Attachment is a critical part of any relationship. Most of the time attachment comes naturally but sometimes it doesn't. Adoption does not equal attachment. Just because a child has parents and adults have a new child does not mean a relationship has been created. The opportunity for a relationship is there, but there is a lot of work that goes in to creating that bond that is the foundation for everything else.
When we were in the process of adopting I did a lot of research and studying about attachment. I learned 101 ways to help her attach to us when she got home so that we could act as a family as soon as possible. What I didn't prepare myself for was the lack of attachment I might feel. Honestly I never thought about the possibility of not instantly feeling like Jaydn was my daughter. I assumed I would click into mommy mode right away and just lavish on her from an endless source of love like I do Jaxon and Jovie everyday. That's what moms do.
Well as soon as we met Jaydn, she attached to us. She has a loving personality and has been looking for someone to attach herself to her whole life. While I can't say she is only attaching to us, I can say that when she sees us, she knows she has a relationship there that she has never experienced before. Yes there are still a lot of hurdles to jump in order to strengthen that bond from her to us, but its been on the right track since day one of being together.
This caused me to take a few steps back and evaluate why I was feeling so different about her than I did about the homegrown kids. Thankfully I have had honest friends that have been in my shoes, who warned me that loving an adopted child IS different than loving biological children but I had no idea it would feel SO different. I started doing some research again- this time about attachment from the other side of the coin-parent to child. While not many want to admit to this shortcoming, the information is out there if you look hard enough. I came across everything from blogs by moms who had attachment issues so strong that they disrupted (reversed) the adoption to articles about research being done on the commonality of "adoption blues" and the attachment issues of newly adopting parents. It was both fascinating and comforting to see that I most certainly was NOT alone.
Here are some interesting words on the topic that I found resonating with me and my journey to attachment:
EXCERPTS TAKEN FROM HERE
"The early period of tender mother-infant courtship is missed as sorely by adult women as it is missed by the orphanage kids who suddenly parachute into their lives with their boots on."
"Adoption agency websites and brochures, magazine articles and adoption memoirs brim with 'love at first sight' epiphanies. Some mothers report falling in love the minute they meet their children or when they see a video, still others when they get their first photograph. None of that happened to me. I hadn't been visited by 'love at first sight' and now I couldn't figure out where the love was going to come from, nor how on earth I would survive the coming years of raising the child. If you don't have that kind of connection with a child, there is no way on earth you can bend to the hundred daily subservient tasks of caring for them. All the little things I'd done thousands of time for my other children were impossible to perform for a child I wasn't connected to."
My mom has done some hospice work in her day. She would help people get dressed, eat, go to the bathroom, shower, you name it. Any task the person could not perform on their own but was necessary to still feel alive, she was there. And while she is a woman who loves with her whole heart, Im sure she would say that caring for the people at the hospice facility was very different than the years she spent caring for her mother (my grandma) before she died. Same tasks had to be done but the attachment is different.
Thats the best word picture I can give you for what I feel like I am "doing" for Jaydn. I am performing the tasks of a mother without the attachment. My body has no problem cuddling her, kissing her, cooking for her etc but my heart is not attached to the activities yet.
Truth be told, its hard to share my reality with all of you. Its like a dirty little secret to some adoptive moms. But if you know me well, you know that integrity is the most important thing in the world to me. Its not uncommon for the people who have supported us in the quest to become adoptive parents to believe that we are now the happiest people in the world. Its almost like we were given a higher social status because we have adopted a child. But I have to climb off of that pedestal and admit to you guys that while I love Jaydn immensely, I don't love her like a mother loves her child... YET!