Attachment Through the Years: 5 Years Home

July 19, 2018 1 Comments

Attachment. It’s a word that, at some point of the adoption journey, will bring every parent to their knees – either in frustration over all that seems to be lacking or gratitude for heart-shaped milestones reached.

This month we are focusing on attachment over the long(er) term… not weeks or months home. But years down the road. And we’ve asked our contributors to share their experience – exactly what attachment is like with their child, exactly where they are on the attachment journey.


1. Every adoptive parent starts out with certain expectations for what attachment and bonding will be like. How has your attachment looked like what you expected?

We read up, of course, on attachment before our adoption of our son. We prepared ourselves the best we could with books, the training our agency provided and by listening to experienced parents who had gone before us.

Still, the attachment (and for us the grieving that came right along with that) became our full time job once we got off that airplane onto U.S. soil. Looking back I know I never really grasped the commitment and sacrifice that would go along with our journey of attachment with our son.

2. How has your attachment looked different from what you expected?

It was more work than I expected and required some sacrifice from all family members.

3. Have you ever felt like you could say, “we are attached”? If so, when?

Yes – but the journey of attachment is never over. Some seasons have been better then others. Our son was almost four when we adopted him and we attached to him relatively easily. And he attached to us within weeks.

The levels of attachment have gone up and down over the last five years… depending on any grief our son was dealing with, medical issues, etc. We waited almost six months for his first surgery and experienced a big regression. But ultimately it helped us show him we were here no matter what and his attachment to us grew deeper.

We were very blessed that our son had a foster mom and dad for a few years and had experienced some family like structure.

4. What are three things you are glad you did to build attachment?

Cocooned once home. This can be hard for a lot of families who have multiple kids with lots of activities. Sacrifice was required from all of us but in the end I think this was the key to good attachment right off the bat.

Limited caretakers. My husband and I were the only ones to feed, hold and care for our son. We were very strict on this rule and it worked wonders in our son adjusting to his new mama and baba.

Set the ground rules early. We told family and friends the “rules and changes” before our travel, and reminded them during our time in country and once home. Believe me, it’s hard for a lot of outsiders to grasp the why and how of attachment with your newly adopted child and why it can look so strange and different. Back up your rules and requests with a research and an open letter to friends and family.

5. Five years out, what is something you would do differently if you were to do it all over again?

I would likely hold off even more time on surgeries if you possibly can. Most often our kids from hard places have not had good experiences with medical staff, had traumatic surgeries and, as a result, end up not having a lot of trust. Make attachment your number one priority. Creating that safe place in which your child can heal reaps wonderful rewards in the journey of your child in his/her new family.

6. How would you encourage an adoptive parent a few years behind you regarding the attachment journey?

– There is never a “end” to the attachment journey. Taking cues from your child – recognize and know that they will always struggle with trust so we

– Always be on the path to pursing their heart.

– Know that some seasons may be harder. When it’s rough and you see signs of regression and grief – pull back from all the extras, make your world small and keep things simple.


Find My Family: Jay

July 18, 2018 0 Comments

Jay is an adorable little boy, born in August of 2011. He is diagnosed as having congenital heart disease (PA/VSD, MAPCAs, postoperative B-T shunt), cardiac insufficiency, and postoperative diaphragmatic eventration (left).

Jay has a good appetite and is not picky. His favorite foods are apples, oranges, chocolate, and chips. He has no trouble eating, using the bathroom, washing his hands, brushing his teeth, washing his face, dressing, or undressing independently.

Jay’s caretakers say that he is quiet, gentle, sensitive, cute, and smiley. They also note that he is polite and actively greets people. He likes to help and even asks his caretakers to show him how to fold blankets.

Jay is a little scared when he sees animals because he isn’t used to being around them. His favorite animal is a giraffe. He enjoys watching cartoons. GG Bond is his favorite show. Jay also likes singing with other children and moving along with the music on T.V. He is a sound sleeper.

