Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Mom shopping - Nope, sorry, that doesn't mean mom's just get to go shopping.

 Have you ever been around a kid that you've never met or seen before and they just want to hug you or kiss you or sit on your lap or hold your hand?  People always gush over how sweet this kid is and love that affection. I know because I always did too.
  In kids coming from broken pasts this is NOT a "good" thing.  It's called "Mom shopping", they are looking for something to heal their broken hearts.  They are looking for a "mom."   What about when they are adopted and have a mom?  They quit shopping, right? WRONG!  Sometimes just the opposite is true.
  Let me paint you a very real picture.  Baby is born - Mom gives up baby - baby goes to an orphanage - orphanage worker 1 feeds baby and moves on - orphanage worker 2 changes baby and moves on - orphanage worker 3 feeds baby - orphanage worker 4 bathes baby - orphanage worker 5 changes baby....seeing where this is going yet?  By the time baby is 5 years old how many orphanage workers or foster moms/dads/siblings have had contact with him? Too many to even remember.  How many stuck around? ZERO, a really easy number to remember.  At some point one of them might have been especially kind and loving and made baby feel special, but what happened to that caretaker? They "left" - maybe not because they didn't care anymore, but for a million different reasons they are no longer there. 
  Now,  in walks adoptive mom and dad. YAY!! Baby is sooo happy - he finally has a family, right?! Again, nope. Baby doesn't know what a family is.  He doesn't know or understand or believe that moms and dads DONT LEAVE.  He doesn't know that they will love you always - no matter what.  To him, this is just another caretaker and he has built big STRONG brick walls.  These walls are special to him because he has worked very hard to lay them brick by brick.  They keep his little heart safe from everything that comes to try to hurt it.
You get the picture.   Did you know that touch is a basic NEED just like water and air? People NEED touch to survive.  Without it our brains develop differently.  So kids without even knowing it are working to get that NEED of touch met.  Kids who come from hurt get this need met by strangers because their hearts are not at risk by hugging a stranger.  Why?  Because they KNOW that stranger is going to walk away.  They expect it so it won't hurt them.  When they become adopted and MOM and DAD give them hugs and kisses it's SCARY!  Not at first, at first they are happy to get and give affection because they don't care if you leave - they are expecting it. As you become more and more of a permanent fixture in their lives this changes.   Suddenly they start to realize that "when" you leave them it WILL hurt.  Add another brick to their wall.
   This is seen when they have a really good week or month, or maybe just a day with mom or dad.  They feel loved - that's SCARY!! Add a brick
  This is seen when they fall and mom rushes to hug and comfort them. SCARY! Add a brick
  This is seen when mom sits down at the end of the day to just rock them and say "I love you".  Add a brick.
  They start to pull away and sometimes act out - becoming harsh or aggressive.  They don't want to hug you, they don't want you to be nice to them....THEY ARE PROTECTING THEIR LITTLE SHATTERED HEARTS!

  BUT what about that basic need for touch?  They still need it, but not from someone who can hurt them! So they see a stranger who smiles at them and they go get a hug - basic need met = don't need mom = heart is safe.
  Here is the good news!!! Elliott has been home about 16 months.  He loves everyone and everyone loves him.  Seriously, people stop in the middle of the mall to talk to him.  The staff at doctors offices know him and look forward to seeing him. He is an amazing and special kid.... who has a HUGE basic need for touch.  Seriously  LOVES touch.  So for 16 months I've been telling him "We only hug family."   Last Sunday he went up to a lady at church, who for some reason reminds him of his grandma in North Dakota.  He called her grandma excitedly and she wrapped her arm around him and kissed the top of his head. (Queue mental palm to forehead moment for mom) BUT Imagine how excited I was when, after 16 months of "Only hug family" comments, he ran from "grandma" TO MOM and yelled "ONLY HUG FAMILY!!"  YEP!! Those little shattered hearts CAN heal! I'm not naive enough to believe that that's the end of those "mom shopping" days, but it is a HUGE - GINORMOUS step in that direction!!
  Keep going moms!! Our little shoppers CAN and WILL get there.

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