Monday, March 13, 2006

Citizenship Day

Today we went to Memphis so that Kathryn could say the Oath of Citzenship and receive her certificate of citizenship. Here is what she said:

I hereby declare, on oath, that I absolutely and entirely renounce and abjure all allegiance and fidelity to any foreign prince, potentate, state, or sovereignty of whom or which I have heretofore been a subject or citizen; that I will support and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States of America against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I will bear arms on behalf of the United States when required by law; that I will perform noncombatant service in the Armed Forces of the United States when required by the law; that I will perform work of national importance under civilian direction when required by the law; and that I take this obligation freely without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; so help me God. In acknowledgement whereof I have hereunto affixed my signature.

Having read it, I wonder how many American born citzen could truthfully take the oath today.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Attachment Disorders the "Cure"

Having discussed the causes of attachment disorders I want to layout the solution. The solution is simple yet hard. The solution is Biblical parenting. My first thought was that there are many who have done a much better job of describing what Biblical parenting is than me. So I went looking. What I found was this, a succinct description of Biblical parenting.

What I intend to do is to reference you to this and then use it as an outline for a series of posts on Attachment Disorders. I will expound on each point and try to relate them to the particular issues of children who would be considered to have attachment disorders. So lets start with point 1:

Praise a Lot

A child that is praised consistently as well as corrected consistently can tell the difference in what the parent wants and does not want. We are to give honor to whom honor is due and rejoice when our children walk in truth. Romans 13:7, III John 4.

This issue is really important to the kids we are considering. Because of their neglectful or abusive background most of their experience with parents and authority figures has been negative. The result is that their response toward correction is often improper. Correction appears to them as the start of an abuse cycle. Thus they will try to deflect, deny, or avoid correction rather than respond in a positive manner. We need to restore this balance and teach them to respond properly. Add a balancing amount of praise will help put correction in the right perspective for them.

It is interesting to note that, in the book of Revelation, Jesus commends the churches before he corrects them for their problems. Likewise, the Apostle Paul in many of his letters will point out the good points of the church he is writing to before delving into correcting their errors. We could learn well from these examples. It is a good habit to find positive things to say to a child before seeking to correct them.

Getting a child to the point where they accept praise and correction properly is a process that takes time. Some of our children came to us not knowing how to respond to praise. This may be because they have received so little praise in their life that they do not recognize what it is, or it may be that because what praise they did receive was a means of manipulation In either case they tend to not respond properly at first. One example of this is our son who becomes giddy when he receives praise. It seems that the slightest amount of praise convinces him that he is the supreme ruler of the universe and that all power is in his hand. At the same time he is almost impervious to rebuke because he came to us so accustomed to deprivation and pain that he does not recognize either as something to be avoided but merely endured. With him it has been a very slow process.

Others will respond more readily. The key is to balance the praise and correction. How we balance depends on the condition of the child. 1 Tim 5:14 suggests says that we should admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. Those who are seeking to do what is right but are struggling should be encouraged. Those who have no desire to do what is right show be corrected, the strength of correction being determined by the state of their heart.

This can become hard at time because some kids, particularly when they first come, have very few positive traits to praise. We want to encourage them so that they will see that positive behavior produces positive results. This is hard when little of what they do is truly right. Sometimewe must go out of our way to look for things to praise. Thankfully, as time goes on this tends to get better.

I must admit that this is one area in which I personally struggle. I am a very analytical person. I am good at my job because I find the potential problems before theyoccur and try to fix them. This works well with computer software, not so well with children. Children need the balance between praise and correction. Thankfully, my wife is a natural encourager.

Next up: Play a Lot!

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

The causes of attachment disorders

Having listed the "symptoms" of Attachment Disorders (ADs) in the last post, I want to discuss them in more detail outlining what I consider to be the causes.

First I think it is important to note that my biological children have all exhibited many of these "symptoms" at various points in their lives. So how are they different than these children with AD's? The problem stems from the fact that, with my biological children, these behaviors occurred one at a time. They were typically dealt with and not allowed to become habits. Though, I confess some were not dealt with as well as others. Still most were dealt with and not allowed to collect.

