Sunday, June 27, 2010

Unexpected Growing Pains

Well I debated whether to write this post, but after much thought I decided it would be cathartic for me and perhaps help others who have, are or will go through what I am going through. I ask that people please refrain from sending judgmental and negative comments (I will be moderating all comments from now on). Comments that begin with "I know how you feel..." or "I was there myself...." are more than welcome!!

I think I have post adoption depression. There, I said it. It started coming on in Vietnam and has grown worse since being back in Canada. I think Samantha posted this link but here it is and I suggest friends and family members that read my blog, read this article It will allow those who care about us understand what we, mainly me, is going through. Apparently up to 70% of adoptive parents feel some form of PAD (I know, it an unfortunate acronym).

It can be brought on by many factors. The adoption itself is a roller coaster of emotions that come to a head at the point of the adoption and then suddenly fall. Kind of like an anti-climax as it were. You've waited for this moment for years. You and all your family members have expectations that are sometimes to the point of being pure fantasy. Very few little tykes can live up to the fantasy. Another reason is that you go from having a settled and happy life to suddenly being thrown into a situation of chaos. If you happen to have been matched to a little one that has higher needs than average or a more high maintenance personality the problems can be compounded. You are essentially thrown into parenthood with, in many cases, little knowledge of what to expect. It can be very overwhelming even though you have been planning for it for years. On top of all that you feel this incredible, overwhelming guilt that you are not the "happiest person alive" as everyone expects you to be. I can't tell you how many people say to me "You must be so gloriously happy!!" and I smile and say 'Uh huh" even though inside I am not happy. Not at all. I feel so guilty about this. Because I think "Yes, I should be happy! All my dreams have come true. I finally have what I have yearned for, for so long. What is wrong with me!!".

The truth is I am struggling right now. I wonder if I will ever like this little person never mind love and attach to him. He is not to blame here at all. However, his personality has assuredly made this process more difficult and perhaps has aggravated the PAD that I may or may not have developed even if he had an easy transition. But unfortunately this process has not been easy for him either. He is unhappy about 80% of the time. His unhappiness manifests itself in almost constant whining. He'll whine to be picked up than squirm and whine until you put him down and the whole cycle starts again. I have to believe that this would be hard on any parent to deal with day in and day out but perhaps it is just us that finds this behaviour so challenging and difficult. We have found solace in out of home play dates that seem to make him happy. On Saturday we had a full day of general happiness. We were thrilled. Then today was the worse he has been. Other than about 40 minutes when our friends came over with their little girl, he whined the entire time. Our bliss of the day before crashed as we struggled to understand his behaviour. He's been to the doctor and is completely healthy. We have little explanation other than the tried and true adoption fall back of he's still adjusting. Which very well could be likely. However it does not make it any easier to deal with, on a daily almost constant basis. Especially as we know he has the capability of being happy for a full day.

Having said all this I only bring up his behaviour in the context of why perhaps PAD has hit me so hard. I am not blaming him at all for his behaviour or my reaction to it. He is after all just a wee child. Having no history of depression I am not even sure how to deal with this or how to make things better. I have made an appointment for Wednesday to speak with a professional in the hopes that they can help me find the tools to get through this and whatever the future holds for us. I am so very grateful for my amazing, rock solid husband who, although struggling a bit himself, has been a stabilizing force in our little family.

As I said at the beginning of this post, it took me a long time to get up the courage to admit all of this in a public forum. However I felt that it may help people we know appreciate what is happening and hopefully help others who will, are or have gone through this. I really think a support group would be fantastic. If anybody is interested let me know in a comment.

I will fight hard to become the mother that Van deserves!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Life in the orphanage

I decided it was time to post some pictures of life at Hoa Binh orphanage before it becomes a distant memory lol. It was a great orphanage and anybody who is referred a child from there is lucky indeed. The children get a ton of attention. Between the nannies and the older children the babies are constantly being attended to. They do not cry for long before someone picks them up. Note the three little girls in some of the pics. Two of them became very attached to us. They would have come with us if we had let them lol. The littlest one was 2 believe it or not. She was tiny! Van was almost as big as her. The other girls were 3 and one of them loved us! Particularly Pat. One day when we were leaving she grabbed onto my hand and followed us to the taxi. She wasn't going to let go! Many of the babies have been referred to families in France and Canada. The older children are either there temporarily while their families get on their feet or were rescued victims of attempted trafficking so will not be up for international adoption. Anyway, here are some pics of life inside and outside Hoa Binh:

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Back home and settling into life as a family of 3

Hi all. I know I have been a negligent blogger but I was not in a blogging frame of mind in Vietnam. Things are starting to work themselves out here and jet lag is becoming less every day so I thought I would start up the old blog again and move from the realm of adoption journey to one of parenting.

