Losing Patience with Adopted Kids
My husband and I are adopting two girls age 6 and 7. They just moved in the house two months ago and we are all struggling to adjust. Both girls are very needy (understandably so) and it seems no matter how much attention you give them, they want more. It's emotionally and physically exhausting. Lately I have absolutely no patience and I'm not sure how to recharge. Any suggestions on how to connect when you don't have the history from birth?
You are doing the work of the angels, and you need as much support as you can get. This is definitely not something you can do alone. Connecting when you don't have the history with your kids takes time, and for them to connect back takes some healing on the part of the kids.
1. Find a support group of other adoptive families.
2. Trade off with your husband so that both of you get some R & R time daily.
3. Line up grandparents or godparents if possible, to give you and yourhusband a break to connect with each other for a few hours each weekend.
4. Be sure each child gets time alone with each parent every day.
5. I don't know your personal situation, but it would be very hard to hold a job and offer the parenting your kids need. There is no way to recharge your batteries in that situation. Giving your kids what they need is a full-time job for now.
6. Do some reading about attachment and adoption and connect with others. You can start with http://attachment.adoption.com/
7. Learn how to offer the kind of parenting that will help your kids to flourish. The best book I know for parents whose child is showing signs of unhappiness, for whatever reason, is called "Smartlove" and it's by Pieper and Pieper. They may have it at your library, but it's so good you might want your own copy.
8. Offer yourself empathy. Usually when a child enters a family, there's ahuge adjustment period. Two kids have joined your family, and they came with substantial baggage. That means life can't possibly go on as usual. Everything has to change. That's stressful, for everyone. But if you can adjust your expectations about what should be happening, it will help.
9. Implement a daily family routine that gives you some time alone every single evening to recharge your batteries. Resist the urge to fold laundry or do paperwork. Just call it your daily mini-vacation and ask yourself what would nurture you at that moment. A bubble bath? Calling a friend? Reading a novel? Do it.
10. When you find yourself losing patience with your kids, try a “do over.” Just stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself “What's most important here?” You will find that the only thing that ever REALLY matters is love. Loving yourself, your kids and your husband has to be at the top of your list, no matter what.
Everything else is secondary.
Please write again and let me know how you're doing.
Good luck and blessings to your whole family,
Dr. Laura Markham