Friday, January 09, 2009

Two steps forward, five steps back...

Yesterday wasn't one of our better days.

First, there was no school for Kenzie. She had mixed emotions about that. She loves school and she loves staying home with mom. So which was she going to whine about? Still trying to figure that out.

Then, I had to go to the Social Security office to apply for Jia's social security number. The last time I was there, I was told the only other thing I needed was her Certificate of Citizenship. So, with that in hand, I go back and what does the clerk say this time? "You need to have her Indiana birth certificate before we can process her social security number."

I blew a gasket at that point. Doesn't anybody in government know what the $&%@ they are doing anymore? No one understands the rules, and they certainly don't understand how long it takes to go through the process of getting the Indiana delayed birth certificate for a child adopted internationally. AAAAUUUUUGGGHH! We need to do our taxes.

Four and a half years ago, when we got Kenzie's SSN, this wasn't a big issue. They took what we had and got us her number.

The man to whom my WRATH was directed said he'd go talk to his supervisor. Which is exactly when Jia decided to break out with all holy hell...

She decided that it was time to touch everything she could, try to run off with stuff that she had no idea what she was taking, and throwing Kenzie's coat on the floor over and over and over again while Kenzie is telling her to stop.

I picked her up and sat her down, to which she SCREAMED and slid down off the chair. So I picked her up again and put her on the chair... over and over again until I finally picked up her feet and laid her down across the chairs so she couldn't slide off. She screamed bloody murder the whole time. I never raised my voice, and simply told her "Jia, you need to calm down. Calm down, Jia. You want down? (nodding with screaming) You need to calm down. Mommy needs to talk with you."

I finally leaned down to her ear and whispered "Do you want to get done here and go eat?" She stopped screaming and brought it down to a whimper. She then began to calm down. I again whispered to her, "You cannot throw Kenzie's or anybody else's coat on the floor. You must not touch anything here except the toys we brought in. You can play with either toy we have. Are you ready to get down now?"

Nodding... no screaming. No more whimpering. Quiet.

I stood up and helped her get her boots back on (she had kicked them off in the fit she had thrown. Then she got up and behaved a little better. All I was going for was some sense of control so she wouldn't tear up everything.

I don't know what people thought of me, Jia, or the whole scenario. I'm sure some were horrified at her behavior, and others horrified at mine. I kept expecting to see the police pull up and enter the building because someone complained that I was abusing her. The other half of me wanted to apologize to everyone for the whole scene. I'm pretty sure everyone was thinking "Glad it's HER and not ME!"


I keep wondering what the hell am I doing wrong? I wonder if the austerity of the office reminded her of the orphanage.... and she reverted to what may have been her typical behavior she had displayed when living in the orphanage. Out of control.

How do I help this child learn how to regulate her emotions and actions? I am so ill equipped in this area. Roy and I knew that we wouldn't get as lucky as we did with Kenzie... Kenzie is easy going, and easy to discipline. Jia - totally out of control. She just doesn't seem to "get it". I can't let her run around destroying everything in her sight with the idea that "she just doesn't understand." She is a really smart kid. Really smart. But she wants to do what she wants to do and she doesn't want anyone to tell her NO. We can see she has a good heart... she wants to be a good little sister, and she loves us and wants to help wherever she can. She will out of the blue hug us and say "I love you" and generally be affectionate. And we have our good times... teasing and laughing and tickling and the gentle touches (me to her, her to me). So it's not all bad.

But the short bouts in-between when she is out of control takes so much energy. And yesterday left my right hand with a pinched nerve or tendon - something got twisted and now all I have to do is move the wrong way and I'm in pain.

Anyone with any book suggestions that can help here - or any suggestions from the BTDT crowd - feel free to jump in and tell me what I'm doing wrong. I just don't know anymore. I always thought I was a decent mother... NOT perfect, NOT exceptional - just good enough that I could at least make sure the kids made it through the day without killing each other. And perhaps we'd have peace MOST of the day. I am hoping that yesterday was just one of those days and it doesn't happen again. But if it does.... I am begging for insight.


Jan said...

Julie--I think that you handled the situation very well. I don't have a book answer or even a BTDT answer, but I do wonder if Jia thought you were leaving her there.........just a thought. December FTIA group member, Jan

Lisa said...

Julie, I'm going to send you a message...just wanted to post here and let you know I feel for you all!

Christine said...

I am not a perent yet. We are still waiting to be matched with our daughter, but I would be looking at this book I think.

So, you didn't mention if you got her ss # card after all LOL

Nina said...

I once came across a group of parents discussing same situation and they've mentioned this one book. Check this website first:
I can't say if it's what you need or not because I haven't red the book but the text on the website starts with situation you've described. Hope It helps.
PS. Also, you can check out what reviewers say about this book on before you buy it.

dmgwattel said...

Julie, many people will tell you many different things. As a psychologist I should tell you there probably is no easy answer as to why Jia is behaving the way she is.
The best you can do is try to see things from her perspective and let her know you see HER. She might see 'danger' where you don't (are they going to 'return' me), she might throw a fit to see if you'll reject her.
Whatever the reason, the most important thing is that you let her know you notice her. Tell her what you see first ("You are drawing." or "You are crying.") and then give your interpretation to that behaviour ("What a beautiful drawing." or "You are sad.").
This is something we do automatically with really young children, but not so often after that.

I wish you all the best!!!! Please don't doubt yourself if things should take some time. That's absolutely normal.

mom to an almost 3-year old girl from China

1roms said...

was jia afraid you were sending her away in the ss office ? she must love you dearly.

fuzzandfuzzlet said...

I think you handled yourself well.

I think most of her behavior sounds attachment related and as your attachment continues to grow the behavior will improve.

When my DD would throw such tantrums she was almost always aware she had an audience. I would tell her "these nice people came here to _______ and not to listen to you scream, I am going to take you and let you finish your tantrum in the mini van"

I would then take her to the van, put her in her seat and tell her " My ears hurt, I will be right beside the van, you knock on the window when you are finished with your tantrum" (of course I could see and hear her the entire time, but this gave her the power to be in control of finishing her tantrum)

I had to do it exactly one and a half times. Now I just have to say "these nice people did not come here to listen to you scream, if you need to scream some more we can go to the van"

Of course that would not have worked in your situation since you had to stay and wait for an answer, but in most cases it is doable.

Some kids also do really well with choices. "You may not touch the things here, would you like to play with your ________ or your _______. Most of the time the power of allowing them to make the choice will stop them in their tracks.