Early Days

My thoughts are scattered; there is so much happening, so much to write about and the warm, some even hot, days and sunshine are distracting me from everything but sitting on the deck.

I’ll try to make the following thoughts and words make a little bit of sense.

I suppose we are still in the early days; yesterday marked 6 months of Jonathan being with us. But when I think back to the really early days – exhausted by dinner, not understanding him, my fingers fumbling trying to remember how to sign, not knowing if he would bolt across the road on our way to the park, or what makes him laugh, effect ways to react to misbehaviour, and the list goes on…yes indeed we have come far.

We now see patterns in behaviour, understand likes and dislikes, can sometimes predict things and be proactive instead of reactive. We see hurt and pain but we also see a smart little boy who loves to laugh, be outside and has a fantastic memory. We can even make it to bed before collapsing, most days.

Yes, most definitely we are still in early days.

I have been thinking a lot about Jonathan’s own early days recently as well. I guess I do that a lot, but maybe even more than usual this last week. His ADHD like behaviours led to an interesting conversation with our counselor and to an article that has put a few things in a nice neat package for us.

It also gave us (another) jumping point for approaching this little fireball and for starting to try to fill in the many gaps in his brain that were left by his early years of neglect. The package may have even had a bow on it.

We knew all along that Jonathan’s constant movement, explosiveness, extreme controlling behaviours, inability to regulate himself and resistance to touch, to just name a few, was not because he had ADHD but because of his early years. Yet on the surface they looked so similar.

Then I read a chapter from a book our counselor gave us; Treating ADHD as Attachment Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder. I swear it was written about him. The behaviours or the symptoms of ADHD are the exact same as those of children with attachment challenges. I can not begin to explain it here, but if you are interested I would love to chat more about it (through Twitter, or email or whatever!)

Here’s just a small tidbit:

“…sustained traumatic experiences like childhood abuse and neglect, or failure to form a secure attachment in the early years of life, can create a chronic state of hyperarousal in a child and alter the neuroendocrine activities of his brain, causing him to become trapped in the “fight-or-flight-or-freeze response” (Perry, 1994; vander Kolk, 1994)

“A child who does not receive proper stimulation and consistent nurturing interactions from caregivers in the first year of life is unlikely to develop sufficient neural circuitry required for emotional control and social attachment” (Lach, 1997)

“…when a child is experiencing a persistent state of anxiety and autonomic arousal, he or she will have a difficult time accessing the part of his thinking brain that would allow him or her to stop and consider the possible consequences of his choices and behaviours” (Perry et al., 1995)

There is so much written on this topic, some controversial. However, a lot of the ideas or theory follow Dr. Bruce Perry’s practice, somebody that Gord and I both admire and have read and followed for years (check out his website here …A must read of his is The Boy Who Was Raised as a Dog).

I think for us, for our family, we are on the right track of beginning to see a real shift for ourselves and for Jonathan. Jonathan may have missed out on many things in the first 4 years of life, but maybe we can help repair some of those losses and make sure that we are on track to give him the best from here forward.

6 months and 1 day and a new chapter begins:)


*this post is part of the WASO and this weeks theme “The Early Days”…check out more adoption blogs here or here


4 thoughts on “Early Days

  1. We’re a few days ahead of you with placement and our early days sound much like yours. I’ve also been reading about Attachment Disorder and the likeness with ADHD so would def be interested hearing more of your thoughts on it.

  2. Those first months and years with your adopted child are so intense that you do learn so much about them in a relatively short space of time. Coping with their behaviour is thrust upon you and learning to read them in order to create strategies has to be done under intense pressure, so you learn fast. You have quite obviously totally embraced this and what you know and are continually learning about your son is huge, the effort and commitment shines through.

    The research you’ve included as well is really useful and the link you’ve put up, I will share on the #WASO Facebook page too if that’s ok.

    Thanks for sharing with the Weekly Adoption Shout Out.

    • Thanks Sarah; the learning curve is definitely steep. We are feeling just now that we know him and can start to delve into some issues, like the ADHD as attachment. I haven’t done too much research or reading yet but yes please post those links – it’s definitly a place to start!

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