Wednesday, June 29, 2011


This post has been bouncing around in my head for a couple weeks and I debated if I should share it. But, I felt like I really needed to. I can't believe that I'm the only one who needs to *hear* it.

Adopting an older child is different. Many times, it's difficult. Many times, it's wonderful. Our older kids have developed so many coping skills. Some of these kids learn how to build up walls so that nobody can get close. Getting them to tear down their barriers and let people in is a painstaking process. You can see right at first that there is a bonding issue. Then you have other kids (like mine) who have learned how to charm. They have developed a knack for wrapping everyone around their finger. These kids easily give out hugs and kisses and say cutesie things that make everyone laugh. But their bonding and attachment is just as big an issue as the kids who won't let anyone in.

When Vlado first came home, we tried to make him understand that it wasn't good to kiss everyone. (He didn't hug many people at first) High fives were common. The people at school were good with the physical affection thing too. (Insert more high fives). I thought we were doing really well with bonding. I mean, he knows we are his Mama and Daddy. I really believe school helped with that. He learned that the other kids had grown ups that came to get them at the end of the day and we were his. He looks to us for help when he needs it and will readily climb up into our laps to snuggle.

He doesn't hug me often (unless I initiate it), but he does hug all of our co-workers and some other people we know. I didn't really think much about it. But, the other day at the grocery store, I had a little eye opener. Vlado went up to a total stranger (she was kneeling down to get something) and hugged her and kissed her cheek. She thought it was adorable, but my heart sank. People around us just don't understand that this is a bad thing. And his communication isn't at the point that I can explain to him why it isn't good to trust just anyone. We are back to the point that hugs and kisses are reserved for me and Honey. I am afraid of offending people who have grown to love Vlado, but truly, my son's attachment to us is paramount right now. We should be beyond this at almost 7 months home, but it is my fault that I wasn't as diligent as I should have been. Back to the drawing board. :(


  1. Don't feel bad or blame yourself!!! Jovan has been home one year and eight months and he still does that and asks total strangers if he can go home with them! UGH!! Drives me crazy and I try SO hard to teach him he can't do that!! He does know who his mama is and needs to have me...that started a while after we got home. Now when I go places he makes sure and says you come back! He won't stay overnight at his beloved Auntie and she lives literally 2.5 miles away. While we were in Serbia he told me to come home in two minutes!! And before we left he said don't let anyone take you. Now he is done with Serbia he said, and doesn't even want to go back and visit or get a sister! :)

    Please don't loose hope, it will come and just think of it as something that you probably have to remind him of a lot. I don't know what happened to Jovan...if he got scared or what.

  2. Your son is only getting high fives from me this weekend! We can talk about attachment when I see you (AHHHHHHHH)

  3. We follow "circles" training for safe boundaries. On our wall is a target shaped chart. The inside circle has pictures of the people who live in our house. (I started out with pictures of Axel hugging each of these people.) Nobody else is allowed in that circle.

    The next circle out has extended family members (aunts, uncles, cousins...) Those people can get hugs too.

    The next circle has teachers, his doctors and other people we know well or see often, but these people DO NOT get hugs.

    The outer circle has pictures of complete strangers cut out of magazines. Again, NO HUGS.

    Whenever we go somewhere, we do a quick review, "We're going to the doctor's office. Lets see what circle the doctor is in. Oh, see, when we get there everyone is in THIS circle. This is the handshake/knuckles or high fives circle.

    Then, on my key ring I have a small picture of our chart that I can use to remind him right before we walk in the door. This has helped A LOT!

  4. I love Leah's idea! We might try this with Olivia. She has been home nearly 6 months and will still run up to people (men only) and will hug their legs or try to climb up them (she inadvertently grabbed a young man somewhere while trying to climb on him - oops!). My family says she knows who we are - but they don't see the bigger picture. Don't blame yourself - I did that at first - that I wasn't strict enough, that I wasn't quick enough to stop her (she's fast!) - but for these just takes time for it to "click" in their little heads - they have ONE mama and ONE papa. We try the "high fives" thing - but now Olivia will hold her hand up and run up to people, one kid thought she was going to hit him. I am going to try Leah's idea - maybe it would work for Vlado??

  5. Please don't beat yourself up about this. Seven months isn't long enough to be out of the haven't done anything wrong. ;) I would continue to emphasize with him that hugs and kisses are for parents only...and be patient. Maddie has been home 3 1/2 years and we are still reserving them for only parents...and probably always will. She is doing much better with her bonding, but honestly those first few years are so deeply engrained at this point it looks like it is going to be a lifelong effort to get her to understand boundaries. ;)