Comparing…(Just Keeping It Real)

I know you’re not supposed to compare your children…but I’m going to, anyways. I want to be very honest here…adoption is hard. Adoption is hard and it is beautiful. Even though it is a very beautiful thing, adoption is always the result of extreme heartache, and it is always formed in trauma. Given that trauma, it is no surprise that there are issues with attachment, and healthy relationships.
Even though our kids come from similar traumatic backgrounds, they each handle it so differently…
They’re just SO different, and I want to make sure I get all of my thoughts down, so that when we are talking to the attachment therapist I can look back! Now that we are home, and in the thick of working on attachment, I find myself often thinking back and comparing where baby J is to where little M was when we first got home.

By this time in our journey with little M, we were painfully in the middle of anxious attachment. In fact, I think little M may have given new meaning to the term anxious attachment. She has always been a little worrier, and we are still working on her management of her fears and worries.
When she first came home, she couldn’t bear having me out of her sight. Ever. If I went to the bathroom, she screamed in fear until I could hold her again… for months and months. She was happy to be carried everywhere, and was my little shadow, ALWAYS.

With baby J, not so much…I think we might be edging a little closer to an anxious attachment, but so far, I have to be the one to seek him out, as he is quite happy playing on his own all day.
Where little M was anxious, baby J is almost ambivalent.
He is adorable, and happy, and fun, and he fits so well into our family…but at this point, it is almost like we are babysitting. And we are taking darn good care of our little charge, but I am feeling a little anxious about his lack of anxiousness, ha!

That being said, he is so much more affectionate than little M was. She is quite affectionate now, but it has taken time and work, and we often still have to tell her to hug, or to turn her body toward us when we hold her. Baby J gives spontaneous hugs, and when we hold him, he turns his body in, and leans into us. Little M used to give us an elbow, keeping an arm in between our bodies. When we rocked her, she would hold herself stiffly, and she didn’t relax unless she was asleep. When we hold baby J, he lays in our arms, and slips his little arm around behind our back, so that he can cuddle in.

One of the signs of a well attached baby or child is that they are able to make good eye contact. We are still constantly working on this with little M, and she almost always needs a reminder…her eye contact fell by the wayside for a long time in her need to read lips for communication. Baby J makes great eye contact, and he has from day one. I am not sure what to make of this or what it means, but as long as he is happy, and doesn’t think he’s in trouble, he is fine with eye contact.

Little M did not do well with being told “no.” I don’t think she heard it much, ha! You would have thought we were torturing her, and she would rage, and tantrum, and carry on for a loooong time. Mostly, it just made her mad.

Baby J doesn’t like to hear “no” any more than his sister did, but honestly, I think he has heard it a lot more than she did. He responds very quickly, but if you look very serious, or if he has to be removed from a situation (one day last week, he pushed little M down on the floor, and was kicking her when the husband got there), you would think that his little heart was just broken in two.
Little M can turn off her crying in less than a second, can turn off her tears, and talk normally. She can also turn it on in a second, unfortunately… baby J is seriously crushed. His little face crumples up, and when he cries, it is a gasping, heartbroken sobbing, and can go on forever and ever.

Little M is a fairly good sleeper, but she does wake still, almost every night, and still has times where she cries in her sleep. She obviously doesn’t wake up from noise (she can’t hear anything once her hearing aid is out)…I could vacuum her room, and she wouldn’t wake up. I am not sure what wakes her, but when she wakes up, she is wide awake, sometimes for hours. And once she is awake in the morning, she is ready to go. She is happy, SO talkative, and her usual cheerful self.
Baby J is also a good sleeper. But he is not so much of a morning person. Afternoons are really his time to shine…he sometimes won’t even crack a smile until after lunch, and I feel very fortunate if I am blessed with a smile before then.

Little M was superficially charming, and was overly friendly with everyone, except men. Little M took a very long time to warm up to men…
Baby J loves men, and if possible, he is even more indiscriminately affectionate than little M. He has run up to strangers several times over the past week, and hugged them, raising his arms to be picked up.
Very cute…but completely inappropriate, and something we will be working on.

We are so blessed to be the parents of our baby J, and we can’t wait until we begin to see some healthy attachments form. We are very thankful that God gave this little boy to us!


  1. Musings from Kim K. on May 2, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    So much of how you describe M is exactly the same struggles we had with Josie. It's so important to digest and process all this.

  2. michelle on May 2, 2013 at 8:21 pm

    Thinking on what you have shared I just wanted to reflect that although we adopted siblings together who are over two yrs apart (thus the littliest has had less yrs of trauma but more of his life traumatic), Adi (oldest) is much like M and Lukas (little) is much like J. Only having had them home half yr, we are still learning and going through regression and testing, but we are learning some has totally to do with personalities and some might have to do with girl vs boy too. We compare too, bc that is what we have to draw on, not such a bad thing in my opinion, for it allows for you to utilize what you have learned and to toss out the door what the books say and you have already found does not work in your house. It is such an interesting subject, one we are struggling with and loving all in one breath. As kiddos attache to us, they also test us. They have now lived with us more than any of their temporary homes but not as long as with birth parents. So I almost can see them thinking, hmmmmmm, I think they are going to really keep us (which we of course know we are!!!!) even if I do something wrong. Well, just know thinking of you, this, as you are aware, can be a really hard part, even with all the wonderful aspects, of transitioning. I still try to remind myself to see the little progress and know it all takes time. Michelle

  3. Heather on May 3, 2013 at 12:16 am

    If I recall, baby J was in foster care while little m was is an orphanage. Do you think that has played into part of the difference? I will also chime in that my son is just much more easy going in general than my girls. I also think it was easier for him coming home to a house with kids – he bonded with us all and they definetely made his transition easier, though he is quite a mama's boy!

  4. R on May 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    I'm wondering if it has to do with the CWI that M was in. My daughter is from the same one, it was like you were describing her. I have been reading and enjoying your family/craft blog since you traveled to bring home M. Congrats on adding to your beautiful family.

  5. R on May 3, 2013 at 10:07 pm

    This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. dawn on May 4, 2013 at 1:19 am

    I don't think you are comparing in THAT way. I always get into trouble for comparing when I try to \”note\” the differences.Mothering isn't for the feint of heart and that is why they have you because you are a rockstar at it. Really, you are.

  7. mayiara on May 7, 2013 at 2:04 pm

    That's really interesting & helpful to understand how different kids deal with adjustment… ysl

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