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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
No one here talks about them much. Maybe it's because, as attached MDC mamas, we've done an effective job in dealing with those issues? I hope so...

Dd came to us at not quite 13 months. She had some of the classic aversive attachment signs over the first months - wouldn't sit still in my lap or let us hold her, agitated behaviors, clumsiness and a seeming disconnect about her own safety.

I did everything I could think of to bond with her. Touched her constantly, sang love songs, held her in front of the mirror all the time saying 'look at how much I love you! Look at what a good mama you have!', bottle nursed her constantly, was instantly attentive to every whimper, carried her everywhere - no strollers, walkers, etc, coslept, fussed and carried on dramatically over every slight bump or scratch, hand fed her solid foods, and told her about five hundred times a day that she was my baby, I loved her forever, she was mine, mine, mine, mine, mine...

It worked slowly and consistently, and everyone agrees she is securely and deeply attached in a healthy way.

How about you other good mamas? How have things gone for you and your dc?
 

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When DD came to us she wasn't quite 5 months old. Our 1st "obstacle" was that she was used to feeding and holding her own bottle all by herself. It was a very slow transition until she would let me feed her and cuddle her in. We took it slow and never pushed her and eventually she came around.

We co slept for the 1st year also because that was what she was used to.

As a baby she liked it if I would fill my cheeks with air and hold her hands and make her pop my cheeks and blow the air out.

We share baths as well and she really likes the skin contact.

We make putting lotion on fun by giving her a small amount and she likes to reciprocate and rub it on my arm as I put it on her.

Peekaboo was a big hit also.

We did carry her around in a snugli but eventually switched to the stroller because it made her go to sleep right away
.

I think our homestudy agency gave us a handout on ideas and stuff we could do to facilitat attachment. My biggest advice is to take the cues from your child and what will work for them.
 

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First of all, I think it is very important to distinguish between "attachment parenting", which is a parenting style, and attachment issues, as defined by psychology. Most children are well-attached to their parents, even if those parents don't co-sleep, breastfeed, parent-to-sleep, etc. And children with severe attachment issues require in-depth help and support to heal.

To answer your question though, we did a lot of similar things to what you and Starr describe to help our daughter transfer her attachment to us (from her foster mommy.) We felt relatively confident she would be able to do it, because from all signs, she was already securely attached to one caregiver. She was also less than 6 months old, which makes it easier.

Our biggest challenge was that she really didn't feel comfortable on her stomach at all. We couldn't hold her facing in (or even sideways to us) and she was a very rigid sitter - she wouldn't let herself relax and tip over, and she didn't roll over, both of which are necessary in order to learn to crawl. We took her for some cranio-sacral therapy, and worked with her very gently over time, and gradually she was able to turn towards us and let her snuggle her up chest to chest.
 

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Really interesting stuff.... I've read a lot on fostering attachment when a baby comes home, but hearing actual working ideas is helpful (!), so thank you. When our daughter comes home, she'll be over a year probably, and she'll have been in foster care. Color me nervous when it comes to attachment issues.
 

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Our little one isn't adopted, but I saw this thread when I was browsing and had to pop in. We had some serious attachment issues similar to what others are describing, as a result of a really bad first two weeks after birth. DS wasn't getting much more than a tenth of an ounce of milk at a time, though we didn't know it, and no one could figure out why he was screaming all the time (I know, that sounds so dumb, but we saw very AP-friendly health providers and no one thought my milk supply could be bad enough to cause all this trouble).

In any case, after he started eating, things didn't get much better and for the next 4+ months, he was very rigid, arching, etc., cried nearly all the time, resisted being held, etc. It was a really hard time. You couldn't even whisper to him when you gave him his bottle, or he would start screaming.

We just kept working with him, snuggling him when he would let us, holding him when he cried even if we couldn't make him stop, etc. We also did a lot of the techniques in "Happiest baby on the block," which are recommended for colic (swaddling, bouncing, etc.), and that helped tremendously. I tried to nurse him with a Lact-Aid as much as possible, too, because that seemed to help. And we always carried him, because we had no other choice... he did not want to be set down or put in a stroller, ever, no way, no how, period!

