Today's Connection in Adoption feature was written by an AWAA mom who has been home for many years with her daughter. Often, it is assumed that children take only a few months or years to adjust and attach. As you will see in this piece, connection and attachment are a lifelong process. We are thankful to journey with all of our families through this beautiful and sometimes dark path.
It happens at different times. Times you might not expect. We see glimpses of the attachment issues that might haunt our adopted children for the rest of their lives.
We adopted our daughter from China at 13-months-old. We prepared for the issues that come along with adoption. We attended the training. We read the books. We braced ourselves. But she was so easy! She had her attachment hurdles, for sure. But she was so attached to us; we breathed a sigh of relief. But then the glimpses…..We didn’t enroll her in gymnastics, soccer, and dance classes. She wouldn’t leave our side.
But she was attached to us. She didn’t want to go to Sunday school class with the other 2-year-olds, so we kept her with us and she was content. She was attached to us. We held off on sending her to preschool as long as possible. When the time came and she needed to go, it was hard. It was really hard. She cried, she clung to me; I had to sit in my car outside of the building for days to reassure her.
She was attached to us.
As she got older, she remained the same happy and attached to us little girl that we had known all along. We saw glimpses of her struggles when she faced change in her life. She had a friend that she attached to as her “best friend”. She put her all into this one friend. It’s how she operates. We encouraged her to try new sports, play with lots of friends, and do things on her own. One step forward, two steps back.
When she was 10 years old, we made a cross-country move. This stretched her more than she was prepared for. More than we were prepared for. Her heart hurt. We leaned into each other. She adores her big brother and sister, but college takes them away each year. She cries (a lot!) every time she has to say goodbye, stretching her further.
She found her “friend” after we moved. She poured her everything into her friend. And then it came- rejection. Her friend turned away, found someone new. To most children, this is part of growing up, heartbreak, and move on. To my now 11-year-old, this was the ultimate devastation. And so we walk next to her, loving her, encouraging her, praying over her. I’m certain that her heart feels this pain deeper than we could ever understand. Deep down, she has known this rejection before. She has felt this emptiness and longing for acceptance and love. As her mom, it’s almost more than I can bear. But I stand with her; I grieve with her – a grief that goes much deeper than the rejection of a friend. This is a grief of abandonment, a grief that formed in her deepest subconscious in the earliest months of her life when her most basic needs were not met.
I don’t have the answers for the issues that my daughter faces. When it gets to be too much, I take her to talk to a professional – someone that can help her better than I can. But as I see glimpses of the pain of her past, I am more determined to walk this road of hurt and healing with her. I may not ever completely understand the depths of what my daughter feels and experiences, but she is not alone. And as I talk to adoption friends who walk similar roads, I know that I am not alone either, that our story is not unique. And that in the end, the One who placed her into our family is also the One who is going to sustain her (and us), to bring healing to her soul and to bring redemption as we see glimpses of healing and beauty from the ashes as we walk this journey together.
Read more stories of connection and attachment here:
ACT (Adoption Coaching and Training) is a ministry of America World Adoption designed to support families through training, support groups, and individualized coaching. We recognize that parenting is not easy, and we are here to stand with adoptive families, offering Christ-centered guidance as we work together to prepare for adoption and heal our children with a history of loss and trauma. Our staff, trained in TBRI® and other adoption competencies, are ready to lead and assist you with compassion and professionalism. Explore our services, and reach out to us today for a free consultation to make a plan to meet your needs.