First a brief summary of our time in Vietnam with Van. It was a very difficult time for all of us. He was very unhappy most of the time which of course made us unhappy most of the time as well. Patience was wearing pretty thin by the end of our time there. I am not inclined to talk about it in this blog as I want the blog to be a place of happiness and general positive energy. If any waiting parents would like to talk to me about our experiences and how we got through them without going insane lol please feel free to contact me by email. I know I could have used, and in fact did use, the advice and support of parents who had gone before and had difficulties as well. Sufficed to say it is not always a skip through the daisies although some families and their children have a much easier time than others.

So, given our tumultuous two weeks with Van, we were dreading the trip back and thought it would be 24 hours of crying, screaming and whining. Strangely our little man morphed once again into another personality and was an absolute star. who would have thought! Perhaps he knew that he wasn't going to get rid of us after all. He actually slept for 8 hours in the bassinet on the 15 flight from Hong Kong. He was generally pretty laid back and happy. We stayed the night in Toronto as we wouldn't have been able to get a flight to Ottawa until midnight so we arrived back in Ottawa on Saturday morning to a group of friends and other adoptive families waiting for us. It was great to see everybody and to be home.

So far he is adjusting pretty well considering the horrible jet lag we are all experiencing. I unfortunately had to go back to work yesterday so feel a little disconnected from my little family right now. I am pretty sure Pat is getting tired of my numerous phone calls home. I have also been sleeping at a friends place while I get over the jet lag due to having to work so have not been able to be a part of the bedtime or morning rituals. Hopefully I'll be back home soon!

That is my update for now. I will hopefully post some pictures tonight or tomorrow night and will continue blogging about our parenting adventures. Let the real journey begin!!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sorry for the delay

I had every intention of trying to update the blog regularly but life doesn't always work out as you would like it to. We've had a few struggles over here with our little guy. His transition has not been smooth but very few people get through the first weeks without some difficulty. There is a saying in adoption, you hope for the best, expect the worst and it is usually somewhere in between. I would say we are in the middle somewhere. Every child is different in their reactions to the trauma of being uprooted from everything they've ever known. We have met two Canadian families here that adopted through another Ottawa agency. One of the mom's little 10 month old girl has sleep issues and apparently screamed for the first week. The other family's 1 year old little guy didn't eat for the first couple of weeks. Our little guy's issue is grief and anger. He sleeps and eats no problem but has had a lot of difficulty during his waking hours. I am not going to sugar coat it, there have been times of extreme sadness and frustration on our part. But you begin to cherish the little things. An hour of happy play becomes a wonderful success. Part of the problem was that he had an ear infection and fever. On top of that the poor guy is teething. That would drive any 10 month old crazy. Add in grieving the loss of his cherished nanny and everything he's ever know and you begin to wonder if we have damaged the poor little guy for life. We have been so lucky to have the two other families here. One of the families are adoption experts. Although they were here adopting their first child, the father is himself an adult adoptee from Vietnam. He and his wife are both experts in the field and have been a great support to us. He left with their two older girls yesterday to go back to work but his wife has been kind enough to take the time to listen to me have mini rants and panics about our inability to make Van happy. She has been so wonderful and gave me so much encouragment and strength. she talked about her own struggles and coming from an adoption counselor this was a big confidence builder. I have shared all the emotional tools she has given with Pat and we have faced the past 2 days with a renewed sense of optimism and strength. Sadly her and our other new friend the single mom and her little one are leaving tomorrow and Tuesday. We went for dinner with them tonight and will of course stay in touch with them :)

About Van, Yesterday morning was good for us. After his morning nap he seemed actually happy and relaxed. We got out of the apartment for the first time in 2 days with him and he was great. We walked around the Old Quarter to do some shopping and actually were able to sit in Highland's Cafe for 45 minutes. We've decided it's probably best to get out as much as possible because feeling shack wacky in a hotel room is not the best way to foster good vibes. The afternoon and evening was a struggle as well as this morning and afternoon. But this evening was good again and we actually got some laughs out of him. It is a very slow process but we finally feel like we might see a light at the end of the tunnel. We have a ways to go yet and it won't be easy but it will be worth it when he finally relaxes and is a normal, happy little 10 1/2 month old.

Anyway, we managed a few pics of him being happy over the past week but I can't upload with wifi as it is too slow. Perhaps I'll get a chance tomorrow on the hotel computers.