to them having had her for two years i believe, a few years prior), then with another foster family for an additional six months before she moved in with me and NO ONE told me the extent of her issues. The relatives disrupted her placement due to her behaviors, and the next fp was pretty much losing her mind and had i not taken her that probably would have disrupted as well. But not ONE person would give me specific info about her issues, and i fell into the naive trap of blaming the adults "oh they are too harsh on her" "their expectations are too high" "they are just crazy" "she just needs a different type of parenting"...there was no diagnosis, no therapy beyond family therapy with the bparent after visits....i had NO IDEA the extent of it.

 

And i agree with you..it IS possible that she might have a new start, a better start, with someone else. I *dont* think its because you have parented one way and she is "just too used" to that and nothing will change. But i do believe there is some truth to the idea that after a year of battling, the relationship might not be salvageable. I know for me, i felt sooo blindsided by my dd's actual behaviors in comparison to how she was during the "honeymoon period" that its been really hard to recover from that and feel positive about the situation. Only you and your wife can decide which path you'll take.

 


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#16 of 36 Old 08-11-2011, 08:27 AM - Thread Starter
 
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We went to go see the therapist last night, and she pretty much knew already that the child has RAD.  (perplexes me that nobody had told us the seriousness of it)  She asked my wife and I to sit down for an hour, discuss an amount of time we'd feel comfortable committing to with the child.  The idea is to give the child a sense of reassurance that nobody is going anywhere regardless of what sort of sabotage tactics she may employ.  I get all that, I'm just not convinced my wife, or even myself, has the patience or the commitment required to care for this child in the manner she requires.

 

The therapist also mentioned that the child will most likely end up with borderline personality disorder when she is older.. which means we'll have to monitor her relationships with people for the rest of her life, etc.   It also got me to thinking, that my wife might actually have borderline personality disorder.  She was adopted when she was 3-4 years old, and shows some signs here and there.  (pissed at you one minute and everything is fine in the next)   I haven't exactly decided yet, if this is a good thing or a bad thing, for our situation.

 

Next month is a court hearing, and I expect the Mother to regain some sort of visitation rights.. (they haven't seen each other since last November)  Her mother was very inconsistent in making it to scheduled visits, she missed about half of them and of course, it made the child's anxiety go through the roof all day long at school, etc... wondering if her mom would show up.. then when she did show up, it was a nightmare trying to get the child to say goodbye because the child expected to not see her mom for some time.

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Bmom hasnt SEEN the child in ten months and they havent terminated her rights yet??? That would most likely be considered abandonment where i live, and grounds for TPR.

 

If your wife has some attachment issues herself (which is likely if she was adopted at an older age and never resolved those issues) i think it might make it difficult to help her niece heal. Is the therapist you are seeing an attachment therapist? We are seeing just a regular therapist, and she rarely sees both of us, just my daughter for the hour where they play games and talk about feelings, and i dont think its doing a thing to help the underlying attachment issues.


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It's actually a court order than the Bmom hasn't seen the child since November.  There was a police investigation from November to February regarding some potential inappropriate behavior from the bmom and the child but it was thrown out for the most part.  (they believe something may have happened, but not for malicious reasons)

 

Well, I think I'm going to call the therapist myself and see what she has to say about my wife's possible similar issues.  I think she's just a therapist that works in a school that takes care of children with mental health issues.. but not specifically specializing in attachment disorders.  I did tell the worker we need to get her into a therapist that specializes in attachment disorders.. but not much of a response from her.  Except all they keep talking about is getting a trauma assessment done.

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 It also got me to thinking, that my wife might actually have borderline personality disorder.  She was adopted when she was 3-4 years old, and shows some signs here and there.  (pissed at you one minute and everything is fine in the next)   I haven't exactly decided yet, if this is a good thing or a bad thing, for our situation.

