Thursday, October 25, 2012

Friday, May 25, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.9

Oops! Meant to post this on Tues. Oh well. Here it is now....

Special Treatment
The topic of today's post is more related to general parenting than it is to RAD/attachment, however, I have found I use this concept more now that I have a RADish in the fold. It's about special treatment.

I know the trend today is equal treatment for all kids. If Suzie has a birthday, you'd better be sure little Johnny has something to open as well, so he doesn't feel left out. If McKenzie ran in the race on field day, she'd better get a medal for "participation", even if she finished middle of the pack.

Well, call me slow, but I've never caught on to this particular trend. I don't think we're doing this generation of kids any favors by letting them think "everyone's a winner". We're not. Some excel at running, some at art, some at cheer and others at math. And that's OK.

 On the flip side, some kids need a little extra help at things their peers find easy-peezy. That's alright, too. And what do we do with kids that need some extra help, and could easily get quite discouraged? We find ways to help motivate them.

I've always tried to teach my kids that fairness has a way of making the rounds. Your brother got some special reward/treat today? Great, let's be happy for him. That may be you next week. Or next month. Who knows?
Sometimes, one of the kids may need a little extra help to get through a tough section in their science class. Maybe I might reward them in some small way if they completed all their homework, and they studied, and they did passably well on the test.
 When the kids were little and one of them had to take a nasty course of antibiotics, I was no stranger to sticker charts to help motivate them, with a little prize at the end to reward them for getting through it.

Likewise, kids with RAD need extra help learning to be a part of a family. And I'd better not hear, "He gets a reward just for being nice? NO FAIR!" Because you know what? That doesn't come easy to him, and he needs a little help to learn how to do it. Just like the others, at different times, needed help learning to read, or keeping their room clean, or establishing the habit of using their agenda book in school, or using the potty, or anything else that might have been difficult or challenging at one time or another.

The list of things that a child with attachment issues or a history of trauma might have trouble with could include:
eye contact
appropriate physical boundaries
respectful language
putting forth effort in school
understanding the sense of a "family"
contributing to chores
resolving disputes in a controlled manner

I have no problem using incentives to help a child of mine learn these concepts. To me it is no different than any of the other examples I listed above. The hard part can be educating others (siblings, teachers, other family members, parents of friends) that there is no difference.

It should be this simple: Area of struggle (_____) for the child ---> help from parent in a way that will be meaningful for the child. I should be able to fill in any area of struggle into the blank, not just the ones people are used to seeing most commonly. Practice the trumpet? Clean your room? Say something nice to your sibling?
Help your children (and others, as needed) learn that it doesn't matter what area your child is struggling with. What matters is that you've identified it, and you are helping him or her in the best way you know how.

Previous posts on Attachment:
Attachment The Attachment Tree
Attachment.2 I Love You
Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky
Attachment.4 Control
Attachment.5 Cycles
Attachment.6 Consequences
Attachment.7 Add It On
Attachment.8 - Attachment Activities


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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.8

Ruh-Roh. I meant to post this yesterday... I thought I would post a list of some simple activities you could do with your adopted child to foster attachment. As with any advice you read on caring for a traumatized child, know your child, be aware of the ways in which he or she was traumatized in the past, and know what could be unsettling for him now. For instance, the staring contest is a game I used to play with Julie back in Kazakhstan, and it was helpful and fun. I would hesitate to use this same game with James. So, just use your judgement. Staring Game Sit across from your child, holding hands, and stare at each other. You can play till the first person blinks, but I prefer till the first person laughs. Laughing, of course, gets those endorphins flowing, but trying to keep from blinking makes me feel like I'm going to cry. This game, obviously, encourages eye contact, but it's also just plain fun.
Hair Brushing This works a bit better with girls, of course, but taking turns brushing each other's hair is a wonderful attachment activity. For that matter, painting each other's fingernails and toenails is, too. As an aside, for my girls who were afraid of dogs when they first came home to us, I found if they could brush the dogs, they became more comfortable and less afraid of them. Telling Stories This activity works great one on one in the car. I remember driving James to his therapist appointments, and he would say to me, "Tell me a story." He always wanted a story about me; my childhood, especially. In the beginning I would tell him one after the other, but then I started exacting a toll: for each story I told, he needed to tell me one from his past. We learned a lot about each other on those car trips. Back Scratches Scratching each other's backs is a very nice, non-threatening way to get that extra touch in, especially for any children who might be uncomfortable/sensitive to soft touch. It can be done above the shirt if they're not able to handle skin-to-skin contact. If there's no history of sexual abuse, you can move on to include massage, but always start with something deep, like shoulder rubs, and see how they tolerate it. Rocking I know for small children, it is often recommended that you take some time to sit them in your lap, rock them, and actually feed them a bottle. While I understand the theory behind this, it always weirded me out a bit. However, I still think there's incredible value to be found in rocking a child in your lap. I've done this with all my adopted kids, and they were nearly six, 10, and nearly 14 when they arrived home. Now, with the older ones, we started this acivity more like a joke, and it was just a silly thing they could laugh at, but when the giggles subsided, I could feel them melt into me as I hummed a soft tune and petted their hair. There is no place of comfort like a Mama's lap. Hope these help.... Previous posts on Attachment: Attachment The Attachment Tree Attachment.2 I Love You Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky Attachment.4 Control Attachment.5 Cycles Attachment.6 Consequences Attachment.7 Add it on. Image courtesy: Don't forget, I am now posting daily on my blog Life on the Funny Farm. Come on over! Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.7

