“For babies, birthmom’s presence is a safe base. Birthmom can:
1) protect children from too much stimulation
2) help children to settle down when upset
3) help children identify their feelings and make a sense of the world.””
So, when our biological children were babies, I shielded them from too much stimulation. I could read their faces, their bodies, etc. and notice when they were reaching their thresholds–needed a nap or just needed quiet time. I kept them in their car seats if I predicted stressful situations, too many strangers wanting to holding them, passing them around. I did #1.
And, when my babies cried, I knew how to calm them down with my “motherly” ways. I learned (more and more with each baby) to detect hunger, exhaustion, pain, sickness, wet diaper, fear, frustration, and so many more subtle signals. Not only could I detect the emotions, but also settle my babies down. I did #2.
And as my children grew (and continue to grow), I would have age-appropriate discussions with them about what was going on around them and how they felt about it. Certain situations could make them nervous, e.g. a babysitter, a grandparent visit, mom and dad going on a date, time in the nursery at church. We could “talk” through these situations/come up with calming phrases and patterns to suit each child and each situation. Patterns developed to help them make sense of their world. I did #3.
And with Naika–I did NOT do #1, #2, or #3. My heart is so heavy that she went through two years of her life without any help in these areas. Her birthmom left her at the orphanage at age six months, only to return for occasional visits. Naika had to find ways to achieve some form of #1, #2, and #3 withouth consistent help. AND, by the time she came to me, she had already figured out several ways to cope–leaving very little room it seems for me to be her mom.
As the resource states, “Without this help: the child will: overreact to stimulation, have intense levels of emotions, will be left to settle themselves, comfort themselves, and will reach out for comfort OR become angry, stiff and push away because they learned that very bad things could happen to them at unpredictable times. Therefore, they are excessively controlling and hypervigilant. They will overreact to minor upsets.”
Goodness gracious. Anyone who knows Naika at all, knows that this is her M.O. My adopted daughter has disabilities that are invisible to many, but all too visible to me.
Naika adds heaviness to my days because she is a constant reminder to me of what I lost. This is not her fault and yet her presence weakens me to a place where even though I KNOW what I’m supposed to do as her adoptive parent, I most often feel like an adoptee myself–a person with loss of my own that I now can no longer deny because “it” runs around my house everyday.
I’m not yet sure what God has for our family in this struggle. Surely good, and good has/is already developing. But He’s not done yet.