Monday, December 20, 2010

Attachment - Post 3 - Messing with 2 of my Favorite Things

Eating and sleeping -- two of my favorite things! Also, two of the most common problem areas for newly adopted kiddos. Change is possibly a comin' to our house. :-(

This is my bed. (Ignore the work table at the end of the bed. Although, as an adoption side note, it was there when our social worker came to do our home study. Apparently, Daniel excitedly exclaiming, "my dad and me are building a robot!" overrode her possible concerns about the table full of electronics in our bedroom because we received a favorable home study!)

Anyway... I LOVE my bed. Seriously. Nearly every night when I climb into this bed and cover up, I say (out loud), "I love this bed!". And not because I am exhausted (although I usually am), but because it is an awesome bed. And it's not just me. Eric does the same thing.

Eric and I shared a tiny little double bed for years. It barely fit in our bedroom with about a one foot wide path around it for us to walk in and attempt to open our dresser drawers. When we did the addition on the house, I had my 'must haves' - walk-in closets, large windows facing the sunset in our bedroom, ceiling fans, etc. Eric had only one 'must have'. It was a bedroom for us that was big enough for a king-sized bed. And so, our bedroom is now quite possibly the largest room in our house. And, our bed is awesome!

With our 2 biological kids, we were sticklers for sleep programs when they were old enough. We let them cry it out. We didn't enjoy the process and I distinctly remember sitting outside Mackenzie's door crying along with her. But, we insisted that they learn to fall asleep on their own. Solving Your Child's Sleep Problems by Ferber was my go-to book. And, quite frankly, we've always been really happy that we did. Both of our kids are GREAT sleepers now. Daniel has his moments where he still gets up and wanders into our room at night, but I generally take him right back to his bed and make him sleep there. (Remember, I love my bed and I love my sleep. Children tossing and turning and kicking me and laying all over me, not so much.)

Thankfully, we haven't had quite as many rules regarding food. We are not a family that requires all food to be kept at the table. Nor are we a family that is terribly controlling about the amounts that our kids eat or when. I breast-fed both kids on demand. No schedules. No limits. And, everyone was happy with that (except me when they seemed to ALWAYS want to nurse the second that my food was delivered when we were out at a restaurant, but that's a whole different issue).

Anyway, as Eric and I attended our mandatory adoption training classes, we learned all about attachment parenting and about what to expect when we bring Markos home. We learned about the common problem areas and they are eating and sleeping.

With regards to eating, many of these children have suffered hunger and thirst that we truly have never experienced and couldn't possibly understand. As a result, many will eat enormous amounts when they first arrive at your home. They have not always learned that there will be another meal in a few hours. They think they need to eat as much as they possibly can because who knows when they will get to eat again. Many children will also hide and hoard food. They will stash food in their rooms or shove their pockets full, again, because they might not have food later. Some will eat until they throw up. They have not learned to stop when they get that full feeling because they've never really had that full feeling before.

Other children will struggle with eating. The foods are different from what they are used to. Many have sensory aversions or poor motor coordination resulting from unpleasant feeding practices in the orphanages. Although I really believe that the children in the care center where Markos lives are loved and cared for amazingly well, I have seen their lunchtime. Regardless of how loving the nannies are, there is still the problem of 5 or 6 nannies trying to ensure that 40 kids eat. Kids who are suffering from malnutrition and who desperately need to eat. So, the nannies do force some of the kids to eat. They put huge bites in the kids mouths in a short amount of time. Just another negative orphanage necessity, I guess.

Like I said, we haven't ever been a terribly organized, scheduled sort of family when it comes to eating, so this area won't be too problematic for us -- or at least, it won't be too different for us! With all of Daniel's food allergies and eating issues, we're used to meal times taking forever. We're used to pickiness. We're used to having "grazers" for kids. So, allowing Markos to keep healthy foods with him at all times, to sleep with a bottle of water if it provides him with some security, to eat a lot or a little until he feels more safe is fine with us. No biggie.

Now the sleep thing, that's a whole other issue! We're prepared. We'll do what we have to do. But, as I said, I love my bed. I love my sleep. This may require a lot of prayer and supernatural strength from God. ;-)

Many of these children have never slept alone. They have not slept in the dark or in a quiet place. Their anxieties increase as they get tired. They may have experienced times where they were not safe at night. Some newly adopted kiddos from our agency have reported to their parents that wild dogs used to come into their village at night. Many have spent nights alone as young children. Many have lost parents, so how can they be sure that when they wake the next morning, their new parents will still be there. Some adoptive parents have shared that their new kiddos would literally refuse to sleep and would come into their room at night and just stand by their bed and stare at them all night. They would wake to find their child standing by their bed just watching them, afraid that they might leave. (Um, yea, that would be a tad disturbing to wake to in the middle of the night, every night!)

We are somewhat hopeful that because Markos will be sharing a room with Daniel, he will feel a little more safe. However, we are also prepared to allow him to sleep in our bed if necessary, or to move a mattress into our room, or to sleep in his room with him for a while. Whatever it takes for him to feel comfortable and safe. It won't go on forever, and thankfully, we do at least have a king-sized bed now, so our new tiny little peanut should fit just fine in there with Eric and I. We'll just hope he's not a squirmy sleeper like Daniel!


  1. I really do love our bed! Probably more so than I should. But, I'm always happy to share it with our children (as least for short periods of time). And, I'll be so happy to have Markos home that I'll be happy to let him make up for the 4+ years. ;-)

  2. Might I suggest being open to what works. We had no real "plan" when we met Sarah. Now, she's home and in a crib (LAST thing we expected). The crib is against my side of the bed. From there, she sees me or holds my hand while she goes to sleep. I do not sleep when little ones are IN our bed and this worked out perfectly. I guess it's kind of co-sleeping....=D