This is just a quick little tip. As I've mentioned before, kids with RAD tend to love control. There's good reason for it, to be sure, but nonetheless it can be a difficult trait to live with. One way my boy has used control has been to try to lord over his siblings, making sure they don't get a minute past their bedtime, an extra scoop of ice cream in their bowl, dessert when they haven't eaten their dinner, well, the list goes on and on, but I'm sure you get the picture. When he goes through these phases, he is constantly "on", watching for any and all infractions. He is the fairness police, and comes to me with every little thing. It gets everyone all stirred up, and any semblance of harmony flies right out the window. And so I found a little trick that works wonders. Because, you know, simply telling him to mind his own business, or not worry about it, or to relax and let me worry about got us positively NOwhere. What I do when he gets like this, is "add it on". If he's upset that Rosie is staying up past her bedtime, Rosie simply gets to stay up even later. Daniel is taking too much ice cream? Here, Daniel, have a little more. Patrick has been on xbox too long? Take an extra 15, Patrick.
He learns pretty quickly to let things be, and let me take care of it, because it makes him crazy for them to get even more of what they already had "too much" of. When we first started using this trick, it made things worse for a little while, but he eventually learned the drill, and nowadays the fairness police is taking it easy. Previous posts on Attachment: Attachment The Attachment Tree Attachment.2 I Love You Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky Attachment.4 Control Attachment.5 Cycles Attachment.6 Consequences Image courtesy: Don't forget, I am now posting daily on my blog Life on the Funny Farm. Come on over! Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.6

Consequences When I was a newbie to RAD, I was pretty clueless about how to handle giving consequences to my son. What had always worked for me with my other kids absolutely did not work with him. Although I sort of knew the 'why' behind it namely, control it didn't make it any easier to navigate my way through the stormy seas I was sailing through. You parents out there, you know the drill when it comes to disciplining your child... Back sass? Hand over your phone. Refuse to pitch in for chores? Give me your DS. Pick a fight with your brother? Go to your room. Ummm, no. Can't take from him, can't make him. Even a couple years ago he was bigger than I was. And even if he wasn't? No amount of me trying to lord over him was going to be met with compliance. No way in hell. Only made him dig in deeper, and I always found myself looking like the ineffectual idiot that I was. That is, till my good friend Dee offered me some advice. See, she was going through roughly the same thing as I was, only she had more experience as well as more actual book knowledge in these matters than I. What she advised was to not threaten to remove privileges or give extra chores, or anything else that involved some level of cooperation from him. She reminded me that there are always favors our kids want from us, and that withholding favors, as simple as it sounds, was the most effective way to give consequences. So if my child was disrespecting me, I learned not to get all angry and start telling him he was going to have extra chores or no phone or anything else that could result in a power struggle, but to simply let him know that when he treats me disrespectfully and unkindly, it makes me feel like I do not want to help him out, or to do nice things for him. The ride to his friend's house he was hoping for? Not gonna happen. That special snack he likes me to make? Don't much feel like making that anymore. Not in a nanny-nanny-foo-foo kind of way, but in a simply stated, when you're not kind to me and to others in the family, I'm left not wanting to do nice things for you, or to help you out. That has helped me tremendously.
There's another trick I've learned, too, but it's late. I think I'll save that one for next week. I should also say that I know I had talked earlier about consequences that involve the cooperation of the child (like handing over a phone or doing extra chores). There is a time in your child's progress where that can work, and James (and I) are reaching it. In the past, we could not go there, and I needed to really learn to scale things back to the extremely simplified method above. Only very gradually can you introduce discipline in which the child struggling with RAD can take part in voluntarily giving up a privilege, or taking on a chore. Know your child, and tread lightly when moving forward. Sorry I did things kind of out of order, but I hadn't really planned this series out in terms of what and when I would introduce concepts. In other words, I'm flying by the seat of my pants here, so please bear with me. If you want to revisit any of the topics in attachment I've already covered, here are the links: Attachment The Attachment Tree Attachment.2 I Love You Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky Attachment.4 Control Attachment.5 Cycles Join us for Gratituesday at Heavenly Homemakers! Don't forget, I am now posting daily on my blog Life on the Funny Farm. Come on over! Top Mommy Blogs - Click To Vote!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


Before I start in on today's post about attachment, I'd like to give a shout out to a bloggy friend of mine named Denise.

