One of the most challenging aspects of parenting older (pre-teen and teen) former orphans is teaching them to rely solely on their parents for all of their needs.
A kid with attachment problems will do crazy stuff to maintain control of themselves. They will refuse meals and choose to steal instead – even garbage and animal food. And after accepting meals because they are so hungry, will steal even more later because they are angry that they accepted “help”. They will refuse to bathe, wet and soil their clothes (meaning urine and feces). They will destroy the clothing and belongings you give them. They will stand for HOURS not moving because anything else would mean that they are accepting love and hospitality from you. They will reject offers of friendship from your other kids. They will injure themselves to gain pity in hopes that someone will take them back to what they used to know, or to where they came from. You see, they had the whole system mastered “there”. They knew whom to manipulate and how and when. They will do anything. You can’t even imagine.
They’re thinking “F%^& you. I don’t need your help. I’ll do it myself. I’ll take care of myself”.
As friends and extended family, you can do your part by not playing into the drama. If the kid is looking sad and forlorn, if her face is covered in scratches or bruises, if she looks hungry or dirty, if she smells terrible, if she wears exactly the same outfit, if she keeps apart from the rest of the family… Assume FIRST that it is part of her control issues.
You can’t fix these kids. In the end, they have to *decide* to trust and become part of the family. As adoptive parents, we provide them with all that they need – physically, spiritually, and educationally. It is up to them to accept it.
On a positive note, this is not the majority of older adopted kids. These issues seem to run on a continuum. Many, many more kids are adaptable and receptive. And we have been blessed with one of those, too. Thank God. Because we know we are actually making a difference when the other child can make us feel like abject failures.