Writing on this blog has become highly therapeutic. There are days that I need to remember the good and others I need to process the difficult. It’s been good to look back at the fun posts over the past 5 weeks, laugh, and see evidences of God’s grace at work.
So today I’m writing again to process some of the attachment/bonding issues we’ve seen displayed over the last few weeks. This post will hopefully also come in handy to keep records for our post placement visits. I know many people have adopted infants who show signs of poor attachment, but since we have older kiddos (5 and 7) that’s what I’m hoping to focus on.
I recently read an informative article by: Arthur Becker-Weidman, PhD entitled “Attachment Problems: Subtle and Not-So-Subtle Signs”
Some of the Not-so Subtle signs we’ve seen include:
- Superficial engaging, charming behavior
- Avoidance of eye contact
- Indiscriminate affection with strangers
- Lack of affection on parents terms
- Poor impulse control
- Lack of Cause and Effect thinking
- Preoccupation with fire and/or gore
- Persistent nonsense questions and chatter indicating a need to control
- Inappropriate clinginess and demanding behavior
Some of the more subtle signs we’ve noticed are:
- Avoiding comfort when the child is physically hurt or feelings are hurt
- Over-valuing looks, appearances, possessions, and clothes
- Precocious independence
- Reticence and anxiety of changes
- Picking at scabs and sores
- Difficulty tolerating correction or criticism
The article goes on the explain that we must be careful not to simply focus on these symptoms, but to search for the underlying cause. Dr. Becker-Weidman suggests that the cause is a break in the early attachment relationship that results in difficulties trusting others. The child experiences a fear of close authentic emotional relationships because prior situations have taught the child that adults are not trustworthy, and that the child in unloved and unlovable. He further suggests that this break in attachment causes:
- Fear of intimacy
- Overwhelming feelings of shame
- Chronic feelings of being unloved or unloveable
- A distorted view of self
- Lack of trust
- Feeling that nothing the child does can make a difference
- A core sense of being bad
- Difficulty asking for help
- Difficulty relying on others
So my question is as Christians how do we parent the adopted child who is showing signs of poor attachment? Many of the things listed above can be seen in any range of children and sometimes its difficult to know what behavior is just a kid being a kid and what is something so much deeper. I’ve read Christian Parenting books, and Adoptive Parenting books and can’t find much middle ground between the two. So how is it that we teach adopted children the Biblical concepts of authority, discipline, obeying right away, telling the truth, showing kindness and so forth. Is it possible to simply say, “Sin is sin,” with no regard to past experiences? How would you Biblically counsel an adult who wasn’t trusting, had a core sense of being bad, a fear of intimacy, overwhelming feelings of shame? Obviously by pointing them to Christ, but what if these issues were resulting in, stealing, immoral behavior, self-sufficiency, vanity? As adopted children of God how have we been dealt with and what is expected? Does this translate into how we parent adopted children? I’d love the thoughts of adoptive parents and non-adoptive parents alike.
These are just the questions that I’ve been mulling over as we traverse this new road of parenting. We have loved diving in off the deep end of the pool, and have regularly been reminded that God’s grace is sufficient, and that ultimately He’s in control. I just want to do my best at getting wise, daily I’m so aware of my need! So please leave your thoughts, advice, Bible verses, awful parenting stories, and success stories, and I’m off to do some study of my own.