A bit of background.....My niece adopted a 16 month old from a foreign orphanage two years ago. She lives in a different state and therefore her child has very limited exposure to her family. Basically we see her two or three times a year. My niece has worked very hard to bond with her child which appears to be working well.
Here's the question.....when they are in town my niece won't allow anyone to touch her child and if she wants to interact with any of us we have to tell her to ask Mom first. Regardless of how long she is in town she limits our visit to a couple of hours. I am having a very hard time understanding how being around and playing with her family a few times a year can have a detrimental effect on her. It's been two years. How long can we expect this to go on. I want to be more understanding but it is very hard. Would love to hear others experiences so I can be supportive and not feel so frustrated by the process.
I don't know that this has anything to do with this being an adoption as much as it has to do with your niece's parenting style.
Have you talked to your niece? I would tell her that you would like to have a more active Aunt role with your great-niece and you are looking to develop a long-term bond with the child.
Are there frustrations that your niece has with family in general - like maybe not respecting her parenting style wishes? That would be the biggest thing I can think of..... for example she wants to raise the child as vegetarian and she believes you will feed the child meat if you develop a relationship. (that's just an example - there could be other things).
We were told even with just fostering that any relationships with extended family were encouraged as long as they were supportive of the birth family etc.
Good luck
I wish I could remember where I read this (I read a lot about adoption and attachment) and hate that I can't give proper credit, but I think that the thought is universal in older child adoption and attaching...
It is the parent's job to prove to the child that they are worthy of their trust.
Recommendations are to keep your child's world small. To be the sole provider of their needs. It is of course much more detailed and complicated than this, but those are the basics. It sounds like your niece did a lot of reading and research and is following the experts advice about creating a strong bond with her child. This is a good thing. Please don't take it personally! Maybe you could talk to her about ways you could create an aunt bond with the child that won't interfere with her work as the child's mom. Go to her with the attitude that you understand how important this work is. Maybe even do some research and reading up on the topic yourself. There is a great movie on Netflix right now about a family that adopted three children from Russian orphanages, "The Dark Matter of Love". The parents do not seem well versed in attachment parenting but it definitely shows the issues children coming out of orphanages generally have. My answer to your question is... this is normal and it will likely continue as long a your niece feels it is necessary to prove to her child that she is worthy of their trust, that she will always meet their needs, that she loves them.
Thank you so much for the fast responses. I have started to do some reading and I'll talk to my niece about her concerns. I know I shouldn't take it personally but it sure feels that way. I just have to keep reminding myself it isn't. For example, my niece is currently staying with my sister (her mom) and we asked what they were doing New Year's Eve and were told it would be fine for us to come over but it would have to be after my great-niece was in bed. Not exactly a warm invitation. We decided to pass since it obviously causes some concern.
Great niece could have attachment issues and kids with attachment issues can be very manipulative. I actually had a now-ex friend ruin a foster care placement bc she wouldn't listen to me and respect my parenting style. She thought we were all wrong and the teen seized on that and used it to manipulate her and triangulate. We ended up having to disrupt bc her behavior just went crazy from the interference.
I agree, this is what is recommended to parents who adopt institutionalized kids. Sometimes these kids were profoundly neglected and have attachment issues. Your niece knows her own situation best, and it is just possible that great niece has some attachment issues, as a poster mentioned. My 8 yr son has been home from China for a year and a half, has no attachment issues, but I still keep his world very small. And as other posters have said - don't take it personally. :) Sounds like your niece knows what she is doing.
It is because the child will try to push the primary parent away by forming quick and superficial bonds with others. By blocking this from happening the child is forced to rely on the parent. They learn that they can count on and trust that the parent will provide and be trustworthy. This rule also prevents others from reinforcing the child's attempts to go to others rather that the parent.
Your niece is an amazing woman to take this on. I've been there, been judged by others who don't understand. It is hard work, please support her.