Clarifications, lessons, and some Karyn Purvis quotes relating to my last post.
#1. "D seems like a happy child to me. I've never seen the behavior you're describing."
Clarification: Ninety percent of the time, D is a really happy child. It's only during certain times of year that he struggles with fear, and even during those times, he has plenty of days when he seems to feel secure and happy.
Lesson: Trust myself to know when something is wrong. For a long time, I felt that focusing on D's moments of intense negativity was hypocritical. I worried about his bad moments, but if most of his moments were good, wasn't I doing exactly what I didn't like to see him do? But I couldn't let it go, and now I'm glad I didn't because I finally figured out it wasn't negativity, it was fear, and now I know how to help him.
KP quote: "We use the term 'real child' to refer to the core of highest potential inside a young person. It's always our goal to free up and reveal this inner core and to enable the child to experience his or her full potential as a loving, connected, and competent individual."
#2. "My kid does that, too."
Clarification: When I hear this from a biological parent, it's always from the parent of a 4- or 5-year-old. I don't have any difficulty identifying fear in a 4- or 5-year-old. Maybe D's emotions were harder to figure out because they don't match his 8-year-old body, intellect, and behavior.
Lesson: Try to not think about age. This applies to A as well. I had been after him to be more independent because he's been giving up easily and asking for help with every little thing, which didn't seem age-appropriate. Now I've laid off him and just give him help when he asks for it. Maybe it's what he needs right now.
KP quote: "To make genuine forward progress, sometimes it is more effective to let the child return to an earlier developmental level where he or she got stuck and lost... Put aside your preconceived expectations about your child's behavior relative to his or her age. At-risk adopted children may appear to be a certain age physically, but inside they are playing catch-up - emotionally, behaviorally, and developmentally."
#3. Why did it take so long to figure it out?
Clarification: No one has actually asked me that, but I've asked myself. The reason is that it didn't look like fear. It looked like out-of-proportion anger, negativity, and grumpiness.
Lesson: Keep reading and rereading the adoption books. I had not read any of my adoption-related books in a long time. The boys have been with us over three years and I usually don't think of us as an adoptive family anymore; we're just a family. But there is no statute of limitations on loss and fear. When I returned to the books, I found fear was discussed over and over.
KP quote: "Disturbing behaviors - tantrums, hiding, hyperactivity, or aggressiveness - are often triggered by a child's deep, primal fear. [Adopted children] can be physically safe in their new adoptive home, but past traumas encoded within their brains are easily reactivated. Hunger, abuse, or abandonment that occurred months or years ago can still trigger terror, which in turn leads to out-of-control behavior. Chronic fear is like a schoolyard bully that scares children into behaving poorly. Parents might easily confuse fear-based outbursts with... irritability, anger and aggression, but they are not the same thing at all."