This post addresses a sensitive topic, and therefore might generate some strong emotions.
I am a very vocal advocate of attachment parenting and the consequences that impact our lives if we choose not to fully attach to, and be attached to by, our children.
As I sit holding my 14 1/2 month old son, he turns and gives me his slobbery kisses. As I read about ways to guide him, to use discipline gently as he is learning to throw fits, and how he has somehow figured out how to hit (how do they learn that?) I am in continual awe of the attachment between us. It is something tangible. It was forged as we walked through pregnancy together and “talked” to each other. Forged as we birthed together and were carried through the ring of fire, as we slept together, ate together, and continue on this lifelong learning adventure together. We are like stem and leaf, firmly attached and yet at the same time not restricted or restrained by it, but it has made us free to grow.
What really amazes me is that 12 years ago, I was in close contact with another 14 month old (and the 14 month old’s younger brother). They were from Haiti. My mom now recalls watching a TV program on the History Channel about Haiti and thinking “I would never want to adopt from there.” Months later, after loads of paperwork and a land sale, we still came up short and were unable to adopt in the USA. We were disappointed until our social worker explained about an opportunity for us to adopt out of country, from Haiti. Along with adopting from Haiti, we were given the opportunity to bring two boys in to our family, which we did.
I cannot describe the shock that I felt when my mom stepped off the plane with Shadraque, the older of the two boys, in her arms. He looked like a starving child from the pages of National Geographic; toothpick arms and legs, eyes too big for his head, distended belly, and at a year and a half old he had no teeth, eyelashes, or hair. A few months later Dad went for Isaac.
Along with the obvious adjustments that come along with adding new children to the family came an even bigger change – both boys came with severe attachment disorder. The stories of our time with them and the emotional/mental/spiritual consequences in our lives should be a book in itself and really the consequences are still echoing through our lives because they were the beginning. It was them, and the disorder that they had, that slowly ripped us out of a predominate belief that “if you just love enough…” A belief that you have the power to change people when they do not reach out for that change. Our roots were torn out of our home as we lost friends and our sense of belonging.
In myself, I now have a deeper understanding of what was actually broken in these children, in my “brothers.” As I travel this road with my son, I can now see where this bond began and even though I do not know the depths or the end of this bond, I now understand how vital this attachment is and the fires that forge it. I am broken anew understanding what they lost.
My “brothers’” are now back with their birth mother. They have been for years. I am now starting this adventure into motherhood and I hope through this experience I am headed in with my eyes a little more open than they might have been had I not experienced the devastation of the unattached.
I am mother.
I am attached.
And my child is attached to me.
I pray for my brothers that they found in their home the attachment that they could not find with me.