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Wednesday, March 18, 2009
One of my blogging friends wrote a post today ... and the timing couldn't have been more perfect for me. (She didn't know she was writing it for ME, but God has a way of orchestrating those things.) You'll want to check out Our Walk By Faith, to read all of her "Experiences and Thoughts" about attachment; but, I'll give you a short synopsis.
Since, as the post above states, we are still dealing with transition/attachment issues every now and then, I found these thoughts very interesting.
"Most of the adoption literature focuses heavily on the child's attachment, while giving very little focus, or none at all, on the parents' attachment to the child. (Or, as in our case, the attachments between 13 siblings.) I am writing this post as I have had a chance to encourage and pray with others that recently adopted and are stunned by their own feelings, or lack of them.
I have been given the opportunity many times now to share with families some of the normal feelings and reactions parents experience. First of all, it is quite rare (although a wonderful blessing) to have instantaneous connection to your older child at placement (when they come home). That makes complete sense to me. If someone put a child on my lap at the church nursery and said this child was now mine, I certainly wouldn't be completely attached to him. It takes TIME. Second of all, attachment DOES come.
After I returned home and knew I was committed to these kids, but not completely attached to them, I did some searching on this subject. God graciously kept bringing adoptive moms of older kids into my path. Many, many adoptive moms of older kids have stated that it generally takes half the child's age to the child's age at adoption to feel fully attached. If you are adopting a 6 month old, 3-6 months is no time. If you are adopting a 5 year old, that time is significantly longer at 2-5 years. But remember, it is a continuum of attachment, not from unattached to fully attached in one moment."
What??!!! The part about how long it takes for families to attach to their older adopted children, was something I had never heard. I've been in contact with a LOT of adoptive moms, but this is not something that many talk about.
... we adopted Rachel at 6 years old,
which means it could take 3-6 years
for attachment to take place.
... we adopted Sarah at 9 years old,
which gives us 4.5 - 9 years for attachment.
... we adopted Jacob at 12 years old,
which means he could be 18-24 before we are attached.
While helpful in understanding why there is still so much difficulty in blending our families, this new information is a bit overwhelming (and even discouraging). We so want Jacob to attach to our family. We don't want to "just survive" the next 5 years, until he turns 18. Not only is Jacob the oldest, and thus could take the longest for attachment to take place, but he is also the furthest "behind": academically, physically, spiritually, emotionally. Sometimes it is just plain overwhelming to try to comprehend how we can possibly get him ready for adulthood, in just 5 years.
Again, I am not sharing these things to try to "put down" our precious children in any way. I want to protect them (by not sharing ever difficult trial we face with them); yet, at the same time, I want to be honest. I want to share that adopting older children is difficult. I don't want to portray any type of Fairy Tale Adoption.
But, while adopting older children is difficult, so is ...
... parenting 13 children.
... living on a very tight budget.
... homeschooling children with academic challenges.
... parenting 5 adult children, with 3 living overseas.
God has not promised us an easy life. God has promised that He will walk with us through each and every challenge that comes our way. He will give us wisdom for our life journey, and strength and energy to face every day.
Dear Lord, I really need your strength and energy today. I need your perspective, to see the light at the end of the tunnel, and to know that we WILL finish the race. I pray for each member of our precious family, that you will continue to knit our hearts together. Give us an extra dose of patience, compassion, and love for each other. Help us each to KNOW that this IS the life journey that you have called all of us to. And, Father, while the statistics show that it could take many more years before true attachment happens with our children, I pray that you will do a mighty miracle in our lives and help that transition to be faster and smoother than expected. Thank you Lord, for each and every one of our children. Thank you for the amazing things that you have already done in each of our lives. Thank you for all that we have learned in just this past year, and help us to seek your wisdom and strength for the years to come.