With the AD children this did not happen. Because their parents were either absent or abusive, these issues were not dealt with and allowed to accumulate. Rather than being quickly extinguished, the behaviors became habits. Thus I would say that the central issue with these children is the lack of proper parenting. Notice I say issue, not cause. The causes vary, but they are all colored by the absence of proper parenting. For example, a child being harmful to another child is the result of sin. However, proper parenting would have taught the consequences of such sin and prevented it from becoming a habit. Other symptoms are the child's response to abuse or deprivation becoming habitual. Now that the abuse or deprivation is removed they continue acting as they had before. In these cases, proper parenting would have meant that there was no need for the child to respond in the first place.

The good new in all of this is that previous poor or absent parenting can be made up for by good parenting today. Sure it is harder, because the problems are all present at once and they are often well ingrained habits. Many parents become overwhelmed by the magnitude of the problem and simply try to give up, passing them off to the "professionals." However, with proper understanding, the Word of God contains answer to all of these problems.

So let's look at the causes of these problems in a little more detail. There are several:

  1. Many of these are sinful habits. Some are responses to abuse or deprivations, but they are still sinful. Through repetition they become not just individual sins, but habitual sins, sometimes to the point of characteraological sins. Many will say, but wait this is not sin it is fear, pain, or something else. While these factors may be present, what the Bible calls sin is still sin. They may be responses to something in their environment, but they are still sinful responses.
    If we fail to recognize this, we will not bring the proper "cure" to the "disease." Simply removing the abuse or fulfilling the need will not erase these sinful habits. This is perhaps where many parents get off track. They think that simply supplying them with all their needs and giving them a loving home they will magically be "cured" of all their problems. However, they also need to be shown how to break the sinful habits. Scripture gives clear council on how to deal with the habits of sin.

  2. Other behaviors are merely strange to our eyes. Some such as hoarding food are not necessarily sinful. These are the kind of issuese that are helped by the parents recognizing what their child has gone through. Consider food hoarding. Imagine that the child has been neglected. Papa is gone, mama is an alcoholic. When mama is sober she feeds the child, when she is drunk, she forgets. In these circumstances, it would be completely rational for the child to hoard food, because he does not know when he will get more. It is only when they are brought into a home where food is plentiful that their behavior seems strange. In the world they come from it was perfectly rational, now it is not. Recognizing this for what it is will help greatly. These are the kinds of issues that will often simply go away over time as the children recognize that their world has changed.

  3. Some issues are really unreasonable expectations with the current parents. For instance expecting these kids to act "age appropriately" is often unrealistic. In is unfair for a parent to expect a child who had little social interaction until the age of five to suddenly start "keeping friends for an age-appropriate length of time." Likewise, they may be behind in school because of poor education up until the point of adoption. Expecting them to be "at grade level" immediately is unreasonable.
  4. Problems with the current parents. The best example of this is the parent who claims that the child "argues for long periods of time, often about meaningless or silly things." The last I checked, it takes two to argue. Cases such as these are often more a problem of the parent not dealing with the issue than it is the child.

As you can see there are a variety of causes here. Often an individual issue will be a combination of these. We want to be careful to not just write everything off as merely sin. Often the sins were motivated by deprivation or abuse. Addressing these issues at the same time we address the heart issues will greatly improve our chances of success.

I would say where we most often see families fail with these children is by not understanding all of the issues that are related to a given problem. Some do not grasp the importance of sin in the equation. Others will write off complex issues as merely sin. Understand the causes and the motivations of these children will greatly help a parent deal with the issues.

Thinking more about diversity

One of the joys of my life is that God has given me a family that I can see what He is doing in "every tribe and nation." My wife, I and the bios are European mutts (Scottish, English, Welsh, German, etc), while we have Rus, Gyspsy, Kazakh, Chinese, and the Qa Dong people of Vietnam. Not quite every tribe and nation, but we have a good start.

Thinking of how each of these others was brought out of their native land at a price. Taken from the cast offs of society, naked poor and wreteched. They have now been given a home with their true father. They get to live with Him and share in all that He has. We are an example of what God has done in the life of a believer.

Kind of neat how each believer gets their own way of magnifying God through the example of their lives.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

What is an attachment disorder

Before we talk about attachment disorders, I want to define them. The symptoms of attachment disorders are typically a list of behaviors. Here is one such list:

  • My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to other children.

  • My child can't keep friends for an age-appropriate length of time.

  • My child doesn't do as well in school as my child could do even with a little more effort.

  • My child pushes me away or becomes stiff when I try to hug, unless my child wants something from me, in which case my child can be affectionate and engaging.

