Hoping to someday find M's brother adopted in the U.S. -
Myckola Oleksandrovych Markov - 8/26/2003

Monday, July 21, 2014

Boundary Testing

I've heard that behaviors peek around 6 months home.  That's probably the average and for my boys, its held true. 

D copped a real attitude around 4-5 months home.  It lasted about 1 month.  Adoption is a huge change for kids.  He was the oldest and "in charge."  He had to let us take the reigns and relinquish his view of himself as an adult, capable of making adult decisions (yeah telling me how to drive isn't a good idea lol).  His behavior had a lot to do with stress at school as well and once school let out, he has been a different child.  He told me that he is really stupid at school because he is so stupid at English.  That breaks my heart.  (and why he is working with a tutor all summer who tells him all.the.time. that he is NOT stupid)  Its easy to see with him, why he puts up such a tough guy front sometimes.  

E has been a super easy kiddo until right at 6 months when he pulled some controlling behaviors out and tried that nonsense for about 4 weeks.  It got him nothing but loss of privileges and extra chores so he shaped up after testing the boundaries.  He did really (seemingly) dumb things like pretending he had no idea how to put clothes away (suddenly) or that he didn't know how to wash his hands.

But V...  that little stinker!
V has always been the most challenging one.  We hosted him first and he was a handful then to put it mildly.  We were actually asked by our facilitator if we knew how naughty "that one" was. (oh yes we did!)  He gave us quite a bit of attitude in Ukraine when we travelled to adopt them, mostly because he had a hard time processing all the changes going on.  However once home, he had a really nice long honeymoon period.  
Well...its over.  
He has been pushing the limits, breaking rules just to see what happens, talking back, and really just boundary testing for all he is worth.  To the point of not being safe.  If I tell you not to go in the deep part of the water at the lake because you cannot swim well, and you disobey, then you cannot swim at all.  If I tell you to stay in the yard and you decide to lead your younger brothers on an expedition into the woods, then you are not safe to play outside.  He even made his tutor lose her temper with him for being such a smarty pants to her. We finally had to tell him he wasn't allowed out of our sight because he wasn't able to keep himself under control.  He has spent the last few days following my husband around, having to do what he did, and today he had to sit in his bed while I was too busy to watch him. 

When I let him up to play, I explained that breaking rules again would result in having to stand where I could see him at all times. 
Finally the attitude was gone.  "Yes ma'am."  

Ten minutes later he picked me a flower and told me "for you mommy. you best mommy ever." And that would be why we ended up adopting this naughty kiddo.  I just love his naughty little self so much.

I have felt bad for how strict we have had to be with him, but such is life with an adopted child.  They need the boundaries to feel safe so they purposefully test you to see if you are going to enforce them.

Are you really in charge?
Can I really trust you?
Do you really do what you say?

Three years ago this confounded me.  Today I get it.
He pushes, I push back.
I'm safe to push against because I don't move. 
For once in his life, something is constant.
That brings comfort.

But WOW some kids really need to have this enforced more than others!!! 
So there you have it. Its not all sunshine and roses. 
Often its hard and messy too!


Blessed said...

This was a fun post. I enjoy reading your blog because you are real, and not trying to pretend everything is great--you show how real love looks, enacted in daily life. : )

sylvie damey said...

You must be doing such a great job with those kids. No wonder they love you so much.

I love what you said at the end "He pushes, I push back.
I'm safe to push against because I don't move.
For once in his life, something is constant.
That brings comfort."

Really sums it up, even for my youngest who though not adopted at all, sometimes shows the same need for firm limits (and same "I love you mum" when she sees I didn't move)

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life; but those who make their journey home across time and miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them,are carried on the wings of destiny; and placed among us by God's very own hands. --Kristi Larson