Monday, April 18, 2011

Still a Work in Progress

Sunday mornings we go to church….err, nursery.  You may remember this post from last October when Hannah stayed in the church nursery on her own for the very first time.  It was a first and I was so proud  of her but unfortunately it was also a last.  After that first week she would melt down if I attempted to leave her in the nursery.  After 2 weeks of trying (leaving for 2-4 minutes a couple of times each week to see if she would settle with the nursery workers) and us losing ground at home with her attachment and security, I knew it wasn’t worth it so for the next 4 months I went into the nursery with her.  As long as I was in the room she was happy and ventured off on her own.  An occasional glance my way or a story for me to read and other than that she was happy to be on her own, Mommy just needed to be there. 

Hannah turned 2 the end of February which means she changed nursery rooms too and moved into a class that has a little more structure.  As well as the playtime and snack time, her class now includes music, a Bible story and craft.  She’s totally ready for this so I was hoping she’d also be ready for Mommy to leave her for a bit so that I could go into church.  I have purposely chosen to go to the earlier service so that there is consistency week to week in the ladies who are caring for Hannah.

Wanting to help her with the transition and since I had stayed with her for 4 months, I went into the class with her for the first week.  She did great!  She played with puzzles, the big kitchen set, slid down the slide and lots of other fun stuff too.  It was neat to see her participate in the singing and hear her little voice ringing out when they sang the songs.  Heehee…it’s easy to hear her voice as she's often a bit behind the other kiddos.  This happens in the car too and it’s beyond adorable!  Here’s a little video I recorded just before bed tonight.  (Warning:  It’s a little loud. You may want to turn down your speakers a bit.)

Anyway, she sang, jumped and then followed in line to pick up her little mat and listened to the story.  Although she didn’t offer any answers to the questions the teacher asked she was happy to sit there and take it all in.  I was so proud of her!  Everything I saw gave me hope that she was now ready to stay in the nursery on her own.

As the next week progressed at home we’d talk about Sunday School and how much fun she’d had.  I’d also talk about the following week when Mommy was going to go into big people church while Hannah played with her friends and very soon I’d be back. 

When we arrived at the classroom the next Sunday she walked through the door as I signed her in.   The teachers and I chatted and they reassured me that if she needed me they’d be sure to call my number.  (There are a couple of light up boards in the sanctuary.  Each child in the nursery is assigned a number and if the child is upset their number goes up on the board and the parent leaves the service to care for their child.  It’s wonderful for peace of mind.)  I called out ‘goodbye’ to her and with confidence headed into church.  She had entered the room on her own happily so I was fully prepared that I’d be enjoying a Sunday Service for the first time in a very long time.

Well, Hannah had other plans.  Within about 5 minutes my number went up and soon after exiting the sanctuary I could hear her crying in the nursery wing.  I am SO thankful that her teachers called me as she was quite upset. It makes it easier for me to continue working on leaving her when the teachers are working with me and not afraid to call my number should Hannah need me.  Anyway, Hannah settled very quickly once Mommy was with her and she participated fully in the class.

What was very different this time is that we didn’t lose ground at home in her attachment or security.  She’s ready for this, we just need to work it through.  We were away from church for a few weeks but tried again yesterday morning.  I had hoped the break might do her good and that she’d be ready to let me go.  Ummm…nope!  She cried when I dropped her off and even though I hoped she’d settle with the teachers I was called out of the service within about 5 mins.  I tell you, my girly can get quite upset, quite quickly when she needs me and yesterday, she needed me.

I tried a different approach yesterday and took her into the service with me for about 15 mins. after I’d gone back to pick her up.  My thoughts are that if she knows where Mommy is, maybe it will be a little easier for her to let me go.  She thoroughly enjoyed the music and then we went back to her class together in time for music, story and snack.  Once again, as long as I was in the room she was happy and spent the majority of the class playing with the kitchen on the other side of the room.

I want to continue to work through this and I think this week we’ll add role playing ‘Hannah at Sunday School and Mommy in big church then Mommy coming back’ to see if this helps.  I hadn’t really thought about role playing until I was writing this post.  I know it will get better and together we’ll find a groove that works for us.

