Tuesday, October 13, 2009


The transition is going much harder than expected. Emma is very loving toward us, but she is testing every single boundary we set as far as behavior goes. I am exhausted by the end of the day. I've been told by a very wise lady, thank you Ondrea, that this is all normal. It is hard to see that when you are so close to the situation.
I have managed to take a few photos throughout all the madness. Emma looks so happy in most, but she does her fair share of crying - mostly crying with no tears, just fit-pitching! Very frustrating. I think it is a maliputive behavior because when she starts this after being told "no" to whatever (this afternoon it was scratching Jackson because he wouldn't give her his brand new Diary of a Wimpy Kid book), I try to hug her and comfort her. Except, she doesn't want to be held. She instantly stops the fake whine/cry, pushes back from me, gives me the transparent smile and walks off - all within about 10 seconds. Very frustrating! I hope she and I can come to some common ground soon or I may have to be admitted! :)

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Emma enjoying the new dog bed and reading a Pottery Barn catalog

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Thanks Clif and Susan; I love my new Whisper Buggy!

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I am so rotten!

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Amy said...

Once again, this sounds like a couple of blog posts I wrote back a little over a year ago.
Boy can they test you!
If it is any comfort, I know EXACTLY how you feel and what you are going through. Caroline and Emma sound like they were cut from the same cloth. Living it 24/7 is exhausting.
I wrote a whole post once on wanting to "run away". LOL
Hang in there girl!
It takes time, but WILL get better. (I hated hearing that back then because I needed a quick fix for my sanity.)

creative gal said...

Praying for you and Emma. . . God's hands are holding you close. . . Soon you will look back at this time and say, WHEW! Thank you God for helping me to make it through.

Anonymous said...

This is pretty much normal behavior for an orphan. She is out of the strict regimen she use to be apart of and she is going to try and get by with whatever she can.
I would highly recommend you do not baby her when she has bad behavoir, otherwise she is not going to learn that it is not acceptable.
When your boys were little and did a fake cry so that they could get by with misbehaving, did you let them get by with it. Probably not!
So why do it with this one? She obviously has learned that she will be able to misbehave and give that fake cry and then when you come to hung her she smiles as runs off. She knows that it is working and she will continue to do it until she finds out it is not going to work anymore.

I know it is hard to not just scoop her up and feel sorry for her, but in the long run that is not doing her any favors either.
Unfortunately you are going to have to be stern with her and let her know she is not going to get by with bad behavior, and most of all the fake cry is NOT going to get her out of trouble either. LOL!!
To us reading this, it sounds so precious but I know after an all day ordeal it is not fun anymore. LOL!!

It should all work out in time. You just have to let her know you are the boss not her. She was not allowed to misbehave in the orphanage and she needs that continued discipline even now.
Once she learns this I think things will get easier for you and her. LOL!!

She really is precious and so cute. I can see how it would be hard to not just love on her and think it is all so cute. LOL!!

Thanks for continuing to share your story. I followed it through your adoption, and really so happy she is home now. It will be fun to see how she continues to grow with your family over the next several years, but especially the first 6months to a year. They progress and change so much during that time.


Jo said...

Oh I know these are words you do not want to hear but ... it will probably get worse before it gets better. : (

I can only speak for the point of view as a special ed teacher of many, many years but I've seen and dealt with my share of extreme behaviors {kicking, biting, throwing furniture, body slamming, ramming, spitting, and even throwing up}. You must stand firm in what ever message you are trying to deliver ~ and yes, most times this is much easier said than done. I'm a little confused on the consoling after she fake cries ~ this sounds like an extreme manipulative behavior on her part ~ especially if she is then turning and walking away from you within seconds. I think you may be sending her the wrong message and she is ultimately getting away with the behavior you want corrected ~ she’s a smart cookie and it’s working for her.

I hope I don't sound judgmental ~ I'm really not and it's so much easier to "see" what is going on when you're not dealing with the ongoing drama through sleep deprived eyes.


3 Peanuts said...

I feel so bad for you and Emma (and the boys too). This is a really tough time. I know it is. I think Emma is really confused and scared and uprooted. I am not saying that she might not be manipulative...but she is testing you. She has been left before and she will test you to see how far she can go. Set firm limits but smother her with love and trusting behavior too. It will get better. Make sure to rest and spend time with the boys...everything else can wait for a while. Praying for you. I am here if you need to vent.


Jodee Leader said...

So sorry to hear this. It must be so hard trying to bond and set some new boundaries at the same time. Hang in there!

Henley on the Horn said...

