The truth as I know it:

We witness a miracle every time a child enters into life. But those who make their journey home across time & miles, growing within the hearts of those who wait to love them, are carried on the wings of destiny and placed among us by God's very own hands. ~~~ Kristi Larson

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Attachment Issues

I sat down tonight to write a post about attachment. But then before I got to writing, I just had to peak in on Katie. Once again, I am blown away by her! How in the world did a 20 year old figure this out so soon in life and oh the years I wasted, not "getting it." I have so many thoughts going through my head. The Lord taught me so much today as I studied. Reading Crazy Love has been great, but the Word that has come to me through studying for the book has been even more crazy. I love when the Lord sits down to teach me. I feel so privileged to sit at the feet of the ultimate Professor and just soak in the Word He has for me specifically. Anyway, one thing Katie said today, and what I know that I know that I know, is that caring for orphans/fatherless/hungry/poor/widowed is not something that some are called to. If you proclaim Christ as your savior, YOU, my sweet friend, ARE called to love the orphans! Yes, YOU! I have heard so many times people tell me that they are not called to adopt or that their call to serve is x and not y. But friends, it's very clearly laid out in many books of the New Testament, but no where more clearly than in James that God/Christ are expecting us to care for the orphaned. It's not instead of whatever you feel called to, it's in addition to... I'm still blown away that we have enough Christians in the world to end the orphan crisis, and yet it persists! If you have a passion for something other than orphans, I know enough to know that God is using you very specifically to accomplish a goal. My grandma was a musician and gave her church the gift of teaching and piano for 70+ years, I know God called her to that. I know he blessed a great number of people with those gifts through her. But she also loved the poor... loved them in real ways, ways that weren't glamorous and didn't get her on any magazine covers. But putting a roof over their head when they needed it, helping refugees, and sharing our family holidays with widows in town, one in particular. This is what it is SUPPOSED to look like. She shared her gifts and her passion, but she ALSO cared for the ones God left us in charge of. Think about it, if you think that the orphans and widows aren't your calling, I'd challenge you to rethink that and dig into scripture to support your view. Katie said it better than me, please head over and read her post from today!

Now, as to what I was GOING to post about... I get alot of e-mails/calls regarding attachment questions. I love talking with adoptive families. I consider it paying forward for all the help I have received along this journey, and believe me friends, it's been tremendous and it is ongoing. I did not wake up one day knowing about attachment, I lived it, learned it, and was patiently brought along by some very amazing women, somehow they continue to love and tolerate me, my failings and my questions. Marianne Schroer is truly a goddess of attachment and if you live ANYWHERE in Middle Tennessee and have even the slightest inkling that you might need some help with your transition, the best money you could ever spend would be on consultation with her. But if you are just asking yourself some questions about whether or not you should be concerned, I dug up this checklist provided by ATTACh (Association for Treatment and Training in the Attachment of Children.)

"A child who exhibits several of the following signs and symptoms should be evaluated by a licensed therapist:

superficially engaging and charming
lack of eye contact
indiscriminately affectionate with strangers
lack of ability to give and receive affection on parents' terms - not cuddly
inappropriately demanding and clingy
persistent nonsense questions and incessant chatter
poor peer relationships
low self-esteem
extreme control problems - may attempt to control openly or in sneaky ways
difficulty learning from mistakes
learning problems - disabilities, delays
poor impulse control
abnormal speech patterns
abnormal eating patterns
chronic "crazy" lying
destructive to self, others, property
cruel to animals
preoccupied with fire, blood, and gore"

The most difficult thing about diagnosing attachment issues is that alot of these things can be symptoms of other, more common problems (ADHD, SID, etc.) However, if you find yourself checking SEVERAL of the things on the list, then it's definitely time to have an evaluation from a licensed attachment professional. NOT just any therapist will do, it's imperative that you find someone who is recognized in the field of attachment and understands the very specific needs of an unattached or tentatively attached child. Believe me, this is the best thing you can do for yourself and your family. Hoping it will get better with time is not generally a solution and you can actually do more harm than good. There are so many good books you can read on attachment, at the very least, start with the ones recommended on the ATTACh site. It may seem strange to some to put this "hard stuff" on the bottom of a post asking people to check their beliefs about orphans, but I would counter by saying that I didn't say loving orphans was glamorous or easy, but it is what we are expected to do, however that looks for you.

I have a couple of other posts I am working on, one of which is a list of activities that will help facilitate attachment. This is one I think that can be very useful to ALL families when they are in the early post-adoption stages. It's never a bad idea to use facilitation activities in the beginning. I also have some information on dealing with cultural differences of children adopted from other countries. I have been trying to clean out all my old social work files and I am going to post the most commonly asked information here for others to use when they need. I will work on that this week and get them up sometime soon.

I also am getting ready to sell a HUGE amount of Meg's clothes. If you know of anyone with a little girl in the age range of 12-24 months, send them my e-mail address. I am thinking about posting the photos of all the clothes here on the blog before I put them on eBay so that I can offer them first to my "virtual friends." I sold a few to some folks already, but when I switched the seasons over, I found a whole stockpile of stuff that either doesn't fit that I thought would, or I had forgotten about. Just so you know, 100% of the proceeds will be going to an orphan related cause (I haven't decided exactly what that will be yet.)

And last but not least, please continue to pray for Stellan.

John 11:26
"Believest thou this?"


Barb said...

Once again, Ondrea, you seem to be reading my thoughts . . . We seem to be so blessed with Sofia's attachment and things seem to be going so well, but this week I had been asking myself, "What should I be looking for to determine if this is real or superficial?" And, voila, you posted a checklist. Awesome. Thanks.Also, my heart has been heavy for the orphans. For the last 2 months - once things turned around here - I'm thinking about the other children we met in SPB and my heart yearns to know that they too can find a forever family. At the same time, I am struggling with differentiating between my will and God's.

Carey and Norman said...

Thanks for the post on adoption and attachment. We continue to work and watch ours, so I always enjoy when others post on this subject. Looking forward to your follow up post!

We too are praying for Stellan!

Steph said...

I love your blog! I just found you and am going backwards - this post REALLY spoke to me today. We have an (almost) 3 year old adopted from Guatemala. She was adopted at 11 months and grieved and struggled so for many months when we first brought her home.

I thought we were cruising right along though - and lately something has not been right. I *know* attachment - have read all teh books. But I thought we were past it so that didn't come up for me. But your post really dinged the bell for me.

Attachment really is not a linear process - thank you for the swift kick in the rear on this. :-)