Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What's in a hug?

Just so you know...
I’m still here.
Thank you for the encouraging replies,
phone calls and emails after my post on Saturday.
FYI... that was my first weekend day to be sans-husband...
so I maybe felt worse that day since I was “on duty” with the 7 all alone!

So... lets talk about attachment.

In infants, attachment happens between parents and child at a regularly increasing rate. Mothers feed their babies, gaze into their eyes, and bonds form.

In adoption, it's a little harder.

All potential adoptive parents take classes and read books on adoption issues like attachment. Most of us know what to look for and what you hope to see. Most of us also read horror stories about what you pray you DON’T see.

One of our girls is having a tough time.

She will go to anyone,
always wants strangers to hold her,
hugs and kisses anyone,
and cuddles with whoever will pick her up.

To the innocent bystander, this looks like an adorable, friendly, lovable child who just LOVES people.

As an informed adoptive mom, I know that is SO far off from true.

This is a problem.

So... friends and family reading this...
no more picking up our middle girl.

No more.

Starting now, and until further notice.

Monday night at the men’s softball game she was held and passed around by many in our church body. No harm, no foul... she loved it, the friends loved seeing all three kiddos and the other two did much, much better at “checking in” with me and returning to me for affection (and snacks).


Then it was time to be done passing them around and get the kids into the stroller to get ready to go home. This is when the problem jumped in my face and demanded my attention.

She rejected me. Her mommy. Rejected.

When I took her away from the person holding her she began arching her back, reaching for someone else (anyone else). She was reaching for someone to take her away from me.

It was an eye-opening moment for me.
I saw first-hand what those books were talking about.

We had only been home 2 weeks when this happened and since it FELT like longer and everyone SEEMED to be doing fine, I assumed it would be okay for friends to hold them.

That’s not okay.

It’s textbook “not okay”.

So what do we do??

Well... friends and family reading this...
no more picking up our middle girl.

No more.

Starting now, and until further notice.

What else can we do?

The experts say to “regress” children like this to as early as possible. Holding to be fed, eye contact at meals, lots of cuddle time, physical touch type stuff.

The trick is to get this in during the day when you aren’t also being climbed up like a bean pole by two other children who want that same cuddle time.

So, short of growing a pouch and sticking her in it...
she will be with us, only us, until further notice.

And please don’t be offended... this is for her long-term emotional health, and after all...
she is my baby.


  1. Good for you! Prob a decent rule for the other two also, esp since they are all so newly arrived. I've had kids for whom secure attachment took a year, so hang in there and don't stress out if it takes awhile...

    Mary, mom to many, including 4 from Ethiopia and 2 from Korea

  2. My heart hurts for you girlfriend! I was hoping you guys could/would skip this part.

  3. Good for you! I'm already preparing our friends and family for the disappearing act that we're going to pull when we get home. No one will see all 5 of us together anywhere. I know people will want to see our little girl, but they can wait a few more months. I am sure your friends and family will respond graciously to your request. Great explanation and again, good for you!

  4. Good job, Chrissy! Your first obligation is to your kids, no matter how others may respond! By the way, they do make pouches- feel free to use one. Anna was in her pouch many hours when she first came home and loved it!

  5. Chrissy-
    Been a looong time since we talked (like, first or second committee meeting long!). Been following and praying, though!
    We brought our daughter home at 2 years old, and did just that. Rocked and gave her a bottle for bed, for wake up, and for nap. She, ummmm, still has to have her bottle usually to go to bed (she'll be 3 in a month). We're working on weaning from the bottle now (since she IS going to be 3 in a month!), but feel like it's been WELL worth all the bonding time! Just my 2 cents!
    Oh, and they are BEAUTIFUL!!! :)

  6. Working backwards is the way to go ~ do it with commitment, no matter how many people don't understand it. Consistent babying and regressing all three kids will pay off ~ I promise! And this is not a short-term plan, so look forward to hoarding those hugs for many, many months. In our family, we work diligently at attachment for at least as long as the child waited for us :)


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