Denise is author of the blog Fostering a Blessing, and she is a single foster Mom to two boys. And she is struggling. She is new to parenting. She is new to adoption issues and trauma issues and attachment issues. It has NOT been a walk in the park for her.

When I write my pieces on attachment, she is right there in the front of my mind as I write, although I wasn't sure if she was reading them or not.

But last week, I was catching up on her blog, as I had missed a few posts, and I saw this:

On Tuesday mornings I so look forward to reading my friend Anne's blog. On Tuesday she writes about a topic that is near and dear to me...attachment. Today I love her it. It is about parenting a kiddo with RAD. I could have written it...except for the part about how to parent through it. My natural instinct is the type of parenting where I throw gas on the fire. I am learning...slowly learning.

Here is Anne's post....Attachment.

Thanks Anne for enlightening me every single week. For being a constant reminder that these kids need something "different". God....thank you for bringing Anne into "my life". I hope to one day meet her in person. Through you all things are possible.

Wow. Denise, I'm so glad that my blog has been helpful to you. Having never met you, this will sound strange, but I am so very proud of you. I think you're doing an amazing job with these boys. Please know that even if you don't hear from me (I often have trouble commenting on your blog), you are always in my thoughts and in my prayers. God bless.....

Now then. Today's post on attachment. I'd like to touch on the cyclical nature of attachment with traumatized kids.
When parenting a child with attachment issues, you go through some pretty tough, very intense times. Times that make you question whether you can continue in this role. Times when you wonder how much longer you can make it the way things are. And then suddenly, it's better. And you think, "I MADE IT!!!!" You crossed the finish line and you're lying in an exhausted heap, but your child is lying next to you and you're both breathless, but you hold hands and your heart rate begins to return to normal. And you think that easy days are stretched before you and you can breathe again, and you pat yourself on the back for having made it.

  Cue sound of needle scratching across the record.

Sadly, this is NOT the way of it. With attachment disorders, it's two steps forward, one step back, and parents need to be prepared for this. Because generally speaking, the timeline goes a little something like this:
1) Adopted or foster child joins family.
2) Everyone enjoys a nice, comfortable honeymoon period.
3) Child starts to feel safe enough to scare himself.
4) Child begins to act out and push away. There is an "epispode".
5) Everyone is stressed and things unravel a bit.
6) It ends and things settle a bit. The calm after the storm.
7) Parents feel a false sense of security. Child begins to feel safe and secure, b/c he just went through the Tunnel of Stress with his parents, and yet he's still with the family, and there are still feelings of affection.
8) The safe and secure feelings scare the bejesus out of the kid. When he's felt this way in the past, it hasn't ended well for him, so yeah, he gets scared.

Numbers 4 - 8 get repeated on a loop. Hopefully, if things are going well, and learning is taking place, there will be more and more time in the calm after the storm phase, and fewer and fewer incidents, with less intensity.

With any luck skill and patience and love and support, the acting-out behaviors will eventually be extinguished.

So. Bottom line: when you hit a smooth stretch, enjoy it, but don't let your hair down. Appreciate it for what it is, and turn up the volume on the attachment activities, but don't fool yourself into thinking you've hit the homestretch. Chances are, that's still a long ways off.

If you'd like to read the other posts in my series on attachment, you can find them here:
Attachment The Attachment Tree
Attachment.2 I Love You
Attachment.3 Keck and Kupecky
Attachment.4 Control

Hey everyone, guess what? I'm guest-posting on Scary Mommy today! She's featuring my post "I am My Mother, and...." today, so go check it out. And above all? Share, share, SHARE! Much love!

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Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.4


A common theme for kids with attachment issues is control, and that's what I'm going to touch on today.

These kids have lost so much in their lives, and it's always been out of their control. Because of that, they love to hold on to control wherever they can, and they do not react well when control is imposed upon them by others, be they parents, teachers, caseworkers, you name it.

Many of the behavior problems we see with RAD kids are based on their desire to be in control. When James' Reactive Attachment Disorder first began to surface, I treated his behavior problems the same as I treated any other behavior problems exhibited by my kids. In short, I tried to exert MY control over HIM. Each time, I was basically just lighting his fuse. And it was a short one.

Wrong move.

He would engage in an inappropriate behavior.

I would attempt to impose a consequence immediately.

He would refuse to submit to whatever consequence I was handing out.

