Saturday, December 3, 2011

Understanding Attachment~Part V~When Parents Find a Hard Time Attaching/Choosing Love

If you haven't read the first four posts in this series, I want to encourage you to click on the links below.
"Understanding Attachment~Part I~How it May Start"
"Understanding Attachment~Part II~How Our Children May Feel and Moving Forward"
"Understanding Attachment~Part III~Helping Others Understand"
"Understanding Attachment~Part IV~Misunderstandings/Our Stories"
I am SO VERY VERY far from a professional, but we have a very wide net of adoptive friends and, well, as you've probably guessed....orphans and adoption are one of our greatest passions (after God and sharing His love and salvation through His Son).

We wanted to deal with a very touchy and difficult subject. We wanted to deal with a subject that we do not see discussed very much. This is not from personal experience, but from the experience of some very special families we know and the very thoughtful knowledge shared by professionals.

Many books don't touch on the fact that not everyone attaches instantly to their adopted child or even their biological child. They know logically that this is their little one, but the emotion is often hindered by frustration, illness on the parents side, lack of sleep, and (at times) discipline issues (a child acting out).

I mention biological children as well. For those that suffer from postpartum depression, there is sometimes a lag in the attachment to their child.

In families that are formed through adoption, you've seen the picture and fall in love with that little smile or the big solemn eyes. We anticipate (just as with pregnancy) the home coming. Wow, it's gonna be amazing.

Yet occasionally, when you get to the point of adoption and you hold your child for the first time... you don't feel anything, no instant bond.

You are often sleep deprived, physically exhausted, and sometimes dealing with a very unhappy child...which can come out in screams, anger, tears, manipulation, destructiveness. Add to that, a language barrier if you are adopting internationally.

You know you SHOULD feel attached, but again...the bond you thought would be there isn't.

I will tell you what we've shared with those going through this.

First of all, this is normal, solely because there is no "standard" of a right way to adjust to a new family member. This is a person that you don't know. They had a life before you (in the case of an adoption).

Second, Love is a choice. Attachment will come with time for an adoptive parent. We have not EVER seen it NOT happen.

It may take work, but during the "challenge" period (which may be short or LOOONNNNGGGG), remember (again) that love is a choice. The world has relegated love to a mushy feeling (thus such a high divorce rate) and that love can just go away and dissolve into nothingness. We choose to love. It becomes and often IS a wonderful feeling, but the glimmer of love starts little and it has to be chosen until the feeling is there.

Remember, during this time, that you must CHOOSE to love.

Lastly, remember that this is your child. If you need help, get it. This is forever and, as with any or adopted, we have to step up and do the hard things to create the family that God intended.

Don't be ashamed, seek friends who understand. Be there for others that are going through this. Again, multiple friends have shared with us this struggle...ALL of them have attached...ALL of them love their children madly...ALL of them have succeeded in creating an attached family.

I write this not to scare anyone. I write this to let you know that this can be normal experience.

We don't want to make light of this or give pat answers, but we do want you to know that God will get you through this. He's given us all avenues of help...use them. Don't forget to rely on Him and choose to love.
"And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love." I Corinthians 13:13Attachment Resource #2
"Attaching in Adoption:Practical Tools for Today's Parents by Deborah Gray"

Other posts in this series...
"Understanding Attachment~Part I~How it May Start"
"Understanding Attachment~Part II~How Our Children May Feel and Moving Forward"
"Understanding Attachment~Part III~Helping Others Understand"
"Understanding Attachment~Part IV~Misunderstanding/Our Stories"
"Understanding Attachment~Part VI~Putting the Pieces Together"
"Understanding Attachment~Part VII~To Those Who Will Be There"
"Understanding Attachment~Part VIII~Spiritual Warfare"


  1. I really struggled with this. I felt so guilty at times. Then i heard that this is normal. Thats when it clicked. Of course, lots of prayer was the biggest thing! But i completely agree at first one must choose to love, then it will start, slowly, to become normal! Prayers for Jael!

  2. This has been such an outstanding series. I linked to it on my blog when I recently reviewed an ebook thinking it would be a great resource for others!! :) {hug}


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