Sunday, April 26, 2009

Our Attachment Journey.....so far

We have been home with Sophie for 20 months. Almost as long as we waited for her to find us through our agency WC list. We think that Sophie was in the SWI for approximately the first 6 months of her life, then she was with a foster family, then brought back to the SWI around the time we were matched with her. When we first met Sophie she was reluctant to let go of the young "nanny" holding her, and I could not make myself rip her out of the nanny's arms....so I waited.

Waiting is really how our story began.

Due to Sophie's special need she had two surgeries about 2 months after arriving home. There were also post-op treatments involved that were uncomfortable but necessary for us to perform for about 9 months post surgery. There were lots of doctor visits and medication. But through it all we continued to grow closer, following Sophie's lead I suppose. She had so many changes, it seemed only fair to work slowly but diligently at building love and trust.

Like many of you I had read all the books, blogs, web pages etc. that I could find regarding attachment. I also recognized that my parenting style was more consistent with attachment parenting. ( we were fine with co-sleeping, baby wearing etc.) so, I felt pretty comfortable with the rate at which Sophie's attachment was growing. So I continued to wait. I did not have to wait long for her to reach for me when she was scared, she was happy to stay in my arms, she was slow to warm up to family and friends. All positive early signs. But still she was careful. Very careful to let me in to love her and for her to love me back. Sophie let me massage her after baths, rock her to sleep, she shared food with all of us, She let me kiss and hug her a million times a day. She Allowed me to do these things. I waited until she allowed herself to love and trust me back. It happened slowly. I remember when she began to let her guard down , she was next to me in her bed falling asleep with her little hand resting on my face while she said "mama, mama" as she drifted off to sleep.

So here were are at the 20 month mark and I can say that I feel things are still moving in the right direction. Her eye contact has significantly improved when we are close together. She has good eye contact when talking or playing with us. She no longer will give me the defiant death stare when she is being disciplined. Sophie will now give me a kiss when I ask for one, and will kiss me a million times a day on her own accord:) Makes my heart swell I tell ya. She is attached to Chris, but I still think that is something that can improve. For example she won't kiss him. She will hug him, and all the other things that I do with her,but for now ...."no kisses Daddy".....and this is a girl who loves her daddy! She doesn't kiss Ben or Hannah. She will snuggle with them and hug them but that is about it. She will let them pick her up and carry her to me if she gets hurt playing, which I think is typical behavior. Oddly enough Sophie will give the dogs a kiss goodnight.

I do think that things have taken us a little longer than I thought in part due to Soph's medical stuff. That is mostly behind us I anticipate that she will continue to grow and trust us as her family. This attachment stuff is scary. But with almost 2 years together I do not think that Sophie's attachment to us is as seamless as I thought it would be at this point. But that is ok....as long as we continue to move in the right direction of building love and trust.

Waiting is a huge part of adopting....in more ways than one!

13 comments:

Lynn said...

Great post my friend, it sounds like she is adjusting well.

Special K said...

Thanks for writing that. It's very reassuring to know that I won't be alone when I struggle to find my way into motherhood.:)

simply t said...

I love this post. I think it's a great new way to look at the attachment process. We do need to wait for our girls cue & wait for her to gain love & trust.

Thanks for the update, I think Sophie is spec~TAC~ular & I know she is one loved little girl.

Lindsay said...

Great post - and you are so right about the Waiting for our children part.

Waiting for them to come home is only part of the wait.

Buckeyes & Eggrolls said...

AMEN to this post! You are absolutely right about waiting in adoption.. way more ways than one!! We all wait, home or not

PIPO said...

...and so the journey continues.

Waiting is worth the wonderful rewards for all.

The Gang's Momma said...

Thanks for the update. It's a journey isn't it? I love your perspective that it's an on-going process, and likely to be flexing and growing and changing all along. Too many folks I've read in bloggy land write about attachment as if it's 6-12 months of adjusting then done. I like the continuum perspective that you represent here - it's more fitting for what we all go through as we adjust and attach to each other when a little one comes to his/her forever family. All of us are changed in the new dynamics - for the better in the long run!

Laurie said...

Thanks for this post...I think a lot about the attachment process and appreciate it when people share what it is like. She is certainly one loved little girl!

Colleen said...

Wonderful post and so honest. I am happy things are moving in the right direction : )

The Wanderers' Daughter said...

THanks for this post, Maryellen. It's always good to hear the progess of other parents and children so as to have some kind of context and perspective.
Of course, all adoptive children are different, just as all birth children are different - different personalities deal with issues in different ways. Your Sophie sounds more cautious and circumspect in her reactions than our Q. It sounds like she was really protecting her heart - which just breaks your heart to think about, doesn't it? That a child so small should have to learn to protect themselves like that? But the good thing is, she's taken her time and been thoughtful about the process, and when she gives your family her full trust, it will be in the knowledge that she really knows you and believes in you.

QQ's attachment has been much of an easier ride than I actually expected. I had braced myself so much after all the reading I did - which can be really alarming. I was prepared for the worst (both on her part and on my part!) I didn't think my husband would have any trouble - he's the only one of us I didn't worry about.

Q has a very open personality and there is no natural caution in her. she's a very positive creature. She thinks the best of everyone and every situation right off the bat, and if she has to adjust that thinking, she'll tackle that later. This approach seems to work well for her, since her openness attracts a positive response from others. Still, it's a wonder to me that any child who has been abandoned and lived in an orphanage crib for 11 months could be so happy and trusting. I could learn a lot from her attitude!

That said, there is a vast difference between our relationship in the early days and our relationship now (at 9 months home). Along with her oppeness, she is also very straightforward. What you see is what you get with QQ, and when she didn't want to give us kisses, she didn't make any pretenses. She lets us know what she wants and what she doesn't. When she was good and ready, she'd take the next step in intimacy.
It's amazing to see how far she's come. She has bloomed so much under steady loving care. It's really something to watch it happen, isn't it?

Happy 20 months to you and Sophie! OOXX

a Tonggu Momma said...

What a wonderful post! We've been home over four years and I still feel progress is being made. Glad little Sophie is doing so well and that y'all are so patient with her.

Wanda said...

Your last statement is soooo true. Waiting is something we seem to have special training for - and for good reason.

Thank you for your honesty. We all learn so much from eachother - especially those who have the courage to really open up.

We've been back for over 4 years now and are on the brink of returning for DD#2(with an LID of March 15th, 06) so reading your post was a good reminder and primer.

Thank you.
Wanda
www.atlastmilanascominhome.blogspot.com

Michal said...

I all I have to say is "Thank you for this post." I needed it.