Thursday, December 1, 2011

Understanding Attachment~Part III~Helping Others Understand

If you have not read the first two posts in this series, I recommend you read them first (smile)."Understanding Attachment~Part I~How it May Start"
"Understanding Attachment~Part II~How Our Children may Feel and Moving Forward"
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 going to the park with my teens dressed up as cows while I'm in red leopard pajama pants that does that?). 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 eight 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 (sometimes in actual pain) 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 3 1/2 year old that has to be taught how to play with toys because they never had any.Most of our friends and family had a crib or bed that they learned was a safe place. Their children learned the safety of that same crib or bed.They don't have a reason to understand a child screaming, not being able to roll over even, because they relate a crib or bed to a cage of neglect...or even abuse.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 a child 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. They don't have a reason to understand the same child may do everything in their power to drive you away because they know caring hurts.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 gradually happens.

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

Attachment and Sensory DVD Resource #1"TCU Institute of Child Development"

Attachment Prayer Request
Please pray that God prepares Jael's hearts, gives her dreams of us...our faces, scents, voices....and helps her to feel secure in our arms and with our love very quickly.

We had funds that are coming be delayed to the point of not being available quick enough to fund travel for the adoption. Can you please pray that the rest of the funds are laid before us quickly? Thank you!

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 IV~Misunderstanding/Our Stories"
"Understanding Attachment~Part V~When Parents Find a Hard Time Attaching/Choosing Love"
"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 comment:

  1. VERY well said! I often feel like I need to explain these very things to our friends, about our daughter, and then I usually give up because I don't want to sound like I am complaining about my daughter. I feel like what I say can be interpreted negatively when I try to explain why she is not the same as their biological children and why we treat her differently...It is good to have other adoptive families who understand and get it!


In the joy of following our Heavenly Father, we sometimes choose to proceed with a whisper, a verse, or a downright matter how we follow Him, the momentum that follows is like nothing we've ever experienced before.

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