Therapy Is Good

After almost two years of struggling with moderate issues, last week we visited an attachment therapist. Of course doing all of the reading we do, we knew going in that J didn’t have major problems. But for the last two years, seemingly slight changes have caused disruptions for our son. Things like Santa Claus. 

We tried to do the Santa thing, thinking it would be fun. But this year, thinking someone could come in our house through the chimney proved to be more scary than fun. When things didn’t get better for J after Christmas, we told him the truth about Santa. And it did get better.

Then my husband, who’s been unemployed for eight months, started a new job. And the insecurities came back again.

So we felt we finally needed to talk with someone about it. And I’m so glad we did. Here are few things I learned in our first session.

* All adopted children have attachment issues to some degree. For some kids, attachment parenting in those first months (or years) home may be enough. Others have severe problems and are diagnosed with reactive attachment disorder. Many are like our son and struggle during times of change and independence.

* While our son’s issues aren’t critical now, left undealt with the therapist said they could set our son up for dependent relationships later in life. That means that he could be dependent on others  to define who he is–be it a girlfriend or a gang.

* What we’re striving for isn’t independence but autonomy. The person who is autonomous is self-sufficient and emotionally stable. This person understands that whether or not he is physically close to those he loves, he’s still connected to them through the love they share.

And he gave us some wonderfully simple techniques to help strength the connection we already have. These techniques (we’re calling them games with our son) are things like having our son listen to our heartbeats (since that’s where connection begins in the womb) and making eye contact. He also suggested things like playing board games and hide and seek and having J draw pictures about his fears.

One thing that amazes me is how so many of the things the therapist suggested were things that our son loves to do already. He loves to play board games and hide and seek. He spends at least an hour every day drawing pictures, sometimes of the things that scare him as well as the things he loves. It made me wonder if, in his interests, J was showing his craving for deeper connections.

In the last week I’ve seen improvements, especially on the days that we follow the therapist’s advice to the letter. Even though it was a little intimidating at first, I’m so glad we made the appointment. It showed me that even though I’ve educated myself about attachment and adoptions issues, there may be times when we need help. And it’s OK to ask for that help; our family will be better for it in the long run.

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My Korean Culture Blog

Just a reminder that if you want to learn more about Korean culture (both traditional and pop culture), language resources, and cooking, check out my other blog: thekoreanway.wordpress.com It's filled with resources for adoptive families or anyone interested in Korean culture.

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