When Attachment Takes Time
This is one of my favorite pictures of Evie and me. With each of our children, there are two or three pictures that Rachel has captured which so completely reflect my relationship with each of them and the love I feel for them.
Maybe the reason that seeing her wrapped in my arms means so much is because getting her here has been a journey, one that has taken time and tenacity. Evie has had to learn how to attach to her new parents like all adopted children. From stories we’ve heard from other adoptive parents, sometimes this transition is relatively seamless. Other times, children are fearfully clingy, some act out, still others push their parents away. Through no fault of her own, for Evie, this process of attachment was long and difficult.
Rachel was really the one who, through stubborn, determined love kept working with our precious daughter, patiently demonstrating to her that no matter how much Evie tried to keep her little heart at arm’s length, she would be a deeply loved child.
And slowly but surely, in fits and starts, Evie began reciprocating and trusting us with her own love. Looking back, it is interesting to realize that it happened in cycles. She would attach, then withdraw for awhile, then attach again; neither Evie nor us certain if she was attaching for good or if it was another trial run, where she was experimenting with trusting us just to see what it was like.
During one of those trial runs, we felt confident that she was nearly there. She had been home with us for almost a year; it felt like she had finally reached a secure place. So we opened ourselves to the possibility of growing our family once again, this time through pregnancy. Shortly after we saw those pink lines, we discovered that it had been another trial run on her part. This time, she pushed away harder, longer, and more intensely than she ever had before. Through morning sickness and all, Rachel spent her days loving the heck out of our little girl. Then slowly but surely–so slowly that I can’t even put my finger on when–she was there for good. She’d finally taken down the fierce protective shield she kept around her heart.
I don’t want to make it sound like it was easy–for Evie or for us. Too often, I’ve heard or read adoption stories where the parents are portrayed as patient heroes, making the rest of us mere mortals feel like incompetent failures. There were frustrating and heartbreaking days, with tears and sometimes a great deal of fear, where commitment over feeling is what ultimately carried the day.
Thank you Rachel for the unconditional, unbending, unyielding love you show to all of us… Jude, Indigo, Evangeline, our growing baby and me. And thank you, Evangeline, for finally opening your heart to us.
Dan and Rachel live in San Antonio, TX and have grown their family through birth and adoption (Ethiopia) and are expecting their 4th child (biological) in October. Dan grew up in Liberia, West Africa where part of his heart still resides. Rachel is a doula and lactation consultant and is originally from Northern, WI. As transplants to South Central Texas, they appreciate the big skies and mild winters; the summers, however, are another story.
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