Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review-Out live Your Life. Max Lucado

Great author, great title, decent read, outstanding discussion guide! How is that for a one sentence review! It is an easy read, but it isn’t one that jumps out and grabs you. Max uses some good examples, draws nicely from the scriptures that talk about the Acts church, and does try to make this a book that draws in the everyday things of life and accents some biblical principles to try to leave a legacy, or make your life count for God’s kingdom.

It is let me explain, because this is really the strength of the whole book. The principles he talks about are not new, they aren’t earth shattering, they aren’t dramatic, BUT if they are lived out they ARE radical and world changing. What is deceptive is that when you read it you can’t discount what he says, but it is very easy to deceive yourself and discount ACTING on any of it. Because this is rubber meets the road, practical faith shown through works and attitudes stuff, it isn’t the latest fad, the newest hyped “thing”, yet if we did ANY of the principles in it our lives WOULD make a difference.

This is where the discussion guide is AMAZING! Good questions to discuss as we all love to spent time TALKING about our faith, but half of the guide has very pointed and achievable ACTIONS for you to take, and you can really tell this is the heart of the truth in this book. Get the book, if you don’t have time to read it, just jump to the end, read and respond to the discussion guide, and you will be WELL on your way to making a difference. Don’t let the easy reading style of the book fool you. Take some action steps and Max’s heart for this book will come to life!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 : “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Monday, September 27, 2010

WE ARE NEXT!!!!!!!!

Excuse the picture I just wanted something that said "we are next" this was the first one I could find, and don't want to waste time searching for something else :)

It seems up to May 18 2006 is referred this month, so this means we will be matched in the next batch!!!!! So that means  probably late October we will finally see a picture of Julia and then wait 6 weeks to find out travel dates, then travel 2 weeks after that.

This pushes us to LATE December or early January. We were hoping for preChristmas but with this months batch coming in like 10 days later that bumps that out, likely. BUT really who cares, it means we are one step away from a picture and only a few months away from holding her in my arms!!!!

Thursday, September 23, 2010

In my arms

Part of my Monday morning is looking after Katie so Cara can have some time to do her bible study, or whatever she wants, and part of what Katie loves to do on Mondays is dance with her daddy. The last few weeks this has been a favorite song of our
Mark Wills, In My Arms Lyrics

Three a.m. on the clock
Lullaby, music box
Oh, baby please don't cry
Let's let mama sleep tonight
You've only been home one day
You don't even know your name
Tiny hand on my cheek
You;re a miracle to me
In the stillness of the night
Cradled in this rocking chair
I hold all my hopes and dreams,
Every single answered prayer

In my arms
Wish I could hold you forever
In my arms
I will give you shelter
Still I know I can't always be there
To protect you from this great big old world
But I swear this much is true
There'll always be a place for my arms

As I watch you take each breath
Oh, it scares me to death
To know you're counting on me
To be the daddy that you need
Wounded knees, broken hearts
Learning how to drive a car
When it's time for your first date
Will I know just what to say
And when you find that one true love
I'll put on my best smile
And I'll try to hide my tears
As I walk you down the aisle

In my arms
Wish I could hold you forever
In my arms
I will give you shelter
Still I know I can't always be there
To protect you from this great big old world
But I swear this much is true
There'll always be a place for my arms

Oh, this promise I will keep
As you finally fall my arms

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Fall is here

Picture of Katie, last winter.

Fall is here, cold is in the air, foggy this morning, had to scrape the window of frost, of course couldn't find the scraper had to use a paint spatula so off to Canadian Tire to buy a new brush/scraper combo.

Still have some Fall prep for the yard, plants to cut off, trim the hedge, but busy with work and magic stuff, which is good because the CCAA is not moving too much from what we can tell, so hope we hear something...sigh!!!!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

18th and still waiting

well, folks figured by the 15th we would hear something, so it will be next week I hope so we can get September out of the way so we can be next!!!!

Saturday, September 11, 2010

RAD-Reactive Attachement Disorder article

Why Chinese Adopted Childen Are at Risk for RAD
Part I: Secure Attachment and Reactive Attachment Disorder

It is important for adoptive families to recognize how a child's early experiences can impact their future emotional development. Children adopted from China have experienced the loss of their birthmothers, physical abandonment, and multiple caretakers. Most have suffered deprivation and/or neglect in varying degrees. Some have endured physical and/or sexual abuse. These conditions interfere with the capacity to form secure attachments.

Secure attachment forms when a child's physical and emotional needs are consistently met during the first 2 years of life. Because she trusts that her parent will be there, she will internalize an image of her world as safe, stable, and dependable. She will develop independence while at the same time maintaining a connection with her parents. She will learn to engage in mutually enjoyable interactions where the interaction itself is the end goal.

Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) is any disruption in attachment resulting in a child's failure to form a SECURE bond/attachment with a parental figure. Secure Attachment and Reactive Attachment Disorder are best understood as a continuum. The most securely attached people are confident, high functioning individuals with a strong sense of self worth, highly developed empathy and the ability to engage in healthy, mutually enhancing relationships, both within and beyond their immediate families. The most unattached people are violent psychopaths, people without empathy or conscience, unable to relate to others except as objects to meet their needs.

