I would love to say that my daughter has no problems associated with her background, trauma, and adoption. After all, she was very young when placed, experienced no direct neglect or abuse, (but was at risk, given her 7 older brothers and sisters had all been subjected to both neglect and emotional abuse), and had just one very quiet foster placement between birth parents and us.
But we all know what damage can be caused by moving from one set of parents, to another, then to adoptive parents. There doesn’t need to be abuse or neglect, because the act of moving is traumatic enough, let alone being wrenched away from all you’ve ever known…
So, anyway, she does have problems. She has tantrums at school (she’s 5 and in reception by the way…but coming to the end of it). Several mums have tried to reassure me that their 5 year olds tantrum too, and the teacher even mentioned that young girls can be vicious in their retaliations, but none of them have wee’d on the beanbags during such a tantrum and then tried to slap the TA, or purposefully knotted another child’s hair to the wire fence at playtime because she wouldn’t share a ball. And when you talk further, you realise their definition of tantrum is completely different to your own, and when they say their child has them…they mean maybe once a week, usually in frustration after a ‘no’ from mum. And when the teacher carries on telling you about retaliation, you realise she means hiding a rubber instead of having to share it, or new best friends being found to spite each other.
She screams. And when I say scream, I mean glass-shattering pitch for prolonged periods. Other mums tell me their 5 year olds scream too, but having been round a friend’s house when one of these other girls ‘screamed’ I can assure you it’s not like my daughter’s screams. You might flinch when your daughter screams. I went to the doctor after going deaf temporarily.
She pinches, scratches and occasionally tries to bite us. Oh yes, apparently that’s normal too, but I’m yet to see any other parents in the playground with scratches on their face, red marks around their necks and bruises on their arms! And even when I have seen other children hurt their parents, I’m yet to see any of them look as intent on causing pain and hurt as my daughter.
I would love to believe that all her behaviour IS ‘normal’.
I’d love to believe she’s like every other 5 year old. But all those times I’ve told myself it is ‘normal’, well, I’m starting to realise that I was kidding myself. I’m recognising that it’s not normal for 5 year olds to tantrum every day, and definitely not in the manner that she does, I’m recognising that the level of screaming we are subjected to is not typical, and the venom with which she hurts us (even though she sometimes comes to apologise and hug later) is unusual.
This is not how I thought it would be. I’m ashamed that I’m only just recognising and understanding that my daughter’s behaviour is different. But I don’t want to kid myself any more…it’s only hurting and damaging her more. We need help.