Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Story of Attachment-Part III


There are five posts in this series. Just click below if you'd like to follow the series!
"The Story of Attachment-Part I"
"The Story of Attachment-Part II"
"The Story of Attachment-Part IV"
"The Story of Attachment-Part V"


At times the response we receive from others to "Attachment Work" is not very pleasant. Often it's daunting to think of telling those we love, "I'm sorry, but you can't hold our child."

In life, I have found that I (at times) feel others should already understand what took me a time to process. Have you ever gone to your husband/wife and just assumed they knew something.

"Yes honey, leaving a book in my side of the bed to crawl on top of when it's dark is not my favorite thing." You should see the look of shock (and a little laughter).

It's like many of us who journey down God's path and find that we have more children than the world expects. They look at us like we're loony (maybe it's the dancing through the grocery store that does that too?). Telling friends (that already think your a tad "off") that God has led you to your next amazing child can be rough, or at least the reaction can be. We expect everyone to be instantly happy. Yet they haven't even had the same time to process it that we had.

Okay, yes...I am instantly happy when someone is called to adopt, but 10 years ago I might have questioned the intelligence of having seven children. I was insane then (smile), forgive me.

I think understanding attachment is the same way. I think, whenever possible, we need to share ahead of time why attachment isn't always easy. We need to sit down and have a heart to heart about the information we've gleaned about attachment. We need to send that email. We need to prepare those in our lives.

How can others understand what is so foreign to them and has never been explained?

Most of our friends and family were born in love. They had children born in love. When they cried, someone came. When their child cried, they ran to their side.

They don't have a reason to understand a child that doesn't cry. They don't understand a child whose cries were never answered, because they just gave up. No more tears, because there was no more hope.

Most of our friends and family were picked up and rocked. They picked up and rocked their children.

They don't have a reason to understand that a child may flinch away from touch, overly sensitive, because touch is so foreign to them that they don't like it.

Most of our friends and family were played with. They played with their children.

They don't have a reason to understand a 10 month old that can't support themselves on their legs because they were never played with.

Most of our friends and family had a crib that they learned was a safe place. Their children learned the safety of the crib.

They don't have a reason to understand a child screaming, not being able to roll over even, because they relate a crib to a small cage of neglect.

Most of our friends and family had a regular caregiver, often mommy or daddy. Their children had a regular caregiver.

They don't have a reason to understand a child that was looked at as a job, maybe a job that was cared about, but a job. A job that can be quit if there was family strife, or a better job offer.

Most of our friends and family were never passed to a stranger and walked away from. This is NOT negating the sacrifice the biological family made or the love they may have for their child. Most of our friends and family were protected from strangers. They were cherished.

They don't have a reason to understand how even an infant can refuse to trust you will stay around. They don't have a reason to understand that you don't become an instant mommy or daddy to them, just because you have loved them for so long.

We need to give our friends and family and opportunity to understand and absorb this, if at all possible, before they are faced with an "attachment" situation. If at all possible, before we have to say, "I'm sorry you can't hold them for a couple of months."


That said, sometimes explaining will not make a person understand (though we need to give them a chance).

I have had a professional say to me, "They will attach fine. They all do."

My jaw dropped open and I immediately thought of friends that struggled for years with attachment of their infant. I thought of another whose child has been home for months and months and is still struggling...the infant not wanting to believe or trust...pushing the parent away. I thought of books and books of experts saying that not every child does attach. That it often takes work.

I was floored.

We need to be prepared for those that don't understand and may not try to.

We need to prepared for the fact that some will be hurt and take it personally.

We need to be prepared for the possibility of very uncomfortable situations. Example: If your child is still "parent shopping" and not believing you'll stick around, wanting to go to everyone (no stranger anxiety or anxiety about being left at all). Our children may seem outwardly happy and friendly, while inwardly being attached to no one.

We need to be prepared that those who do not have experience/information about attachment will not understand.


Yes, there is the possibility that we will face negative reactions, yet there is a lot of positive. In our experience, you will have cheerleaders in your life. You will have those that do understand and support you 100%. It's awesome to have friends and family like that! Also, a positive, most people that feel hurt will get over it. They may never understand, but then they may have insight in other areas that we lack.

Our children are the biggest positives ever. Most children, at times with a lot of work, WILL attach. Some of us may have an easy transition with immediate attachment. Some of us may have work, work, and more work....which makes the attachment so rich and rewarding when it finally happens.

In our last post of this series, I will share some of the awesome events that led us to know our child was finally attached.


In life we are given one opportunity, one lifespan. When our children are on loan to us (for they really belong to God) it is our responsibility as parents to supply (the best we can) a foundation worth building on...first on God and then building from there.

When a child comes to us having faced loss and trauma right off the bat, there are holes in the foundation. A foundation with holes will eventually collapse on itself. It will be destructive instead of supportive. It will leave cracks through the walls because of the constant shifting.

Filling those holes is vital. Others understanding that there are holes is wonderful, but in itself cannot heal our children.

Let's be the champions of our kids. Let's give them what they need even if they don't know they need it...especially if they don't know they need it.

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

1 comment:

  1. Thank you so much. I've been reading a lot about attachment and parenting children with difficult pasts. I thought I had a fairly good grasp (as good as possible having not gone through it) of the issues and different strategies and such. However, it had not occured to me how that would play out with other people and preparing them for it. Thanks for the heads up!


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