Reactive Attachment Disorder includes the whole spectrum of children with symptoms ranging from mild to moderate to severe. Therefore, a child can be "attached" and still have RAD. Having 'attachment issues' or RAD does not mean your child doesn't love you. It does not mean that the adoptive parent is a poor or unloving parent. Nor does it mean that the child is of low intelligence or developmentally delayed. What it means is that the child's brain has been programmed to protect her from pain, thus preventing her from giving and receiving love. The child will need specific treatment to learn how to do this, just as she might need specific therapy to overcome any illness.

Scientific research has indicated that the bond between mother and child begins to form even while in the womb, so that at birth a child can recognize it's mother's voice and smell. Even a child who was abandoned at birth and subsequently received good care could experience the loss of her birthmother as traumatic.

Most Chinese adoptees are subjected to additional experiences that heighten their risk for RAD. If a mother knows that she may not be able to keep her baby, the child can experience rejection while still in the womb. The mother may risk her life giving birth in an unhealthy/unsafe place. Children might experience birth trauma due to inadequate medical care. There are women who want to keep their children but are under pressure from family or authorities to give them up. These children could be kept hidden, and not given proper care and love for an extended period prior to abandonment.

Even the best orphanages are unable to simulate the care and attention a child would receive in a family. Normally, babies go through the bonding cycle thousands of times during the first three years of life. When the baby is hungry, wet, cold or wants to be held, she becomes aroused. She feels angry or upset and cries. When that need is met, the baby feels gratification, and develops trust. Each time that cycle is disrupted, the baby feels helpless and angry and does not learn to trust.

Babies in orphanages often spend entire days lying in a crib, cold and wet. They are cared for on a schedule determined by the availability of orphanage staff. If bottles are propped, they will not associate being fed with human contact and warmth. Cries of distress can go unheeded for hours. After awhile, children fail to recognize their own body signals. Their feelings of need become so painful they shut them off. Even if their physical needs are met, they do not learn the joy that comes simply from engaging with another human being or the comfort that comes from having their upsets soothed by loving hands. They lack physical contact in a loving embrace. Infants who are not touched can develop failure to thrive.

Abandoned children who are not strong and tough die. Those that live, learn survival skills that are appropriate for an institution, but which may inhibit attachment within a family. Even foster care has its risks. Some foster parents are abusive and neglectful and are motivated more by the income than love. Some foster parents have several babies to care for. Many are poor and illiterate. Even children in good placements experience the original abandonment of their birthparents and then subsequent loss of their foster parents.

In Chinese adoption there is no gradual transition, no time to prepare for new situations or to mourn the loss of the old. Older children who might understand the process are not always prepared or honestly informed of what will happen to them. When their 'orphanage friends' are adopted, they see them disappear forever (causing further loss for the child who remains at the orphanage.) When adopted, the child is suddenly whisked away from everything familiar. To be placed in the hands of strangers can be terrifying. Americans who speak an unknown language, look, smell, eat and behave differently, also have different expectations. This experience mirrors their original abandonment where one moment they are in their mother's arms and the next moment mother is gone, and their life is dependent on strangers. Once they board the airplane, everything familiar disappears. No matter how hard they cry, the mother, or caregivers, or foster parents do not return. Thus, the act of adoption, while seemingly happy for the adoptive parents, can be perceived by the adoptee as a re-play of her initial abandonment.

It is not uncommon for Chinese adopted children to suffer from developmental delays and/or regulatory disorders. Patterns of behavior and symptoms can fall into many overlapping categories -- Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Sensory Integration Disorder (SID), Attention Deficit, Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD & ADHD), Oppositional Defiant Disorder (ODD), Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD), Autism, Grief, speech & language impairment, learning disabilities.

All of these regulatory and language disorders can exist on their own without RAD, or they can coexist with RAD. For instance, SID can be created by the same conditions (deprivation and neglect) that cause RAD, but is still a separate diagnosis. However, there is always some component of grief, loss and trauma in every child who has RAD. Trauma and RAD can also create symptoms that mimic many of these disorders (such as ADHD or PDD), as well other psychiatric disorders not mentioned above. It is important for parents to recognize that this overlap in symptoms makes getting a proper diagnosis and appropriate treatment confusing.

Any of these disorders can also interfere with the formation of secure attachment, even after the child is living in a safe environment. A grieving child may feel she is being disloyal to previous parents or caretakers if she allows herself to love her new parents. She may be too frightened of loss to risk loving again. Or too angry to let any other feelings in. Similarly, a traumatized child may find it impossible to trust that her new parents won't hurt or leave her. She may withdraw from touch or any kind of interaction initiated by them. Physiologically and emotionally, she may still be living in a state of inner terror. A child with SID, who is highly sensitive to touch, may reject and arch away from her parent's embrace. Language disorders interfere with a child's ability to communicate her needs and feelings. All these conditions may cause a child to engage in behaviors which new parents find distancing or frightening.

