Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Attachment is Not Crazy

As a mama to a child from a hard place, I truly do not care if others think I'm crazy.

The past year has stretched me outside my comfort zone in so many ways.

So, when I crouched down in church to tell the Sunday School music teacher that she couldn't hug my daughter, her shocked face did not move me.

She had knelt down to invite Little Bitty into her arms.

I didn't feel like I needed to give her a book on trauma and attachment.

Nor did I give a lengthy explanation.

I just said, Sorry she can only hug her family.

Attachment is a real issue and I'm willing to fight for it.

People will not understand, many will be offended.

Many already think I'm crazy.

That's okay.

Last week, I toweled off our girl's little bitty body fresh from the tub and grabbed her pajamas.

I off-handedly said, You are such a good girl!

Her little feet stamped wet imprints on the pink wool rug trimmed with mint green and white polka-dots.

Her sing-song voice answered back, No mama, I'm a bad girl.

I reached for tiny shoulders, drawing near to her head-- a tight bun of soaked black curls.

I focused on her dark eyes and, in confusion, asked, Why do you say that sweetie?  Why do you say you are a bad girl?

She gazed up at me, Because I don't know who to hug.  I hug the wrong people.

Oh bless her.  It's been hard.

I affirmed that little bitty girl and hugged her close.  I assured her it was a normal part of growing up-- learning who to hug.

Something that seems like second nature to parenthood-- attaching to your child-- is a struggle for many children from hard places.

Sometimes the huge progress from the last year of bonding and hours of play therapy sessions splinter like hewn wood in an instant.

The remnant particles float through the room like sawdust--the gaps of our bond dangle in space in front of me and I suck deeply to draw clean air into my lungs.

To a normal observer, the mocha cutie with tightly coiled hair is just friendly as she bounces across a room full of strangers, working the room like a pro with her skillful shrieks and hugs.

She just appears to be lovable and precious and huggable to all.

And she most definitely is! 
Her eyes met mine at a recent football game.

As she toed the line, moving further away from me.

Down the fence line towards a total stranger.

Daring me to come after her.

To a careful observer on attachment, it's problematic:

She's hugging a complete stranger at church.

She's running across the tiny home school co-op to be lifted into another mama's arms and tossed into the air. (I love you Heather!)

She disappears at the picnic and we discover she's having dinner with an unknown family.

She's sitting in every teenager's lap in the gym.

You see, it's often the unspoken struggle that many adoptive and foster parents don't talk about.

We don't always have years of bonding from infancy-- memories to draw upon for the hard days.

On my worst days with my biological children, I can reminisce of nuzzling them as newborns, recall their stages of development.  There's an investment of years in our relationship that trumps the times when our connection is broken.

With Little Bitty, we don't have those memories.

We are having to create them.

As a sinful mama, the difficult days are even harder with her.

Because I often forget...

All that she's lost, all that she's trying to learn

Her past brokenness, her story

My story, who I am in Christ

This is my calling, where past and present collide, the moment of redemption and hope.

There is always, always hope for tomorrow.  He is building beauty from ashes.


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Shannon said...

Oh my goodness. Yes, yes, yes (again!). This crazy business is SO not like attaching to an infant. But our beautiful babies are so, so worth it. Your writing is so honest, so beautiful, so poetic. Carry on, warrior mama. (And also, your Little Bitty's hair is amazing in these pics!!!)

Baby Girl Lowe living life as Samantha Franklin said...

She may be getting yet another layer of trauma and self-rejection by being trained in who to hug and attach to. Just let her grow and attach at her own pace, and don't forbid her or others (safe) to hug and connect.

Melanie Singleton said...

That would mean she is being touched and hugged by everyone Samantha which is not healthy attachment. Everyone wants to hold her or touch her hair and she will eat with strangers if we don't set boundaries. Thank you for your feedback.