Monday, May 19, 2008
From Orphanage to Home: Piney's Development

The first time we saw Pineapple she was emotionless

Bubbles? Toys? No Smiles.

At 18 months old- no response. No restlessness when we held her. No movement.

She sat perfectly still. Did not even move her head.

We were told that she was well-behaved and that she liked to dance.

Really? We thought. She can barely stand.

On our return 6 months later she still seemed a bit melancholy, but she was moving more.

She pointed, would turn her head and even showed a bit of affection by laying her head on my shoulder.

She could barely walk. Her legs were weak and unused.

Initially she had no language and was very subdued.

But after bringing her home- we eventually saw an emerging personality.

She was cute, clingy, curious, problem-solving, and out of control.

She would scream if I left her sight for one second, breaking furniture by throwing stuff down the stairs, wouldn't sit still for books or finger games, began to say Da and Ba for everything, would cry unless I was sitting down and she was in my lap poking me, pulling my hair, kicking me, stomping on me, putting her fingers up my nose, in my mouth, and in my eyes. She would alternate the poking with wanting to kiss me on the lips for an extended time. She would not sleep unless I was with her in the room. She wanted to hold, touch, get into and break everything within and out of her reach.

She loved to get n*ked and run around. If I left her for a second she would take all her clothes off including her diaper and pee or poop on the floor. She would SCREAM if I tried to get her back dressed again - it had to be a different outfit than her original one. She took her clothes off several times a day at every available moment. She quickly learned how to get to things out of her reach. She would climb, move furniture, stack things, etc. to reach things. She would sneak treats after she would refuse healthy food. She would eat out of the garbage.

I found that often the only safe place for me was to lay on my stomach on the floor or a bed (covering my face) and she could stomp all over my back at her will. I spent a lot of time like this initially. Or if I attempted holding time I had to totally hold her arms down so she wouldn't hurt me. It was so difficult to hold her like this I would start sweating from the struggle.

Her first developmental test at the hospital she failed everything.

Her next test- she had mastered everything they had showed her once in the first test.

Each test she was on a new level. Her developmental progress was like a rocket.

She started to enjoy finger games, books and cartoons. She was getting the language thing.

The only concern for the developmental specialists was her speech. She had several months of speech therapy in Maryland and is currently in speech therapy here in Seoul. She is now speaking on level with the amount of words, but her pronunciation is unclear.

There was a breakthrough in Pineys behavior right before she hit 3. If she got into something she wasn't supposed to she would clean it up before we discovered it. She would actually voluntarily leave me to go play with her brothers. If we told her not to get into something, she
wouldn't even without the child proofing. She was developing a conscience.

This was a big deal because kids with attachment problems do not easily self-regulate with a conscience. This was a sign to me that she was attaching or was attached. Maybe all of the attachment activities had worked.

Still there are issues.

She makes it impossible to have family meetings or discussions as she needs to be really loud and have every focus on her and what she is saying and doing at every moment. If we are not paying attention she will get louder, kick, shove, crawl on everyone until that is remedied. If she doesn't get her way she will pull my hair, spit in my face, or kick me. If we put her outside the room she screams and bangs and bangs on the door.

If we leave the house (to go out) and she wants to come with us (which is 100% always) she will destroy something in the house while we are gone. Recently there were knife carvings in the coffee table, broken dried flowers from a vase, all of the pillow cases off, crumbs from treats in the carpet, spills, etc.

She does not do these things if we are home (which is an improvement)- Only when she is angry now.

She still does self-soothing behaviors sometimes like sucking her thumb, wanting to sleep in a crib sometimes, poops in her underwear, rocks back and forth from foot to foot, says mama, mama (look at me, listen to me, etc.) every other word (i.e. mama I'm running to the potty- said 6 times before getting to the potty and wanting 6 responses), still shows me several (pretend) owies a day that need prompt attention and care, she also engages in excessive masterb*tion (using her fingers, books, DVDs, her highchair, carseat, shopping cart, stream of water in the bath, toys, handheld electronic back mass*gers- this started at age 2.5-current), sometimes she still looks up at the ceiling when talking to me, needs to touch and handle everything around wherever I am standing or sitting- and continues to shadow me for most of the time, she also enjoys discussing her imaginary friend (Santa Clause) who she tells me is the only person she loves and who loves her (despite our and her teachers declarations of love for her).