Jay has good motor skills. He can go up and down stairs, jump using two feet, hop on one leg, and catch and throw a ball. He understands the difference between left and right and can do morning exercise along with the music. He knows seasons, colors, shapes, and can identify numbers through 20. Jay speaks softly and a bit unclearly. He answers questions, but sometimes needs to repeat his answers to be understood. He regularly uses 2-3 word expressions.

He gets along well with other children and likes to watch the older children play chess. If the younger kids are outside, he will go look after them like a big brother would do.

At the time his file was prepared, Jay was in 1st grade. There he has been learning Chinese, math, and English. He performs average in Chinese. He is learning how to write and can read simple Pinyin and letters. He was starting to learn how to add and subtract within 10, but hadn’t mastered it just yet. Jay says he loves his English class and is starting to learn how to read simple English words and sentences. His teacher says that he is a cute child and an active participant in class. He raises his hand and answers questions well. He is often smiling and always polite. He behaves well and is sensitive too.

Jay is newly listed with Madison Adoption Associates and we hope 2018 will be the year his forever family finds him!

There is a $500 agency grant for Jay’s adoption with Madison Adoption Associates. Other grants may be available based on the adoptive family’s circumstances. Agency grants are awarded as agency fee reductions. MAA also partners with the Brittany’s Hope Foundation for matching grants, which are given out twice a year January and July) and to families that are officially matched with a child.

Jay needs a family with an approved home study to be able to move forward with adopting him. If you have an approved home study or a home study in process and are interested in adopting Jay, please fill out a free PAP Waiting Child Review Form, which can be found here.

Nothing Is Impossible

July 17, 2018 3 Comments

We had been home with our Laura Cate for 12 months, when a family member made a statement that took my breath away:

“Your adopted daughter just doesn’t have the same potential. She will never be able to do all the things your biological daughter can do.”


We adopted Laura in October 2015, when she was 16 months old. She was born with a cleft lip and palate. Her lip had been repaired in China. She came to us tiny and malnourished; her hair and teeth had not come in due to lack of nutrition and she was terrified of being left alone. She slept on top of me for a month, next to me for several more, and never let me out of her sight for a year. She would sit on me, or follow me, and always with some food in hand (she didn’t like having food out of sight either).

She had her first palate repair after two months home. Although the palate surgery and long recovery were difficult and emotionally exhausting for all of us, it has been her speech delays and attachment concerns that have been more of a challenge.

After one year home, Laura was not speaking. She would grunt and cry, but she did not use any words. She wasn’t attempting to use any words. She did not put sounds together or babble. She communicated basic needs with sign language.

She understood basic directions but couldn’t process questions asked to her. She did not understand how to answer. Her speech therapist diagnosed her with severe speech delay/apraxia of speech. As we spent hours every week in therapy, you could see her mind working, trying to process what was being asked of her, but she struggled to mimic or create sounds or words.

However, after one year home (and at 2 ½ years old), Laura was excelling in other areas. She could put together a puzzle that my five year old would struggle to complete. Her hair and teeth had come in and she had packed on 10 pounds in one year. She had a contagious giggle and delighted in stacking blocks or playing with her toy kitchen. Although our girl was still not speaking, she communicated with signs and gestures. And she was building confidence in herself and in us. She would stay with family (without Mommy) for a short time and enjoy herself; she had learned I would come back.

Although her speech delay was concerning and definitely very frustrating at times, we saw so much growth in every other area, that we were confident our girl would catch up on speech too. It was just going to take some more time. Some more work. Some more patience and love.

Then, the comment that set my teeth on edge. It came out of nowhere as she and I watched the two sisters play. “You’re adopted daughter just doesn’t have the same potential. She will never be able to do all the things your biological daughter can do.”

I am usually slow to engage in conflict, but this was my daughter and I felt Mama Bear rising to the surface quickly. “Why would you say that?”