Part II: The RAD Continuum

We will identify three levels of attachment disorder. These descriptions merely illustrate the emotional logic behind different presentations of RAD. The pattern of symptoms is unique for each child. In addition, symptoms can overlap, and change as children develop and incorporate their current life experiences into past patterns of response.

Level One: The child is able to "attach" or "bond" with the adoptive parent in the sense that she recognizes the parent as the person she "belongs" to, but the quality of "trust" is lacking. She may "love" the parent, but does not allow or rely on the parent to meet her needs or to keep her safe. She doesn't understand the concept of permanence, and that she will forever remain with her adoptive mother.

This child may be overly clingy and/or suffer from severe separation anxiety. She panics when not physically (or visually) connected to the parent. She may be overly fearful of and/or have difficulty socializing with adults or children outside her family. She may exhibit controlling behavior in an attempt to maintain contact with the parent at all costs and to ensure that her needs will be met. She may be hyper-vigilant, ever on the alert for impending loss or hurt. Or she may be the "overly good" child, fearful lest she make a mistake and be abandoned again. She may also be a child who appears on the surface to have made a good adjustment and attachment to her family. She conforms to family rules and expectations, but is merely acting the part that she perceives has been given her in order to maintain her place in the family. She may be suppressing her true self and feelings because she does not believe they would be accepted.

Level Two: The child "wants" attachment/connection, but, because she is afraid that the parent might leave her, hurt her and/or not meet her needs, she "chooses" to control the terms of the attachment. In order to protect herself from the pain, grief and loss she believes is inherent with attachment, she rejects or withdraws from the relationship, especially when closeness is initiated by the parents. These distancing behaviors may be alternated with intense clingyness.

What differentiates this child from level one is the presence and/or intensity of her distancing behaviors. The child erects a wall between herself and her parents. She may be defiant and oppositional, expressing her rage directly at her parents. She may be charming and friendly to strangers. She may prefer dad to mom. She may refuse to be held or she may express affection on her terms only. She may have difficulty making eye contact, especially during times of intimacy or distress. She may be withdrawn, even to the point of exhibiting autistic spectrum behaviors. She may lack imitative behavior, pretend not to understand, and communicate only on her own terms. She may have difficulty acknowledging "good-bye" and/or "hello". However, despite the distancing behaviors, she can -- often in very subtle ways -- reveal that the connection to the parent does matter to her. For example, she may get busy and pretend not to care when her parent leaves for the day, but the very act of changing her behavior is an indication that the parent's departure does matter. What differentiates her from the child in level three, is that she is still aware, on at least some level, that she wants and needs connection.

Parents should recognize that these behaviors are a cry for help. For example, the child does love the mother, and wants to be loved back, but because of the defensive mechanisms developed to protect herself from pain, she is unable to seek connection in appropriate ways. She does not have the problem-solving skills that would allow her to effectively communicate her conflicted feelings. Instead, her insecurities manifest themselves in abnormal behaviors that are misinterpreted. (i.e. Mommy, I was so scared when I woke up in the train station and my birth mother was gone, that now I'm afraid of losing you too. That's why I tore up my favorite book, or peed on the carpet, or some other indirect, aggressive act, when you went to the store without me.) (Mother thought she was just being naughty.) Parents need to be aware of the warning signs in order to reach out for their hurting children. It is not the adoptive parent's fault that their children behave the way they do.

Level Three: "Classic" RAD / "institutional autism" This child has given up and shut down. Connection/attachment is no longer a motivating life force. People are seen as interchangeable objects, existing only to serve the child. Her wall of defenses prevent her from reciprocal interaction with the human community.

These are the children who receive negative media attention. Their behavior is extreme. They may be physically destructive and violent in their families: destroying property, attacking parents and hurting younger siblings or animals. Because they never experienced empathy, they failed to develop a conscience. They are often bright and superficially charming, but lack inner depth. Other people don't matter.

This third degree of RAD is not common in Chinese adoptees because most of them are too young at placement for it to have developed this far. However, if left untreated, it is possible for children initially in level 1 or 2 to move into level 3 as they grow up.

Also in level 3 are the children who fail to 'catch up' once living in their adoptive homes. They can have severe language delays, SID issues and self-stimulating , repetitive and/or ritualistic behaviors. They may be misdiagnosed with Pervasive Developmental Disorder or Autism. Because these other syndromes produce behaviors that are difficult to differentiate from RAD, many parents spend a great deal of time seeking proper diagnosis and treatment, not knowing what lies at the core of their child's problems.

Part III: Healing and Treatment

RAD is inextricably intertwined with trauma, separation and loss. Anger, fear, grief and shame are the dominant emotions that drive RAD children. One emotion is usually more "tolerable" for the child to experience, and this emotion serves as a barrier to feeling the others; i.e. high levels of anger or fear will prevent the child from feeling grief and shame. In order to process grief and shame she first has to get through the anger/fear. The far end of anger would be an "anti-social" child. The far end of fear would be a child who has withdrawn into autistic-like behaviors. The symptoms we see in our children reflect the way they have internalized their individual experiences.