Is there anything else others have tried to help transition their adopted children to the nursery?  Yes, as much as Hannah is just my daughter and I don’t think of her adoption often, I truly feel I need to take this part of her story into consideration while we work on her learning to stay in the nursery.   She has lost people twice before who were precious to her (first her birth mother and then secondly her nanny) so I need to make sure she knows this is not going to happen ever again and help her gain the confidence that she can go to Sunday School and play with her friends and that Mommy will come and get her soon.


  1. Catherine,
    I wonder why nursery at church is so different than leaving her at the baby sitter. She does that so well and spends much more time away from you there. Is there anything that you did to make that transition easier for her? Since you say that she really seems comfortable at the nursery when you are there, I am a bit stumped. I think she knows that you will be back, and those giving care seem very supportive... I'll have to think about this some.

  2. Good questions Jules.

    The first time I tried leaving Hannah it was only a couple of months after she started daycare so I used many of the same tactics with nursery that I did with Ange. Stayed with her the first week then left her the week after. The weird thing is she stayed for one week without any trouble at all but then that was it. Not sure why the change. Thanks for any help you can think of. I'm hoping the role playing helps this week.

  3. Church nursery was always terrible for my sweetie -- and I new the people there and trusted them. I just started bringing her in to church with me. When she was little she'd usually just fall asleep. She behaved well, so it wasn't a problem. She never did want to go into the kids program until she was starting Kindergarten. At that time, she kissed me goodbye sat down with her friends and was a class leader. I think she just needed time, and I think she needed to be ready on her own--not with anyone pushing her. I also think as she got older she got a little bored in Church, and saw the kids program as a better place. Ironically, it was the only place she had long term problems feeling comfortable. She is now 6 1/2 and nothing holds her back.

  4. Of course, we don't have the same attachment issues and I don't have any added advice, but I definitely support behavioral rehearsal (the psychological term for 'role play')as a means to help Hannah. It's something that we do with the twins for many, many activities.

  5. I had the same issues and decided NOT to take Kelsey to the nursery. We depend on parents helping with children and I didn't know them or trust them to manage my child.

    I have different opportunities, though because my husband was the Head of Christian Ed in our Church so once she was old enough (2 for her) he simply incorporated her into the class. We have a small church and a small group of students. Sounds like your church is larger and has more resources. Could you try a sticker approach and make it a fun game for her to win?

    Good luck!

  6. Could you make her a time line board that will help her know when you will be back? Is that something the teachers would be willing to help her with?

    Take a picture of each activity and put them on the board in order. Use Velcro to attach them. After each activity Hannah can pull the appropriate card off the board. When the last card is off the board it is time for mommy to come get her.

  7. You might try asking her to choose if you should go or stay on any given Sunday. Then, it won't seem to be something that is done to her involuntarily. There is power in choosing - like "Do you want carrots or raisins?" (when they really want a cookie)instead of "Do you want raisins?" At two, it might help to remove the potential "NO!" from the scenario ;-).

  8. Hey Catherine,

    What helped my daughter around that age was really slow trasitioning of me leaving her. She was in an early intervention class and this is how they suggested we handle it:

    for the first few weeks I actively played and participated in the class. Then for a couple of weeks I pulled back a bit and would drift to the background, only interacting with her when she needed me. Then for a couple of weeks I removed myself from the fun by sitting in a chair in the back of the room (for this part, they suggested I bring a magazine or book and engross myself with it) She could see I was there, but I did not interact at all except for a quick wave.

    Then, after a couple of weeks, they suggested I leave for a few minutes. So I told her I had to go potty and would be right back. I would leave for 5 minutes.The next week same thing, except I would leave for 10 minutes. Then 15 minutes the next week. Then I was finally able to leave for the whole time. By that time she was comfortable with the kids and the teachers. It took a while, but it was what she needed. It sounds like you are doing something similar. Good Luck, it will come with time!


  9. I tried all kinds of things - K is a month younger than Hannah and I am a single Mom, too. I tried the staying in the room, leaving quickly, making sure she had the same caregivers, etc. All with mixed success.