Eventually, around 5 months, he seemed to blossom and open up to us and come to trust us. Now, at 7 months, he's a joy to be around and loves when his daddy tosses him in the air (carefully) and tickles his belly. He is also sleeping much better... he used to wake up nearly every hour, and now it's more like 2 - 3 times per night. He also naps during the day now, and he never did before.

I'm really proud of how much he has learned to trust us, because I felt so awful for so long about how fearful he was and how much he seemed to fight everyone in the world over everything. I had to see a therapist for a few months after he was better, just to help ME cope with my own feelings and unwind from the whole experience, but now, we are both very well attached.

One component to consider is your own attachment to the baby, when the baby continually rejects you. It took me some time to heal from that, too.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
That's a really good point, ruhbehka. Attachment disorders aren't unique to adopted children or post institionalized children. Medical or social issues during infancy can be associated. Or just any factors which combine to make it difficult for mama and baby to connect.

Good work with your little one, by the way
.
 

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It could be that parents who are dealing with serious attachment disorders tend to manifest in older kids, and they don't feel comfortable posting on places where people are probably going to blame them if they're dealing with it. While I know people don't mean harm, some statements would make me cringe if I was dealing with that.

I do know people dealing with RAD and other serious problems. And they did not do anything 'wrong' or un-AP, in some cases it's because of an organic trauma/biological disorder, and in others because the damage from the institutional setting didn't show up until later (these kids had deal with it far longer than 2 years though).

I don't think AP practices innoculate a child against RAD, nor do I believe that mainstream practices will force it to occur. AP certainly will tip the scales one way if things are unlikely or on the edge of going there. But plenty of very good, tender, loving, attached parents have to go through things like this (not always with adopted children, either).
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Yes, you're absolutely right. More damaged children, often older children who have suffered severe emotional and physical neglect or abuse, may not be responsive to ANY parenting technique or philosophy
. I definitely wasn't trying to suggest that parenting could fix all, nor especially that it is the parenting is the cause of the problems. I hope no one else got that impression.

My child is a post institutionalized child and carries many real risk factors for attachment problems. Probably many other parents of international adoptees and those from domestic foster to adopt might face these issues as well. It was a major concern for me and was something I worked on addressing in an extremely focused way. I think that for many private or early infant adoptions, these issues may not exist at all. I don't know for sure.

I'm just hoping to open up a dialogue on a sensitive topic. Maybe I'm not doing it very well.
 

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I have always felt this was a good 'starter' article for those looking for some new ideas. It is called "Specific Techniques to Increase Family Attachment":

http://www.adopting.org/silveroze/html/attachment.html

There is also a wonderful book called I Love You Rituals by Becky Bailey that has some nice ideas in it.
 

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I agree with Diane in that attachment disorders and attachment parenting are two very different things.

My older dd had some attachment issues. In order to foster her attachment, we had to take some steps that would get me flamed up and down at MDC. There are many other boards out there that are better choices for this discussion than MDC. But this was a child who absolutely wanted nothing to do with co-sleeping or many other AP activities.

Fortunately, my dd's issues resolved pretty quickly, but I had read tons on attachment issues (not AP, but the psychological problems) and their treatment. I think the key is being willing to look at your child and see what it is that he or she really needs v. what you would like to do.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by EFmom View Post
I agree with Diane in that attachment disorders and attachment parenting are two very different things..
I dont think they are "two very different things" i think they are quite closely related. When a child who is in foster care and diagnosed with RAD or even lesser attachment issues, it is usually due to a lack of a consistent, nurturing caregiver in the first 1-3 yrs of life. A child being left to cry in a crib, alone (who learns not to cry anymore, because no one will come), a child whose needs are not met, is at risk to develop an attachment disorder. While attachment parenting on its own won't "cure" a child who has already developed attachment issues, i'm betting if that child's primary caregiver (meaning, whoever was taking care of the child before they were adopted, such as the bio parent, fosterer, etc) practiced attachment parenting (comforted the child when they needed it, attended to their needs in a timely matter, spoke lovingly to them, nursed them or bottle nursed them, rocked and held them, etc) it would have went a LONG WAY to preventing the disorder.

