I would like to thank William Hechmer for sharing the following!
You can contact him for information concerning Attatchment Disorder by e-mail: hechmerwl.jfk@NAVAIR.NAVY.MIL
My son was 3 years 4 months old. When we picked him up at the
orphanage, we didn't have a clue what was going to happen. We were
told he was "very active" This is like saying that Mount St. Helen's
was a little bang. Joseph came to us filled with anger. He would
scream at the top of his lungs, bang his head against the floor or a
wall, throw himself down on the floor very hard, beat his hands against
his head, pull his skin around his eyes, hit his hands against the wall,
etc. When his desires were frustrated, he would come at us with his
finger nails, breaking glasses, and clawing at our faces. He would
spit, and hit and kick, and throw anything he could find to throw.
Oh yes, and he was doing all of this he was diagnosed with a mild
attachment disorder. I can't imagine what a severe attachment disorder
would look like. He didn't know how to play with toys, or how to use
a toilet, or have a interest in being potty trained.We experienced all
of these initial reactions on our ten hour plane ride back from Romania.
How did we cope? We floundered for month. Our agency was useless. They
were in denial that anything could be wrong. Then we found Dr. Ron
Federici, in Alexandria Virginia, (who not only specializes in kids
from Romania and Russia, but also speaks the language) who helped us
with physical and mental intervention therapy. What did we do? Use
active restraint on the physical abuse. Use the cross arms and legs
method or the rolled rug method. Don't let the child hurt you and keep
him from hurting himself. Keep saying "love Joseph" "love mommy,
love daddy" Keep soothing and rocking him. Reduce his stimulatory
environment. Keep toys at a minimum, play with him yourself. Use
short commands...like you are training a dog. Sit, down, come, eat,
etc. Long sentence have no meaning. Stay out of stores and crowded
places...including family gatherings... let him focus on you for
several months. Establish a regular routine and stick to it...dinner
at 6:00, bath at 7:00, brush teeth, read stories, say prayers, sing
lullabies, play music box, lights out. Don't push the potty. Get him
use to it a little at a time. When he rocks, rock with him. Use either
soap or a cold wash cloth to stop the spitting. Keep using the commands
"no spit, no hit, no bite, no throw toys." Use only soft toys that
can't hurt. This is a lot of work, and you have to start early. Delaying
makes it ten times worse. After five months, I'm happy to report that
Joseph no longer throws himself down or tries to injure himself. He
can stop himself before he bites or scratches. He still doesn't like
the word "no". He takes commands well, and is learning English. He
loves to help his mother and me around the house and in the garage.
He will come to use on his own and crawl into our laps. Still wants
to be held on his own terms. Doesn't like to be picked up unless it's
his idea. This doesn't stop us; we still pick him up when we want to,
just to let him know that we still love him, no matter what. He is now
using the potty and telling us when he has to go. Big control break
through! Basically we have created an environment where he knows that
we are in charge whether he likes or not. He has learned to give up
control to his mother and me. He comes to us now for comfort when he
hurts himself, and if he loses control and pinches us or hits us, he
immediately tries to comfort us. (some of that is an act, so we never
let up on the commands "no hit, no pinch etc.) On the positive side,
he was very healthy from the first day. Of all the physical problems
these kids can have, from diseases and parasites to vision or hearing
problems, or physical deformities, Joseph has none. He has always
eaten well and takes a 2 hour nap each day (thank God), and also sleeps
11 hours at night. He plays well with his brother and sister and
continues to make small improvements almost every day. We are continuing
to use the repetition method to reinforce what he needs to know to get
along in our society. And he is losing the tools he used to survive
in the institution. He is a surviver, and I know he will make it as
a member of our family, and as contributing member of our world.
The bottom line is that most of these kids can be helped. It takes a
lot of time and energy on the parents part. It is a big commitment
that the parents need to know about before they sign the papers.
Education and research is a must. Learn the things you need to know
before you confronted with an institutionalized child. When you've
seen the behavior and know how to cope with it and how to begin
correcting it, you feel more like you've undertaken a manageable, not
an insurmountable, task.
From WILLIAM HECHMER,A parent of a child with Attatchment disorder
couples need to be educated up front on the various things that can
happen in international adoptions. They need to know three things:
1) that every institutionalized child is an abused child (hard for
parents to accept) and will have some kind of attachment disorder.
You have to be able to recognize it, and be prepared to deal with
2) that there are resources available to help you with early intervention
and behavior correction. See the book,"Toddler Adoption" by Mary
Hopkins-Best published by Perspectives Press. You can find it at
Amazon.com on the internet.(Great source index in the back of this
3) That the parents must start as soon as possible. Love and good
intentions cannot fix it. Parents must be trained in intervention
therapy. To the outsider, some of the therapy looks like child
abuse. It is not. The parents need professional guidance.You have
to have expert help to determine if the attachment disorder is due
to autism, fetal alcohol effect, retardation, sexual abuse, lack of
sensory response and stimulation, etc. Each has a different requirement
for dealing with it. Even the very youngest can have it! I have
seen the results of not dealing with it correctly...then you get an
angry teenager instead of an angry toddler. Much, much harder to
correct at that point.
These children come from an environment that you and I cannot begin
to comprehend. They are kept in their cribs for up to 20 hours a
day. They live in and get used to their own urine and excrement.
They have no shoes or toys. They get no stimulation. No one responds
to their cries. Active ones are tied to their cribs. They have no
one to give them even a hug or any stimulation at all. And this
goes on for years in some cases. Even infants are treated this way.
I would be glad to chat via email with anyone contemplating foreign
adoption. WILLIAM HECHMER, e-mail address:
Superficially charming and engaging.
Affectionate with strangers or attempts to leave with strangers.
Refuses, or resists, or is uncomfortable with affection on parental terms.
Hyperactive, over active, or attention deficit.
Destructive to self or others.
Significant learning problems or lags.
Fire setting, fire play, or fascination with fire.
Hoarding, gorging, eating abnormalities, or hiding food.
Intense control battles.
Icessant chatter or nonsense.
Cruelty to animals.
Poor undeveloped or no conscience.
Fasination with weapons, blood or gore.
Daily lying or lying in the face of the obvious. (Crazy lying)
Parents who feel like giving up or feel hostile toward the child.