Friday, July 20, 2012

The Day my Daughter Slept Late

My daughter has slept in twice this week:  once until 8:30 and once until after 9.

I know that might not seem like much to most of you but it is indicative of some major growth on her par

When she first came home, 2 1/2 years ago, her sleep pattern was completely disrupted by grief, trauma, loss, and stress.  I think she is someone who is naturally more sensitive to sleep disruption.  Add to that with a natural disaster, a chaotic departure from Haiti, and the loss of her previous life and you can see why it might be too stressful to sleep correctly.  

In her case, I think a lot of the sleep stuff was acerbated by well meaning but rule driven social workers.  When she flew into the US, the small group from her orphanage was accompanied by the orphanage director.  They arrived around 6 p.m. but all 30 odd kids had to get through customs in the Miami airport so it was around 2 a.m. when they arrived at the group home where they would have to spend the night.  Because of their status as refugees, all of the children were technically under the care of Health and Human Services and had to be placed in the custody of various organizations that were licensed under HHS.    We knew this was probably how it was going to work so this was not a shock.  However, when the parents of all of the children were waiting for the kids to arrive, as we were being escorted around the group home and being advised as to how the process would work, I specifically requested that since we were not allowed to stay on the campus of the group home to meet our children, that those accompanying our children out of Haiti be allowed to stay with the children.  I received a lackluster response from the Department of State employee who was in charge of debriefing us.  Something along the lines of "Well, that up to the group home and whatever their policy is."  I then asserted that for those of us from HCH, our kids were coming with a familiar face and that the HCH parents wanted that person to be able to stay with our kids.  

Long story short, the orphanage director was not allowed to stay with the kids.  I can only assume this decision was done to preserve the normal policy of not allowing outside adults to stay with children.  (Nevermind that normally the group home deals with children who are removed due to abuse and neglect not a natural disaster.)  

When Conleigh arrived to the group home around 2 a.m., she was pretty much asleep.  She was handed by the orphanage director to a staff member at the group home for the night.  She then woke up surrounded by strangers who then took her to the building where the parents were meeting.  From that point, she was given to us who for all practical purposes were strangers.  She spent 2 hours with us, crying and pointing at the doors, looking for a familiar face.  We eventually were able to meet up with the orphanage director but it took time to do so and did not erase the fact that she woke up to strangers.  

I am completely convinced that this nighttime transition created in her a sense of fear and anxiousness related to sleep.  For 6 months, she would fall asleep at night okay but would wake up in the middle of the night and be awake for hours at a time before falling back asleep and repeating the pattern.  She never made up sleep.  No extra naps.  No sleeping late.  No falling asleep early.  Just sleep deprivation.  Her need for knowing what would happen, her need to keep herself from getting too comfortable always overrode her need for sleep.

I kid you not when I say this week has represented the only times in my daughter's 2 1/2 years home where she has slept in.  That said, there have been a few times this summer where she has napped at times where she normally would not.  It seems like a small thing, probably not even a victory but it really is.  Her heart, after 2 1/2 years, has started to repair some of the tears that have created an insecure, anxious spirit.  She is letting go of her need to control when she sleeps and letting her guard down, relaxing and resting, believing that she is safe and will not be uprooted.  Maybe it's just an important reminder of how brave our kids really are, of how big the task of adoption really is, of how little steps towards healing come in all types of packages.  

No comments: