Thursday, August 13, 2009

Attachment Dance

Two steps forward, one step back.

Our current attachment struggles are our fault as parents - we went on vacation as a family for a week. I feel bad about T's struggle with "reentry" to the real world, but I'm not sure I would have ultimately done anything differently.

Before camp: T was continuing to seem more and more comfortable with his world. He would play in a separate room for short time periods. He didn't seek out being held in the carrier as often. He was comfortably sleeping alone in his bed through the night. (The sleeping was the result of Kyle's diligent work with him over about 4 months of inching his sleeping bag further from T's bed at night.)

Family camp: Approximately 20 families /~95 people who ate meals together and did some organized activities together, with a healthy amount of free time to play however we liked. We shared a cabin with friends of the family. There was beach, water, singing, canoeing, ice cream sundaes eaten far passed bed time, nature hikes, and frog catching. Most of all, there were PEOPLE. Also at camp were my parents, grandma, and my sister and her husband. Between extended family and the other kiddos and great families, T had a non-stop Entourage. T is a very social guy so he ate it all up. A few slightly older kids took a shine to him and spent a lot of time playing with him. One little girl told him, "It's just like I'm your big sister." I was worried the whole camp experience could be really hard on him, but he seemed to thrive. He was a little more anxious than usual - he wanted to sit on my lap for some meals, and he wanted one of us to sleep with him at night. I had expected that and he seemed comforted by the extra snuggles at night. But he also enjoyed his little preschool class (without us present!). He was happy happy happy each day to explore his new world. He cried hard when we told him we were coming home.

After camp: He's back to riding in the Ergo for most of the day. He won't even walk into his play room alone to fetch a book or toy. Bed time is mostly normal (with a few pleas to sleep with mom and dad) but he wakes up around midnight and screams frantically to come to our room across the hall and cannot be calmed. Last night I ended up sleeping on the floor in his room. We really don't want to slip all the way back to him in our bed - it's not that we mind (he's so snuggly!) - it was *such* a long process to get him in his own room. Me sleeping on the floor last night seemed to satisfy him.

None of this was really unexpected. T has been home for 14 months - longer than he lived in Thailand. But a big change in routine would probably affect any kid - it just has the potential to affect kids with a background like T's more. I think the good he got out of camp will ultimately outweigh our current struggles. While this week is hard, he's still generally happy and freely doling out the kisses and hugs and "I love you Mama!"s. I get the feeling that where we are is a temporary adjustment. He's still asking to go back to "Moon Beach Kid's Camp!!" daily. I'm glad we were able to go together as a family for a week and show him that we will always come back home together.



Glen and Andrea said...

It sounds like he had a wonderful week with tons of positive new experiences, but these things do seem to unsettle children. And with our kiddos, it can be a little more than just the routine.

Our adoption facilitator told me when we came home that attachment is not just a steady incline, you do drop back at times. That has been so true in our experiences and has reminded us to not beat ourselves up over some difficult patches. But still, it always catches me by surprise when we do slip backwards again too.

Chris and Terri said...

You got it right when you said trips affect all kiddos but it has the potential to affect kids with T's background more. So true.

My boys seem to take a 1-3 weeks to get back in the swing of things but I wonder how Mia will do.

I've been debating a recliner or futon in Mia's room. Will be much better than the floor. When I'm tired, I need to just lay down. :)

rosemary said...

Thanks for sharing this with all of us. It's so interesting to read about the different ways that our kids react to transitions. BTW -Dawn Davenport has some great stuff on her website about transitions and the adoptee.

Sounds like such a fun camp though! Your pictures are darling!! I hope he pops back to his regular sunny T self soon.