I had the privilege to attend the Empowered to Connect Simulcast this past Friday and Saturday. When I first heard about the conference, I thought I knew what it would be about. Karyn Purvis’ name was attached to the conference and I’d read her book, The Connected Child, and watched many of her videos on you tube.
However, as soon as I got comfortable in my chair Friday, I realized I had been sadly mistaken. I found my hand cramping as I took note after note. EVERY.SINGLE.THING made sense in my head. FINALLY.
Before we adopted Desta, we had been well versed in RAD (Reactive Attachment Disorder). We’d seen the well meaning Christian adopt the Russian orphan, only to find heartache and great frustration explode their lives. We’d read the books. We’d gone through the trainings. We believed while not experts, at least we were well aware of what we might be heading into.
And for the first few years, it seemed that we had a very well adjusted child on our hands. Sure there were issues, tantrums, strange behaviors (how long has your child held their poop?) BUT our other two children, biological, had similar issues so we figured it was an age issue.
When we moved back to Colorado from Florida, our lives took a very different turn. While wanting to protect Desta’s privacy for future years and internet web searching, I’ll simply say we had gotten to a place of isolation, frustration, inability to know what the hell to do!
“Regular parenting” wasn’t working. Nothing we tried was working.
I sat in that seat Friday and for the first time, in a VERY LONG TIME, felt hope. And I felt deep, deep grief for my sweet baby girl. I mourned all the things she had to deal with her young innocent life. I had to sit there and really let myself understand her brain, understand WHY she reacts the way she does.
I came out of the doors Saturday afternoon at 6 pm with deep hope of what can be done.
If you are an adopted parent finding yourself moving closer and closer to your wit’s end, please take some time and watch these videos. There is hope and it’s simple. It’s not a quick fix and it requires super intentional work. For this introverted mommy, it is hard. And for this super type A mommy, it’s really hard to leave the mess and focus instead.
What I do know is this: Having just spent 48 hours employing some of these new techniques, we haven’t had a level 1000 outburst. Bedtime has gone smoothly. Transition to different activities wasn’t crazy. EVEN the big trip to the YMCA childcare ended well. There is hope.
Here’s just a few basic things we’ve started doing:
1. “2 eyes, 2 hands” I get down on my knees, level with my sweet girl’s eyes and I ask for her hands. I talk to her, really talk to her. The broom gets put down, the stove top turned down and I see her for who she is.
2. Gum jar. Desta knows that when she uses kind words and kind actions, she can ask and GET a piece of gum. This goes hand in hand with the biggest change we are making…
3. Turn my “no’s” into “yes’s” I realized just how often I saw No when I could actually say yes. Matt was gone for work all weekend and I tried this out. I was amazed how once I started saying yes, it became easier and easier.
See our little people need to have their brains retrained. It’s our job to help them see hope; to give them a voice.
I have much to learn and I’m so thankful that I get a chance to have “do over’s” with my kids too!