Friday, July 10, 2009

Attachment in the Early Stages

I know there is a lot written about the attachment of adopted children, but one thing I've not read much about is the process of attaching. Having both birthed and adopted children, I've really come to believe that attachment is a process, not something that happens overnight, whether a child is born to you or adopted by you.

When my oldest was born, it troubled me because I loved him, yet the only way I could tell him from other newborns was because he had a clef in his chin! I didn't recognize his cry. I didn't feel some instinctive understanding of his needs. He looked and sounded like every other baloney loaf in the nursery at the time. Once home, I relied upon a schedule to figure out what the crying meant. I didn't hear an "I'm hungry" cry or a "I'm tired" cry. In all his years of diapers, I never once heard an "I need changed" cry! What made it worse was the mothers who all claimed that they could pick their baby out, understood each cry and just had a groove with their kid. Personally, I think it's all bunk.

Yet, as he grew and I took care of him, I began to know him, and his personality emerged. Attachment came with that, the growing of our relationship as he revealed more of himself, learned he could trust me to meet his needs, and I grew in my understanding of how he communicated his needs. In the course of that time, too, his personality began to develop and reveal itself. As that happened, not only did attachment flourish, but I really began to fall in love. I began to know him, not just be his mom.

While attachment with adoption is not exactly the same, as the child's original attachment was disrupted, it is a very similar process. Sometimes you have to nudge it along, sometimes you have to get it major help, but it is still a process. Maybe for some there will be an instant bond, but the trust the comes with attachment only comes with time. Time for the child to learn to trust you not only to meet her needs, but for her to feel safe enough to reveal herself to you, and time for you to really get to know your child.

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