August 12th, 2009
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When we ran the gamut of informative pre-adoption classes for prospective adoptive parents, there was a lot of discussion centered on one of the “buzz words” of adoption: attachment. Bonding, attachment, connection—you name it, we discussed it in practically every capacity. However, here’s where I admit I failed my pre-adoption prep work; I walked out of that class positively certain “attachment”—in any and all forms—would never be an issue. I mean, how could it? I dreamed of my baby girl night after night. I imagined her soft curls and toothy smiles—the same curls and smiles I admired in all the pictures we received from our agency, framed and located in almost every room of our house. Attached? I was more than attached. I was in love. Attachment issues? Nope, not worried in the least.

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When Beauty came home, I felt as though I found the missing piece of my heart. I remember holding her for hours and hours the night she came home. I couldn’t bring myself to put her down. It was so amazing—the ideal “babymoon” you come to expect when you bring home your new(est) bundle of joy. But my bundle was nine months old, not a newborn. She had likes and dislikes; she had routines I didn’t know. And while the love never wavered for a moment—if anything it just grew leaps and bounds—the “non-issue” of attachment was becoming a very real issue indeed.

Looking back, I wish I would’ve been more receptive to the information given; I wish I would’ve considered the attachment issues on Beauty’s end, rather than just those on mine. My job was the easy one: add another beautiful baby to our family, get her situated, and start living our life happily as a family of four. While it wasn’t quite that simple, per se, it was definitely a smooth transition all things being considered equal—well, a smooth transition for me.

Nighttime was horrible for Beauty. I was used to putting Bear to sleep, who’d be soothed by snuggling and rocking with me in the glider with lullabies on low until he drifted to (or back to) dreamland. Beauty wasn’t having any of that. She hated being rocked; she didn’t care for lullabies. She wanted to sleep in her bouncer exclusively and screamed endlessly in her crib. She needed the television on to sleep at all—she had to have that flickering glimmer with just a hint of sound. Until I figured this all out, I was helpless, and admittedly, I felt a bit rejected. Why couldn’t I make my own baby happy? It took some time, but I learned my daughter, piece by piece: her likes/dislikes, her favorite toys, her routines. As time went by and we started to really know each other, I felt that Beauty was becoming more and more trustful of and dependent on me, and it felt…amazing. I think my idealistic notions that Beauty would come home—after having lived in another country for the first nine months of her life, with another family, with another language, other sights, sounds, scents and the like—and simply fall into step, well, they were unrealistic; in turn I felt it was my shortcomings as a mother that failed Beauty. I didn’t fail Beauty. I just didn’t listen to what she as trying to tell me. As elementary as it sounds, I wanted her—at nine months of age—to be as thrilled to have me as I was to have her. Once I lowered my expectations of the situation, started small, and worked on really getting to know my daughter as the beautiful, unique individual she is, the old familiar buzz word hit me like a brick: we hit the magic mark of complete attachment. And it felt—and still feels—absolutely amazing.

Photo Credit: 2007 Courtney O.

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