You are doing a great job. Keep being firm and let her know there are boundaries. Children crave boundaries; they create security. One day you will hardly remember this time!! Hang in there:). She sure is adorable!

Sarah said...

I'm so glad you have so many readers and friends with similar or at least similar-enough situations to offer what sounds to me like good info and comfort. I know Jed needs and likes the security of routine and boundaries. Give the boys a extra-big hugs and keep loving and disciplining Emma. I think it will get better before you know it.

Tara said...

It sounds like you've gotten some good feedback already. We've hit a bump here too but nothing compared to what your household must be experiencing. Keep your chin up! Remember, this too shall pass though that isn't much comfort right now!

Jackie said...

Hang on!! It will be rough for awhile... but it will get better. We have just completed 9 months at home and those early days are sooo fresh in my mind.

I'm sure the language barrier is frustrating for her as well. Our small fry was so mad he just wanted to shut us out so often. He rejected me many times, hit me and spit in my face. He was so scared of all of it: The change, his new family, the loss of what, who and where he came from.

I remember having to be so consistent with him. (I still have to be). We utilized time in, time out, redirecting behavior. But in the early days the language barrier was difficult. We also tried to keep to a routine (even though we were at home) and that seemed to help.

I know it is exhausting and draining both mentally and physically. I remember crying when my husband came home because of how difficult the days were. But now 9 months later, this child is so different. Even though it seems like the distant future... know that it does get better!

Jackie www.swimmingwithfishes.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Remember, it takes 21 days to break a bad habit...and I think the same can be said for starting new ones. Be consistent with her, try not to send mixed messages, and stand firm when she misbehaves. You will see a huge difference a month from now. Until then...do you like wine? If so, drink a glass before bed and take a hot bath for your sanity!

Anonymous said...

I really admire your honesty! I love Emma's curls...one day you will be looking back on this with such a happy heart. Congratulations for bringing your baby home! What a journey!

mary said...

We have two adopted children from orphanages and they both displayed the same behavior. Please remember these are hurt children. They have come from a hard place. Structure is very important and establishing you as authority is important, but Emma needs more than anything to feel safe in the sense that she is accepted right now. That is absolutely essential if she is to start to trust you. We have two biological children and we have learned that you can not parent hurt children the same way you parent children who have grown up in a loving family. One of our adopted daughters is from St. Pete. She was almost two when adopted. She sounds exactly like Emma. We have read Deborah Gray's book Attaching in Adoption, Parenting with Love and Logic by Cline and the one that has helped us most is The Connected Child by Karen Purvis. I can not stress enough how important it is not to listen to people who have not adopted hurt children, but to seek help through adoption sources. Please read The Connected Child. Emma is not trying to make your life miserable, she is a hurt child and is demonstrating that through the behavior you have posted. Our daughter has had tremendous healing in her life as God has directed us to wise counsel in the adoption community, but it would have taken much longer if we had just done parenting like we did with our biological kids. I really want your adoption to be successful. We have a heart for the kids from St. Pete and have followed your blog on this last trip. You have a beautiful family and God has chosen you to help Emma heal and grow up to be all God intended her to be.
I'm sure you have support from others who have adopted, but feel free to contact me. I will pray for you as the first few weeks can be so difficult.
By the way - she is absolutely adorable:)

Love Being a Nonny said...

I know you must be exhausted. I am sure, in time, things will improve. I have been praying for your family on this journey and I will continue to do so.

She is adorable and I love the last outfit with the pom poms on the bottom.

JCWillow99@gmail.com said...

Your children are beautiful.
It will be ok. Try not to be so hard on yourself. You have got to remember she is at that terrible two age and your boys are out of that.
All of them are wild at that age.!!!The older she gets the easier it gets.
Maybe you could get a mothers morning out program to give you a break.
Best of luck to you.

Anonymous said...

Know that you are still in my daily prayers -- I hope things begin to get easier. Know that she is taking it all in and it will become normal for her to be loved:)

Blessings, peace and comfort to you, JC, the boys and Emma, Ashley

Barb said...

Yes, transition and attachment is hard! Ondrea really helped me too - she has great advice and suggestions. The best advice I can give you is to follow the advice given from an adoption point of view . . . There were so many times when dealing with S's behaviors, what I should do with a hurt, healing child seemed to go against everything I wanted to do (or did with our bio boys). Does that make sense? For example, I would want to send her for a time-out because to me, it seemed like holding her would be a reward for her bad behavior (besides, she would scratch and pinch when I held her). But, for her, a time-out was what she wanted - deal with the problem on her own, self-soothe. What she NEEDED was for me to hold her and let her know that no matter what, we're there (here) for her.

