Sunday, December 16, 2012

Thank you, All

Thank you for your comments of support and encouragement. We definitely have a long road ahead of us. Fortunately, in all of this, we still have a lot of good family moments. I'll be posting pictures of the last few weeks activities later.

The language barrier is not the hard part of teaching emotions because Sissy doesn't even know what the Mandarin words are either. Think about the six month old who starts to cry by first sticking out his lower lip. What does a parent do? We immediately point out to the child that they feel sad or angry or scared using words and actions. "Uh oh, that really scared you. It's okay, don't cry, mama's here. You're alright. I'm right here." At the same time, the baby is held close, rocked against the parent's chest. Now the child is two and having a temper tantrum. The parent may say, "Wow, you are really angry, look how hard you are kicking and screaming. When you are all finished, you may come out of your room." Then, when the child comes out, he might be contrite or in need of a parent's love and reassurance and then receive it through hugs and words.

No one did that for our kids in the orphanage. They didn't learn the names for their feelings and when their feelings went unacknowledged, or they were unable to display their feelings for fear of discipline and/or ridicule, they hid their feelings. They did this so often that it became the norm and then they stopped feeling because nothing came of it. Just like the baby that soon stops crying because no one ever responds.

So, what do I do? I make all the connections verbally for her all day long, day after day. For example, she is supposed to be sitting here at the table writing about the lies she told, the items she stole and/or destroyed, and why she blamed her sister and why she did these things in the first place. She immediately started to cry after writing the first sentence. I touched her arm gently and in a very gentle and loving voice asked her why she was crying. Of course, she could not answer because she can't. She can't because she is not in touch with her emotions and, if she was, to have to face them and verbalize them and admit to them is a lot to ask of her since it's completely new to her. Then I asked if she was angry, even though it looked like she was not. She said she was not angry. Then I said, "It looks like you are sad and feel sorry for what you have done. It's good the feel sorry when you have done something wrong."

She got beligerent last night when she had to talk about all this again. She doesn't understand why we keep talking about the things she's done and what she feels. She said that in China they only talk once about the bad things and then they don't bring it up again. I know this is pretty much a cultural thing. I told her that because the part of her that has feelings is broken, we must work hard to heal it and that this is part of what it takes to do that. I also told her that we'll be talking every day about it. I discover more and more about her this way, such as her lack of empathy actually goes into sadistic. She was GLAD and HAPPY that Blossom was punished because it meant that she was not. This is scary stuff. But again, we are still functioning as a family and bonding is continuing and we are enjoying the holiday festivities. Life goes on. There is no quick fix, it's a process, so we must keep functioning.

Blossom is VERY happy. She is still unaware of the fact that what was done to her was very wrong. It is my job to teach her so that no one else takes advantage of her. I have to teach her that she can stand up for herself and stand up to bullying and threats and definitely come to me. She is trusting me more and more each moment of each day. She loves physical affection and readily, though awkwardly, displays it because she's still a bit self-conscious. She plays wonderfully with Jie Jie. The two of them are forming a special and close sisterly relationship that is healthy and safe. Currently, Sissy may not be alone with either girl. While this may appear to prevent sisterly bonding, remember, Sissy's not bonding to anyone, but using them. So, she must bond to me first. Meanwhile, she stays close to me. She can play with the girls, but only when I'm there to keep my eye on them. I also must not let her simply sit. She must be productive, hence the writing assignment.

Blossom makes friends easily. She's very bright. She is going to be fine, as is Jie Jie, as long as I continue to do my job and love and protect and teach them.

I will pass along all the things I learn from the attachment specialist because we can all use the information. She did recommend a book to me, "Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years," by Patty Cogen.


Penny said...

Hi Karen, I've been following your story for a while. You've taken on a huge challenge and you are doing an amazing job.
May I suggest something? - re: "her lack of empathy actually goes into sadistic. She was GLAD and HAPPY that Blossom was punished because it meant that she was not. This is scary stuff." I think she is the one who is scared, deep down. She was scared when she thought you were sending her back to China. I suspect she may have set Blossom up because that way she was safe - Blossom was the "bad child" therefore she was the good one (at one point you said this scenario was reflected in their imaginary play in the yard). I would think that rather than sadism, that is coming from a hugs and unnamed fear, disguised as aggression. I hope you won't mind me sharing these thoughts. They have been on my mind for a while. Again, I think you are doing incredible work here!

Yvette said...

It's so hard and ours is only 4. He survived by ,anipulating. I have never seen anything like it. I wrote about how he has changed over the year but everyday is hard. We are finding out he also has major sensory issues

Anonymous said...

Thank you once again for sharing. You are providing a great "primer" for many of us. Sometimes I miss something until someone else (like you!) points out what is happening, and then I get it! Keep up the marvelous work!

Almond Tea said...

Regardless of "why" Sissy acted the way she did/does, the outcome is still the same and I don't blame you for not allowing her to have unsupervised interactions with Blossom and Jie Jie. Protecting ALL your girls is paramount, even if the person they need to be protected from is from within the home and an emotionally immature tween. Otherwise, there are going to be 3 maladjusted daughters instead of just one.

I'm sorry that Sissy is the way she is, right now. I hope she can be healed and can become a functioning member of your family. I think you are doing so many things right- homeschooling, keeping her very close, making her face her actions and not allowing her to brush them off. She needs to know that some things are perhaps forgivable but forgetting is much, much more difficult.

You are doing a great work, K. And I think your blog is so helpful to other parents out there struggling but don't know where to turn too.