  • My child argues for long periods of time, often about meaningless or silly things.

  • My child has a large need to control everything.

  • My child is hyper-vigilant.

  • My child acts amazingly innocent, or pretends that things aren't really bad or a problem when caught doing something wrong.

  • My child does dangerous things such as runs away, jumps out of windows, or other potentially harmful actions. My child seems oblivious to the fact that my child may be hurt.

  • My child deliberately breaks or ruins his things or other's things.

  • My child doesn't seem to feel age-appropriate guilt when my child does something wrong.

  • My child is impulsive. My child seems unable or unwilling to stop doing something my child wants to do.

  • My child teases, hurts, or is cruel to animals.

  • My child steals, or shows up with things that belong to others with unbelievable, unusual, or suspicious reasons for how my child got these things.

  • My child likes to sneak things without permission, even though my child could have had these things if my child had asked.

  • My child doesn't seem to learn from mistakes, consequences, or punishments (my child continues the behavior despite the consequences).

  • My child makes false reports of abuse or neglect. My child tries to get sympathy from others, or tries to get us in trouble, by telling others that I abuse, don't feed, or don't provide the basic necessities.

  • My child seems not to experience pain when hurt, refusing to let anyone provide comfort.

  • My child does not usually ask for things. My child demands things.

  • My child lies, often about obvious or ridiculous things, or when it would have been easier to tell the truth.

  • My child is quite bossy with other children and adults.

  • My child hoards, sneaks food, or has other unusual eating habits (eats paper, raw sugar, non-food items, package mixes, baker's chocolate, etc.)

  • My child often does not make eye contact when adults want to make eye contract with my child.

  • My child has extended temper tantrums.

  • My child chatters non-stop, asks repeated questions about things that make no sense, mutters, or is hard to understand when talking.

  • My child is accident-prone (gets hurt a lot), or complains a lot about every little ache and pain (needs constant attention).

  • My child acts cute or charming to get others to do what my child wants.

  • My child is overly friendly with strangers.

  • My child has set fires, or is preoccupied with fire.

  • My child prefers to watch violent cartoons and/or TV shows or horror movie (regardless of whether or not you allow your child to do this).

According to the link, if your child has more than five of these "symptoms" you should seek professional help. If your child also had problem during the first few years such as neglect/abuse, in an orphanage, or adopted then they have an attachment disorder. Note that this list is by no way definitive. Each list you see will be somewhat different. For instance, some will add severe illness during the first year as a cause. Other lists will have a slightly different selection of symptoms. The key elements are a number of undesirable behaviors combined with problems in the first few years of life.

So those are attachment disorders according to the experts.

So, discerning readers, anyone see any problems with these symptoms?


The church must be diverse, because Jesus didn’t die to save just white people. The church must be diverse, because God is not glorified when we love each other just because we’re humanly similar. The church must be diverse, because the world must see that the bond of Christ is stronger than blood and nationality and language and civil wars and racism and generational differences and cultures and continents and politics and personalities and occupations.

One of the most significant ways that Christ is magnified is through a unified diversity of blood-bought sinners who stand shoulder-to-shoulder and joyfully exalt Him with one heart and one voice. This is the true fellowship of the saints. This is the colorful family of God. This is the rainbow of the redeemed.

By Gunner23 read the whole post here.

Monday, March 06, 2006

No post

I had promised to make some follow up posts on attachment disorders. However, I am somewhat under the weather. This is high pollen season in our neck of the woos and my allergies are working overtime, leaving me wiped out a lot. I do still intend to post on the subject, the posts may just be slow in coming out.

Friday, March 03, 2006

Attachment Disorders

4given asks:

From a Biblical perspective, what are your thoughts on "attachment disorder" or "reactive attachment disorder" and the prevailing thought that it must be treated by a professional psychologist with a Post-Traumatic-Stress-Disorder approach?

Interesting question. We have done considerable thinking in this area. It is unclear to us whether we have dealt personally with these issues. All three of our daughters who came from disruptions were or probably would have been diagnosed with attachment disorders. However, when we got them we never saw many problems. So were the attachment issues with the child or with the parents? I would say the issue was as much the parent's expectations as it was an actual problem with the child.

