Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Living in a fairy tale...

Sneezy, wheezy, snotty and restless... along with hyper, sassy and anxious are the new names of the seven dwarves that are living at my house.  Lance and I are both sick with vicious colds that are amazingly drug resistant.  Honestly, I've never had a cold that laughed at the OTC meds I've thrown at it.  At least we should be over the worst of it when we fly out on Saturday... I hope!

Jackson is slowly melting down, he's getting more and more anxious about us leaving.  He's not eating well, and keeps telling me that his tummy hurts.  We've learned over the years that hurting tummy means anxiety, you know how you get an nervous knot in your stomach?  It doesn't take much to tip Jack over the edge on a good day, he's an anxious little guy at baseline.  We've had non-stop chatter, constant hyper-activity, poor eating, self-injury and my favorite, acting out with body fluids.

I've debated whether or not to write about this, but it might help other adoptive parents after they bring their kids home.  Jack potty trained quickly and easily at a little over 2 1/2 years old.  He's had the odd accident or two, mostly related to being stuck somewhere he didn't have access to a potty.  One day last summer, I went into the bathroom and there was urine EVERYWHERE.  It looked like he'd just hosed the place down.  I asked him about it, then had him help me clean it up.  I didn't know what to make of it.

Then it happened again... and this time I was aware of some ongoing stress in the household.  I was getting ready to have some surgery, we had out of town guests coming and we were in the middle of completing our homestudy.  This time I asked Jackson if he was feeling mad... "No",  sad... "No", scared... "Yes!" accompanied by heartfelt sobbing.  We talked through it and he was able to tell me what he was scared of (Mommy not coming home again) and how he could always tell us how he was feeling, etc. etc.  We discussed the fact that going pee-pee on everything was not an appropriate way to behave, even if he was upset.  Again, he helped me clean up the bathroom... no recriminations, no yelling.

Sunday morning I go into the downstairs bathroom and once again there is urine everywhere, the floor, the baseboards, all over the toilet.  You can call me a lot of things, but a slow learner isn't one of them.  We talked about how he was feeling... obviously he's upset about our upcoming trip.  But here's the thing he said that broke my heart... he said he's afraid we're going to bring baby brother home, like him more, then take him (Jackson) back to Russia and leave him there.  I reassured him that a family is forever, that includes him AND baby brother, no one is getting returned to Russia no matter what.  Once more I have him help clean up the bathroom in a very matter of fact way.

The last two days have been filled with all kinds of hitting, himself mostly, with toys and objects and his own hands.  I really don't know what to do with this behavior.  I just keep taking his hands, or whatever he's hitting himself with and saying "Nobody hurts my baby, and that includes you."  It's like he has this pile of unused energy and he's gotta use it or explode.  He's given daily opportunities to burn it off, but it's never enough.  He literally CANNOT be still for more than three or four seconds.  It's like this continuous gyration and flailing... it's enough to drive me to drink!  All the normal things we do to help him feel better aren't working, rocking, holding time, quiet time... none of it helps.  I'm really at a loss.

If there's anyone out there that has kids home and has experienced this sort of behavior, any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  There may not be anything else to do except get the trip over with.  I sure would love some input on this...


  1. Oh Kim I feel for you! Poor little guy is probably experiencing all sorts of sounds like you are handling it great; i would say keep reassuring and telling him over and over how families are forever and that he is a part of this process and he'll always be your '#1"...i'm sure it must be tough to deal with being sick and the anxiety of traveling soon. and i wonder what's in store for us in the future. have you made a paper chain or any sort of thing that will help him count down the days? maybe a small sentimental surprise he can open each day you are gone?

  2. Hi Kim,
    I am soo sorry to hear that Jackson is having a hard time. With Diego, who is 3 years old, it happened a bit different. Around the time we started mentioning more about his sister, he started getting nervous. The way we noticed it was that he started grinding his teeth. We took him to the doctor (a naturopath/homeopathic medicine) and she gave him some "remedies" to help him during this stressful time, and at least the grinding stopped. We also bought some melatonin (from Whole Foods) to help him sleep at night. Also, we stopped mentioning the that much.

    For the week we were gone we made a calendar, like the nativity calendar, starting with 8 days from mommy and daddy to come back until zero, where we glued a picture of the three of us. We also left little presents for every day, ranging from sand toys, a big dump truck, bubble making stuff, and racing cars. We also made a video for each day, when we would go through what he was going to (i.e., going to school, to the park, having his speech therapy, going to the mall, etc), mention how many days until coming back, and telling him that we love him. Apparently, Diego asked for the videos every day and liked them.

    We also planned to call him with Skype and do the video call, but we only did it once. By the end of the call, he was crying madly and we decided that to stop doing it.

    I thought he was going to be mad at us when we returned, but so far so he has been mostly happy. However he keeps telling me to be with him ALL THE TIME and says that he wants to go to the airport with us and fly to Russia!

  3. Kim, that breaks my heart. I don't have any great advise. It sounds like you are doing everything you can to reassure him. I know its hard not to get angry and blow up over the potty stuff (I've got 2 that have had issues in that dept) but calmly talking about it while he helps clean is sooo much more productive.

    One thing I did for our boys while we were gone on the first trip was to record my voice reading their favorite books. They listened to the tapes everynight. I also wrote a card for each day we were gone. Grandma pretended to get them from the mail box each morning and the boys were excited to get mail from us everyday. Plus, I had planned something very fun for them to do EVERY DAY and NIGHT. I wanted them to be way too busy to miss us. I was extremely worried about leaving my 4 year old for the 1st time EVER, but when I called home one day while they were swimming, my friend asked him if wanted to talk to me and he sad "Nah!" right before jumping into the water. Talk about mixed emotions: happy he wasn't a nervous wreak / sad I didn't get to hear his voice. But when we got home, he slept in our bed for 3 weeks straight.

    Our Skype didn't work on the 1st trip, but it was great for talking to them before they met us on trip 2. Although I agree with the poster above that Skype may make things worse for little ones.

    Hope you guys are feeling great for your big trip!

  4. Sorry to hear little man is having some difficulties... Your love and reassurance will get you all through this. You're an awesome mom!

    I hope you and Lance start to feel better for your EXCITING journey you are leaving on is just a few short days:0)

    I hope you include me in those special pic emails of the new addition. I will be anxiously waiting to read your blog next week.

  5. Behavior related to toileting is usually about control. Feeling out of control is probably more accurate. Kids can control very few things in their lives. They CAN control when and where they go to the bathroom.

    Poor little guy, bringing home a new sibling is hard for any kid.

    I think you are doing all of the right things to validate his feelings and make the wait easier for him.

  6. Sorry I have no advice to offer, but I can say from experience that this happens with biological siblings as well. My daughter (who turns out to be adhd/anxiety disodered) was already having terrible separation anxiety when her brother came along. And then he was sick requiring a lengthy hospital stay.. it was rough, but children are very resilient. You did the right things and said the right things- he know you love him and will see that he will not be replaced.