Thursday, 22 March 2012


I was halfway through writing about why Girl has attachment disorder and decided that actually it doesn't need a lengthy breakdown the simple facts speak clearly for themselves. At birth Girl was removed from her natural mother, The Primal Wound: Understanding the adopted child (which is well worth a read if you are interested in attachment and adoption) describes this as her first home, where she lived for nine months before entering the world. She was then placed into a foster home that inadvertently failed in their care of her and then just before her second birthday she was again torn from everything she knew and placed with us for adoption.

As well as the basic requirements of food and cleanliness a baby needs nurturing, stimulation, attention and the ability to create an attachment with her main care provider (usually the mother but in Girl's case this should have been the foster mother) and unfortunately this did not happen as it should have.

The best way I can describe Girl's attachment difficulties is that her brain went into meltdown and created this barrier to protect herself from further hurt. Removing a child from everything they know is deeply traumatic and further impacted when they have not been nurtured correctly. My little fox cub is amazing. Her fight comes from her survival instinct to protect herself. I might not like her fight/flight/freeze responses very much but I do appreciate why they happen and I have to learn how to manage at the very least the worst of the unwanted behaviours.

The behaviours that can come with an attachment disorder are wide-ranging and I couldn't possibly list all of the things we have had to battle with over the last three years but the biggest puzzle we face is to work out what is normal childhood behaviour and what is a direct response to her early traumas.

Girl has the mental abilities of any child her age but the emotional age of her toddler brother which means she is not equipped to self-regulate so violent outbursts can be a regular occurrence even over something so mundane as not having the correct pyjamas available.

Every day Girl faces difficulties of one sort or another. Sometimes even a simple task like brushing her teeth can be a massive challenge, she is fully able to do this task but her lack of self-belief and low self-esteem make her believe she is incapable. As I write more I will describe some of the difficulties we face and how we have overcome them (or not as the case may be!).

Just a quick note on the book recommendation above, parts of the book have given me a much deeper understanding of Girl and her issues and it is for those parts I have recommended the book. However, it was written for an American audience where adoption is very different to the UK so you do have to bear this in mind and you might not agree with everything the book suggests, which I certainly didn't but it is still definitely worth a read, pop to your local library and read it for free if you are unsure. Some books I have read are definitely worth shelling out for as you can dip in and out as you need to but this is one I probably won't go back to.

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