We had read all the books, taken the classes and were very familiar with what an attached child and and unattached child looks like. The excitement of welcoming a new baby into our home overcame us and accepting that our attachment was "less than perfect" was hard. Nonetheless, we chose to utilize attachment parenting to help her bond to us and know that we were here for keeps.
What in the heck is attachment parenting? As related to adoption, it's a method for creating a sense of security, familiarity, consistency and unconditional love. For our family, we choose to be the only ones that held, changed and fed Marley for about 4-6 months. After that, we allowed her to go to the nursery at church and stay at home with babysitters. I carried her in a sling most of the day. If she cried at night, I quickly ran to meet her needs. I wanted her to know that I was going to meet her needs, and I wasn't going away.
Marley had never formed an attachment, it was foreign to her. I recall being handed this perfect, tiny, happy baby and thinking, "well that wasn't so bad." Not even two minutes later, I could see that she didn't know what it was like to be cuddled, held or loved. She wouldn't lay her head down on my chest or shoulder. If I tried to hold her to me, she'd squirm away, awkwardly holding her head up, as if to say, "your too close lady!" We would try to rock her to sleep and she wouldn't have it. She wanted to be put down and fall asleep on her own. I know, some of you are thinking "what a dream!" But that's all Marley knew, a box and pillow and a propped up bottle. No holding, no cuddling, no loving. At the age of 6 months old, she had learned not to trust adults and was relying on herself.
After we came home, she would go to anyone. She has always been a "social butterfly," but she would go to anyone. As if she didn't miss me.
That's where the sling came in. I wanted Marley to know what closeness felt like. She needed to know that I'm here and I love her. I'm not going anywhere. I strapped her in that sling and that's where she spent a good part of her days. She would still hold her head back, and fought me when it was nap time. The good thing is I am just a tiny bit more stubborn that she is. I used attachment parenting to help Marley attach to me as her mother. She needed to know it was okay to trust me, I'm here to stay.
As time would go by, we would jump up and down for the little milestones we'd make as a family. The first time Marley fell asleep in my arms was a BIG DEAL! She was about a year old. When she was tired, she would lay her head on my shoulder briefly…I was soaking it up!
So Two and a half years later, my tiny, happy girl is attached! I'm sure she has been for quite some time, but with adoption we always have to be aware of it. Marley LOVES to be cuddled! She loves to crawl into bed with me and curl up in my arms. I have a hard time dropping her off to pre-school because she wants Mommy to stay with her. While she is still and will probably always be a "social butterfly," when it comes down to it, it's Mommy that she wants!