Shame is the most difficult emotion for a child to uncover and process. It lies at the core of her inability to attach. The most shameful thing an infant can experience is not being loved. An infant is supposed to experience herself as the center of the universe. It isn't until a child is much older that she can understand the political/cultural motives behind abandonment. The only way she can interpret it is that she was thrown away because she was bad/ deficient/ unworthy etc. This sense of shame is then heightened by the neglect and deprivation that usually follows in the orphanage. Not only was she unwanted in her birth family, but for a long time no one else wanted or cared for her either.

Thus, the child may develop a core self that is built around shame. She believes everything is her fault, even when it isn't, and that she is an intrinsically bad person who deserves nothing. Every "mistake" she makes is experienced as an assault to her being, a confirmation of her worthlessness and badness. To protect herself from this shame she erects a barrier of rage or terror. It is this shame that lies at the root of her inability to trust, to let in love -- and to change her behavior.

For treatment to be effective, it must ultimately release shameful feelings and help the child separate herself from her actions. So, when she makes a mistake, instead of internalizing that she is not a good girl, she will feel that she is a good girl who just made a mistake, and it's not so devastating.

Most attachment experts agree that traditional therapies such as play therapy do not work. This is because RAD interferes with the child's ability to form an emotional connection with the therapist, which is a prerequisite for success. To complicate the picture, early childhood trauma and memories are stored in the limbic portion of the brain - an area not connected to speech and language centers. These memories are stored as emotions, sensations (sounds, images, smells) and body memories (muscular tensions that can trigger emotional reactions). Traumatized children lack the ability to access these memories through verbal expression.

For RAD children, healing must begin by re-creating the mother/child regulatory bond. The child needs to regress through early stages of infancy to recreate the experience of healthy nurturing which she missed as a baby. She must learn to depend on her parents to care for her, comfort her and meet her needs. Only then will she learn to trust others. Helping your child attach words to her feelings and memories -- as well as to her present safety -- will also help her to organize and make sense out of her experience.

As part of the healing process, the child needs to express her terror, rage, grief and shame, and have these feelings accepted and validated by her adoptive mother. What happened to her was truly terrible. These buried feelings are a part of her experience and therefore a part of who she is -- just as much as her Chinese cultural heritage is a part of who she is. If these feelings are deemed unacceptable, denied, unrecognized, or ignored, then she will feel unacceptable and invisible in her deepest core self. Her feelings will go underground and will re-emerge later in life, being all the more powerful for having been repressed for so long.

However, to simply re-live or express these feelings by themselves is merely re-traumatizing. In order to heal, emotional and body memories must be re-experienced at high intensities in a theraputic setting. By re-living past trauma in the loving physical embrace of her new parents the child will learn that a different outcome is possible. She will feel safe enough to explore the world in a loving, reciprocal way. Only then will she be able to move beyond her past to become a whole human being.
© 2000, all rights reserved. Written by Laura Beck, MSW, Nancy D'Antonio, Lynne Lyon. May not be reproduced in any form without written permission of the authors.

Attachment activities

Activites to Promote Attachment
These are suggestions from therapists and parents of RAD kids

1. Wear infant in a chest carrier, all day if possible, facing IN.
2. Mom should initially be the only person who is meeting the baby's needs. Baby needs to build a bond with one person first, then she can branch out to others.
3. Bathe together, to promote skin to skin contact. Baby & Mom can wear the same lotion so baby associates scent with mom.
4. If you use cologne (or if you don't, use your shampoo), place a tiny bit on her arm so she has your smell with her at all times.
5. Laminate loving family pictures of you together and put around her crib and other places.
6. Outline her body, as well as your own on huge sheets of newsprint. Color them (great activity). Tape the "portraits" to her ceiling.
7. When feeding her something she particularly likes, tell her you are a good mommy/daddy. Telling her with words that you are a good mommy is important -- otherwise, how would she know?!
8. Play with dolls to act out how parents always return after child goes to day care, babysitter, bed, etc.
9. Draw cartoon panels of the day's routine, so that your child can see that Mom and Child always come back to the same home together. Anxiety and stress can interfere with auditory processing, so it is important to use something visual that can be held in the hand.
10. Give your child a laminated picture of the family to carry with her all the time.
11. Limit choices. At first parents should make all decisions, including foods, toys and clothes. This helps the child feel safe. Then as the child becomes accustomed to the new family, limited choices can be given, e.g. a choice between 2 foods.
12. Dress alike. Wear the same colors, type of outfit, accessories, hairstyle, etc. and point out how you look alike.
13. Claim your child. Tell her she belongs to you. Give her a big hug and say "MINE!" Make up songs about your family, e.g.:
I am your Mom
You're my sweet girl
Just like a pearl
so rare and precious
You are mine
and I am yours
'Cause together we're a family.