I would get angry and up the stakes, piling a bunch of "if - then" consequences on top of our already out-of-control emotional brush-fire.

Emotional responses ran amok for the both of us, and the rest of the family suffered the effects of an out-of-harmony home.

Through therapy, reading, and the support of the RAD community, I have learned to not react so strongly and emotionally to his misdeeds.

Instead, if he goes against household rules, I let him know, with as little emotion in my voice and on my face as I can pull off, that what he did was wrong. I then tell him we will talk about it later, and I try to remove myself (and any involved in this "conflict") from his vicinity.

When the stars are aligned, he will continue to perform some reaction-provoking behavior for awhile. I/we will ignore it. After some time, he will go up to his room of his own accord. Next day, he will apologize, and we will talk about consequences (losing his phone, for example).

Of course, it didn't always (and currently doesn't always) go this smoothly, because part of the control for him is getting reactions. We're mostly past it now, but when he didn't get the reactions he was looking for, he would often just up the ante. At different times in our past, police have been to the house, trips have been made to the ER, furniture has been upended.

The trick to parenting kids with attachment disorders is to know the difference between simple reaction-provoking behaviors that can usually be handled by not getting drawn in, and the more serious behaviors that can lead to injury to family members if not handled expertly, which may involve professionals, or possibly hospitalization for the child.

If the child is able to have a discussion (later that day or next day) about his behaviors and the consequences, I have found it's a good idea to let him help choose what the consequence will be by giving a few choices. This, again, goes to letting them hold on to some of the control.

Couple nights ago, James wanted to watch a movie with my husband. Fred was pretty fried, and he had other plans which involved an early bedtime.
B/c of James' history, he didn't take to this well, and started getting antsy. He began accusing his Dad of favoritism and being self-centered, and being old and just all manner of things.
Fred went back and forth with him a bit, then realized what was at play and simply dropped himself out of the conversation.
James lay on the sofa and kept slamming his arm against the couch. Very annoying, when done repeatedly, but really no harm, no foul, so we just ignored him.
Luckily, there were no other kids in the room, or that would have been a whole other ball of wax.
Every now and then he would resurface to say something more about Fred being self-centered, which we would just ignore.
After awhile, he went up to his room, but not before telling Fred that he hated him.
We ignored.
Next morning, he still had a little troubling behavior going on with his sibs, but soon settled down.
A few hours later, I had a talk with him. The conversation remained calm, and it spoke to why he is likely feeling these things towards Dad, as well as to why the things he said are inappropriate.
Finally, it touched on consequences. He had three choices: lose his computer for the day, lose his phone for the day, or clean out dad's garage. He chose to lose the phone. Plus, of course, an apology.

If we had demanded ANY of those things last night, I can tell you it would have ended up VERY differently. Very differently, indeed.

Now, I know this is a very mild example, and pretty easy to deal with. Almost a no-brainer. But I use it to underscore the differences between a child with a troubled past, and a child who has grown up in a loving household his or her whole life. If one of my birth kids (or for that matter, my securely-attached adopted kids) had acted/spoken in this way, you can bet they would not have waltzed off to their room unchecked. That kind of disrespect would have been dealt with swiftly. But with traumatized/poorly-attached kids, this reactionary method to discipline simply does not work. It not only doesn't work, it makes the situation worse. By far.

So to summarize, when dealing with milder (non-threatening) behaviors with your RAD child,

1) Keep emotion out of it.

2) Give space, either by the child removing himself, or you removing all other family members from his vicinity.

3) Do NOT give out consequences in the moment, but wait until the child has completely calmed down about it.

4) When giving out consequences, always start the discussion with why the behaviors were wrong to begin with. Table-turning can be very helpful: "If I were mad at you, do you think it would be OK for me to tell you I hated you?"

5) Let the child have some choice in selecting the consequence. Present 2 - 4 choices of appropriate consequences, and let him have some say in which it will be.

I hope this helps. If you have any questions, feel free to use the comment form, or message me on FB, or email me.

If you'd like to read the other posts in my series on attachment, you can find them here:


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Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.3

For today's post on attachment, I'm going to share part of an article written by my heroes in attachment, Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky. The full article, with many more ideas, can be found here in Adoptive Families Magazine, but I'm going to share two of their suggestions for helping the adopted child understand his life story and where being a part of your family fits in.

Adoptive Families Magazine article by Gregory Keck and Regina Kupecky

7 Ways to Give Your Child a History

When a child is adopted at an older age, he needs to understand his story up to placement and the significance of his joining a new family forever. Here are hands-on activities you can use to start this conversation.
by Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., and Regina M. Kupecky, LSW

All of us spend at least some time wondering who we are and why we are. For a child who has faced many moves and a chaotic life before adoption, these are difficult questions to answer. But as elusive as the answers may be, they are vital as the child matures into adulthood. Parents can use the following techniques, from our book, Adopting the Hurt Child, to help any child adopted beyond infancy, whether from U.S. foster care or another country, to understand and integrate his past.