What a tough situation.  If your wife has borderline personality disorder, it will definitely *not* be a good thing for your situation with your niece.  Borderline personality disorder is also difficult to treat.  Typically, the best placements for kinship/foster children are in homes where both parents have worked through their own histories of neglect/grief/loss, etc.  It sounds like your wife may not be in that place, both from your own assessment that you think she may have borderline personality disorder, as well as her direct threats to have your niece removed from the home, etc.  Truly, this child has no chance of stablizing if she is going to be mothered by someone who hasn't resolved her own issues. Having a relationship with a person who has BPD is confusing for an adult.  It is incomprehensible for a child and your niece will never be able to heal if she is emotionally being jerked this way and that by someone with BPD.  It does not sound like you feel confident that you can parent a child with RAD, and that is okay.  There are not a lot of individuals who are able to do so successfully while also keeping themselves healthy.  It is okay for you to tell your niece's social worker that you don't feel you are the best placement for her if that is how you feel.  You and your wife are the only ones who can decide that, and it seems that you might have to be the voice of reason over your wife's opinion.  If you think this is best and your wife disagrees, you can still tell your social worker that you don't feel confident that the two of you can parent her in a way that meets her needs. 

 

A few things to consider if you do decide to have her removed from your home.  One, give your social worker as much possible time as you can to find a new placement for her.  It is very tough to find a good home for a child with RAD.  The more time the social worker has to look, the more likely it is that she will end up in a decent home instead of just a home with an open bed.  Personally, if her needs are as great as you describe, I would aim to give my worker at least 4-6 weeks.  Second, I would make it extremely clear to your worker that you think she has RAD and really would like to see her in either a therapeutic foster home, or a home in which the foster parents are experienced in dealing with attachment issues.  I would consider outlining your concerns and observations with her behavior and writing something up for your worker to put in her file, and also ask her therapist to write something up, even informally.  Her chances of success in another home are greater if the next foster family knows what to expect and if her worker chooses a family capable of meeting her needs.  I would try to be open to meeting the new foster family so that you can share your experiences directly with them, and also keep the lines of communication open, which will benefit your niece.  Also, discuss with your therapist, but I would not tell her that she is moving until relatively close to the date of the move.  I am all for honesty, but I have seen too many children become so unmanageable at the point that they find out they are leaving, that the kinship/foster family ends up requesting their immediate removal which is even more devestating, leaves the child feeling like they have total control which is a dangerous and scary thing for them, and prevents the social worker from having the time to find a suitable home.  Again though, I'd discuss the timing with her therapist.

 

Good luck in whatever you decide.  I am sure the best case scenario would be for you to be able to get support, have your wife work through her issues, and be able to continue to parent this little girl, but sometimes that isn't realistic.  Sometimes the best thing really is to let them have the chance to get what they need from a family who is well equipped to handle such major special needs. 

 

 

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#20 of 36 Old 08-11-2011, 10:36 AM
 
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Well, I think I'm going to call the therapist myself and see what she has to say about my wife's possible similar issues.  I think she's just a therapist that works in a school that takes care of children with mental health issues.. but not specifically specializing in attachment disorders.  I did tell the worker we need to get her into a therapist that specializes in attachment disorders.. but not much of a response from her.  Except all they keep talking about is getting a trauma assessment done.


Go ahead and ask, but if she is a therapist in a school, there is a decent chance she doesn't have the experience or credentials to give you much info, so take what she says with a grain of salt.

 

It is totally unacceptable for your social worker not to respond to your request for a therapist who specializes in attachment.  I'd send her an email saying you are doing what you can at this point to continue parenting this child, but in order to do so, you *need* a list of skilled therapists within the next few days. 

 

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#21 of 36 Old 08-12-2011, 03:51 PM
 
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I am so sorry that your family is going through this.  You could be describing my daughter.  At times, it has felt like our family is falling apart.

 

Lots of other people have made good points.  I want to add a few. 

 

First, you are this little girl's best bet.  I am not saying that to make you feel guilty or even that you should keep her in your family.  But a family that is committed to her and can work toward healing is the best family for her.  Only you can judge if the obstacles in front of you are too great.  When you are parenting an attachment disordered kid, it feels like ANYONE could do a better job that you.  That is must be you.  But the problem is not you, it is the trauma your daughter has suffered.  Disrupted adoption is just one more trauma she would have to heal from.  Please don't fall into the trap of believing your daughter needs better parents than you. 

 

Second,   It is impossible for others to understand how hard it is to live with a child who is constantly defying you at every turn.  Please be gentle with yourself and your wife.  I wish others who posted had been more gentle.  I don't yell at my non traumatized children.  I try my hardest not to yell at my attachment disordered child.  But she pushes me in every way.  There are days that I snap, and I hate myself for it.  Please try not to let yourself fall into this trap, you are doing the best that you can and so is your wife.  BUT your family does need specialized help.