Hang in there. It DOES get better.


Over-Caffeinated X 4 said...

Okay, I really wish the Anonymous poster (Sheila) above had given some qualification for her "expertise" in this subject area because I totally disagree with that advice, as you might well imagine! Please know that these behaviors are normal, but "showing her who's boss" is exactly what she's been used to for the past two years of her life, there's never been an effort made on her behalf to repair and reconnect after a correction. She needs more love and less of that... just keep on plugging, I promise you it really does get easier! I have a blog post to share with you that Gwen wrote this week about attachment, and I thought it might be helpful to keep in mind in the insane moments!

I will be gone for a few days so I might not be checking the blog, but you have my number, PLEASE know you can call me if you get into a crunch... here is the link.


Kim said...

Hi there! You don't know me, but I've been reading your blog for many months, and all the while I was pregnant with my first baby. She was born October 5, and we brought her home from the hospital the day after you brought Emma home from Russia! I wanted you to know you are in my thoughts as we both learn about life with our new daughters! I am so happy for you and your family.


teg said...

Hang in there. Your sweet boys are bound to win her over sooner rather than later. I'm sure you're all over-tired, too, which can't make the transition period any easier. Again I say, HANG IN THERE! You and your family are doing such a wonderful thing for Emma.

Anonymous said...

To over caffienated!
I am Sheila and my experience comes from working as a Social Worker with kids, and also having 2 kids just like Emma that I brought into my home. The first one was not quite 2yrs old when we brought her home and trust me she knew how to manipulate me big time. Reading this post brought back those memories.

I was just trying to tell her that running up and hugging her when she is misbehaving, fake crying, is not sending her the right message. She is obviously trying to manipulate things by pulling the fake cry and going off smiling when getting a hug.
Even the poster Jo asked about it as well.

All I meant by "showing her who is boss" is that Emma just like any other child needs to know that Mommy and Daddy are the boss and she is not going to change that. Maybe it was a poor choice of words and I am sorry for that!

She has been in an orphange and is use to structure and discipline. She needs it even now and for that matter so do all kids! I never meant to say that you need to mistreat her in anyway!
Obviously the small things you just chalk it up to being new in your home and laugh it off.

At first you think it is really cute for them to do these things, UNTIL you have been there and 2 almost 3 years later she is still doing the same thing. It is hard to break old habits. I KNOW because I have been there!
Over time when Emma figures out her boundaries in your Home, things will settle down a lot and you will one day forget this time. LOL!!

I also want to say this! I think when bringing home a small child (meaning under 3yrs of age) vs an older child that it is different. I have a friend that brought home a 5yr old and yes that child needed the more assurance than my 2 toddlers did. Her mother did have to hug her when she was fake crying because all she wanted was the love and attention she never had. The older ones remember so much more than the little ones do, which is good for the little ones but oh so sad for the older kids.

(I use annonymous because I do not have an account. I have seen others that is able to make one without starting a blog but for some reason I cannot figure it out. Sorry for that!)

Felicia said...

Praying for your during this transition. She's been uprooted and it's a change for every family member. I pray things smooth out soon. Sending you big hugs!!

Kristine said...

I am sure you have gotten plenty of advice but if you need more...ha...you are welcome to email me...krisandjp@cox.net

It is tough and truthfully will not feel "normal" until some time goes by...I usually tell people ...6 months. I know that seems like a long time, but it goes by quickly. A schedule is the best thing...a lot of lovin' and close time together. Swimming (holding her very close), get in the tub with her (in your swimsuit if you don't feel comfortable in your birthday suit) and have play time..massage with lotion after she gets our of the bathtub...bottles instead of sippy cups in a rocker..looking at books together..lots of snuggle time...don't give up. You could even grab her up after she has fallen asleep and just spend time holding her. If not for her, it will sure build up the love in your heart...there is nothing more beautiful than a sleeping child (in many ways..ha)

I think about it this way...every time one of her needs was not met at the baby home, a brick of her being was thrown over in a pile. Every time you are there to meet a need, provide a hug or just show her some love, one of those bricks comes back to "the wall"...it takes a lot of time to get all the bricks out of the pile and back on the wall. You can't spoil her. She needs to be able to trust you and know that she is not going anywhere...that you love her unconditionally. Her schedule is so messed up right now and her clock is off...I know you have made mention of this as well.

Well, I guess I just gave you advice...sorry. You know the beautiful thing about advice...you can take it or leave it. You will know in your heart what is right..trust yourself..pray and make sure you and your husband are talking a lot about your feelings and supporting each other.

Hugs to you. She is a beauty that is for sure.


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