“Just look at them… she is so far behind.”

“But look how far she has come. I reject the idea that she has limits. God is bigger than her past. She may have to work harder, but nothing is impossible.”

Raised eyebrows and silence ended that conversation. And I continue to reject anyone’s limits on our daughter. So far, we have blown by all those limits together, with Laura doing most of the work and the rest of us cheering her on.

The imposed limit of, “She won’t be able to drink through a straw, but that isn’t a really important life skill,” (from a pediatrician) was met by a few days with chocolate milk. She drinks from a straw just fine. And now knows how to use those muscles to make words.

The imposed limit of, “Some kids just can’t make the air come out of their mouth until they are older, or after more surgery,” was surpassed with bubbles.

For months we worked on blowing bubbles.
For several weeks, we just rounded our mouths in the correct shape.
For several weeks, we blew bubbles while holding our noses.
Then, finally, she learned to do it without holding her nose.
And our whole family cheered as that sweet girl giggled and blew bubbles to her heart’s content.

And then, she mastered the ‘oo’ sound, right along with the bubbles.

She works hard. And we work hard right along with her as she gains her voice, her words, her ability to communicate. And we celebrate every victory.

This year she turned four, and for the first time, she blew her candles out all by herself, and this mama teared up as I watched. She has made incredible gains in the past two years.

She can now ask for what she needs or wants with words, she can answer questions, and she can tell on her siblings. She has another palate surgery scheduled for later this month and we are confident it will help with her understandability.

Laura Cate will not be someone who can say, “Everything came easy to me.” But I hope and pray that she will be someone who will say, “Anything is possible.”

For with God nothing will be impossible. (Luke 1:37)

– guest post by Amy

Waiting Child: Madeline

July 16, 2018 0 Comments

Madeline, born December 2007, is described as optimistic and sensible! She gets along well with the other children around her and enjoys playing aeroplane chess. One of her favorite activities is playing with Legos; she builds all kinds of cars and people out of them! Often when she is with her group of kids, she …Read More

Her Words Will Come

July 15, 2018 8 Comments

A few weeks ago my husband and I and our four kids were at Legoland for a day of fun in the California sun. My four kids are all what you may call opinionated, independent, and vocal. Our youngest may be the sassiest of them all, but she also has a profound expressive speech delay. …Read More

Urgent Waiting Child: Milton

July 14, 2018 2 Comments

Milton, a 3-year-old beautiful boy with a December 2014 birthday, loves playing with colorful toy cars and will drive them all over the tables and walls! He plays well independently and is able to entertain himself for a long time playing on the wooden horse or the swings. Sometimes after class his teacher takes him …Read More

Meet Joyanna!

July 13, 2018 0 Comments

“Hi, I am 12 years old. I am in 5th grade. I like singing and dancing very much. I also like to ride bike. I need to go to hospital three days every week to get treatment then go to school the rest of two days. I never fail my academic even I have to …Read More

Family Found: Our Search for our Daughter’s Birth Family

July 13, 2018 3 Comments

This is the story of how we found our daughter YuChen’s birth family 10 years and 5 days after she entered an orphanage in Ankang, Shaanxi province, China. I am trying to do my best to guard the hearts of two families and one very special little girl, so I will carefully share some of …Read More

Waiting Child: Danny

July 12, 2018 0 Comments

Eight year old Danny is an extroverted social butterfly who loves people! Danny gets along very well with others, and is good at communicating. Danny is almost 10 years old and is well behaved and obedient, he can follow directions easily. He has great gross motor skills as well as fine motor skills, with no …Read More

Beautiful Blakely

July 10, 2018 0 Comments

Blakely is a beautiful little girl, born in August of 2014 with Down syndrome. Blakely joined a foster family when she was seven months old. Her foster mother loves her very much and she is attached to her foster family. But a foster family isn’t a forever family. It is a gift to Blakely’s future …Read More

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