Ladies…don’t mean to hijack your posts but I have been searching for others that may be able to help me. I have 3 biokids that…...
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Adoption Blog: The Perfect Blend
Attachment and Adoption
I don’t like other people’s children. Let me soften that a bit: I enjoy the company of children who aren’t mine for brief periods. But I am not, and never have been, one of those women who charms babies in grocery stores, and although I almost visibly swell with pride when it happens to my children, I have never, to my knowledge, stopped a passing stroller on the street to comment upon the beauty of the baby therein.
When my first daughter, Josi, was born, it took me longer than it’s comfortable to admit to bond with her. I attended to her gently and with immense care; I took darned good care of her. But if I’m being honest, I’d say it took around four or five months before I felt that staggering love that comes with being a parent. With our younger daughter, Lilah, I still had some reservations and worries, but from the moment I saw her dark eyes and smushed nose, I was hooked.
The book on my nightstand that’s getting the most action this week is Patty Cogen’s Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child: From Your First Hours Together Through the Teen Years. Although Cogen doesn’t like the term "attachment" (because, she says, a failure to attach implies that the child is at fault), her text is very much about that very thing, whatever you call it. Cogen's book is an encyclopedia of adoption trauma and healing. Parenting is a page-turner. It's riveting and hits close to home, and I'm finding it impossible to put down at night.
Attachment—and for clarity’s sake I’ll continue to use the word, despite Cogen’s compelling argument against it—is a thing I think about a lot. I’ve read many adoptive mothers' accounts of feeling like a babysitter until that show-stopping love took over. Since I've felt similarly with a biological child, I know that if I am slow to bond with an adoptive child, it won't be the end of the world. I know that attachment will happen in its own time and that we may be able to help it along with a few well-timed tricks of the trade and a lot of patience and love. For once, I’m not worried about myself.
Dylan, though, is another story. Our beautiful son will come home from Seoul around his first birthday. To him, I worry I’ll feel like a babysitter but one who has taken him away from the people he loves and isn’t returning him. Those circumstances have got to be scary to anyone at any age, but at 1, it must be beyond horrible. For all its words of wisdom, Cogen’s book is my nightly reminder that Dylan has survived immense trauma and will go through it again with his next transition into our family.
Please, if you will, share an attachment story of your own, because if you have one, it means that you've gone through (and continue to go through) this, too. As we wait to create our own stories, I’d love to read yours.
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