    Each week I tell her she is going to play with the kids while Mommy goes to church, and then afterwards she will see Mom and her aunt and uncle. I ask them to page me if she won't settle down after 10 minutes. I also physically hand her to one of the caregivers as it seems to make a big difference to her - the person to whom she is handed she then knows is o.k to go to. I do the same at her daycare (much bigger than a home daycare).

    Even with all that, sometimes she won't make it and then I just take her out and we go listen/watch on the big video screens to the service. You may want to try just taking her out and not staying in there in the room with her, then she won't expect that.

    Good luck!

    Nova Mom

  10. Aww...bless her heart! It is so hard to discern whether their behavior is normal for their age or if it stems from post adoption stress issues. I admire your compassion and patience! :)

    One thing that has worked for the past two adoptions (they were both older... age 3 & 4) is to tell them "Mommy will be back"...even when I just step outside to the mailbox. Both Mia and Lili learned what "Mommy will be back" meant very quickly. I don't try to explain anything more than "Mommy will be back". Lili will walk around all day saying "Mikayla will be back". She loves and misses her sister. But she continues to reassure herself that her sister WILL be back...and it seems to bring her comfort.

    I hope it works out for you soon so you can begin enjoying Church. I'm always telling myself "this is temporary". :)

    Love and blessings,

  11. I think you are doing just what Hannah needs (as always!) No words of wisdom here... Our oldest, now 5, cried his entire first year of pre-school when he was 2. Since I had to go to work outside the home, there were no other options, but it was pretty tough on everyone. Then, all of a sudden, over the summer it was a like switch was turned on and he LOVED being in school - go figure!
    Good luck with Ms H :-)

  12. Catherine,You are so very right about newborns feeling loss. Besides familiar sounds there is the very familiar smell. Newborns will grieve the loss of their biological mothers.
    Sad but true.
    So delighted that you and Hannah are going through life together,now.

  13. Honestly, I just wouldn't do it right now. I used to work weekends at our ski area nursery and cannot tell you just how many times I heard parents say things like, I don't get it; he/she is fine at daycare. Well, no duh! They've just driven their kids 100 miles from home (Massachusetts) and now they're dropping them off with virtual strangers, even if they are kids who come each weekend, and nothing is really familiar-the scents, the sounds, the toys, the lighting-none of it is like their regular daycare. I would just wait a few months and try again, playing "church" at home the same way that you would play "house".

  14. Catherine, this is exactly my problem since we came home. She goes to a large daycare, but it is the same people every day; church is a different crew each week. I am just chalking it up to something that will change on her timetable, not mine. Looking forward to seeing what advice you get. Emma turned 2 in December & we have been home 8 months.

  15. wait - before I give my 2 cents...oh my goodness..."Ouch!" I busted a gut with her saying that!! How cute! And, where did you get that cd from? I like hearing her name in it and even though Little T just turned 5 I would love to get her one!

    Ok - my 2cents - keep doing what you are doing. We keep Little T with us during the singing and special music. Then she goes to her childrens church. One of the ushers in back knows her from baseball and she will now take his hand in the foyer and skip off to class while I walk back into church. This took quite a while to get to, at least over a year.


  16. I know how hard this is. I'm sorry you both have to go through it. Everyone has left many great ideas. I can't wait to hear what works for you.

  17. Just to let you know after 2.5 years of trying to get AA to stay with her child age-appropriate Sunday school group, it has NOT worked. AA is very happy to stay with us during the entire church service. We tried all the ideas and nothing worked. So we go to the church service all together. Maybe... someday in the future....

    So good luck, try all the tricks and when she is ready, it will happen.

    Alyzabeth's Mommy

  18. i just wrote this huge long comment and blogger didn't post it! was my idea we EA's use called a social a role play but a picture book where you take a picture of each step of Hannah's trip to church and the nursery and with you sitting in the big church too. I'll talk to you more about it and about the transition boards, which I think one of your friends suggested...after each "task" hannah pulls it off the board then at the end she gets some kind of reward!'s late and hope blogger posts this!


Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...