Saturday, June 30, 2007

Couldn't it just be easy?

It would seem like it should, right?

BTW, I'm talking about attachment here...and in particular, between adopted parents and their children.

Before our two Ethiopian children arrived (nearly 7 months ago now!) we read up on attachment and adoption. We dusted off my old grad school course books and even a paper I wrote (that was published way back then) about secure attachment in children. We *thought* we were prepared.

As you may already know, or will learn from reading our story, God and I tend to have an unsigned agreement with each other. I pick a topic, invest loads of time and energy into it, discuss the topic with friends and maybe even share some of my wisdom with a lucky few and then, just when I think I know what I'm talking about---WHAM!!!---God reminds me that I'm really not the one in control and oh, by the way, I don't have all the answers and maybe, (insert big gasp) I don't even know what I'm talking about.

So, as we've been feeling pretty confident on this attachment journey thus far, it should have occured to me that another fairly large (read: God-sized) shoe was about to drop. I should clarify by explaining that Baby T did not decide to run off and join the circus as the bearded woman or some other such nonsense nor did H not take off for parts unknown or lock herself in her bedroom refusing to leave the house or (heaven help me) unbraid all of her newly braided hair in protest. No, this time it was something much more subtle and something which has cropped up several times over the past few weeks, given the time of year. And it was one for which we had not planned.

This time, it was the bad side to the effects of a good attachment. Have you got that now? Because it took me a little while to see the connection. We'd been so happy that our kids seemed to be attaching so well that it hadn't occured to us (okay, with Baby T it did but he's well, a baby, so it didn't feel so strange) that part of opening up your little 9 year old heart to attachment also means opening it up for hurt and sadness---again. If my own mother had died within the past year and the hands of fate dealt me the cards of a new, white, English-speaking, American family, I'd probably be a little slow on the attachment-o-meter. Not H, though. She steadily and solidly began to see herself as our daughter right from the start, which was a beautiful blessing to us. Now, however, that emotion is out there. All the joy, happiness and love shared between parent and child, between siblings, between others significant enough to have impacted her daily life---and with that comes healing as some of those people drift in or out of H's life. This past month, we've said "good-bye" to her first teacher in America, to the school who welcomed her, to friends and classmates we no longer see each day, and to the short-lived (but oh-so-sweet) summer school teacher and students who were a large part of our month of June. And with each of those goodbyes came fresh new tears, not big, loud, gulpy sobs, but head-nodding, sniffly, knowing tears about loss. And all I can do is stand and listen as BAM!!!---there goes that other shoe.

It's true, I can reassure and console. I can hug and distract. I can try to empathize, but the truth is, as God's reminded me again, I've still got a lot to learn.

You can read more stories about attachment in adoption on the June Round-Up at Adventures in Daily Living.


Faith said...

It's a good reminder for all of us, and certainly magnified through the eyes of H. People pass through our lives all the time. Some stay for a while, others don't. If we are lucky, some precious few stick around or even come back at some point. Please tell H. that I am *really* looking forward to seeing her again - in less than 2 weeks. Well, I am looking forward to seeing ALL of you, but maybe H. needs that special message right now. :-)

Anonymous said...

Just think how lucky H is that even though people have come and gone in her life over the past few months she still has you and the rest of her new family forever! That will never change even when teachers, friends, neighbors, and others come and go. What an amazing gift you have given to her.
BTW-I am very glad to hear that
Baby T decided against the bearded lady gig!
And for what it's worth, I think you do know everything or pretty close to it anyway!

Becky said...

It makes me think how some day our baby boys will too feel sadness and loss even though they were much too young to remember it. I pray that I can soothe that hurt when the time comes.

Julie Cooper said...

When our boys came home from the last day of school, both of my Chicago-born boys were very happy about the prospect of summer break. Baye, on the other hand, was in tears. In fact, Brett told me he held him "like a baby." This surprised me. I would think that since he's used to so much change in his 9 years of life, the end of the school year would be a walk in the park. But it wasn't. Thanks so much for posting this! Very helpful!!!

:: Suzanne :: said...

Thanks for participating in the round-up. It is up (finally) at Adoption Blogpost Roundup#2.

We are also accepting nominations for July's theme. Please leave your ideas in the comments.