Attachment Through the Years: What I Wish I Had Known

August 5, 2018 Attachment, attachment activities, attachment challenges, August 2018 Feature - Attachment Through the Years, first year home, Newly Home, parent-to-child attachment 6 Comments

No one said this would be easy… and it isn’t.

For our family, attachment has happened, is happening and will continue to happen. The Lord is showing us how to love without expectation, regardless of feelings and it is not easy.

It is blessed but it is not easy.

However, in the fluidity of attachment, bonds are forming, feelings are developing and hidden parts of your heart are exposed, confronted and transformed.

There are several things I wish I had known and several things I wish I had allowed to be truly absorbed, not ignored, into my hopeful, overconfident, mama’s heart.

I wish I had known that attachment could take years. Truly, years.

I wish I had known that throughout those years, the Lord would be working on my heart as much as we was working on our child’s.

I wish I had known that it was normal (as in the adoption world normal) not to adore (or even like) your child… for a very long time.

I wish I had known that there would be moments that took my breath away all mixed up with moments that took my patience away.

I wish I had known that a child who comes home at 2 years old could struggle with attachment more than a child who comes home at 9 years old (or older).

I wish I had known that being abandoned at birth can cause just as much damage as being abandoned at an older age.

I wish I had known that loving a child from a broken place would reveal those broken parts of me – and help me to understand that we are all broken.

I wish I had known, truly known, that God’s grace is sufficient; that through the cracks of our “perfection”, the Lord’s goodness and strength shine through. When we are weak, He is strong!

I wish I had known that He doesn’t call the equipped. He equips those He calls.

I wish I had known that His equipping doesn’t always come in one big lump sum right when we expect it and that I would need to rely solely on Him to equip me moment to moment – enough to bridge those moments of “hard”.

I wish I had known that certain behaviors did not need to be worked on right away and that working on attachment was more important than changing annoying behaviors.

I wish I had known that attachment takes effort but that attachment is also born from sacrifice… as well as feeding and diapering and playing and dressing and teaching and midnight wake ups and forced hugs and tentative kisses and all of the mundane of our lives as parents.

Most of all, I wish I had known that even if attachment is slow, and even if I don’t love like I know I should, and even if the shame hangs heavy on me, God is ever present and is showing me how He loves.

I wish I had relaxed in that and allowed Him to step in and take the shame and trust His ability to transform even the darkest parts of my heart.

As you struggle in the wait for your child or you are home and just struggling, here are some things that I learned:

1. Smile at your child even if you don’t feel like smiling.
2. Hug your child even if your child doesn’t seem huggable to you.
3. Remember that your other children are watching you and will treat your new child as you do.
4. Relax and know that many of those orphanage behaviors will get better with time.
5. Other than a check up with your pediatrician, and unless your child has an urgent medical need, wait a while to start the medical appointments.
6. Read as much as you can but realize that real life doesn’t always play out like the experts say it will. You have to use what works for you and your child.
7. At first, take every opportunity to serve your child.
8. Be flexible!
9. Try your best not to feel guilty.
10. Talk to other adoptive mamas.

Yes, attachment can be hard and can take time but it is a process that brings glory to the One who loves us despite our annoying behaviors. This precious journey is a step outside of “comfortable”, but it is in that realm of uncomfortableness that the Lord meets us and grows us and shows us what it really means to serve Him.

– guest post by an anonymous mama

6 responses to “Attachment Through the Years: What I Wish I Had Known”

  1. lauren sanders says:

    words of wisdom! Love this!

  2. Ellen W says:

    Such wonderful wise words. One adopted daughter from China currently and one to join our family in 1 1/2 months. Amen truly to all you said!!!

  3. Heather Cramer Greenwald says:

    Such helpful words as we are waiting to travel to China to in October to meet our son!

  4. Heather says:

    So TRUE! We’ve been home three months with our three newly internationally adopted children and this hits the mark for me on so many level. Thank you for sharing. I’m going to print and hang this in a spot I can read it often.