As for the correct time to start this conversation, the answer is now. Ideally, the talks should begin before a child's adoption, but it's never too late to start. In fact, it is wise to revisit some of these activities over time as a child's mental, emotional, and cognitive abilities evolve. A parent's response to the question, "Where do babies come from?" would differ if asked by a two-year-old or a 16-year-old. The same should be true when discussing adoption, the child's past, and his resulting emotions.


This exercise can help a child (and his new parents) visualize the moves he's been through, and reinforce the security of his place in his forever family.
•Take a few sheets of graph paper and cut them into two or three horizontal strips. Tape enough strips together to make a row at least 300 squares long. Each square represents one month in your child's life, from birth until age 25. This will help to dispel the 18-and-you're-out mind-set that many foster children have.
•Have your child select a color for each of his placements. If, for example, he chooses blue for his birthmother, and was with her for eight months, he colors eight squares blue. If he was removed and returned, he uses the same color for each stay.
•Underneath the boxes, you or your child should write who lived there, why the child was moved, and any other available information. Continue coloring and writing notes up through the time he's been in your home.

Sixteen-year-old Barbara, adopted at age eight, began acting out as a teen. After making a timeline, she sat back and said, "I've lived here longer than anywhere. I don't need to act like them anymore," pointing at the time she spent with her birthparents and in foster homes. "I need to act like them," she said, indicating the 96 squares that represented her time with her family. Her tumultuous behavior did not smooth out overnight, but it was a way for Barbara to start a new way of thinking.

You can use the timeline as an ongoing ritual. Take it out periodically, so your child can color more time spent with your family. This provides an opportunity to discuss the past and an affirmation of the permanence of your family.


This activity can help a child age five or older to integrate his past with his present. If it’s performed before adoption, it can help a child understand why adoption makes sense for him. After an adoption, it can help relieve a child's anxiety that falsely links acceptance of his new family with rejection of the other families he's known.

To perform it, you'll need a large pitcher, several glasses in varying sizes, and water. Your conversation will probably go something like this:

PARENT: This water pitcher represents you at birth. What's inside?

CHILD: (peering inside) Nothing.

PARENT: That's right. We are all born needing food, clothing, love, and lots more. Now, when you were born, you went home from the hospital with your birthmom, right?

CHILD: Right.

PARENT: And you lived with her for three years. That's a long time. (Choose a large glass and fill it with water.) Your mom gave you food, changed your diapers, and loved you -- she gave you all she could. (Dump the glass into the pitcher.) But are all of your needs met? Are you full? (Indicate the partially filled pitcher.)


PARENT: You're not full because she couldn't keep you safe (or feed you -- give some details from your child’s story). So you went to the Smiths and stayed there for two months. (Fill a much smaller glass with water.) They gave you all they could. (Indicate the glass and dump it into the pitcher.) Now, which part is the Smiths and which part is your birthmom?

CHILD: (Looks into the pitcher and registers amazement.)

PARENT: You can't tell because it's all mixed up inside of you. (Continue to fill glasses and add water to the pitcher for any subsequent placements, talking about the length of time the child spent in each home and the positive and negative aspects of each move. Be careful not to fill the pitcher completely.) We don't want you to forget any of these people. We love you and know that all of these people made you who you are. We want to add to this, not replace it, and fill you up with love (fill the pitcher under the kitchen faucet), so you have enough to fill you and more for everyone you care about (let the pitcher overflow).

Gregory C. Keck, Ph.D., is the founder of the Attachment and Bonding Center (ABC) of Ohio and the author of Parenting Adopted Adolescents. He is a psychologist and the adoptive father of two. Regina M. Kupecky, LSW, is a therapist who treats children with attachment disorders at ABC and the co-author of the therapeutic workbook A Foster-Adoption Story. Keck and Kupecky co-authored Parenting the Hurt Child and Adopting the Hurt Child, from which this piece was adapted. © 1995, 2009 by Gregory C. Keck and Regina M. Kupecky. Used by permission of NavPress, Colorado Springs, CO. All rights reserved. For copies call (800) 366-7788 or visit

Hope this helps. I strongly recommend anything written by Keck and Kupecky.

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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment.2

Last week I began a series on attachment that I thought I would continue every Tuesday. At least for awhile.

Sometimes I will feature an article, sometimes provide a tip, and at times I will just share my experiences and thoughts.


Just a quick tip.

