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Thursday, August 3, 2017

Shame on me

He is a part of every conversation.
He inserts his opinion on on every topic, even ones he knows nothing about.
He remembers and confirms every detail, even when he was never here in the first place to experience it.
He's wiggly and jiggly and bouncy and giggly almost all the time.
He talks constantly... sometime just to repeat everything you've saying.

And it's all a part of his defense to the newness of it all and finding his place in it.

Just prior to this he literally bounced out of his shoes.

There's a lot of research and soul searching when you adopt, especially an older child. And much of this research is directed toward attachment. We ask ourselves a lot of questions. Will our child like us? Will our child accept us, love us, eventually? Will we form a family unit with parents that unconditionally love their child? Will our child feel secure enough to trust us with the scariest of feelings? Will he initiate appropriate affection? Will our child feel safe enough to show us their real un-perfect self? In all 3 of our prior adoptions I firmly believe that I solidly attached to my child extremely quickly, maybe even before I met them (if that's possible) with 2 of the 3 children. So if you would have told me a year ago that I would be the one with the attachment issues this time around, I'm not sure I would have believed you.

This is our 4th time around adopting a special need's child via international adoption all from institutionalized care. I know better than to create a false image of what it'll be like ahead of time. Yet completely unknown to me, I absolutely did that with Ru, created an image of what he'd be like in my head even before I met him. And this vision was so far from accurate. Because Jude is also a boy, around the same age and also adopted, I think I unknowing envisioned Ru having a lot of Jude's personality traits.
Incorrectly I thought Ru would have a personality that would need to be coaxed out. You know, like the stereotypical orphan you see in the movies. A scared little boy that would need to be wrapped in love before we'd see glimpses of his true personality. A shy quiet still child who would literally hide behind my skirts (or a pole or the chair or the wind) with fear in his heart and wouldn't smile till he felt safe.

***insert record scratch here***

Ummmm nope!
That's not what we got at all! 
Ru is nothing like that, and instead this is the boy that walked through the door 3 months ago.
In a room full of scared and crying children meeting their forever families for the first time, Ru contrastingly laughed and smiled his way through it. This pic was taken about 30 minutes after we met. 
Full of life, vim and vigor from moment one. Enthusiastic about life! And certainly no need to coax out out his personality because he wears it on his sleeve! On the outside he's afraid of very little. He's on All. The. Time. He's confident and bold. He's nothing like what I imagined he'd be.

Shame of me for even unknowingly creating this image of a child I knew nothing about. He's so different. So so much more. He's louder. Ru is more in the middle of everything I do. He's faster and brash and more self-reliant than I unknowingly thought he'd be. He's just plain o' more than I expected. Again, all unknowingly.
And this is taking me time to process.
And accept.
And attach to.
When folks ask me how it's going I truthfully say something like, We're still finding our new normal, but everyone seems to be adjusting well and just like we hoped they would... 
except me.

Keeping it real, 'cause that's what I've always tried to do here, (except for the name thing. Sorry.) I'm surprised by my lack of unconditional acceptance who my new son is. I'm embarrassed that there's some part of me deep down that might still be trying to put him in a box that he just doesn't fit in. I don't want to do this, but let's be honest, there's parts of me that are. The good news is that with time I think I am getting to a point of acceptance and ultimately a secure attachment. I thought it would be all Ru that would need help attaching to us. I'm surprised tht instead it's me that's going through this journey. I'm also trusting my support system that time and practice will get me there.


  1. Don't be ashamed, it is harder to attach to older kids, because they are much more independent that toddlers, it seems that they don't need you, they were perfectly fine without you, but you know that isn't true.
    I had a hard time attaching to my adopted child too, in my case was the other way around, my first adopted was/is very extrovert, talkative, always on, since I'm like that I attached to her very quickly but the second was too shy for me, to afraid of everything and I had a hard time attaching to her.

