Monday, December 10, 2012

Adopting 21 month old seperation anxiety child

Dear Kay,

My husband and I are adopting a little girl, our cousin who has been in foster care since she was 4mo old. We are white with a 17 yr old girl, the foster family was black with 4 other foster children. We have had Abby for 2 months. I noticed that any woman that resembles the foster mom, Abby will follow around the store, or yell hi to her, almost like she is looking for the foster mom. I stay home with Abby, and have only left her with a sitter 2 times. My husband and I are going to a conference, and I thought about leaving her with family for the 4 days, I am torn, because I don't want to mess with her stability.

When she was given to us, the foster mom was told to sneak out, I thought that was wrong, because Abby was left to think she disappeared. I have noticed her behavior after picking her up is very clingy. When driving in the car, she says "leg" and holds her leg out from her car seat for me to hold if I am driving, or even when in the back seat she wants me to hold her leg. I am concerned, because she seems well adjusted, but has a little bit of an anger streak, where she grits her teeth in frustration and holds tightly to an object for a few moments and then puts it down.

I can take her with me to the conference, but I am facilitating a class, so I thought she would have a better time, with her aunt who has 3 kids and is at home too. I just don't want to make the wrong decision. I never experienced this with my daughters.
New territory...Thanks for the advice in advance!

Dear Tammy:

It sounds to me like you are doing a wonderful job. I hear your concern about leaving her and you are right. Children do not have the same sense of time as we do and an 8 hour day seems like a lifetime to them. I took my grand-daughter with me one time to present at a National Conference. Although I wasn't sure how others would respond I knew I was doing the right thing as the circumstances dictated the decision.

To my surprise the audience really enjoyed her coming along. If you have someone to help you in case she starts to fuss or demand your attention it might make you feel a little more secure. Maybe you could hire someone where you are going to just keep her near you? I agree that the foster mom sneaking out wasn't a good idea although I am not sure what the right answer would have been either. Her screaming and being terrified when she was leaving with you wouldn't have been a good memory either.

Sometimes we just have to let go of the wondering and worrying and enjoy our children in the moment. I would strongly suggest if you are not already doing so that you incorporate body massage into her nightly bedtime routine. There are so many benefits emotionally and physically for both of you that the bonding and attachment will be supported by this one ritual in your nightly routine.

If you have to leave her here is what you can do to minimize the time away. 1. Leave her with something like a shirt, blanket or whatever that has your smell on it. 2. Leave her with a picture of you or you and her together. 3. Leave her with a recording of you reading a book or singing a song or both that she can access when she misses you. 4. Call her and talk on the phone as much as you are able to without upsetting her routine. Allow her to call you when possible. 5. Show her on the calendar when you are leaving and when you will be back. Let her mark the days off until you come home. 6. If you have a laptop with a camera talk online with her each day. 7. Make sure whoever keeps her sticks to her daily routine and has lots of fun too!

Keeping her busy will make the time fly quicker. Believe it or not it maybe harder on you than it will be on her! She is fortunate to have someone who cares so much for her!
Best Wishes!

M Kay Keller

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