Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Story of Attachment-Part I


Maybe in a hut, on a dirt floor, in a rural unknown village, two little ones come into this world. The mother, possibly weakened by illness or starvation, may have held onto life just for her children...may have. She finally could hold on no longer. The father, whether because he couldn't care for them or some other unknown reason, after just a few days, makes a trek into one the larger cities...into an office to relinquish these little ones. The precious bundles are hungry, they may long to hear the voices that surrounded them while they were in the womb. Yet, even barely born into this world, they are handed over to the unfamiliar.

It's a small orphanage. They are most likely held, at times, as they are given a bottle. For four and a half months they see many of the same faces. These faces become familiar and "family".

*They don't know that God has a family across the seas that have been waiting and praying for them since before they were born. They don't know God's plans for them, a family filled with love.

They know their familiar routine. Their cheeks become plump and their is an occasional smile. They feel content at the habitual nature of their days.

One day, after this four and a half months, they may be dressed with a little more care than usual. They are carried outside and a few of the caregivers hugs them with a tear in their eyes. They are placed in a large car with familiar faces. They've never been in one of these before and their tummies are most likely upset.

*Often a child will have sensory issue because they've never been in a car, or moved a lot. They may never have been rocked, swung around, or touched much.

After a long car trip their caregivers most likely hand them over to adults that are new. They don't like this. Where is the "family" that they knew? Where are those they are used to? Where are the familiar smells?

They are placed in a crib by themselves most likely. There are new people here, but they can't (even in their little infant thoughts) trust them. They want their "family". As days go on, they are often left when they cry...left alone. There are too many babies to pick them all up. They have yet to learn to even roll over on their own. Yet, no matter how they fight it, things start becoming familiar. They may not form an attachment to those that don't hold them much, but they are a pattern, a routine, a comfort.

Six months of bottle propping (instead of holding) and cries being left unanswered. Six months of not feeling "family".

One day, again, special care is taken. They are cleaned (though never having had a any bath other than a sponge bath) and changed into nicer clothes. They are propped on a hip (this may not happen much) and taken to a room they've never seen before. In this room there are four people...two bigger than the others. All of them have tears in their eyes. All of them are smiling. They don't have the same color skin.

*Since they have yet to understand how God makes suits of every color this may be a little scary.

They are unceremoniously handed over. These people hold them tightly and try to get them to giggle. There are tears. They bring food and toys. They hold them and talk to them with words that are impossible to understand. They smell funny...unfamiliar. Fairly quickly they start placing everything in their bags and start to walk out to another car.

They are brought to another room (a guest house is an unknown element to them) , that also smells unfamiliar, with beds and a bath. That bath was a scary thing.

****This is where the story has two choices. You can pick either, because a child in this situation may experience one of many reactions...even a baby.*****

Though the babies may not cry, they do love the attention they are getting. They are being held and fed. They smell different, but good. The big ones don't ever want to put them down, actually none of the four do.

Very quickly they start wrapping their finger up in mommy's hair and raising their hands to daddy. Very quickly they fear anyone holding them but these four. Their little hearts are in constant fear. They don't want to be passed on to anyone else.

This fear can last the plane ride to a new land. This fear can last months...after all it was 9 1/2 months at the different orphanages and they were still let go. They can't just "get over it" or "realize eventually that this is their forever family". This is ingrained in their core. They don't trust enough to let their hearts completely go to their family. They need time. They need time to trust that their family will be around and take care of them. When they get handed to others (not in their family) they may cry, sigh, or just accept it. They know that they may not see those they love again. They are not fully attached yet. They don't trust yet.

Others may be offended that this child is not handed over. They feel that the child will eventually just understand and they should be treated as a child that does not have a history of trauma.

They make their hearts distant and cry when held. They don't want to care or love and they never learned to trust. When someone else is around that is not family, they reach out their hands. These people seem to care too much and they won't let themselves get hurt again. They WILL NOT trust them. THEY will choose, since they have no control. THEY will choose not to attach to their family.

The plane ride is miserable. The little ones want everyone but their family and they cry the entire time. Others are offended that the parents don't let them help.

The babies, once home, refuse to attach. They continue to "shop" for their new caregivers, exerting the little control they have. They do not WANT to love the family God has planned for them. People again may offended when the parents don't go out or to their normal places the first month or so. They may be offended when these expected little blessings are not handed over for them to immediately hold. The little ones are so friendly to them and they may think of them as children that have not suffered through trauma. They are not attached.

There are many ways our children may react to their new family. We don't know. We have heard of the most natural transitions and of some of the toughest. This whole story is a giant guess about the way things might have been. It's all based on pieces of a puzzle with many missing.

It's not easy to think of the fear in our children, but we have to realized through our joy, our children have faced trauma. The only way to become an orphan is trauma. Yes, God has blessed us with these children....knows them as our children, yet we need to recognize the pain and hurt that brought them to our families.

God has led us to our children, and we are bringing them home. God knows these little ones are part of us and we are part of them. Attachment is just part of the lovely and sometimes difficult road of adoption.

Come back and read the next three parts to "The Story of Attachment".
"The Story of Attachment-Part II"
"The Story of Attachment-Part III"
"The Story of Attachment-Part IV"
"The Story of Attachment-Part V"

"Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart." Psalm 37:4


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In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright shove...no matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

Join the momentum...it is a beautiful place to be. It's not always easy, but then the best things never are.

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