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Saturday, November 22, 2014

Attachment

This week has been long and trying and difficult.  Some weeks are just like this as a mom.  Some weeks are better, but WOW I feel burnt out this week.  So it was refreshing to my soul this past weekend when I was privileged to go to an adoption/foster mom retreat.  I have been wanting to attend an event like this one for several years, and I finally made it!  I went knowing not a soul, but it didn't stop me from meeting new people, fully engaging and sitting on the front row at the opening session.
Many people have asked me how the retreat was, and how I liked it.  I have found it extremely difficult to put my experience into words.  It is difficult to describe what it was like to know no one, yet feel a commonality between 200 women.  It was a paradox.  So much thought, planning and work went into the weekend.  I was blessed and refreshed.
 One underlying theme that continued to be spoken on throughout the entire weekend was "attachment".  If you read anything about any type of adoption (domestic, international, foster adopt), you will eventually come to some type of discussion or explaination of the importance of attachment.  Many books have been written on this topic, and trainings given to help strengthen the bonds of attachment. 
I was explaining to some friends about how every type of adoption begins in loss.  Whether they are adopted from birth, age 2, or 14, loss is apart of adoption. It is not a comfortable topic to discuss as "loss" is difficult and the feelings associated with it messy.  But it is a critical part of adoption that cannot be "forgotten" or skipped over.   All of us have implicit memories from our early days, in utero and the first months of life.  My children spent nine months connected with their birth moms, they spent 13 months with another caretaker other than myself.  I grieve this loss of time with my babes.  I wasn't with them when they smiled for the first time, ate their first food, crawled and even took their first step.  I am not sure what their first words were.  And that grieves my heart.
God wired children's brains (our brains) for secure attachment.  When you disrupt the cycle of attachment it creates hurt, brokenness and insecurity.  It may be seen in a young child that has difficulty playing because of the fear to let their guard down, or the child that continually tests you, or plays each parent against each other.  Attachment is a difficult thing.  When we (as foster parents/parents/adoptive parents) choose to attach we choose to say "I am open to whatever pain and loss comes with that."  Having a child pushes all of our "vulnerability" buttons and all of our "not good enough" buttons.  I completely agree with my children having the power to push those buttons whether they intend to or not.  I have spent more time second guessing myself since having children, and feel the weight of the world and pressures when I need to make difficult decisions. 
One thing I learned this past weekend, is that God the Father struggles with attachment too, and I have never thought of it in these terms before.  But it was such an "ah-ha" moment for me.  The Word of God (Bible) is one of God's ways of attachment with us.  When things in life are going well...jobs are good, families good, house doesn't need repairs, everyone is healthy...God often gets second place.  When things are difficult..sickness, pain, hardship, loss, brokenness...we turn to God more readily because of our situations.  Sometimes we put our worth in people (I know I am really guilty of this).  If I am good enough, if people like me, if I make a difference, if my children are receptive to me...then I find my worth.  When we are "controlling" we are no longer in "attachment mode" we are in "changing/fixing mode."  And what happens?  The joy is gone, distance is created between us and God, we get side tracked...until we get hurt and come back to HIM. 
We need to have our strong attachment rooted in God.  We need to find our identity in HIM, our worth in HIM, our purpose in HIM.  As adoptive parents/foster parents/ bio parents we desire to see positive change in our children, and unless we see that change...we associate it with "we didn't do a good enough job".  Then everything becomes "all about me" and not "about them".  Attachment can't be what you do for me, but me meeting you where you are at.  Relationship is the key to attachment with our children, and attachment to our Savior.  HE saw me as I WAS...sinful, broken, hurting, depressed, anxious, full of fear, lacking trust, hopeless and HE chose to STAND by me just the way I was.  It was HIS perfect love, and HIS plan for me to be adopted into HIS family.    