    1. I don't know if ashamed is the right word, although at this point I wouldn't be surprised if it was. Tick off may be accurate. I'm ticked that I did it and ticked at myself that I didn't expect and prepare for it since I'm an inherent over-planner. Maybe that would have helped and maybe it wouldn't have. Thx for the comment. I does help to know I'm not the only one that's had these issues! It's the stuff we don't talk about.

  2. Thanks for your honesty! As we've pondered an international adoption, it is hard to find resources and blogs where it isn't painted as roses and least from the point of the parent attaching. We KNOW that the child will likely have struggles with attachment, but to hear it from the parent, honestly, is refreshing.

    1. I totally agree with you. It does seem that it's almost always "painted as roses and sunshine" especially from the view point of the American APs. We do ourselves a disservice by doing that. Not that I'd regret any of what we've done. I don't one bit. But really this stuff is hard on many fronts and not being upfront with that, not sharing that real hard stuff, is a disservice to not only future APs but also
      the children they adopt.

  3. Ahhhhh Nancy I so love your honesty and ability to be real. We've been on this side of adoption for years now me and you and I'm still surprised by the lack of honest conversation about the hard of adoption. It reminds me of mental illness in that it is taboo to talk do you help others if you are not honest in the real?? Thank you so much for sharing and I'll will be praying for you and precious Ru! Just because it is hard does not mean we regret and I think that is what the world believes but not us adoptive moms! Hugs to you and hang in there, you are an awesome Mom!

  4. Watching the film of Ru is straight up how my daughter was when we brought her home from China at 6 years old. I too, struggled with my attachment to this totally independent, really doesn't need me kid that was keeping hidden her true feelings of want of a family. After all, she had never experienced one, so what did she expect. Her relationships were very short term, so she was "on" all the time to keep up that relationship. The strong work in our family came 9 months to a year in, when she figured out that she was truly staying, and could let her emotions out and then the true attachment began. It is so good that you are keeping it real. And I too, struggled with my thoughts of why things were not as I imagined - and decided to love on her until the feelings were finally settled in and our relationship grew. Keep fighting the tough fight - you know it is worth it!!

  5. we've adopted 3 boys from China, 2 @ age 2.5yrs. and 1 @ age 10yrs. the first 2, it was immediate attachment and overwhelming love! the third one, the 10 yr. old, I am still struggling with attachment. this has been so crazy difficult and unexpected! I would've never predicted that with me! :) I know we will get there, but it's taking time. I did the same as you... painted a picture in my mind of what he'd be like and that couldn't have been farther from reality. I feel guilty that it's such an effort with him when it was absolutely effortless with the younger boys. Thank you for this post-- it's always comforting to know that someone else is having a similar experience. Good luck to you and hugs!

  6. Identifying and acknowledging it is the first big step. You are a great mama and you will get there with Ru. It might be a 'fake it til ya make it' situation, but have faith that you will get there! Praying for you. ❤

  7. Thank you so much for sharing this with us. Such a post from your heart. I can completely understand how this would surprise you as I would be the same way. You are doing a great job of being a mama to Ru and now many of us can rally around you, lifting you up in prayer. Catherine

  8. You are not alone. I too have struggled with attachment with my adopted daughters. We adopted sisters age 3 and 10 and although I felt immediate affection and a decision to love, attachment to both my girls took time. With the younger it was only a matter of days, while with my older daughter it took alot longer. I agree that unmet expectations play a big part, but I think their age also plays a big part. Babies and toddlers need so much help. Dressing, diaper changes, feeding, carrying...those physical interactions play a huge role in attachment, as nature and God intended. My older daughter was 10 and neither needed nor wanted much physical help. It took a concentrated effort to get that skin to skin contact in a way we were both comfortable with. (Dr. Karyn Purvis' DVD set on attachment was SOO helpful to my husband and I!) I thank the Lord that she was afraid of the dark and was therefore open to me sleeping on a mattress next to her bed. Hours of scratching her back and holding her hand as she fell asleep, an I started to feel those first bonds of attachment growing in both our hearts. Hoping those late night cuddles are a healing balm.


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