Blogging about life in Minnesota, raising our six kids with Down syndrome while battling Breast Cancer.

Be the kind of woman that when your feet hit the floor in the morning the devil says, "Oh shit! She's up!"

Friday, January 06, 2012

Realities of Adoption Adjustment

When we adopted Axel, he made a very smooth transition into our family. At home he acted fantastically, at school...not so much! He still had to learn that he is accountable to Mom and Dad even when he can't see us. His honeymoon in his new school this fall lasted....oh...less than 24 hours. TOPS!

Axel seemed to be going through every possible behavior he could dish out. When we would address one behavior, he would come up with another. Some of the behaviors included being a little tornado and throwing anything in reach, bossing his classmates, doing the flop-n-drop (sometimes while kicking and screaming) in the middle of the hallway. The most difficult to address behaviors, and the most disturbing, have involved grabbing or poking staff in the crotch or boob, and giving them a swat on the rear end if they happen to bend over anywhere near him. He has done some things that have really made is question some of his placements over the years and what he has seen and heard. yet all the while he is FANTASTIC at home! None of these behaviors happen when Dean or I are at school.

The entire first part of the school year I spent a LOT of time at Axel's school. The last couple of weeks before I left to get Asher, Axel had turned things around and was really doing well at school. He was spending more time in the mainstream classroom and really settling in.

Then I left to get Asher, and Axel clearly didn't like that I was gone. Oh wait...maybe he LOVED that I was gone! There was no mom to show up at school when he was being exceptionally naughty. But he was also giving Dean a hard time.

I've been gone before, like last May when I was in Serbia for 10 days. Axel did just fine. But this time, when we were skyping, I not only stayed at the same place I'd stayed when adopting him, but we were showing him pictures of another kid. Sometimes, videos of me with the other kid.  I'm sure he wondered if I was coming home. There was probably some jealousy about that other kid we were showing him pictures of.

And then it happened.....Axel got up for school one morning to Skype with mom and she had THAT KID ON HER LAP!!! That day at school Axel was just off the wall. His staff at school is very capable and they finally had to call Dean in. Together Dean and I decided to pull Axel out of school the rest of the week. They were spending more time having to deal with behaviors than actual school. Asher and I arrived home on Friday, and the next Monday I went to school with Axel again, just to remind him that Mom was home and it was time to get back to business.

It hasn't been easy, but Axel is settling down again. Now that we're into a routine, and he can see that we still love him the same as we did before Asher came along, he's realized all is ok in his world. Now, I'm pretty sure this stuff would have happened if we brought home a new baby, but I also think there is more to it than that. Although Axel was doing really well, he was still not 100% secure about his place in the family. There is no way to predict how a child is going to react to the new sibling, and Axel certainly gave no indication he was going to have problems.

This week was better for Axel at school, but he has found a new angle that he's never tried yet. It is called "peeing on the floor" and it is enough to send this mom through the roof. Tonight Axel and Angela were dancing to some show on T.V.  Asher was laughing watching them so I brought him over to get involved. That's when I found the puddle on the floor, and Axel dancing away in pants that were soaked to his ankles. As soon as Axel realized I noticed, he grinned at me.

Dear, darling Axel, grinning at mom in this particular situation would not be the right thing to do. This would cause mom to label the peeing as "attention seeking behavior" and not "an accident because I was too busy." Axel has been home a full year. He doesn't have accidents. Ever. This wasn't an accident.

I made him clean up the mess, get his wet clothes off and get himself in the shower. Then he came out for (our very late) dinner, then it was bedtime. I put Asher to bed while Dean sent Axel into the bathroom. Axel came into the bedroom a few minutes later and climbed into bed, then Dean and I said goodnight to both boys.

An hour later I walked into the bathroom and stepped in a puddle.

Grrrrrr When Dean sent Axel to the bathroom before bed, Axel had gone into the bathroom and peed all over the floor! So I wondered if he'd pulled his pants down to pee or not. I went into the bedroom where both boys were now sound asleep. Sure enough, Axel's pj pants were SOAKED...and now so was his bed.

I got Axel out of bed, made him take off the wet pi's, made him clean up the mess on the floor, then he got back into the shower to get rid of the pee smell.

So, Dean and I need to think how we're going to address this. It's clearly attention seeking behavior, and usually you don't give attention to this type of behavior. So we're going to count to a million so as not to loose our cool, toss him a towel and cleaning supplies and walk away. In the meantime we'll try to give a ton of attention to the good things, while at the same time act a bit proactively to prevent the behavior from happening in the first place.

It all sounds good in theory, but sometimes it's hard to remember in the moment. We rocked our little man's world and we need to calm the waters a bit. And the upheaval hasn't ended. We have another event coming up soon that is bound to throw all the kids off a bit. No, it's not an adoption, but definitely disruptive to the household!


Anna said...

I am so glad I am "following " your blog.We adopted a little girl with Down Syndrome summer 2010. Always looking forward yet keeping the past, where we were, in the rear view mirror to remind us where we were!

Mary said...

A while back, someone from RR was experiencing a similar problem, but with BM, not "Just" peeing. I sent her this email, names removed to protect the "guilty". She swears it is working. This child has backslid a few times with other stressors, but I think just knowing exactly what they will do, has added security to everyone in the family. As an added "oomph", this mom purposefully set up "favored" activities, only to disrupt them for potty sitting time. Says this made the biggest impression. HOpe it helps:

"To distraugh mom",
I wanted to give you a suggestion for the floor pooping..I hope you don't mind.
I was reading through one of my favorite child rearing/discipline writers (Dr.Ray
Guerendi and he deals with encopresis. Having (said floor pooping child) clean it all up is
a great first step...make sure it is not a cursory wipe and you do the rest, but he has
to stay at it to totally clean it, and take care of the cleaning equipment too. But the
kicker is that he suggests that until (CHILD) poops (or in your case, pees) only in the pot for 24 hours (or you
can decide longer), he must sit on the toilet 5=10 minutes every 2 hours while awake, to
give him the chance to poop (pee) there. If he poops before his time is up, he can get up,
unless he then "finishes" on your floor, then make him sit the entire time, to
give him time to finish.

He must do this every 2 hours all awake hours, no matter what he is doing. Swimming? Too
bad, time to go try to poop! Watching his favorite TV show? Too bad, time to go try to
poop. Every 2 hours until he poops only in the toilet for 24 hours straight. If he
backslides, he is back to trying every 2 hours until he is successful for 24 hours. Dr.
Ray claims it is rare that a child will continue this past a week!

Just a suggestion. Man, I feel for you! Jacob poops on the floor too, but it is because
it leaks from his diaper/pull up/training pants. If I catch him, and once in a while he
asks, he will go in the toilet. Ahh, the joys of motherhood.


Difference2This1 said...

Good grief! Sorry you have to deal with this issue...that would drive me crazy too.