I was actually surprised when reading books such as "Parenting the Hurt Child" to find that attachment parenting practices and the type of environment i've created in our unschooling home, are exactly the types of things suggested to create a healthy loving bond with an adopted child. Things like surprising the child with fun outings, holding the child/rocking in the parent's lap while feeding something sweet or giving a bottle, sitting with the child until they fall asleep every night (even if it takes a year)....NOT ever leaving them just alone in the room to cry to sleep. Giving massages, brushing each other's hair, that sort of thing. Indeed, it amazed me (but it makes sense!)that in the "adoption world" typical AP practices are touted as a good thing, esp to increase bonding, whereas in the "mainstream" world of bio parenting, parents are encouraged to foster early independance, allow their child to cry, etc. It seems in the "adoption world" we know how much damage that can do to a developing brain.

Even though the very structured and high intensity type of parenting that a child with severe attachment disorder needs to heal may look overly-controlling and even abusive to an outsider....i found that most books advocating such an approach really stress the *high nurture* part as well. High structure, high nurture. The child is often right there with the parent. "Time-ins" rather than "time-outs", no physical punishment, but rather creative discipline, etc. It sounds exhausting, and i dont know how well our household would adjust if i were ever faced with the issue.

That being said, i dont think slinging a baby is an innoculation against attachment issues. And babies who are not parenting in an AP way but who still have a nurturing consistent parent from birth (without any trauma along the way)are probably at low risk of developing an AD.

What surprised me when i began my adoption journey, was that adopting a child young (like a year old)is no guarantee at all for not getting a child with attachment issues. A parent can adopt a baby, do all the "right things" to foster attachment, and the child can still have issues.

I would hope that a mom parenting a child w/ RAD and who needs to parent in a very high structure/high nurture way, would feel comfortable posting here, but i can see how it might be a problem for those who don't understand. And i've read that unless you are living it, you can't truly understand.


Katherine
 

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I don't talk about our attachment problems because the few times I have (in other forums here) I have been blamed for not being sensitive/loving/responsive/patient/saintly/perfect enough. Even by other adoptive moms.

I have come to feel (and several other adoptive moms I have spoken to at MDC agree with me) that MDC is not really the place to talk about struggles with attachment because most people here don't face what parents of kids with attachment disorders face and many seem to have an almost religious-like faith that there is one way and one way only to succesfully parent children. And if you either aren't doing it that way or that way is not working for you, there is something wrong with you as the parent and it is completely your job to to fix it. I have been faced with the attitude that my child (who is nearly a teenager) bears no responsibility for her behavior and that if she won't meet me 10% of the way then it's completely on me to meet her 100% of the way. This doesn't jive with what I have gotten from other parents of older children with attachment problems, nor is it the type of advice we are getting from our therapist. Whenever I post here to ask about specific situations regarding my child's behavior, basically just looking for strategies I can use to help her take some responsibility, I end up feeling like a rotten mom for not being able to solve the problem myself just by being loving enough. I get suggestions for courses of action that are completely unworkable in our situation. I've decided that it's more headache then benefit to talk about it here. I go other places for the support I need in that respect.

Granted, I have never tried talking about it in the Adoption forum, but that's for 2 specific reasons: 1) most people here, it seems to me, are dealing with really little kids and 2) if the adoptive moms are going to be critical in other forums, I don't really have much reason to believe they won't be critical in the Adoption forum.

Sorry, that was probably more rant than you wanted!

Namaste!
 

