Monday, May 23, 2011


So...there's the word that scares most parents, but especially the adoptive kind. I've been dealing with some jealousy that TK prefers Ben over me. He pushes me away, cries when Ben leaves (more like sobbing really), and basically wants nothing to do with me. He has preferred Ben for months but it's really ramped up lately.

I don't know what to do.

I've read a couple of books but it's hard to put any exercises into practice when I see him for such a short time. I've also been battling the day care sickness Little Babes has brought home for the last month so my energy level is low which doesn't help.

People give me well-meaning advice but it's hard to take it seriously when a) it's not from another adoptive parent and b) it's not from a parent who works full-time. I feel like those are both two very important particulars to my situation. Mostly people say "It's a phase."

But what if it's not? He's been in Portland for 8 months now, I thought we'd be a little further along than this but maybe I was being optimistic?

Here's my Little Babes on Mother's Day. A bittersweet day as all holidays tend to be.

After Mother's Day brunch. Running with a stick. I know, I know...bad mama. What can I say? He loves sticks.


David Leventhal said...

Melanie - I'm so sorry your wrestling through this. I know that you’re in a tough spot...I know that it's discouraging, heartbreaking and lonely. I know that often times when other's "just don't get it" & that can be hurtful.

Here are a couple of thoughts based on (1) two international adoptions & (2) having worked with dozens (maybe hundreds?) of couples that have been through or are going through an adoption. Every adoption is different so I don't pretend to fully understand your situation. I also know that comments on a blog will not make everything better. But I figure something is better than nothing - so here goes.

Thought #1: Nothing you described alarms me in the sense that my reaction is one of "man...I've never seen that before" or "wow...she's totally missed the boat." That doesn't make it any easier but I want you to know that what you're experiencing is so very common among adoptive parents. Most adoptive families I've worked with or know have had at least one spouse (including us) experience what you're experiencing. The take away here is: You are not alone.

Thought #2: Time, time, time. You're sweet little boy spent the first 221 in someone else's care...and while hopefully it was adequate care - it was certainly not the type of care he would have received had he been with you and Ben from day one. Researchers are just now beginning to truly understand how critical the time in the womb is and the first months of life are to the development & attachment of an infant. Unfortunately you were not in his life during those first critical months. That does not mean that "all hope is lost" - but it does mean that it's going to take time. While I've never seen you parent face to face - I do know you well enough to know that you are providing a great deal of love, care & support for him. And what I've seen repeated countless times is that slowly but surely...over time the attachment gets better. It's rarely as quick as people might like...but it almost always moves up and to the right. The take away here is: Be patient...hard as it may patient.

Thought #3: Continue to pursue your little man. Being "rejected" in a moment is never fun - especially when it's from someone that you would joyfully lay down your life for. Continue to look for opportunities to create special "Melanie / TK moments" - be it with donuts, with building blocks, with books, etc... The take away here is: Be resolute in your pursuit of his heart.

Thought #4: As a parent of five kids I can tell you that our life is all about "phases." The highs don't last forever and the lows don't either. As our kids grow - they go through phases. Some of the phases you want to last FOREVER. Other phases you want to end RIGHT NOW. Unfortunately and fortunately they don't last forever. The takeaway here is: Parenting is uber-dynamic - don't get comfortable with any one technique, habit or phase...because it will change.

I'm not sure what books you've read but I HIGHLY recommend Karyn Purvis' book entitled "The Connected Child" - it's one I recommend to EVERY adoptive parent. You can also check out her website - I know I know that there will probably be some stuff you'll disagree with & that's okay. I would say that her stuff could still be really valuable in helping you to get a better understanding of our kids that have come from hard places.

Lastly...although I pray for you already I will add this situation to my list. I imagine you’re really discouraged right now & I hate that for you and for Ben. I promise you're not alone.

- DL

Melanie said...

Thanks David. It does mean a lot from you, I know you and Missy have a wealth of experience to share.

I suspect that when I'm feeling physically stronger that my emotions and mental state will be fortified as well. I know in my heart, and because of research I've done, that everything you say has validity to it. And I'm not a patient person so this is a good lesson/challenge for me, one of many to come.

But it does sadden me to be pushed away and told "no" when I want a cuddle. Completely developmentally on track but that's difficult to remember when I want a hug darn it!

I will look into that book. I'm open to many resources even if only a piece of them are applicable to our family.

jessica said...

I could have written this post at month 8. Seriously. I struggled with KM favoring Casey. I really felt that our attachment should have been stronger at months 8 & 9. I wasn't feeling too optimistic. But now, at month 12, he favors me as much as he favors Casey (and sometimes even more than Casey), which leads me to believe that maybe these are phases (like everyone says). Now that he wants "Mama!" a lot (before it was always "Dada!"), I feel so much more connected to him (and I'm sure vice-versa). Hang in there...