Growing up, I had preconceived ideas of adoption. One of these ideas originated from the well-known and loved movie, Annie. Annie was an orphan chosen to spend time with a billionaire, Oliver Warbucks, and through her adventure, she ends up finding her forever home. The classic line, “I love you, Daddy Warbucks,” and the strong embrace of father and newly adopted daughter is a moment engrained in my mind and my first, but not last, false impression of adoption. These false ideas continued as I met more adoptive families and followed their journeys. There were smiles, love, laughter, and everything else that points to an easy and rewarding journey to adoption.
I had always known that I wanted to be a part of this journey. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of providing for children in need and offering them the love they have always deserved but never experienced? I still feel this…strongly. However, after our first adoption and now beginning another, I see things through a clearer and sometimes painful lens.
Attachment is a word that was never frequently used in my vocabulary but at one point took over my book titles, Google searches, and daily conversations with other adopting mama’s. Attachment is what Annie and Daddy Warbucks never act out on screen. It is what the adoptive families I knew growing up never brought up when sharing their adoption stories. Attachment is the huge obstacle between uniting children with a forever family and them reaching the point of feeling secure and loved.
From the time of infancy, children form attachments. In my opinion, parents form attachments to the child from the moment they are made aware they are pregnant. During those nine months of pregnancy, they hear the heartbeat, see the child moving, feel the kicks, tosses, and turns. The mothers feel discomfort, but it’s okay. They know every movement signals the child inside of them is alive and well.
Adopting moms miss out on this wonderful phase. They don’t have the luxury of receiving daily reassurance that their child is safe and well. From the adoptive mother’s end, attachment becomes more of an effort than a natural encounter.
Children who are orphans share a similar perspective. They are normally not loved well. Consistency and safety are not words they come to know and understand. Loneliness and self-reliance are more familiar to them. They will not be able to love and form security quickly with a new family because they had spent their early months or years without.
Attachment is something that takes effort and is a huge part of the adoption process. It is often not talked about unless pursued but should be considered as a painful yet beautiful part of the process. After meeting our daughter who joined our family through adoption, we were made aware of the realistic side of adoption. We have had to approach parenting differently and are happy to do so!
Adoption is beautifully bittersweet. For all the obstacles and challenges, there are rewards and triumphs. Love sometimes comes slowly and softly, but it does come. Security and dependency may be a struggle and a fight, but it’s something worth fighting for. Attachment takes effort, but in the end, it will solidify the adoption experience and be the piece that binds the family together in love.