  5. Lisa says:

    In a few months we will be 6 kids. 2 adult bio and 4 from China. Attachment is a funny thing. Moms are supposed to have it with all their kids and kids are expected to attach too. Well my first bio son I had no attachment while he loved me immediately. I had such guilt because it took me 6-9 months to really attach and he was the easiest child probably on earth and he slept through the night first day born. I should have been crazy about him, but it took time, now I look back and cant believe I felt such disconnect. With second son it took maybe a few weeks to a month and again he was easy too. Finally 14 years later Hubby said yes to adopting and here comes our daughter. I attached pretty quickly but she never, ever has attached much to anyone. Sadly, her ability to love is very very limited and around 4 years home, it became apparent this was not going to change. 🙁 She has since been in another home for a year so far where they are trying to help her and still, same thing. Sadly, some kids, like our daughter, past abuse and neglect can do awful things to brain development. She was feral and has come a long way, but attaching is not something easy for her. Oh the sadness I have for her, us loving her so much and seeing her want to attach but her just not ever able to get there. During our daughters first few years home, we eventually adopted two more kids. Both our boys came home and attachment with us and the entire family was immediate. It was as if they were always here and within the last 2-3 years those bonds only grow deeper. Now, as we await our next daughter, due home this fall…we wonder what will she be like…
    We have all the spectrums of attachment and experience dealing with a child who has struggled, but still its hard having to deal with this issue. When things are hard, its heartbreaking, when they are easy, its wonderful.

    Now I know what could, can or may happen, and understand better what I can do.

    -Being intentional really is what the best choice for me is so I and the child attach. Making sure I am involved and enjoy my new child, and if I or they attach immediately great, but I am way ok with faking it now as I know in time, those feelings become real. And they do.
    – I give myself time too. A new person just moved in, it may take time to get used to a new person and a new life. The first time I became a Mom, I felt lost, as my prior normal was gone.
    -I made sure I continued as many of my normal routines as much as possible, once our child came home. Who is going to feel good, if EVERYTHING changes. For me, this means, I need my bible time and exercising minimum. If I do a few normal things, it makes my brain realize, some things are still the same somewhat mitigating the changes that are occuring.
    -give grace. We are all going to fail at some point. No one is perfect, so if you have a bad day or days or in the one case years, realize its ok to not be ok
    -most importantly I learned, I can give it my all, my entire family, teams of drs and specialists, on and on and still all of that may still not be enough and today I can say I am ok with that. As a Christian, the serenity prayer comes to mind. Sometimes its necessary to be ok with the people, things and situations we cant change.

    In the trenches there is this Rambo/Rocky mentality. Never give up. Well I am here to say I once was Ms. Rambo and its served me well, well until it didnt. I had to Let Go and Let God. And now, my daughter is challenging the people she is with now. Thess people are the experts and if they are struggling, how much easier is it for me to say. Well, see, it wasnt you or your family, etc.
    Sometimes it just is what it is.

    I want anyone reading to know, sometimes you are only as well, as the situations you are under. I have been home from the hospital just 6 days. I had unexpectedly herniated the disk in my neck. One day I am at the beach, fit and bealthy and life is good. Next day and 29 days more, I am screaming all day in agony with numbness and severe nerve pain on my entire left arm and hand. Thankfully, I had a suberb Chiropractor who found the issue and I quickly got in to see a Neurosurgeon within that week. 30 days later to the day I am in surgery. Post surgery, I was told the herniation was so bad, and it blew pieces into my spinal cord, and some spinal fluid was leaking. I COULD have been paralyzed or had permanent paralysis had they not got me in so fast. Again, I will repeat what I said.


    Never, ever pass judgement or opinions on yourself or others.
    Situations can change who you are for better, or worse.

    Adoption and giving birth can be wonderful, but sometimes not. And just like my unexpecfed health problem, I never saw it coming. Ms Rambo came out again but I had to tell her to leave, for now and give the situation to God.

    Much better choice.

  6. Momma says:

    Thank you for putting this into words!

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