Monday, March 7, 2011


So the amazing blogger Claudia at My Fascinating Life, an intelligent and wonderful blog about her experience bringing home two beautiful adopted twins from Ethiopia, challenged the adoption blogging community to write about their experiences and expectations of attachment issues in adoption. 

Attachment is a probably the single most important issue facing adoptive parents, as adopted children have always, every single time, experienced significant loss.  How, then, can they be expected to accept a new family as their own, without questioning whether their new parents will leave them, treat them well, provide for them, love them unconditionally, and, well, be their parents forever?  I mean, our dog gets stressed when we leave, so how can we expect our future child to accept us unquestioningly?  Simply put, we can't and won't.

So what do we do?  How do we handle the introduction of our child to a whole new life?  It isn't lost on us, not for one second, that our child will have lost a biological family, their unique stories, language, culture, foods, smells and belongings, however limited those might be. Their loss is unimaginable. 

Strategies exist to assist children in adaptation to a new family.  We are in the process of researching all of the different ways to make attachment smooth and workable for everyone.  I hope to have the wonderful luxury of staying home for a while, which will (hopefully) help.  We can't say at this point what the plan will be, as we are so, so far from having an actual baby in the house.  When the time comes, however, we will be as prepared as possible, even if the plan changes once our child comes home.

I think a primary challenge as we move forward with a little one at home will be that we have never parented before, so how will we know what is an attachment issue and what is just normal two-year-old behavior?  If our child decides sleeping or eating is for the birds, is that just normal, everyday, run-of-the-mill testing or something more?  Most of my friends and family have children, all of whom have had their challenges, whether sleeping, eating, having special needs or other issues.  I doubt many of our friends have thought to themselves, as their baby wakes for the 10th time that night, "Clearly my baby actually misses his/her biological mother, clearly wants her, hates me, and knows, deep down, that I am not his/her real mother!".  Have no doubt, however, I will think that, and probably often. 

So the question in the end may be, whose issues are really at play in attachment: mine, ours, the baby's or all three?  I read through the rest of the attachment blogs (located here - go to the bottom if you want to check them out) and each story is completely different.  Which just goes to show, there is no correct path, no perfect way of ensuring attachment, no gold star for the family that has no attachment issues whatsoever, because most do.  Kids are human, and have different needs and experiences.  Adults are human, and have had different experiences leading to adoption.  Somehow, hopefully (hopefully!  hopefully!) we will figure it out.  There will be bumps in the road, no doubt.  Blogs like Claudia's help us feel not so alone in this journey, and a bit more prepared for the challenges that inherently lie with adoption.  And blogs like hers also show the love and beautiful, wonderful families that can be created through adoption, and makes the future seem that much brighter.


  1. Claudia's blog is a gem, through and through. I need to go read all the attachment posts submitted/linked...but of course they make me anxious too. Because attachment is our number one concern, and Claudia adopted two at once like we will, which presents its own challenge for attachment. So much to think about! But like you we are just going to do our absolute level best to help our kids know they are loved and secure.

  2. You are so right about there being no gold star... and yet so often I still find myself thinking that there is, and that if I just do whatever it is I've forgotten, someone is going to come along and stick it on my forehead. IF ONLY!! One of the hardest things about attachment for me has been assuming that everyone else is walking around with a gold star and it's only me who's missing out. This week has been AMAZING (for me) because it's just made me realise how normal it is to struggle with all the stuff I struggle with... HOW did people survive before the internet, huh? So glad you joined in!

  3. So honest, such good questions. my answer to whose issues are really at play was instantly...all three.
    Take care.

  4. The thing to keep in mind is that attachment is an issue for bio kids too - and a lot of the strategies that are called Attachment Parenting actually started with non-adoptive families. My one word of advice would be to go with your gut, don't let anyone tell you how to parent no matter who they are - YOU will know your child best.