0 comment Monday, May 5, 2014 |
So, everything on here has been about our Son for a while. At home, Husband and I have been trying to make sure that it's as much about Daughter.
Because for most of our Daughter's life, things have been about her Brother.
We understand from our children's older Half-Sister, whom we have met, that Daughter was 'put in charge' of her younger Brother. She is not even one and a half years older than him. When they went into Foster Care, Daughter said everything for Son and Son didn't speak to anyone but Daughter. Can you imagine how much strain that was for a little six year old girl? The Foster Carers said that at first she didn't have much identity outside of being responsible for her Brother. Apparently, it was also remarked upon often by the staff at the contact centre (when Son and Daughter were still seeing their birth mum) that Son got all the smiles and cuddles. Daughter was mostly ignored.
I'll admit, Daughter has not always been easy to like. In truth, she's been easier to pity, but that hasn't stopped her from also being very irritating. She didn't know how to be mothered, because she never really had been, but she did know how to be in charge, how to make manipulate, and how to get in people's faces. She needed attention as much as air and fought, fought, fought for it, even when she was getting it. Trying to make herself visible was so much a part of who she was, that she didn't recognise for a long time that in this new home, attention was just given.
Then there was the wailing, lying, hoarding, stealing and fussy eating. Traumatised? Not much!
None of that was loveable, sadly. And on top of that, she wasn't letting anyone in. Not because she was frightened of being hurt, I don't think, just because she had never had a close emotional relationship and so didn't know it existed. How, therefore, could she then want it?
But we plodded on together, doing our best. And I include the kids in that. They have been trying to make this family work too, despite it all going pearshaped sometimes. Husband and I could only hope that if we gave them our time, that if we showed them love, thoughtfulness, respect, fun, happiness, routine, boundaries and our strength as parents, that they would start to come through. Just like other Adopters. We've read all the books, we've been on the courses, we know all the trauma healing parental theories, we've got the strategies. All we needed was time.
And, lo and behold, I do believe that Daughter has started to come through. She's 11 years old in the summer, and sometime after turning 9 (after being with us about a year) she started to drop a lot of her crap. and there was a lot to drop. Every now and again we would get glimpses of the girl she really was, under all of the dysfunctional rubbish that had served her well when she lived in a dysfunctional family. She got some friends, she started taking an interest in how she looked, got some taste in music, got some hobbies. She really started to flourish.
But. She was still learning about affection and love and she was trying to learn by copying her brother, rather than allowing her feeling to come through. Her Brother was used to cuddling up to Mum on a sofa and having his hair ruffled, but Daughter wasn't. She saw Son doing that and she wanted in too! There was nothing genuinely affectionate about her hugs. Sometimes she would just sit on my lap, like she had seen her brother do, but it would feel icky. Like she was just taking from me what she had seen her brother have or something. I'm not sure. Most things, to her, touch, smile, hugs and affection was about control.
Then this happened. Remember when I put Son in after-school club because I didn't want Daughter and I to be in the house alone with him for a while? And with him out of our faces she seemed able to breathe, and cry, and talk, and I got my first genuine, spontaneous hug from her?
Since then... magic!
Now we can sit and cuddle together, and it's genuinely lovely. Now when she gives me hugs it's because we've just had some nice exchange between us that feels pleasant, and she's happy, not because she wants to control me. And same from my end. I can kiss her and hold her now and it's not forced from me, it's becoming natural.
Spending time together without Son is really benefiting our relationship too. I enjoy doing the supermarket shop with her, for instance! She's generally pleasant to be around. Sometimes we pop out clothes shopping together, or for a walk down the shops or something.
She's still not a great conservationist though! Tending to still just say whatever is on top of her head or say what her eyeballs happen to be staring at at any one particular time, but hey! She's only 10!
She's a gentle soul who sometimes likes to cause mischief. A small, impish child, who likes animals, always supports 'the girl' in whatever TV show contest we happen to be watching, and has a fondness for yorkshire puddings. Kind and clever, stroppy and awkward. Fun.
She is healing. She is loved. My Daughter is great.
To paraphrase the great Aung San Suu Kyi, we've still got a long way to go, but I think we'll get there.

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