In last week's post, I made the analogy of the parent being like a tree, with the roots being the underlying love the parent has for the child, and the leaves representing the parent's emotions:

The leaves are emotions, and they change as the weather and the seasons change: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, or angry, or frustrated. Regardless of the leaves, though, the tree remains stable, and firmly rooted to the ground. Children with RAD have difficulty with this concept, and will mistake the parent's current emotion for his underlying feelings towards him. In other words, if the parent is angry, the child feels that the parent does not love him.

Because of this, I feel it is important to let your RADish know that even while you are feeling angry towards him or her, there is still love.

What works for me and my son (with RAD) is that while I am angry with him, and talking with a raised voice or more intense tone, I will hold my hand up in the sign for "I love you". In this way, he is getting the message that I love him even though my face and voice and words are telling him I am angry. He has had a lot of difficulty knowing that both can occur simultaneously, and this is a very visual reminder for him.

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Saturday, March 31, 2012

A Reminder

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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Adoption Tuesday - Attachment


A difficult thing to understand.

A difficult thing to instill when its roots weren't grown in infancy.

To those not in the know, when a child has needs, and those needs are met by his caregiver, attachment takes place.

For example: Baby is hungry (need). Baby expresses that need by crying. Caregiver meets that need by feeding the baby, even if it's 2 in the morning. Attachment occurs.

But when those needs are not met, over and over and over again, attachment issues are likely to ensue.

Not surprisingly, about a tenth of adopted children will be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD) and will have difficulty attaching to their adoptive parents. In fact, going beyond this, without treatment, the RAD child may have difficulty forming love-based relationships throughout his or her life.

Since I have a son with RAD, I'd like to explore this issue a bit further from time to time on this blog.

Mind if I start things off with a sappy metaphor?

The Attachment Tree...

OK, so the attachment tree.

Here's the way I see it:

The parent is the tree that the child turns to for its needs.
The leaves are emotions, and they change as the weather and the seasons change: sometimes happy, sometimes sad, or angry, or frustrated. Regardless of the leaves, though, the tree remains stable, and firmly rooted to the ground. Children with RAD have difficulty with this concept, and will mistake the parent's current emotion for his underlying feelings towards him. In other words, if the parent is angry, the child feels that the parent does not love him.

Now, remember when I mentioned those roots of attachment? Those roots are the underlying love that the parent feels for the child, and they are vital. Without the roots, the tree can't stand.

With luck, even when the tree is gone (ie, the parent has passed on), the roots still remain under ground. Not visible, but present nonetheless as the child continues to feel the love of the parent.

Unfortunately, it generally takes a good long while for the RAD child to be aware that the tree is indeed rooted to the ground. He tries to knock it down, push it over. He waits for the wind to blow it away, as so many other caregivers have gone from his life. Slowly, after many many many attempts to push the tree away, the child becomes aware that the roots hold it in place, and give permanency to its structure.

And he begins to take comfort from the tree. From time to time, since he cannot see the roots, he begins to doubt this permanency, and attempts again to knock the tree down, or to run from its embrace. He may strike it, curse it, but if the tree is strong, it will stand. Over time, the child's doubts in what he cannot see will diminish, and he will strike out against it less, and fold into it for comfort more.

(Tune in next week for more in this series)

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Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Adoption Tuesday

As we speak, one of my very good friends is in the final stretch of her "paper pregnancy".

She is delivering.

She is delivering a little girl from being parentless.

She is delivering her child from the feeling that she is not wanted in a family.

Her "pregnancy" lasted 11 months and it involved mountains of paperwork and phone calls and sleepless nights and anguish.

Her "labor pains" began a few days ago when she and her family boarded a plane bound for China.

At the peak of the delivery, a pain that could not be eased by any medication: she had to bear witness to the suffering of another's pain, as the time came for her daughter's caretaker to let go.

But now her daughter has been bathed and swaddled, and is wrapped in her mother's embrace.

An embrace that will carry this girl through her lifetime.

Congratulations, Lori and Dart.
Happy Family Day, little Butterfly.....

Don't forget, I am now posting daily on my blog Life on the Funny Farm. Come on over!

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Saturday, March 17, 2012

Blog Rolls

I see some of the folks who follow me are starting to add Life on the Funny Farm to their blog rolls. Thanks! Weird to see this one slipping away, but it's time. Soon I'll stop posting on this one with reminders and just post the occassional adoption-related post here.

Visit me!
(at the Funny Farm)

Add me!
(to your blog roll)

Add yourself as a follower!
(at the Funny Farm)

Let me tell you how awesomely amazing you are!
(for making the move with me)

And if you're tuning in late and are wondering what's up with the move, you can read it here.

I'm slipping in the ranks. No longer on the first page. That's OK.
I won't ask for your votes anymore.
Just follow me on Life at the Funny Farm and I'll be able to move on.....

