Friday, June 22, 2012

Big Feelings in Little Kids

The girls have been home for nearly two years now.  Two years filled with a lot of love and growth.  Two years filled with a lot of challenges.

I love Des and Bri with every fiber of my being.  And I would take this crazy journey again in an instant to have them be a part of our family.  But almost daily there are still very real challenges to parenting two "damaged" young children.

Imagine having your family leave you at an orphanage.  Imagine getting moved several more times over the course of a few months.  Imagine being taken half a world away and living in a very foreign atmosphere.  Imagine losing every person you've ever known and your language and your culture.  Everything looks different and smells different and tastes different and sounds different.  Though I don't really like the word "damaged," I think any child going through what I've described above (the loss of everything, the grief, the feelings of abandonment) would be considered severely emotionally wounded.

Do Bri and Des know we love them?  Absolutely...but it doesn't change what happened to them before us.  The girls test us a million times a day.  If they do X, will we leave them?  What about if they do Y?  And Z?  Will that be the straw that breaks our backs?

They have big feelings that come out in big ways...biting, hitting, kicking.  Sometimes they shut down and go completely blank.  And very frequently (sometimes multiple times a day), they have 45-minute-long tantrums in which they are inconsolable and contradictory and don't even know what they want.  They thrash their little bodies with all their strength.  They scream and cry.  They jump and stomp and throw themselves on the floor and into walls.  It takes a lot out of them.  And it takes a lot out of the rest of the family too.

Most of these severe fits happen at home which is good because the other three kids get little to no attention from me while this behavior is happening.  And the tantrums seem to come in waves.  I think the big feelings are always there but sometimes the girls are able to tame them and other periods of time they can't. Usually the girls take turns going through periods of these outbursts (hallelujah!).

Of course, in addition to the possible adoption-related triggers, there are other contributing factors.  They are twins and frequently egg each other on.  They are best friends and worst enemies, sometimes taking the brunt of their sister's big feelings.  There is also their age to consider.  At this point, I'm not sure how old they are but the ages of 2, 3 and 4 years old are all challenging for parents.

I am surprised that after almost two years there are still so many behavioral challenges with Des and Bri.  There are a few more issues but none as all consuming and exhausting and challenging as the tantrums.  The girls have grown and changed so much since coming home that I know these behaviors will eventually pass...I just wish I knew when...


  1. ((hugs)) They are so lucky to have you to guide them through the big feelings. You are an awesome Mama. They are awesome girls. Alysia

  2. thinking of you....i was there with Emmy for over a year/ a year and a half. The first 4-5 months home the screaming fits consumed our days. It got better slowly at about 10 months and then a year home we were almost back to square one. Just when I think we're past it she'll have one full-fledged, spitting, biting, attacking tantrum...then 45 minutes of screaming. We did just travel to Chicago and while Chicago last summer was a huge fail (too much change/immense tantrums over taking our days), last week's trip, there were almost no behavior issues. A big sigh of relief! :)I do know that feeling of frustration you're feeling, but you have it times two. Here for you, if you ever need to vent. (((Hugs)))


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