Jaydn is not an orphan

Jaxon and Jovie have never known me as anything different than a "suck it up" kind of mom. Yet when Jaydn came along I made a huge effort to be a real softy even though it hurt, a lot, and I got really worn out. As time has distanced us from her past I made a shift and had expected others to follow along. Jaydn has a family, a loving home and all that a child needs to thrive. Yet for some reason people still act as if they need to give her extra attention or allow for certain behaviors they would never normally be okay with because, well, you know, she's... 

I know I sound like a crazy woman but think about it: if you are lighting up like a Christmas tree at the sight of my youngest daughter but hardly notice my other two, why is that?! If you let Jaydn climb all over you while you sit on the couch trying to exchange a sentence with me but would be annoyed if anyone else's 3 year old mistook you for a jungle gym, why the sudden acceptance of such behavior? If you are asking for a hug from Jaydn and not the other two kids standing in front of you, how might that make them as spectators feel?

I whole-heartedly believe that no one comes into our home or interacts with our family with this mindset intentionally but allow me to explain a few of the results for us as a family.

1. Attachment with Jaydn has been opposite than most cases you hear about. Jay goes to where the attention is. So anytime you make her stand out and into the spot light against her siblings, she would rather walk off with you than stay around me, her mom who has to share attention equally. Of course we make moments where each child is celebrated individually but its intentional and purposeful for the sake of ALL our children. 

2. Jaxon and Jovie see people draw Jaydn out from our family and it causes some tension that often results in increased control of their baby sister at home. Almost like an "everyone else may think you need more attention but I will put you in your place" attitude. I watch those two as they see the focus shift to Jaydn so often in public and it breaks my heart. 

3. Ultimately it is no ones job to bring healing to our daughter's past but God's through us, her parents. We are called to give her the needed attention and extra effort that she needs. Until she has established a bond to us and us to her, this act of meeting her needs can only come from Nathan and I. 

Please understand that I am not asking for anyone to ignore Jaydn. I would just like for people to acknowledge if there is a draw to Jaydn more than the other two Gaddis kids and if so, ask why. If it is for any other reason than she and you click in personality, then please attempt to balance out the attention. It does more harm than good to our family to show favortism to our youngest child because of her past rather than calling her into her present and future that is so full of love from those of us in her home. 

Maybe this is me and my lack of compassion but I expect Jaydn to grow in her home environment. I really must stress to the world that JAYDN ISN'T AN ORPHAN. She is my daughter and the more we all treat her based on her past instead of her present, the harder it is for her to move past the manipulation and attention seeking nature that she used in the past. Our desire is to teach her healthy social interaction for her age, the art of meeting a stranger, a respect for personal space, attachment to family members, how to take time to get to know someone new before you introduce physical touch etc. All of these things take effort on our behalf and understanding from those around us.

I have seen some major steps forward in Jaydn regarding this stuff when others interact with her in a healthy way. We were at a large gathering and someone came up and said hello to Jay without reaching for her at all. She didn't respond until the person said their name. Then she turned to me and said, "I don't know (insert name)." I said, "you are right Jaydn! You don't know (insert name). Would you like to meet her?" Then she turned around and shook hands with the person while exchanging names and then she ran off. I was so proud.

In another instance someone asked Jadyn for a hug and she turned to me with a look that basically asked if it was ok. While I would have preferred this person not to have asked, I wanted to encourage the response from Jaydn and said it was ok. When she tried to stay with this person I gently removed her and gave her a hug of my own telling her that I loved her.

So you can see that progress is possible if we all work together to create a healthy environment for every child. Even if you know Nathan and I really well, you may not know our kids. Or you may know one or two but not all of them. So when you meet the others, help us teach them healthy interactions by following our lead and trusting that we know what is best for our kids based on their personality, not their past.


Natasha said...

Amazing blog Bethany. You wrote that so well. Even when there are no other children in the family, the wants for hugs and kisses off virtual strangers are still there, believe me. Next time I think I'll point them to your blog :)

Linda Long said...

This blog speaks to me too, Bethany. The same emotions and actions you explain in your blog regarding Jaydn are the exact (or very similar) emotions and actions I've had to "deal" with our family. However, we are not an adoption case - we are a cancer case. Our middle daughter had cancer. For years, people would automatically ask about Joanne, forgetting that the other two even existed. It's very hard to raise children when you have to face the reality that other's actions influence ALL of your children in different ways, and when you have to answer questions like -"why don't they like ME?" Thanks for posting this - Sorry I'm just now seeing it - I knew you, briefly, in Naples... Your family is a godly inspiration. Thank you!