Encourage Eye Contact

"Look in my eyes. Don't look away" - Mr. Soil from Bug's Life

1. Bottle feed no matter what the age. Encourage eye contact by gently touching her cheek. DO NOT let her hold the bottle. Nourishment has to come from parent(s); be sure to hold her when feeding.
2. If she turns away (avoiding eye contact) try placing a large mirror accross from you. That way, when she turns away, she will see herself in your embrace.
3. Continue to hold her in your gaze. It may take a long time for her to glance at you. When she finally does, be ready with a warm, loving, approving smile. This sounds little, but is really big and pays big rewards in our experience.
4. Encourage eye contact by gently tapping the bridge of her nose and yours as a hand-signal to look at you.
5. Stroke her cheek.
6. Put her hands on your cheeks. Children's eyes often go where their hands are.
7. Play Peek-a boo. This develops the concept of object permanence (that even if you can't see something, it's still there). For kids who are still anxious about Mommy leaving, repeat "Where's the Baby? Here's the Baby! Where's Mommy? Here's Mommy! Mommy goes to work, Mommy comes home!" to emphasize the message that Mommy always comes back.
8. Have baby pull a sticker off your nose - and put it back.
9. Wear a stick-on dot or earring as a "beauty mark."
10. Stare into each other's eyes. If your child can keep eye contact for 20 seconds, feed her a chocolate kiss or candy heart. Increase the amount of time.
11. MUSICAL NOSE - Sing a song and let your child pinch your nose so you sound very silly. You stop singing if she breaks eye contact.
12. MUSICAL SWING - put child in baby swing. Face her as you push. Encourage eye contact by singing a song, and stopping if she looks away.
13. Fill your cheeks with air. Have child "pop" them.
14. Take turns feeding each other. This works great with raisins, cheerios, and popcorn.
15. Eskimo kisses - rub noses and stare into each others eyes.
16. Play in front of a mirror. Make faces, paint Mommy's face, trace each other's faces on the mirror with washable marker, finger paint with shaving cream. Let your child be your puppet and make her dance. Make dolls dance. Any kind of game that gets your child to relax and meet your eyes in the mirror, will likely get her relaxed enough to meet your eyes directly.
17. Instead of using an actual mirror, take turns being each other's mirror. Sit face to face, and have your child imitate every facial movement you make, and vice versa. Then try it with your whole body, mirroring each other's movements.
18. For an older child, try lipreading with each other. While you're not really getting eye contact, you're at least looking at each other's faces.

Games which Encourage Attachment

1. Play hide and seek (also develops object permanence).
2. Play catch! Roll a ball back and forth (teaches reciprocity). Throwing or batting a balloon back and forth may be easier than throwing a ball for little ones.
3. Hold baby in your arms and dance with her. A very synchronous activity.
4. Swim together.
5. Paint each others faces with paint, power, or just pretend.
6. Put lotion on each other.
7. A Memory game but with a more personal touch: Have your child look you over very carefully. Then leave the room and return after you've changed something about yourself. See if she can figure out what is different. It could be something really obvious for younger kids, like taking off a sweater, but for older kids you could get more challenging, like buttoning one more button on the sweater.
8. Guess the Goodies: Put several small treats in a bag or cup. child closes their eyes. You pop a treat in their mouth and they try to guess what it is.
9. Tunnels: Parents kneel on floor forming a tunnel. Child crawls through the tunnel as fast as they can before the tunnel collapses. first few times let child get completely through, then have it gently collapse onto child.
10. Pillow ride: have child sit on big floor pillow and you drag them around the room. You only move when given eye contact.
11. M&M hockey: Use bendy straws and blow candy across table to other persons goal. When you score a goal, the opponent feeds you the candy.
12. Marshmallow fight: Each person uses a pillow as a shield. Sit on the floor and throw marshmallows at each other. Gets wild and crazy and is a lot of fun. Can do the same with crumpled paper.
13. Crawling into arms: Child starts in corner of room. Cannot start until adult says go. Start by saying "lo", "mo" etc. instead of "go" to help child learn to attend better. Then child crawls across room as fast as they can to you. You are standing on other side of room and make a large circle with arms. Child needs to stand up in the circle. gradually reduce the size of the circle and gets a big reward of kisses hugs and/or a treat.
14. Jumping across pillows to arms: set up pillow islands in a pattern across floor. Child starts at one end, you are at the other. Child starts when you direct them to as noted above. Child jumps across the islands and into your arms.
Finding goodies. Hide candies on yourself and child needs to find them.
15. Donut Dare: You hold a donut on your finger through the hole and the child sees how many bites they can take before it falls off.
16. Lifesavers on Licorice String: Put each end of shoestring licorice in yours and childs mouth (helps to tie a knot so that it stays in mouth better). Have a gummy lifesaver on the string. By standing up and maneuvering without hands, feed the lifesavers to each other.