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Friday, March 9, 2012

Farm Friday - The Funny Farm

So for a while now I've been leading a double life:

I've kept 2 blogs.

Bringing Borya Home was public, and meant to keep readers abreast of adoption-related topics, where Life on the Funny Farm was private, and intended for inside stories only those in my inner circle would find interesting in the slightest.

But somehow things evolved and I got lazy and time passed and now here I am writing about anything and everything on an adoption blog while Funny Farm sits in a corner all lonely.

And I'm switching things.

I know I'll probably lose a lot of readers, but from now on, Funny Farm will be open to the public, and I will be posting there daily, as I've been doing here. I will still keep Bringing Borya Home open, but will probably only post there if it's an adoption-related topic.

For a good long while, I will post a link on BBH that will take you to the new post on Funny Farm, but to make it easier on yourself, consider adding Funny Farm to your blogroll, or subscribing in whatever way works for you(RSS feed, email, FB, Twitter, etc).

With your help and support, I'm sure we can build Funny Farm up to where you all have taken BBH in no time flat. I added the new blog onto TMB not so long ago, and though it started out in the 900s, it's now in the 200s and moving up every day. Will it ever get to the front page like BBH? I know with your help, it most certainly can.

Consider it a barn-raising.

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Image courtesy:

Thursday, March 8, 2012

There's Just No Stoppin' This Girl.

My sister Mary Birdsong has been at it again.

As you know, she was recently seen on the big screen in The Descendants.

Tues night she was on Raising Hope.

But she's also going to be in the upcoming (still in production) Percy Jackson 2


we just found out she got cast in a new sitcom produced by Roseann Barr! It's called Downwardly Mobile and they'll start shooting next month.

Please form an orderly line for autographs.

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Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Wordless Wednesday - Amish Auction

Passed by an auction on the way home from Lancaster last w/e, and decided to have a look-see.

We saw buggies.
And wagons.
And throngs of black jackets and straw hats.
And mud.
Lots of mud.
And cuteness so sticky sweet it gave me a cavity right there on the spot.

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Tuesday, March 6, 2012

A Tip For Tuesday - March

Because it's March,
in like a lion, out like a lamb

I bring you two tips.

One for the lion-like weather:

No-sew firewood carrier made from a cloth grocery bag.

And one for the lamb-like weather that awaits us:

Keep the bugs out of your drinks with cupcake liners!

Thanks, Pinterest.

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Sunday, March 4, 2012

Sunday Social - Charlie and Dizzy

Next one down on my siggy line...

Wife of Fred for 23 years
Mom of:
Patrick (17)
James (16)
Rosie (14)
Julie (13)
Daniel (12)
My children around the world:
Milly in Taiwan
Eun Hae in South Korea
Felice in Hong Kong
Nadya in Germany
Obrin in New York
And our critters Blue, Sunny, Cindy-Lou, Annabelle, Fiona, and Sophie; Mamfy, Mali, Milky and Punkin; Nick; Frog 1; Charlie and Dizzy; Minnie and Alice; Elfie, Frex, Crope, Tibbit and Ozzy; Genevieve, Pippin and Finnegan; and a dozen or so chooks.

I'd like to ask God why He allows
hunger, poverty, and injustice
in the world,but I'd be afraid
He'd ask me the same thing ...

Once again, please allow me to do a repost as a way of introducing our hamsters Charlie and Dizzy....

It began innocently enough on Friday afternoon. I took the girls and James out on a few shopping errands. We had a nice dinner out at Boston Market and then went by the pet store for our last errand: buying some small goldfish for our ponds.

As luck would have it, they were out of goldfish.

As luck would also have it, we had to walk past the warm furry pets to get to the cold scaly pets.

And of course, we walked right past a cage with little black and white hamsters sitting up on their hind legs looking for all the world like prairie dogs scoping their surroundings.


We asked the nice man to take one out.

We asked the nice man to put her back so we ould talk things over.

Three of the four kids wanted one. As in each. To be kept in their rooms.

I did my best to talk them down.

I told them to forget the 3 - 5 years life expectancy the nice man mentioned. More like 2 for a hamster. They were setting themselves up for more heartbreak.

I told them they would need to clean the cages themselves. They would need to fill the food and water dishes. They would need to handle them with care. The cute little hamsters could possibly bite if they were handled too roughly or not with enough frequency or if the mood struck them.

They would have to pay for them themselves. This little prerequisite knocked one of the kids out of the running as she had just blown through about half her allowance on junk at Five Below.

But the other two, James and Julie, still had cash burning a hole in their pockets from the nice people who gave them gifts for completing their church sacraments.

So much so that Julie even decided to spring for a new cage, though our attic probably has enough critter cages to start a small zoo.