 

Third, read the Daniel Hughes book as soon as you can.  It is an easy read.  I am not sure it helped me be a better parent, but it made me feel sane.  I really felt insane before I read it. 

 

Sending you a hug and hope hug2.gif

 

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#22 of 36 Old 08-12-2011, 04:18 PM
 
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Two more things I forgot to add!

 

 

Quote:
The fits of crying can be attachment related, could even be ADHD stuff....my daughter's overly emotional behavior and extreme attention seeking behavior improved ALOT when she was placed on meds for ADHD.

This describes our experience as well.  Having the ADHD in check has helped her be more in control of her emotions and less aggressive.

 

The other is the crazy talk.  Your daughter asks is it is day or night.  My daugher asks if we have eaten lunch yet as we clear the dishes off of the table. I think my daughter is partly not living in reality, but she loves to rub it in because she knows it makes us crazy.

 

Also wanted to add that I wrote a bit of the other post before reading your update from yesterday.  So some of what I said doesn't make sense anymore : )

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#23 of 36 Old 08-13-2011, 06:10 AM
 
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Jumping off what Pumpkingirl said, the mother in a home with a child that has attachment/trauma issues, usually takes the brunt of the child's anger and rage. The partner that is not with the child so much (often the dad), can often feel like the mom is overreacting, taking things out on the child. The child can often take advantage of this situation by being more compliant and cooperative with the dad, causing everyone to think the mother is crazy. Empathy for your partner is critical to the success of this situation. She has taken on the majority of the mothering of this child and she cannot now take all the blame for things going poorly. I agree with others that support from a skilled therapist that knows a great deal about attachment and trauma is essential. You may be able to find someone through the website: www.attach.org

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#24 of 36 Old 08-22-2011, 12:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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We were pretty confident with knowing that she has reactive attachment disorder.. things started to go a little bit smoother.. less defiance, we no longer raised our voice.  I at least thought we had a pretty good idea of what we had on our hands.. then the child just falls to pieces and goes out of her way to annoy us, not listen, etc.  It took 3 hours to get her to bed last night.. the wife fed her some cereal before bed.. she is blaming that on her being out of control..

 

I did have a little moment with her.. but it seemed all for nothing.. this kid dont care bout nothing.. lives in the "second"   I wanted to acknowledge that I heard her call me Dad.. it just didn't click in at the time (not used to that!)  I asked her if she had called me Dad the day before.. and at first she didn't remember then she did.. and we were smiling and I said that's okay.. I just didn't hear you at first..  she was in bed.. I figured that this would have put her in a good enough mood to relax and fall asleep but after 5 mins she came out of her room demanding a back rub and to put a new tv show on.. (this was at 9:30)  we did that, put her back to bed.. 15 mins later she's whinning about something else.  then, we're out on the balcony, the child decides to scream out the balcony door at 10:15pm.. "auntie.. i want you to cover me" over and over and over and over again...  my wife completely ignores her.. so i had enough and went to bed.. my wife then goes inside.. screams her friggin head off at the kid.Wife carries on her business for antoher 45 mins while the kid is crying and screaming.. then my wife, screams at the top of her lungs at the kid..  we do this 3-4 times a week.. i dunno what else to even do at this point.  Childrens Aid Society giving us no support.  We have a Child Youth worker that shows up within weeks of the court dates.. but that's about it..

 

 

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#25 of 36 Old 08-22-2011, 01:43 PM
 
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Possibly the fact that she is beginning to feel close enough to call you dad is causing an extreme fear reaction and causing regression (again). Could be the first time she's felt "close" to someone and is beginning to trust....? This feeling causes her to act out to get things 'back to normal' which is both of you angry, her feeling rejected, etc.