Circle of Love

My daughter is 4, and for a long time didn't quite "get" who she could be affectionate with, and who deserved a handshake or less. We took a long sheet of paper (therapist suggestion) and drew a big heart on one end and drew pictures of our immediate family within it. This was "our family circle of love", and we discussed how we can always act lovingly toward anyone in our immediate family circle (*HINT* draw your daughter's birthmother in there too! I didn't think of it and it came back at me later!). Then, in smaller descending hearts we drew extended family, then friends, then doctors, mail carriers, casual babysitters etc. We talked about appropriate behavior for her toward each group, practiced scenarios, and I also gave her permission to NOT hug or kiss anyone outside her immediate family.

What I had been thinking was totally an attachment issue really turned out to be, for us, a missed-rung on the post-institutional developmental ladder...the mural idea gave us lots to discuss, and very much helped her behaviors.
Sensory Activities
Mouth - to improve speech

1. Lots of bubble blowing.
2. Drinking with a straw, especially thick milkshakes.
3. Whistle blowing (I know, it can become irritating to mom real fast).
4. Party blowers -- the ones that un-curl and then curl back up again.
5. Provide different kinds of textures to move around -- both with his tongue and with his hands: baby peas, rice, couscous, puddings, jello. Paint a plate with chocolate pudding and then eating it off the plate and hands is fun -- although you might want to try a colored plate and vanilla pudding if your child is under two.
6. Wake up his taste buds -- sour candies like Sweet Tarts, chili, pepper, mustard, paprika, pickles -- anything with vinegar. Learning the sour taste is especially important.
7. Tapping very lightly above the upper lip above the gum line--but NOT on the midline.
8. Making "mouth music."
9. Tear tissue in small pieces or strips and blow it across the table top.

Tactile - Loubee, Dobee Time

One mom uses Creamy Style Vaseline, and makes lotion time an attachment activity time with these games:

1. Pass the lotion. Get lots of lotion on your hand and let your daughter try to get all of it off, and then pass it back and forth.
2. Slippy hands. After lotioning pretend to hold on tight to each others' hands and then "whoops" slip off backwards with lots of exageration and laughter.
3. Hand Stacking. Place your hand on the bottom, then one of your daughters, then yours, then your daughters. Slip your bottom hand out and put it on top. Just keep on going to "build the stack".
4. Lotion painting. Paint pictures on eack other and then rub them in and start over.

More on attachment

Attachment is one of the fundamental biological processes necessary in most animals for survival of the species like reproduction, care-giving, care-taking, feeding, and environmental awareness. Attachment has been described as operating unnoticed much like the physiological regulators that control our blood pressure and body temperature. The attachment process begins to develop in the first few months of a child's life. In developing the parent-child bond, the attachment process for the infant is the reciprocal behavior to the adult's (primarily but not always the mother figure) care-giving process. Simply stated, it is a process that operates to enhance the safety and security of the infant and to aid the infant in getting his or her needs met in humans: touch, eye contact, smiles, motion, and food.

Currently many people still believe that babies and children can recover from just about anything and that not much affects or influences them. This fallacy has helped to create many harmful beliefs and behaviors toward babies and children. How well the infant is able to get its needs met in the first year of life has much to do with the child's development not only physically but also psychologically. The process of meeting the child's needs influences whether the child develops feeling angry or happy; hopeless, helpless or hopeful; dissatisfied or satisfied; and distrustful or trustful about his or her care-givers. The child begins to understand whether his or her world is a safe place or not. It has been estimated that by the end of the first year of life the child has learned 50% and by the end of the second year 75% of everything he or she will learn in their life. Among the many things learned are how to have relationships with people, how he or she fits into the world, and methods of controlling external and internal influences over his or her life.

Children begin to develop attachment behaviors that are described as either secure or insecure. Insecure attachment behavior is further described as ambivalent, avoidant, or disoriented-disorganized depending on a behavior pattern. The pattern of attachment behavior can be influenced greatly by what happens in the child's environment. Children have the ability to attach on any level, even a traumatic one. Traumatic events can damage a secure base or therapeutic intervention can aid in reducing the damage of an insecure base. While the behaviors must be thought of as operating on a continuum, it is clear that many insecurely attached children have behaviors that can be very destructive to themselves and others. These behavior are not always apparent at first without the proper knowledge. You may want to adopt a special needs child but you need to have enough appropriate information to make your decision and to prepare for the future.

An issue that is not apparent, for example, is called the "fantasy bond." "This can occurs when children who have no conscious memory of their birth parents continue to have a longing to find their birth parents with the hope, dream, or fantasy that if their birth mother or father knew where they were, they would come for them. Out of this sense of longing, they develop a belief that they must save their love for their real' momma, the mom who gave birth to them. This tendency of children to withhold their love. . .can increase their chances of continuing to disrupt (fail) in their adoptive or foster placements, exhtmlerating feelings of abandonment and reaffirming their belief that only their birth parents could really love them. Even children who have memories of severe abuse and neglect, when in the care of their birth parents will often, later, deny this experience and fantasize a feeling of close connectedness with their birth parents. . . .they have deeply internalized their experiences of abuse, neglect, and abandonment as being their fault because there was something wrong with them. They fantasize that, if they can go back and act differently, they can then elicit the love from their birth parents that they feel is there for them" (Attachment Center at Evergreen, 1995, p. 56).

