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