 

Dan Hughes also has a parenting book called Attachment Focused Parenting through Norton. It's available on Amazon.   Might be worth picking up.

http://www.amazon.com/Attachment-Focused-Parenting-Effective-Strategies-Professional/dp/0393705552

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#26 of 36 Old 08-22-2011, 03:23 PM
 
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With my daughter, it wouldnt be fear of being close that would cause her then to regress...her thinking would be more along the lines of "oh, he's happy i called him Dad. Great! He's in a really good mood now....so i'll get back up from bed. He's in such a good mood that he wont punish me. Maybe while i'm at it i'll ask for a movie....." It would just be more manipulation. Its why i pretty much stopped ever saying "yes" to a request of hers (such as to buy something in a store)...i told her i'd buy her something when i felt like it but her asking (that is, begging) would have no bearing on my decision to do so. You might want to look into Love and Logic for the bedtime battles. That way the emotional aspect can be taken out of it. My daughter started screaming when i told her she needed to hang up her clean clothes before going outside. I gave her the choice...she could stop screaming, put away her clothes, then go out to play, or continue screaming and miss outside time. That sort of thing USUALLY gets her to get ahold of herself but not always. Sometimes she ramps it up. But she knows...if she gives me trouble at bedtime, tomorrow's bedtime will be 1/2 earlier. Some other love and logic type techniques would be charging her for the time you have to spend dealing with her rather than time you would normally have to yourself, or telling her the next day you were so exhausted from having to deal with her tantrums the previous night, that you're too tired now to scrub the bathroom/wash dishes/whatever and so now thats her job.

 

Your wife needs to understand that every single time she loses control with your niece, your niece thinks she "wins"...she (the child) now has the power and control. At the same time, having a screaming raging caregiver also makes the child feel unsafe...and yet comfortable because it may be familiar to her. She may be provoking these rages from your wife as a way of recreating the drama in her birth family . Who knows. I do know that you are NOT ALONE...this same nighttime routine is repeated, unfortunately, with many parentings dealing with kids with this issue. Its really really hard.

 

If you could read some books by Dan Hughes and also Parenting the Hurt Child by Keck (i think thats the name) that should be helpful. Talk to other parents who have the same issue (goes a long way in feeling like you arent insane)....please get your wife to connect to some people online too. These kids often dole it out worse to the mother figure, so she is likely getting the brunt of it. She needs an attachment therapist or at least someone who will help you help her.

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#27 of 36 Old 08-31-2011, 05:58 AM
 
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Oh man, I just read through this thread and also am in the same boat as you.  Well, not the same, but close enough that I can completely relate.  My niece was 6 when she moved in with us, her brother 2.5.  Neither is diagnosed with attachment issues, though I'm pretty sure that he will be soon (only just started therapy a few months ago).  They're now 9 and 5, and both have lots and lots of the items on the RAD lists. 

 

I also yell at them far more than I'd like.  Your concern about worrying that you've added to her trauma and made this relationship unsalvagable is one that I often feel as well.  We just finalized their adoptions though, because our therapists (one for each child, and one for my husband and me, all at a place that specializes in working with complex blended families/touched by adoption/foster care) all keep telling us that we're making such great progress.  Sometimes it feels like we are, other days it doesn't at all. 

 

Someone said that to parent a kid with RAD, the parent has to have completely processed their own feelings of grief and neglect and all that.  While I agree that that would be swell, I do think that healing is possible.  I've been parenting for 3 years now and am finally coming to a better place .  Kids trigger everything, especially at this age and with trauma, they find every single trigger.  I'm not sure if it's possible for a person to be aware of all these triggers without having kids!  I've really relied on our therapists a LOT over the past 3 years, and join in others in highly recommending that. 

 

For a quickie read on discipline, that's worked well for us, read through the 1-2-3 Magic book.  The only thing I would caution you with, with both that method and others that are more "discipline-focused," is that your niece is unlikely to have learned some very fundamental lessons about behavior.  Many methods assume that the child already knows how to act, and has the skills to act appropriately, and is therefore willfully misbehaving.  While sometimes that's true, I think especially when parenting children who joined us later, we simply don't know what they've learned so far.  Much of it is probably wildly inappropriate.  So we do add in a lot of teaching, a lot of talking, a lot of reading books together and talking about the character, etc. 

