Sunday, November 21, 2010


We use labels everyday, for all kinds of reasons. Labels make it easier to find things... like the correct spice for a recipe. Labels make it easier to organize things and easier to understand things.

Then why is it so scary when someone puts a label on your child?

This happened to me many years ago, when my oldest was just a preschooler. I started hearing the acronym ADHD quite a lot; and indeed, in kindergarten that label was applied to my son. There was a sense of relief that there was a name to his difficulties, and also a sense of panic that this was going to affect him for the rest of his life. Well, it has. Some of the effects were from the ADHD itself, and some were from the label that he carried with him through school.

The other day, our therapist referred to my daughter as an "attachment disordered" kid. Obviously this is no surprise since we have been going to therapy for months. But somehow, hearing it out loud like that really shook me and brought back those same feelings about my child being labeled. That horrible feeling of not knowing if everything will be alright.

It's scary.

I don't know if it will be alright or not. I don't know that many people with adopted children at all, much less internationally adopted attachment disordered ones. I do know that ADHD was hard, and it's still hard... but my son is wonderful and I love him very much. I don't fear ADHD anymore, it's just part of my son's make-up and something we have to work around sometimes. "Attachment disorder" sounds very scary to me right now... but I love my daughter and I hope that we can work as a family to give her the security she needs to open up to us and love us back just as much.


Jennifer said...

Gosh, we have so much in common. I have an older son with ADHD, and yes, that label can be so damaging.

You and she have been doing so well and have come so far. Don't get discouraged!

Mama C said...

Such a brave post, Paula - I'm sure it was difficult to write in so many ways. I agree, labels are a crazy thing and can be helpful on a certain level, but on many others not. I agree with Jennifer, keep doing the best you can. It sounds like you are an amazing mama.

loridave said...

I understand. The labels on my child make me feel like I'm being punched in the stomach. The only consolation, for me, is to remember someone saying that the labels do not define our child, and if they help in getting our child the help that they need, then so be it.

flutietootie said...

It is so true. Labels should be for belongings and not for children. Often when a teacher hears a child has a label they even treat them differently and that can ruin their education. You have to be really careful.

Charity Roach said...

I agree with you and the others, labels are so.... difficult. My daughter has ADHD. She was just diagnosed about 9 months ago. I HATED that acronym. I hated the label. First came the guilt, like I had done something wrong. Then came with it the fear that people would treat my daughter differently. Then came the fear that that label would be used as an excuse by her or anyone for her.

I try to look at ADHD as an explanation - definitely not an excuse. Others can use it as a "label" but I refuse to.

The scary part of any diagnosis of "label" as I'm sure you know, is in the unknown. ADHD I bet was scary at one point in time as well. It still is for me as I learn more about it and understand more, it's less scary.

I'm praying for you Paula as you make your way with your daughter. She is so blessed to have such a caring family to help her through her feelings and a family that desires the strong attachment that both you and her deserve. I'm also praying for your daughter. I bet we will never fully know what goes through the mind of a little one who is adopted... I can only imagine.

Love coming your way from SC.

In Christ,

Becky and Naing said...

Paula, I'm sorry. I know how difficult this is. But things will get better, because you are the type of Mom that will work to make it better for her. Our counsler said it takes 2 years when you adopt to have life feel normal and the child start feeling safe if there is a trauma or any detachment issues than it will be longer. I know that it doesn't help the now, but it gives me hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel and our children will adjust and feel safe even though they have such a huge loss in their life to deal with.
hugs to you and thanks for being so open, you have helped me more than you know.