Sunday, September 27, 2009

Toddler Adoption, Attachment and Discipline

I know that these two topics might seem a bit strange to talk about together but I think that the two are related. We faced these two topics together pretty quickly after bringing Abeba home and questioned what to do and how to handle it.

Abeba seemed to attach to us quickly. Attachment is a popular word in adoption circles and it seemed like all the training that we had prior to bringing home our daughter focused on this very topic. It is hard to completely understand until you experience it. I think that each child attaches in different ways and at different speeds. On "gottcha day" we realized that Abeba had a strong will. A VERY strong will! She had a lot of crying (screaming) fits, but at the same time she seemed to cling to me quickly. In fact, when we went back to the Gladney Care Centers to visit with the other Gladney families, Abeba showed herself in way that surprised us. We walked into the first care center (which happened to be the house she was in) and she pushed away the first care giver that came up to greet her. It wasn't a little push either, in fact almost a slap in the face. Abeba reacted to the next couple of caregivers the same way. I took Abeba outside and didn't take her back in. That set the tone for the rest of the day and it was not easy for us to deal with. We are thankful that the Lord gave us an extra dose of patience for that day, we needed it. Her reaction was surprising to us, but it made us realize quickly that she was bonding with us. Abeba needed one on one treatment and attention.

The next weeks we saw in Abeba signs of bonding. She wanted us to hold her when she felt insecure (mostly when we were out in public) and she wouldn't let anyone else hold her. When I fed her a bottle she began to hold my hand, play with my hair and would occasionally look into my eyes deeply. She said, "Daddy!" when Justin came home from work, this was thrilling to experience and see.

About a month went by and Abeba began to feel more comfortable. She started to show her sinful nature and we started wondering just when we should start to correct her. Don't get me wrong, we started introducing "no" pretty quickly, but bigger things started and we knew that we had to do correct her quickly. She was a biter and a smacker and she knew exactly how to do it effectively! She started throwing two year old tantrums, screaming until she got her way. That strong will began to show itself in a big way. Now what do we do? We didn't remember reading or learning about this in the training videos though we knew one sure place to go. That place was our favorite child rearing book, the Bible. Proverbs is full of instruction for parents, Ephesians too. We just couldn't find a clause that gave our adopted children an exception to these instructions. We knew what God had instructed us to do- "to discipline our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord" (Eph. 6) We are God's adopted children and he disciplines us, so that is what we decided, after much prayer, to do. We began to discipline our newest daughter in a God pleasing, age appropriate manner. We started slow making sure she knew the rules and what was and is acceptable.

We worried about what this would do to our bond since we had only been home a month.

Did she get mad at us? Sure. So does our 5 year old. The anger didn't last long though.

We began to see a change in Abeba. A change for the good and our bond still continued to grow.

It has been 9 months since Abeba came home. She has grown to love us and our immediate family. She has friends that she calls by name and gives hugs and kisses to us on her own. She knows love even during "instruction time". I am thankful that God guided us through this season of our life. This time was difficult and hard, but we are called as Christians to do hard things. Looking back on this, it was a joy and we would endure it all again.

Proverbs 23:13-16 "Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death. My son, if your heart is wise, then my heart will be glad; my inmost being will rejoice when you lips speak what is right."


Papaw said...

Abeba is such a fortunate young lady on so many levels to have been chosen by Him to be with you.

emily said...

Really enjoying these as prayerfully we will traveling soon to bring home our own little guy.

Keep these coming. :)