Thursday, September 02, 2010


Sometimes I'm not sure how to update you all on Bright. First, I should say that I adore him and am so thankful the Lord saw fit to allow him in our family. Second, Bright is always the first one to tell me I am pretty, or that he loves me, or that he likes me. He's really good for the 'ol self-confidence. =-) Third, Bright has some issues that are at this point unidentified but that are beginning to affect our entire family dynamic. Finally, these issues/behaviors are so far outside of my experience as a parent that I really don't do well describing them adequately.

Bright is a super smart kid who has attached beautifully to our family. We have been blessed with two amazingly easy toddler adoptions--perfect attachments. While I don't know what Bright's behaviors are, I know they are NOT related to attachment. Or at least, I feel pretty confident of that.

It's possible that Bright's behaviors are related to his extremely difficult start in life. He had a horrific first year, and I'm sure the next six months were extremely confusing to him.

It's also possible that, like Samren's previous special needs, Bright's issues have absolutely nothing to do with his early life. It might just be one of those things that he would have dealt with even if born into a loving, intact, able family.

We took the first step for Bright today. I finally kept an appointment for him. You see, I've made about 4 appointments with our doctor but have canceled every one of them. It seems like as soon as I made an appointment Bright would have a string of great days and I would talk myself back into "He's totally fine. He's just different from the other kids." This time I didn't allow myself to do that. I worry too much for him and know it's my responsibility to get him help as soon as possible IF something is going on. If he's just a typical kid and I am paranoid, the doctors can tell me that and I will be happy!

So, today we went to the doctor. She confirmed that there's nothing going on physically that would cause the behaviors and (after looking at the list of behaviors) also confirmed that there is definite reason for concern. I went in thinking along the lines of Oppositional Defiance Disorder or Conduct Disorder, but our doc shared with me that with those disorders behaviors are deliberate. Bright's behaviors are very reactive. He doesn't think. He doesn't know why he does it. He just snaps--and does things that are dangerous or destructive to himself or those around him. He REACTS. He doesn't RESPOND. Our doctor thinks that Bright's list of behaviors is more consistent with early childhood Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

PTSD? Really? That was so not on my radar. Taevy showed many symptoms of that, but they manifested very differently for her. Even reading about PTSD tonight online, I'm just not seeing it. But I'm not the doctor. Our doc was very sure to say that she was not diagnosing and it could be something else. It does appear to be SOMETHING though, and that was, I suppose, the confirmation I needed for today.

Our next step is to head to the Developmental Pediatrician, who will be able to evaluate Bright for many things. I feel completely out of my comfort zone. Medical issues and I are like two peas in a pod. No problem. Behavioral issues that require a Psychologist? Not so much. Uncharted waters.

Please just keep Bright-O in your prayers. He is a lovely little boy and the Lord has a great purpose for him. I want him to grow and thrive. Please also keep our other kids in your prayers. They are scared of their brother, and have decided that anything bad in the house must come from him. No kid should have to be scared of their sibling, and no sibling should be labeled as the trouble maker by the other kids.

I keep thinking about how Bryan Post teacher there are two basic emotions--love and fear. I totally buy into that line of thinking. And if there is only, at the root, love and fear, that means that there is a lot of fear going on amongst my kiddos. They are all scared, not only of Bright, but also FOR Bright. They love him. We all do.


Copper Boom 11:39 AM  

Our daughter was diagnosed with PTSD. And everyone of her symptoms looks like oppositional defiant disorder. Her first reaction to everything is "no" or "I hate this" or "you can't make me" (except much stronger emotions behind what I can convey here.) She's older than Bright so after talking with her when she reacts, it's now easy to see that "no" means "i'm terrified". Feel free to e-mail me if you want more details - we are new to the diagnosis as well.

Kristin 7:07 PM  

I will be praying for him and for the doctors that see him next to correctly diagnose him, so that you guys can move ahead with a plan...or at least something to hold onto to make sense of it. I pray that you get the best care possible!

Tova 8:06 PM  

Both myself, and my daughter, hit lots of the markers for PTSD, and I just did a post on it.

Yours was the first "HIV+ adoption" blog I read when we were first researching this option for our family. Thanks for your openness.


Sammie 8:25 PM  

I agree with you doctor, and also with the early history you describe of you son. PTSD sounds like a very reasonable diagnosis. PTSD in kids is not like Iraq or Vietnam war vets. Its not flash backs (well maybe at a very unconscious level). It shows in the behavior. They will be triggered by odd things, sometime you can put it together what triggers it other times you can't. Its hard to mange and takes a totally different way of parenting.

Things need to be very predicatable, a visual schedule can help so he knows exactly whats going to happen each day each hour. Not to much stimulation. There is a lot more and each kid and their PTSD is a bit different, you will need to tweak it to meet your son's need. I will look for some good articles for you or books I'd recommend. I have so many its hard to remember which have the best things in them.

Kids adopted at birth can even have PTSD, things can be stressful even in the womb. There is not one cause fits all kind of diagnosis. Don't beat yourself up for missing it. It can be hard to put a finger on. The focus is so much on attachment but this is so much more common in my experience.