Scattered Links by M. Weidenbenner connected with me in many ways. First, the story is exceptionally written. Second, As an adoptive mother and a coach to adoptive families, the story had authenticity. Page after page, I ached for Oksana, the twelve-year-old heroine, for the sad reality that was/is her life and that of many other orphanage-raised, severely traumatized children who fear to trust and open themselves to attachment.
The emotional struggles portrayed ring true for both Oksana and her adoptive parents. Self-doubt, grief, loss is experienced by the entire family, not just the child. It affects the way they relate to one another. It factors into their thoughts, beliefs and expectations.
History has taught them trust is a luxury they cannot afford. Click To TweetEach is shaped by both their history and their dream of becoming a family. Successfully bridging the gap between their painful reality and their idealized fantasies demands a leap of faith that does not come easily for any of them. Oksana’s struggle to build attachments, to trust and heal is well depicted. Children like her who have experienced such significant trauma cannot magically release their fears, their self-limiting coping behaviors and their isolating belief that they must rely only on themselves. History has taught them trust is a luxury they cannot afford. They’ve learned that lesson well. In some cases, their wariness and resistance to connect was the only thing that kept them alive. (No wonder they are so reluctant to change their strategy.)
This unwillingness/inability to open oneself to emotional connection is often referred to as “RAD” (Reactive Attachment Disorder.) Many prefer to call it something less judgmental, like Reactive Attachment Syndrome. This acknowledges that the child’s response to the emotional trauma of her history is less a “disorder” and more an imperfect, self-isolating, and inefficient strategy. But they are terrified to relinquish it because they mistakenly believe it is their only way of preventing further hurt.
Adoptees are not the only ones with emotional baggage. Adoptive parents also bring their own… Click To Tweet This complicates the attachment building process, especially when they haven’t been taught how to identify their own “stuff” and it from that of their adopted children.
When Oksana rebuffed her parents, resisted their affection and their rules, she wasn’t being ungrateful or bratty. She was in survival mode. All walls up. Heart on lock down. Mind on Red Alert. She’s as adversely affected by her ill-designed strategy as her parents are.
There is no quick fix for this family and others with similar trauma histories. Healing takes time, patience, commitment. The process is difficult. Success is possible just not quick or easy.
Scattered Links features horse therapy. It is one therapeutic method finding. When human relationships have been contaminated by abuse, neglect and significant violations in trust, sometimes it is easier to trust an animal. This is because they bring a clean slate to the relationship.
This book succeeds in depicting both the struggles, the good intentions and the long road to breaking down walls and weaving family attachments.
As an adoption professional, I do have one criticism of this wonderful book. The celebration of Oksana’s joining her adoptive family is called “Gotcha Day.” This is a term many adoptees find offensive. It is seen as depersonalizing and parent-centric because it casts the child as acquired by the parents.
Some preferable terms for celebrating the anniversary of a child’s adoption would be, Homecoming Day, Adoption Day, Oksana* Day (*use your own child’s name.) Adoptive families must be sensitive to the co-existing grief that celebration days may highlight: Adoption day cannot exist without the prior loss of the birth family. Even if that family was utterly dysfunctional, the separation from one’s ancestral roots is still a loss. Some children enjoy celebrating their adoption; others do not. Let your child determine if he likes it or not.
Bottom line of this review: Adoptees are not the only ones with emotional baggage. Adoptive parents also bring their own… Click To Tweet
Award-Winning and Bestselling Author
John Maxwell Team Speaker, Coach and Trainer
Blog: Teaching Kids To Lead By Equipping Moms and Dads Twitter: @MWeidenbenner1