Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Is This a Sign of Attachment?

Cameron and I are wondering if what we are seeing in Abbie lately is a sign of attachment, a desire for control or something else . . .

Last weekend, Cameron, with one of our good friends, took Anna, Jonas and Abbie to a baseball game for Jonas' birthday. About 2 days before the "big day", Abbie broke her "good" streak and started to act out. I now have a new routine and will just flat out ask her what is bothering her. She told me, "I am mad because you are not coming to the baseball game." I was blown away by this confession of hers. She was not only able to put into words why she was mad she was able to see a connection between her feelings and behavior.

I reassured her that she would be safe and everything would be okay. It made me begin to think that maybe she does have an attachment to me. She was anxious about going some place without me. Am I representing safety to her? However, her great anxiety about not having me around despite Cameron's presence made me wonder if she is not attached to Cameron quite yet? Her bad behavior continued up until the game (She was fine at the game) and resumed the minute she came home from the game, as well as the next morning! I asked her on Sunday what was wrong and she said, "I am mad at you because you didn't come to the game." I talked to her again about her feelings and I thought everything would be okay. However, later that day, as she continued to act-out, I told Abbie that she needed to get over the fact that I didn't come to the baseball game, but she said that's not what was bothering her. As I probed deeper, she told me she was mad because it wasn't her birthday (that was the actual day of Jonas' birthday and we were celebrating with some friends for dinner at our house). I asked her if it was about not getting presents, not being able to choose the special food, or the attention Jonas was receiving. She immediately said it was the attention. Again, I was surprised by her insight. We talked about jealousy and such and then she was fine.

Well, this morning Abbie began acting out again. I immediately tried to nip it in the bud by confronting her. Abbie told me that she was mad because Cameron was on-call last night and didn't come home. This never bothered her before. It caused me re-think my earlier attachment theory and wonder if all of this behavior was driven by her need to control us. Maybe it is about her not wanting us out of her sight because then she can't control? All I know is that she really never cared before whether I came to an event as long as she got to go. She also never seemed to care if Cameron was home or not. Before, as long as she got to do the "fun" thing, she didn't care who was around. Now, our absence is bothering her. Is this a sign of attachment or a need to control?

Any thoughts?

At least we are continuing to still see good days.

In Christ, Laura


Live to love and laugh said...

Sounds like a little of both.
She might have wanted you to go to the game for a little security.
I see this occasionally in our adopted daugther. I think it is easier to attach yourself to the person who is there all the time first.
Several other adoptive parents have noticed the same.
I am praying this time of testing is finally over for you. :)

ManyBlessings said...

I would say it's the beginning of baby attachment. Not quite healthy, and not quite full-grown, but the beginning none-the-less. She is reaching out and she is trying. That in itself is huge! I imagine you are going to continue to see peaks and valleys as she moves her way up this mountain. :)

Jenny said...

I think she is afraid that she is loosing you or Cameron.... She maybe thought you will not be at home when she will come back from the game. And she was afraid that Cameron does not come back home. She needs Mom AND Dad!

staci said...

I love that she is able to tell you honestly what she is feeling - staci

MomInTheTrench said...

I had a thought, dunno if it's correct or not, but since you're smart enough to take it or leave it I'll share:

I have a 22 month old. And for the sake of other readers who don't know me I'll also say that I have kids with RAD and other severe issues. This is very similar to how my (bio, well adjusted) baby would behave. Is it possible that Abbie is starting to relax enough to put some subconscious energy into developmental stages? Maybe she is in the 2 year old developmental stage.

Wouldn't it be grand if this could go in the "normal" category? :) But maybe I'm being optimistic for my own selfish reasons.

farm_mama said...

We deal with this in our adopted Liberian. She gives an answer that sounds reasonable, and makes me feel accepted. But in reality, the REAL answer is always a selfish one. Just a thought but it kind of sounds like she is playing on what she knows you want her to feel. We often have to tell ours, "That is a really nice answer, but I think your actions are telling me that it really is something else."
We have had our girls home for 3 1/2 years. With our oldest, who is now 9, we went through 3 years of cycling, good streaks then bad streaks. It never got better. I thought we were making headway during the "good" streak, but it never held. After 3 years, the good streaks ended. She was just in bad mode. We have her in therapy now. I was very reluctant to do that, I'm not a big fan on therapists. But after only 3 visits, we have found out some interesting things about her life in Liberia, something that would make anyone scared and sad. It feels like a good thing now. Our daughter will not open up and continually stuffs and disassociates. She is not the classic raging radish.
I think that you are doing a good job with Abbie. I pray that you get to a place of true peace for her.

Kimber G said...

I find that when my adopted child who suffers from trauma issues (but who is attached) is acting controlling, it is usually a symptom that she is feeling fear about a situation. Fear breeds the fight or flight response (which often appears to be a control issue). So rather than focusing on the control aspect, I try to hone in on they "why" behind the control and address the fear. We have a parented a completely unattached child, and she showed no signs of distress if we didn't accompany her somewhere - rather, she would eagerly go wherever the fun is. It sounds to me like Abby does have some developing attachment to you and Cameron and that her control was masking a fear of you not being at the game with her and/or Cameron not being with her while at work.

denie heppner said...

i agree with the last commenter. this to me appears like normal childlike behavior who is playing mommy and daddy for all the attention she can get. (i have 5 children, including a 3-yr-old who is the youngest.) be encouraged! i think this is finally the beginning of normal behavior- dont' read too much into it and don't second guess...just keep reassuring her and be happy that she is wanting you around. cuz that doesn't last forever...(teens, sigh)