 

Has anyone talked with you and your wife about parenting the child to whatever age they're behaving, rather than their chronological age?  My daughter (niece by birth) can go from acting like an 11 or 12 year old, helping care for my friends' toddlers, playing with them, leading play with large groups of kids, reading stories to siblings, etc.  But then she can suddenly get triggered (having "big feelings" we call it) and be lying on the couch, sucking her thumb, kicking her legs and wailing like a 3 year old.  In those moments, we treat her like a 3-year old. We scoop her up, we hold her, empathize with her, then give her some space to re-center (which has been a huge job for her in therapy).  Yes, sometimes it's "just" for attention.  Is it so bad that she wants my attention?  We try really hard to distinguish between behaviors that are intentional and need to end (whining is a biggie!), and regressions that are a result of her being flooded and unable to cope.  I've realized that a lot of my own triggers are around control and grief, and I'm working really hard to deal with my own moments of being flooded, by taking breaks (both in the moment and in a more proactive way). 

 

Lastly, I really hope you and your wife can find a way to come together.  If it wasn't for my husband's unconditional support and faith in me (and our joint faith in God, I must add!) I wouldn't have made it through the past 3 years.  We're currently in a really tough spot with them, but I'm starting to see the light.  I'm finally able to believe that their placement with us is indeed the best for them, even on the days that I yell and get mad and don't handle myself in the ways I know they need.  We're finally in a place where most days they know I love them, and I know they love me. 

 

Like others have said, only you and your wife can make the decision of whether you want to commit to parenting her niece, knowing what you know now and what ou're learning.  None of us know what we'll get when we start parenting someone, there are no guarantees, but I think that by following our own paths to healing and wholeness, we can make a significant impact on the children we parent.  And I say that with all the empathy and love and acknowledgment of how much it sucks to go through that process. 

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#28 of 36 Old 09-07-2011, 06:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Hey All,

 

Thanks for all the great responses!  I feel a bit odd posting on a Mother forum here, with just women, but so far I think it may have been the most help for me.  Thank you for that.  :)

 

We seen the therapist last Wednesday night, been on vacation since!, and I couldn't have done a better job myself at explaining the situation we're in than she did last night. I could never put my finger on it, but something didn't quite seem right with our situation.  She explained that my wife has put so much pressure on herself to succeed in this placement, that it's triggering her anxiety to sky rocket.  The therapist also seemed to think that my wife has some sort of obsession with the child.  I always told my wife she was her princess and teased her about it, but now I actually get it.  I do understand much more now why my wife gets so frustrated and aggravated.  I doubt she's been like that more than a handful of times, in all of our years prior to getting the child.  It's more like a daily occurrence now.

 

She also noted that there is a good chance, that the situation with us may not be right for the child and it just might be better for her to go to a foster home.  We could still see her and maybe down the road, give it another try.  My wife was really against this idea and the therapist could see it.  So, we decided to give it a 3 month trial and see where we are at the end of it.  This way, at least for me, there isn't the constant thinking in the back of my mind that it could be over with 1 phone call and just waiting for some sort of catastrophe to happen that would push me over the edge.  I always seem to think under the lines of, well if this happens, then that is the end.  (i.e. if the child breaks the window when she is having a tantrum) 

 

 

 

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#29 of 36 Old 09-13-2011, 04:56 PM
 
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glad to see that therapist was able to help you a bit good luck. keep us posted.


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#30 of 36 Old 09-14-2011, 07:26 PM
 
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Quote:
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 It also got me to thinking, that my wife might actually have borderline personality disorder.  She was adopted when she was 3-4 years old, and shows some signs here and there.  (pissed at you one minute and everything is fine in the next)   I haven't exactly decided yet, if this is a good thing or a bad thing, for our situation.

 

 



Be careful with this.  It can be very, VERY easy to diagnose loved ones with personality disorders and very VERY damaging to relationships to think or act that it's true.  My husband and I have dealt with this, and it's really messy.  Our therapist, after dismissing the idea of either of us having personality disorders, put it this way...if you look at a list of traits in personality disorders, every single person is going to fit in the spectrum of at least one disorder.  It's a matter of degree.  Having one or two characteristics, even sometimes pronounced, doesn't mean you're personality disordered.  It means you're a flawed human like the rest of us.

 

It may be something to discuss with your wife, but please be gentle and please leave lots of room for doubt (and professional opinion)!  Too often I've seen husbands accuse their wives of having personality disorders....it's incredibly hurtful, and hard to dis"prove," too....because if a husband/partner thinks they're the sane one telling the "disordered" one what's going on with them, then they're denying their wife equal footing in the discussion.  One partner gets to be sane, one has to disprove being insane.  It's hurtful and it's a recipe for marital disaster.

 

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