So we grabbed a cart and started loading it up. How much stuff could two pocket rodents possibly need? The cage, 2 bags of bedding (b/c James wanted blue and Julie wanted confetti), food, water bottles, wood chews, little houses, treats,hay, and an exercise ball.

There was no room left in the cart for the actual hamsters.

But somehow we managed, and we got our new pets home and settled into their new digs.

The kids were disappointed when I told them they had to wait till the next day before they could handle their new pets so they could have some time to acclimate, but they made it. And last night they took them downstairs to hold and love and cuddle. And in the process of so doing, they lost one.

Yeah. Someone was holding one of them and she got freaked out when she started climbing up her arm and then she dropped her and then she was on the sofa and then behind the sofa and then under the sofa and the kids were frantically running around searching for their new lost pet and plugging up the air conditioning vents and in general just freaking out.

Oh the joy of being a small critter in our household.

And of course I was blissfully unaware of any of this b/c I was on the road picking up one of the other kids from a party.

But they found her and returned her to her cage before I got home and all was well with the world.

I don't hold out much hope for them. Better start saving the shoeboxes now.

Meet Charlie. Julie's hamster. Got cute?

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Saturday, March 3, 2012

Kid-friendly, Budget-friendly, Clock-friendly Dinner

A few nights ago, I made one of my Mom's old stand-by recipes for dinner. It's a very basic, nothin' fancy recipe, but it was quick, it was cheap, it was tasty. What's not to like?

I tweaked things a bit to make a larger pan, but otherwise....


1 "family size" box of macaroni and cheese, plus about 1/2 box of elbow macs
1 1/2 c butter
1c milk
2T dried onion flakes
Dash garlic powder
Salt and pepper
1lb ground beef
small can tomato sauce
Grated cheddar cheese

Prepare the family-size box of mac and cheese (plus the 1/2 box of elbows), with the butter and milk amounts above. Add in the seasonings.

While that's cooking, brown the ground beef, then drain off the fat.

Add the beef and tomato sauce to the mac and cheese, stirring gently.

Pour into 13 x 9 pan, cover with grated cheese, and sprinkle with dried parsley.

Cover loosely with foil and warm in 350 oven for a few minutes. Or prepare in advance and cook in oven for about 1/2 hour.

Serve with a salad and some Italian bread.

Basically, this is homemade Hamburger Helper, only it's cheaper and healthier. I fed my family of 8 for about $10, give or take.

Plus, it's usually stuff you have in your kitchen already. So when it's 6:00 and the kids are all crying
"What's for dinner????"

Now you know.

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Never took a picture, but found one online that looked similar. Image courtesy:

Friday, March 2, 2012

Farm Friday - Ponies

A few pictures of my ponies.

My silly ones.

My muddy, dirty goof-balls.

My handsome boys.

Finnegan and Pippin say you should vote for me.
They say you should click on this brown button to vote for me.
Honest, that's what they said. Swear.
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Thursday, March 1, 2012

Surgery - check. Healing - in progress.

First came the surgery for my Carpal Tunnel Syndrome.
As I've already mentioned, easy peasy. Had it done about 10 or 12 years ago on my right hand.
I'm right-handed.
I had 2 kids in diapers and 1 hanging-from-the-ceiling-fans-preschooler.
I needed help. In so many ways.
(Thanks, Grammy!)

So yeah, this time? Much easier. And even so, my sister came the first w/e to lend a hand. Get it?.
(Thanks Aunt Ronnie!)
Showering, however, required some skill. I had to wear this fingertip-to-shoulder plastic glove. With that glove in place, I could shower without getting my bandages wet, cut up a chicken, or birth a calf.
Sadly, there were no laboring cows about, so I was unable to test this.

Next, the bandages came off (this past Monday).
Quite frankly, I was more than a bit nervous as the nurse cut the bandages away. What would she find?
Chicken feed?
Runaway hamster?

Mercifully, there was nothing in there that shouldn't have been. My stitches were cut off, steri-strips were applied, and I got this kick-ass splint. Pretty cool, right? I know you want one. It shoots spider-webs from the wrist part if I hold my fingers like the I Love You sign and make a pfffft sound.

Not really.

And now here I am today. Steri-strips have fallen by the wayside, as has a good deal of shriveled-up skin. Ick.

Still hurts some, but I can shower without the birthing glove, and do most things around the house. Still can't lift heavy things, open jars, pour feed from a 50 pound bag into a bin.

That's what God made kids for.

And if they gripe, I put my splint on and wrap 'em all up in sticky spider webs and they cry and say they won't complain the next time, they LOVE to help me out.

Then I wake up from my daydream and they're sitting there all cozy as can be with no sign of sticky spider webs.


It clicks the button to vote for the blog or it gets the spider web.

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