No More Porcupine Hugs
by Lea Anne
I just wanted to give an update on my daughter. I am completely amazed at the progress that she has made in the last 6 months!!! We adopted her from Russia 22 months ago. There were MANY times I thought she may not ever attach to us. With lots of love, prayer and the help of Nancy Thomas and her attachment therapy the little girl we adopted from Russia has become “our daughter.” She is so sweet and special! I could relate to something that Nancy says, “It’s like hugging a porcupine.” I wanted her to love me and bond with me so badly. She rejected my love for a very long time. It was very hurtful! Many times she pushed my hugs away and didn’t want my affection. I can’t believe this is the same child. When I started noticing she was heading toward healing I was giving her a bottle and holding her on the couch. I had some food cooking on the stove and I looked in that direction and Riley said, “Mom, look at my eyes.” That is something I said to her while giving her a bottle, but she had never told me that before. Matter of fact, she was very avoidant of eye contact. I was so excited! She told me one day, “Mom, you are so sweet. You are so special.” My heart just melted. Another day she said, “Jesus gave me a sweet mommy, my daddy told me.” For about the last 6 weeks she has been asking this question SEVERAL times a day, “Mom, do you love me?” I say, of course!! It’s as if she is wanting that reassurance. She asks her daddy the same question. When she would have her fits of rage we would tell her, “Riley needs to hold close.” She would scream her head off! We would just hold her facing us and rock her and tell her we would keep her safe and that we were never going to leave her. Tonight she told my husband she wanted to hold close. He was cooking dinner so he told her, mom would love to hold close. She came over to me and said, “I want to hold close.” We went to the couch and I picked her up and put her on my lap facing me and she put her arms down under mine without me saying or doing anything!! What a huge moment! Nancy can testify that Riley HATED for me to sit with her on the couch! She would scream if I sat with her. She now lives up to her middle name-Joy. She is now a joy to be around. There are so many moments like this that have taken place over the last 6 months that are testimonies that these children can heal. I have seen it with my own eyes. This child was, in my opinion, severely unattached. She was only sixteen months old when we adopted her and I knew something wasn’t right after three weeks and I had never heard of attachment disorder. It has been a long and challenging road. She still has her moments where she lets her temper get out of hand, but it is now easier to manage and is more of a normal response than before. My sister has a biological 3 year old who threw a huge fit in the store the other day and was running and kicked her because she didn’t want in the buggy. Riley just got right in the buggy. I thought to myself, everything is going to be all right. It made me realize how close to normal Riley is. I think going through this for so long you start to think everything they do is abnormal. You kind of forget what is normal and what is not. I found myself being on edge a lot and picking apart everything she did as if it was something to do with RAD. Not so, she is a child also and I am getting more relaxed every day. I just had a fear of her not being attached so I couldn’t let go and let her be a kid. One more big thing that she did that I know Nancy will be proud of is, there is an aunt that Riley had been around quite a bit right when we adopted Riley. She is a great person and lots of fun. It seemed that when we were around this aunt, Riley would go crazy wanting her and acted like I wasn’t even there. I couldn’t even walk past the aunt without Riley wanting her. Well, we saw the aunt a few weeks ago and my husband was holding Riley and the aunt held her hands out and told Riley to come to her. Riley just looked at her and didn’t move. There were a few people there and everyone was just quiet waiting to see what Riley would do. The aunt said, I don’t want to hold you, I just want a kiss. Riley leaned over and gave her a kiss and then she said, “I want my mommy.” I am not saying that to be a bad reflection on the aunt, it was just a big moment for Riley and I! I knew she finally loved me the way I wanted her to.
Nancy, I want to thank you with all my heart for helping me to help my child. I longed for a second child so bad and had a very difficult time getting that because of infertility. After adopting Riley and going through her RAD I didn’t know how this second child I longed for would turn out. Well, she is just the child I longed for and she is a perfect fit! I sit here once again writing to you with tears in my eyes, but this times it is tears of “joy” because my once severely unattached child has become such a blessing to me! You are an awesome person with a great burden to help these children. You are truly amazing! I know without you and our faith in God our daughter would not be where she is today. Thank you.
Love, Lea Anne