Let me begin by saying that I do not believe that the psychX sciences have much to offer. Modern psychology is based on a set of presuppositions that do not entirely agree with Scripture. As such their conclusions are suspect. They do have a good body of observed data that can be helpful, however their corrupt view of the nature of man will often lead them to invalid conclusions regarding the data. This does not mean that they are never right. However, their invalid presuppositions color all of their conclusion. Thus each must be evaluated on its own merit to see whether it agrees with Scripture or not. At some times, it would seem better to just start from scratch rather than rethink everything that had been done.

With regard to "attachment disorders," this is really just a wastebasket diagnosis. There is a whole constellation of behaviors that is attributed to attachment disorders. Attachment disorders are diagnosed when the child has some collection of these behaviors combined with not having had parents in the early years of life. Many of these behaviors are not really "symptoms," but are what the Bible calls sin. Others such, as food hording, are rational responses to deprivation that have turned into habits which are now undesirable. Each issue needs to be properly identified and dealt with in the appropriate manner.

The difficulty that comes with these kids is that the have so many issues that they all become interconnected. Language delays can inhibit communication which can inhibit instruction and training which is the means of correcting other problems. Defiance and anger can impede instruction in other areas, etc.. The real problem is not knowing where to begin and how to work on one problem without working on all the others.

I will try to post more on this issue in the coming days. I will probably take up what I consider to be the causes of attachment disorders and then talk about dealing with some of the issues.

A "Real" Family?

We have been called many things over the last few years. Some folks call us crazy, strange, odd, weird, insane or other unflattering adjectives. I cannot, nor will I, dispute these labels. It is how we appear to God that matters, not how men perceive us.

On the other hand, some have called us a "real" family. Interestingly enough, each time we have been called that, it was by a child who was struggling, or their parents. Twice, children who were being disrupted were brought to us by parents who told them along the way that they were going to see how a REAL family worked. The third time I am aware of was from a teenage relative who had been visiting. His home life was less than ideal, and he made this comment to his grandmother with tears in his eyes, as he left.

This begs the question, "What IS a "real" family?" Why do some folks consider us crazy or odd, while some consider us "real"? I do not have the advantange of seeing into other people's homes and lives, so this is hard for me to determine.

So, I will pose the question to you, our readers. What do you think the characteristics of a "real" family are?

Thursday, March 02, 2006

Go Ask Dad

This is our regular feature on this blog called Go Ask Dad. This is a place where people can ask us any question, and I, sheshe, or one of the kids will attempt to answer it. We will answer questions about us, or try to help you with what is going on in your family. We will answer just about any question that applies to home, family, homeschooling, or adoption. We will even say "I don't know" when we don't.

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

My Physician's Visits

The last post my husband made stated that we would be gone for a while, on medical trips. We are home from both of those now, with mixed results. The basic conclusion that all four doctors came to was that I do not have what they doctors here thought I had (Opsoclonus Myoclonus). That is good news, since this is a very rare and difficult to treat neurological illness, but yet it puts up back in "limbo land". A number of comments were made regarding this illness being "psychogenic", some more veiled than others. Even though we assured the doctors that I have been seen by certified counselors who firmly believe my illness is not caused by stress factor, they insisted that my next move should be to see a psychiatrist. Ha! Can you imagine me, a mother of 11 (twelve for now, actually) who has her mother in law living in the same home and has moved with the last year, NOT being diagnosed with SOMETHING?!! I MUST be crazy, right? You see, they just don't understand. Their answers to most things seem to come in small, amber colored bottles.

The doctor in Philadelphia was indeed very knowledgeable and is doing more blood work related to a study which is being done there. When they get those results, he will call me with further recommendations.

Now I will share the most exciting news with you! Yesterday morning I woke up with my symptoms almost practically GONE! Just like that! After a year of waking up jerking, this was so odd. My eyes stayed where I wanted them to, also! No drugs or therapies or doctors can take the credit for this improvement. It is fully and completely a work of the Lord. To Him be the glory! My "stress" level has certainly not decreased over the last couple of weeks, so I don't see how they could attribute it to that, either. I even drove today - something I had previously taken for granted, but have grown to appreciate more and more over the last few weeks, being unable to do it in my own.

Will this change be permanent? I don't know. That, like my illness, is in God's hands. He is the Great Physician, indeed. I will be thankful for ever single moment that I am not a "jerk" and if God chooses to bring my illness back in full force, I will continue to praise Him for the the break I had from it. I will even thank Him for the illness, as it provides so many opportunities to reach folks whom I would otherwise not come in contact with.