Attachment is tough!  It is especially tough when you talk about it in terms of foster care.  I have been in many situations where I was handed a tiny, tiny baby and asked to care for them without knowing when they would leave me.  But again...being a foster parent isn't "all about me" it is "all about them."  They NEED you to attach to them.  They need the security of a trusting relationship with their needs being continually met. There was one baby in particular that I LOVED.  He captured Mark's and my heart right from the first minute.  He was 2 months old.  He was soft and melted into your arms.  He could suck down a bottle in just a few minutes.  He cooed and smiled and was a joy.  We truly could have kept him forever.  But just 2 months later, he returned home and my heart was broken.  I was happy he was going home, but oh.my.heart.  I remember driving down to the DCFS office, parking the Corolla and walking in with an infant seat and secured inside was the most beautiful 4 month old happy baby.  His family was waiting with open arms.  I handed him off and offered to make him a bottle since he was hungry.  I came back out and saw my empty infant car seat in the corner.  I handed them the bottle and went to grab his things.  I carried in 2 large clear totes of his baby things (he had come with a blanket and 2 outfits that he quickly outgrew).  I stole one last glance, kissed the top of his head and carried my empty baby seat out to the parking lot.  I sobbed all the way home. But then picked myself back up and in a few months would welcome a 14 month old in.
Attachment equals grief.  There is no way around it.  We see Jesus grieve in the New Testament.  He wept when Lazarus died.  Even in all His knowledge about the future, raising Lazarus from the dead and later dying on the cross (the ultimate plan for salvation), Jesus wept because of his sadness of hearing Lazarus was dead.  He wept because he had a relationship...he was attached.  The same way I weep for the loss of my father, or for the loss of foster children, or for the loss of relationships.  Attachment is grief. 
You might be wondering...why do it?  Why be a foster parent, or adoptive parent..etc?  Why ever say yes?  It sounds like a long, difficult, pain filled journey.  I would echo that it is a long, pain filled, difficult journey, but isn't that life too?  Our lives aren't without trial or pain.  But there is joy and love and success and triumph.  God has this way of breaking our hearts when we allow Him to change our lives.  There are millions of reasons to say "no" to God (too inconvenient, not enough money, not enough time, I'm too busy..etc).  But to say YES...to the sleepless nights, diapers, potty training, heartbreak, stretching the budget, risk.  There is something about our YES that God does when He takes it and uses it for HIS glory.  He is pleased with our obedience and He is in control of our outcome not us. 
Attachment and healing are a journey.  Children can come a long, long way. My Luke is a fascinating study about "Nature vs. Nurture."   I have doctors that are tracking his development on this topic.  I know that God isn't asking me to "fix" Luke or "heal" Luke.  He is asking me to be used as a tool to help Luke.  I have learned that with Luke's many health issues even when we are obedient to God we may not get the results that we want.  God may chose to heal Luke's eyes and God may not.   We do not determine who or how God heals our children.  We are NOT the healer God is!  We worship the HEALER not the healing.  It has allowed me to find freedom from these huge burdens I was carrying around.  I am learning to lay my burdens down and celebrate the fact my children are unique and created exactly the way God intended them to be.  I am not the "fixer" even though I want the world to be right and fair for my kids.  I think the most important thing I have taken away from learning about attachment is how important it is for me to stand beside my children just the way they are.
~"God is writing a story with our lives, and HE is the author- we are not."~ Lisa Qualls


Monday, November 17, 2014

Sleeping Bella...

Over the last year, I have had the fabulous of privilege of taking pictures of my sweet sleeping babe, who can apparently fall asleep in any position!
I have joked about creating a "Sleeping Bella Calendar".  I think however I am few pictures short of 12.
Asleep in Daddy's truck!
Chillin on the couch.
Sleeping on a stuffed animal!
Sleeping halfway sitting up!
Sleeping with headbands in and all!
Sleeping sitting up!
Passed out!
One of my favorites with the sunglasses!  I love the joy that children bring and that we can stop and appreciate the smiles they bring!
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