Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Minute with Nikki - Post Placement Issues from the Social Worker's Perspective


We all have to do it.

Many of us don’t get enough of it.

But one thing that is certain for us adults is that we love it.

For most of us, sleep is the few hours of time we get to ourselves. Even if we share our bed with another, sleep is a time every one of us gets to be all alone.

As someone who got married later in life, and then quickly became a mom of a tween, I cherish this time. Working a number of jobs, I don’t get nearly enough sleep, but when I do head up to bed it is a magical thing. If someone told me that I could have more of one thing in my life, I would really have to take a good long while to decide if that would be money or sleep. It’s a solid 50/50 on that.

I don’t think I’m alone in this. Really, think about it, you overly tired, baggy eyed momma, who just wishes you had enough energy for a workout, never the less going to bed by 11. You, momma who wonders if you can sleep in just 5 more minutes in the morning if you send your child to school tomorrow with a Lunchable, rather than filling her bento box with homemade hummus, organic carrots, freshly grilled naan bread, and a whole grain brownie (made with sprouted flour, of course). Just 5 more minutes. Think about it. It might be glorious.

But for as much as you cherish your precious sleep, your best time of day, your most relaxing, this could be the scariest time in a 24 hour period for your child. The time when everything is quiet and she has her thoughts…and the dark…and perhaps a pang of hunger…and silence…and fear. The night is the time when she is forced to be alone with her thoughts - when she is forced to really think about her past, her former life, perhaps her abandonment...the time she got lice in the orphanage and they had to shave her head...the time she got made fun of by teachers and students in school because she didn’t have a mommy and daddy, and then when she told them with great elation that she had a mommy and daddy in American they told her that her American mommy and daddy just wanted to adopt her to kill her and sell her organs on the black market (and wondering, just a tiny bit, if that wasn’t still truly going to happen). And, perhaps the scariest of all is the great unknown as to if and when she would be abandoned again, and start this whole thing anew.

And this little vignette is for the folks whose kids can think through all this stuff logically because they are old enough or have the cognitive abilities to do so. Bless those of you whose kids are too young or unable to even quantify what they are scared of. Those children are just terrified.

So of course she’s scared of going to sleep! With all that head trash, it’s easy to see how scary nighttime can be. Therefore, the question you should be asking yourself every night is “what can I do to help my child sleep a little better tonight than last night?” And if you just hold this question near to your heart and take it seriously, things will probably calm much more quickly.

So let that boy sleep with you. Don’t listen to your mom; he’s not going to be sleeping with you still when he’s 15. Or maybe you start to sleep with him in his bed. Let that girl sleep with the lights on. Go into the room the second that baby starts crying. Let him sleep with a monster truck toy in his bed if he says it will make him feel less scared. Let your teenager fall asleep while reading, even if you don’t let your other children do that. Perhaps suggest to your child that he falls asleep while listening to one of his favorite CD’s (again, even if your other kids are not allowed to do that). Or maybe bring your computer nearby her bedroom door to do some work while she is falling asleep, just to be comforted by the sounds of your breathing and you typing on the keyboard. Or get crazy and let him sleep on the living room couch if a thunderstorm is moving in if he wants to. Or just listen to what your child is asking for and see if you can answer that with a “yes.”

Think now, are these things that difficult for you to agree to or suggest? Are they really that big of a deal to do? Would they really take that much effort on your part? But think about what an incredible difference it can make for your child. In one move, you can both show your child how much you care for him AND make him more comfortable. That’s a win/win for attachment parenting!

It’s all so simple. But when your first reaction is to just tell her to close her eyes or to count sheep, and doing what I’m suggesting takes more thought and foresight, it might not seem so obvious. True, there are some children who, even the most dedicated of parents can wake up with 20 times per night or have them sleep right between them will still need more than this. And those children might really benefit from some professional intervention. But those kids are the exception. For the most part though, a solid dose of mom and dad and some flexibility might be just the ticket to getting some quality sleep.

Nikki has been working as an adoption social worker for the past 10 years.  The consummate single gal was married in 2012 and started an adoption process to adopt a 10-year-old with special needs from China soon after.  Nikki loves writing home studies in the Western Missouri area and preparing families for the realities of adoption. - See more at: http://joyinthejourneyadoption.blogspot.com/2014/08/after-placement-issues-eating.html#sthash.2aVLiQN9.dpuf

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