To improve your chances for a successful adoption, you need to be as fully informed and prepared as possible. Do not assume people in the adoption business "must know what they are doing." Read all you can on the subject, ask every question you have, and use every resource available to you. This is a major decision not only for you but also the child you are going to bring home. Below are suggested questions to ask yourself and others, checklists, and suggested resources. This is not everything but it is a place to start.

Questions to ask yourself

* Do we thoroughly understand the process of attachment or parent-child bonding and the consequences of children experiencing insecure attachment or broken attachments_

* Do we have the necessary commitment to make an investment in parenthood that raising a child requires_

* Do we know what kind of child we would consider bringing into our home_

* Do we have sufficient knowledge to ask the right questions about a child_

* Do we know how to establish resources before we adopt that we may need after the adoption_

* Do we have the patience to participate in pre- and post-adoption placement counseling to be prepared for the problems that will arise_

* Do we have the financial resources including adoption subsidies to raise this child_

* Does the adoption subsidy include appropriate psychotherapy and residential treatment if these become necessary_

Questions to ask agencies and caseworkers

* Is the agency willing to provide full disclosure of all records prior to adoption finalization_

* What were the circumstances that placed this child in foster care and for adoption_

* What is the history of this child_

* What kind of abuse (physical, emotional, and/or sexual) has this child endured_

* How long has this child been in foster care and what kinds_

* How many times has this child been moved since birth_

* What are the existing or potential problems for this child_

* What post-adoption intervention resources are available should problems arise_

To get more ideas about what adoptive parents need to know before adopting, read Keck and Kupecky's book Adopting The Hurt Child, especially chapter six "Dreams and Realities."

Signs of Attachment Difficulties (Birth-one)

* Failure to respond with recognition to face of primary caretaker in first six months.

* Infrequent vocalizations,babbling, crying.

* Delayed milestones,creeping, crawling, sitting.

* Resistant to physical contact or appears stressed by it,rigid and unyielding.

* Excessive fussiness and irritability.

* Passive or withdrawn.

* Poor muscle tone,flaccid

Signs of Attachment Difficulties (Ages 1-5)

* Excessively clingy and whiny.

* Persistent, frequent tantrums, sometimes escalating apparently beyond the child's control.

* High threshold of discomfort,seemingly oblivious to temperature discomfort; picks sores and scabs until bloody without manifesting pain.

* Unable to occupy self in a positive way without involving others.

* Resistant to being held.

* Demands affection in a controlling way on the child's terms.

* Intolerant of separation from primary caretakers except on the child's terms.

* Indiscriminate display of affection, sometimes to strangers.

* Problems of speech development q,Problems of motor coordination,considered accident prone.

* Hyperactivity evident

* Feeding problems

* By five, may be manipulative, devious, destructive, hurtful to pets, frequently lying.

Symptoms of Attachment Disorder (Ages 5-14)

* Superficially engaging and "charming": uses "cuteness" to get others to do what he or she wants.

* Lack of eye contact on parental terms: difficulty making eye contact with others while talking with them.

* Indiscriminate affection with strangers: goes up to strangers and becomes overly affectionate with them or asks to go home with them.

* Not affectionate on parents' terms (not cuddly): refuses affection and pushes parents away unless child is in control of how and when it is received.

* Destructive to self, others, and material things; accident prone: seems to enjoy hurting others and deliberately breaks or ruins things.

* Cruelty to animals: May included incessant teasing, physical assault, torture, or ritualistic killing.

* Stealing: steals from their home, parents, and siblings and in ways that almost guarantees getting caught.

* Lying about the obvious: lies for no apparent reason when it would have been just as easy to tell the truth.

* No impulse controls (frequently acts hyperactive): extremely defiant and angry; needs to be in control of events in his or her life; tends to boss others; responds with prolonged arguing when asked to do something.

* Learning lags: often underachieves in school.

* Lack of cause and effect thinking: surprised when others are upset by his or her actions.

* Lack of conscience: unconcerned about hurting others or destroying things.

* Hoarding or gorging food: hoards or sneaks food or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, glue, paints, flour, garbage, etc.).

* Poor peer relationships: difficulty making friends or keeping friends more than a week; bossy in his or her play with others.

* Preoccupation with fire or gore: fascinated with or preoccupied by fire, blood, or morbid activities.

* Persistent questions and chatter: asks repeated nonsensical questions or chatters non-stop.

* Inappropriately demanding and clingy: tries to get attention by demanding things instead of asking for them; clingy or affectionate only when wanting something.

* Abnormal speech patterns: along with other more serious symptoms, may develop unusual speech patterns.

