Zinashi's sleep is better at night time, and getting better for naptime, very slowly. At the beginning I was pretending that I didn't know what caused this sleep regression, but the truth is that I suspected something and didn't want to jump the gun and say that was definitely it. I still can't say that's it for certain, since I don't live inside my daughter's mind, but I can say the it probably was it. And that's that Jarod got sick, and it set off all kinds of alarm bells for her. Look, when your child's trauma involves watching someone get sick and die, it makes all kinds of sense that when one of her beloved new people gets sick, she's going to freak right out. And she did, and it mostly showed up in her sleep. This is how she tips us off that she's not okay: by fighting as hard as she can to not fall asleep.
I find that people outside of the adoption parenting world, and sometimes people inside it (who are probably in denial--which is okay, because I am sometimes in denial) like to give us alternate reasons for Zinashi's sleep difficulties. As much as some of those are true to a certain extent, I would argue that the root of the issue is her history of trauma. Yes, she may be the kind of kid who doesn't want to miss anything. Yes, she is constantly either going through a growth spurt (an inch a month, people) or making a developmental leap (suddenly we have grasped pronouns). Yes, she is a night owl. But I've come across all those personality and growth circumstances in my work as a nanny, and have never had a kid fight sleep so hard. I'm not an alarmist first-time parent; I'm just a realist who has worked with a lot of kids and knows the difference between a normal range of sleep preferences and a response to something deeper. Zinashi's is a response to something deeper. End of discussion.
Well, except that it's the beginning of the discussion. A lot of families I've talked to were able to work through their sleep issues as their attachment with their children deepened; I thought this might be the case for us, but we are meeting all our attachment milestones beautifully and this issue still persists. I'd love to just "give it more time" or "relax a little bit," but my daughter deserves better than that. She deserves to be able to sleep better and to feel better. She deserves a life in which she has a fighting chance at letting go of the fear that grips her, the one that says that these people that she loves might suddenly be gone. I don't mean to harp on this all the time, but I think that people forget sometimes, because she is such a joyful and funny little person, that she lost absolutely everything dear to her. And in one case, she watched what was dear to her walk away and leave her behind. We cannot ignore this, and we cannot pretend that it will just get easier with time, that every time something happens, she won't be gripped with fear anew because we've hugged her enough or made sure that she knows we love her.
So we're taking this to the professionals. We can't undo what happened to her, but our hope is that we can help her to feel a little more comfortable and a little less afraid, that she won't suddenly be faced with sleep and be terrified to go there. We want to be able to reach that deep level where her fear lives and soften it somehow, blur the edges, make it less present in the moments that she needs most to just relax and let go. We'll be seeing two people, a holistic chiropractor and a therapist that specializes in play therapy. We'll let you know how it goes.