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I think that there are a lot of similarities between basic attachment parenting and what a young baby or child may need when coming into a new family through adoption. But I agree with dharmamama that an older child with existing attachment problems needs a unique approach often guided by a therapist. Interventions and strategies often do not make sense to the individual that has not lived through it/with it.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by queenjane View Post
While attachment parenting on its own won't "cure" a child who has already developed attachment issues, i'm betting if that child's primary caregiver (meaning, whoever was taking care of the child before they were adopted, such as the bio parent, fosterer, etc) practiced attachment parenting (comforted the child when they needed it, attended to their needs in a timely matter, spoke lovingly to them, nursed them or bottle nursed them, rocked and held them, etc) it would have went a LONG WAY to preventing the disorder.
This sounds like it would be true, but my daughter was raised by her birthparents for 6 years. She was doted upon, co-slept, nursed long enough that she remembers nursing, carried in a sling on her mother's back for years, etc.

She still has attachment problems.

Namaste!
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
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Originally Posted by lauren View Post
And MDC is probably not the best place to deal with that because it is a very specialized type of parenting, and people just often do not understand.
Is this true? I mean that on several levels.

First of all, we have an entire special needs forum on MDC. How are the specialized needs of children suffering from attachment disorder different such that these families are not able to be understood by loving, reasonable people?

Secondly, are parenting techniques to facilitate attachment in injured children truly so dramatically different than those in uninjured children? I don't know, to be honest, and am asking in good faith.

Finally, I can't imagine how much this post hurt dharmana and other parents of children with attachment issues
: .
 

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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I wonder if your daughter's attachment difficulties are secondary to the emotional destruction from her life circumstances, dharmamama? I guess a therapist would call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I don't see that it's so much a disorder as a normal reaction.

Maybe it's pretty typical for a child who is rehomed and recultured at her age to have difficulty attaching to a new family under such a new environment?
 

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I do apologize if that was taken as my saying that it shouldn't be done. I will go back and edit. Thank you for letting me know that it came across wrong. I only meant to say that because the issues can be complicated, it would be understandable that many folks might not understand certain strategies, and that certain strategies might not even fit within the framework of MDC's purpose. For example, EFMom has mentioned that certain strategies became a necessity for her child, but are not allowable on MDC. j

Off to look for the 'foot in mouth' smilie.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by blessed View Post
I wonder if your daughter's attachment difficulties are secondary to the emotional destruction from her life circumstances, dharmamama? I guess a therapist would call it Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but I don't see that it's so much a disorder as a normal reaction.
There are some professionals working on revising the diagnosis of reactive attachment disorder to instead be known as 'complex post-traumatic stress disorder.' Because any serious attachment disruption is also traumatic and causes the same symptoms as PTSD.
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
That's interesting. I guess maybe it's a particularly difficult cirucumstance in very young children due to the plasticity of their minds at that age. The changes may be more permanent and/or irreversible.

ETA: thank you for clarifying your comment, btw. I'm glad I was overinterpreting.
 

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Quote:

Originally Posted by blessed View Post
First of all, we have an entire special needs forum on MDC. How are the specialized needs of children suffering from attachment disorder different such that these families are not able to be understood by loving, reasonable people?
People who ascribe to loving, reasonable parenting are not always loving and reasonable with each other.

And the thought that a AP parent, can do all the 'right' things and still have a child with attachment issues is profoundly disturbing enough that people will automatically attack and imply (or say outright) that *obviously* the poster didn't "really" follow AP or effed up in some way. I have seen that happen quite a few times.

People get ready to ream other people out for using "baby buckets" becuase "obviously they don't care enough about their child to hold them". Do you really think it'll be better for people who share that their child is suffering from an attachment disorder--on a site where most of us are attempting towards 'best practices' in the realm of attachment (and we're constantly criticizing 'mainstreamers' for being unattached just for relatively superficial things)? It rocks the boat and freaks people out, and people here are only human. So some, and perhaps many, react by attacking or disbelief.

You would *think* that folks would cut someone who opened up about that some slack and assume that if they were coming here then they were practicing AP and were intelligent and some of what is happening is beyond their total control. But it doesn't always happen.
 
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