Factors that contribute to a successful adoption
McKelvey and Stevens, Adoption Crisis (1993, p. xviii)

* Youth (older children have a harder time adjusting to an adoptive home)

* A minimum number of moves and foster placements (frequent moves traumatize children)

* A permanency plan developed immediately after the child enter the system

* Preplacement services to assess the family strengths and skill, and to ease the transition

* A correct temperament match between parents and child

* Full disclosure of the child's history and a realistic appraisal of the disruption risk

* Postplacement intervention before problems become crises

* Ongoing training and support for parents, lasting through adolescence in "special-needs" adoptions.

Attachment disorder

As we get nearer I am refreshing my memory on attachment procedures etc, to be equipted to help Julia develop and not get attachment disorder, info on what it is is below:

"Attachment Disorder is developed when children . . . do not form a trusting bond in infancy and early childhood. A lack of trust generates feelings of aloneness, being different, pervasive anger, and an inordinate need for control. A trusting bond is essential in continued personality and conscience development, and serves as the foundation for future intimate relationships."
Reprinted from Attachment, Trauma, and Healing, by Terry M. Levy and Michael Orlans

"Most professionals who work with and study the process of bonding and attachment agree that a child's first eighteen to thirty-six months are critical. It is during this period that the infant is exposed in a healthy situation to love, nurturing, and life-sustaining care. The child learns that if she has a need, someone will gratify that need, and the gratification leads to the development of her trust in others."

The Bonding Cycle

Prior to gratification, frustration is heightened. It is during this frustration that the foundation for delaying gratification is laid. This is critical learning with lifelong implications.
Bonding Cycle Diagram

During the delay after her first cry, the infant may become increasingly angry or rageful; her state of arousal is high. it is at this point that she is receptive to her parents' gratifying efforts, which include touching, smiling, rocking, feeding, changing, making eye contact, and vocal soothing. Presenting a valuable opportunity for attaching between parent and child, these acts allow the child to begin to trust that her parents can and will care for her and protect her. The cycle is repeated thousands of time in the first two years of an infant's life, forming the foundation of every other developmental task of human life. This is not to suggest that later events will have no bearing on the course of a person's life. Instead, it is to say that without the successful completion of this cycle at some point, it is doubtful that an individual's growth will proceed normally without specific therapeutic intervention.

Failure to complete and repeat the bonding cycle leads to serious problems in the formation of the child's personality which, in most cases, will have lifelong implications. When the bonding cycle is interrupted problems arise in these areas:

* Social/behavioral development
* Cognitive development
* Emotional development
* Cause-and-effect thinking
* Conscience development
* Reciprocal relationships
* Parenting
* Accepting responsibility

The child who has experienced abuse, neglect . . . has a limited range of emotional responses. She frequently attempts to disconnect from her most uncomfortable feelings specifically, sadness and fearfulnessbecause they make her feel vulnerable and weak. In trying to escape these feeling, she often heightens her arousal with anger.

Anger for her feels strong. It is familiar. Better still, it acts as an emotional anesthesia. Anger is a friend that can be called upon whenever the child is feeling weak or powerless, or sad.

We have focused primarily on early neglect and abuse, because that is the most damaging. A child who is abused after the age of three will be traumatized, and may have problems as a result, but she will not be hurt in the same way as a younger child. Once developmental progress has been made, it cannot be undone. It is the abuse and neglect that occur during the early stages of personality formation that cause the deepest damage. Imagine the stability of a skyscraper built without a foundation and you begin to see the fragility of a child denied the right to a healthy start.
Reprinted with permission from Adopting the Hurt Child. Hope for Families with Special-Needs Kids, Gregory C. Keck, PhD, and Regina M. Kupecky, LSW, Pinon Press

Thursday, September 02, 2010

Matching for this month has begun

Folks have posted that CCAA is now working at matching children to their forever families for the September referrals. We are praying, that if this is THE month, for the Lord to guide them to be HIS hands that match us or ANY of these families with the child He has planned for them.

Couple weeks we should know the result for this month....

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

September is here

Picture of me in the local paper from a gig I recently did.

Here we go...will it be this month or next? still a couple weeks until we know!

All of a sudden after 4.5 years of waiting we suddenly have lots of projects to get down...ripping out closet walls to expand stuff, laying carpet, paneling walls,building a cosleeper bed, and this at my work peak season with Sunday school stuff trying to get going and fall programming...CRAZY ride time!!!

My birthday is coming up, so as a gift to myself I took money from shows to buy a bigger illusion so I have a big closer for stage shows, so we are quickly building up the stuff I need to perform ANYwhere for any group. I am also working on some more youth oriented magic-razor blade swallowing, some crazy mentalism type things...Now the real trick is finding the time to get these things stage ready!

Cara is scaling back her scrapbooking stuff a bit more,thus the ability to renovate the basement a bit, Katie is a delight until she "goes sideways" and we see a bit of a drama queen with an attitude emerge,this stage can pass quickly LOL!

busy times but details are not all that exciting, we are in our anticipating and waiting stage, it is permeating our entire home, we know a new normal is about to be unleashed, so we crouch and wait to embrace it...