Recently she has started the "I can't do it" phase. Everything that she has been doing by herself for the past year she suddenly can't do it anymore- like putting on her shoes for example- this is something that she can't do anymore. She can't do it unless we are leaving to go out and she is not able to come. Suddenly her shoes appear on her feet without a problem.

But overall things are good. Every teacher that she has ever had says she is a DREAM student. They say she is smart, well-mannered, obedient and gets along well with others. She is helpful and always participates. I have been told that she is either average or above average intelligence- definitely not behind in any way. She paints, draws, writes, dances, plays dress up, and creates all sorts of amazing things with building toys.

They all LOVE her.

Sometimes I ask them- does she tell you about all of her owies? No. She never mentions that.
Does she demand your constant attention? No. She plays well alone and with the other children.
Is she bossy at all? Not at all. Sometimes other kids take toys away from her and she cries and doesn't stand up for herself. Does she avoid eye contact? No. It seems to be perfectly normal.
Are there any problems at all? No. None. She is an awesome kid. You are lucky parents.

And I just nod and say- you are right,

thank you very much.

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Blogger Rachael said...
This should be a great primer for anyone just going in to this to know what to expect.

I remember in the planning stages, you just can't imagine what it will be like, and it's very hard to get a concrete description from anyone, other than "it's hard!"

Of course, every kid is different. Our biggest stress/behavior problem is in the classroom (our adopted daughter is not a toddler though). I usually say, she is very good at home, but I think she does many of the same behaviors at school and home, I'm just more tolerant of it than, say, her teacher.

Anyway, Piney has come a LONG way. You are obviously doing something right!

Blogger Kristen said...
I think it's amazingly wonderful to read about how far she has come!! ((((HUGS)))

Blogger Elle said...
She has come a long way. She sounds like a typical 3 year old. Oleg screams at me, is disobedient, won't listen and the like, but at school or for other people a complete sweetheart.

Blogger MMrussianadoption said...
Being a teacher I can tell you there are many kids who are better for the teacher than they are for their own parents. Hope she continues to adjust at home for you.

Blogger Mary said...
Such a lucky little girl she is! I am so glad things are going well for you. Three is my least favorite age, after 18 months. I bet it will continue to get better.

Blogger Richard & Sarah said...
It is so wonderful to see/hear how much she has grown! Thank you very much for being willing to be so open about the specific challenges you have/are overcoming. As someone who thinks about adopting some day it is very helpful to catch a glimpse into some of what can be a part of adopting.

Blogger Lauri said...
We also deal with the self exploration/masterb*tion issues.. I have not blogged about it much because it's kinda hard to talk about. Kuddo's to you for being so honest.

For our child.. it's a sensory seeking, self soothing issue and while it's perfectly normal in all children to explore their bodies, we felt our child was taking it to a whole new level and we now encourage her to do that in the privacy of her room. The good news is that she is starting to learn to do that in private and is not doing it at school.

we also deal with the need to control family conversations, needing to be the center of attention and learning the give & take of mutal respectful relationships.

It's hard... she has come so far and will continue to thrive.


Blogger Denise said...
My suggestion would be to get your daughter reading! It will open up a whole new world for her - one that she can use in communicating. I am the founder of eReadingPro, which is a reading program focused on children of ALL ages and ALL needs - particularly special needs! Please feel free to check us out at:

Blogger Taylor said...
Your daughter is so beautiful, and so lucky to have you! I just wanted to say that I'm using the eReadingPro system with my 8-year old daughter who has Autism! We are on week 6 and she is saying lots of the words outloud already! We couldn't be happier with the results we are seeing!!

Anonymous Anonymous said...
i never knew you went through all this. i think it's good for AP's to share the truth of "the other side." honestly that would be really discouraging for a PAP to read!!! but glad she's doing so much better now!!

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