Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Attachment Parenting & Adoption: Is It Ever Too Much?

An adoptive mom asks that question here:
Before I became an adoptive parent, I did my fair share of reading and planning for our new baby. I had in mind how I hoped to parent, but I also knew that my husband [and] I would need to be flexible. We were definitely committed to practicing attachment parenting. Little did we know exactly how much practice we were going to get.

As soon as our son was placed in our arms, we knew we were going to have to take the attachment parenting lifestyle very seriously. As an adoptive parent, you sometimes hear phrases such as "less than ideal" used to describe orphanage conditions. Well, our son’s emotional and physical condition when he came to us made it apparent that "less than ideal" would have been good.

We committed ourselves to doing everything possible to help our son adjust, learn to trust, become comfortable, feel safe and eventually love us. We did that through our own version of attachment parenting, which, if I’m honest, may have taken it to a whole new level. While some things didn’t work because of circumstances, we overdid others.

For example, despite our best efforts, our son couldn’t co-sleep. His behaviors made it apparent that not only was he rarely held, but he had very little personal interaction. He just couldn’t get comfortable with people in such close proximity in the beginning. We ultimately moved him to a crib in his own room, but our responsiveness to his needs was intense and immediate. Some nights, he woke 15 or 20 times. My husband or I would literally run to him -- there was no delay. I even broke a toe one evening, sprinting up the stairs, although, truth be told, I have a history of breaking toes.

We held him whenever he would allow it, which was seldom in the beginning, and spent a lot of time sitting on the floor with him, as close as possible, helping him adjust to being touched and comforted. We held him close and tightly when we fed him, always maintaining eye contact, never allowing him to take his bottle from us, even when he struggled mightily. We didn’t allow anyone else to feed or bathe him.

It probably sounds ridiculous…unless you’ve been there.
Yep, doesn't seem like too much to me, sounds just about right!


kyburg said...

I even broke the toe too - I think on the second night home, come to think of it. Could not get there fast enough - and initially, would not co-sleep either.

Year and a half later...what a difference. Short answer - NO.

Linda said...

As an adoptee, I can say, "Yes". Yes, it is, many times, in most cases too much.

Anonymous said...

You do what your child needs to thrive. In our case our 6 year old daughter adopted at 4 still is unable to make "good/safe choices". We must practice "therupetic parenting" with her. It can be exhausing but she can be so self-destructive without it I fear for her safety.

LisaLew said...

Many aspects of "attachment parenting" are just basic nurturing skills that all children should be entitled to receive. Not all children will wake up that many times per night, but they are waking up for a reason.

Anonymous said...

Sounds right to me. I don't think you can do too much to build attachment with a previously institutionalized child. The worst would be looking back 15 years later and thinking "if only I had done more, I wouldn't have this seriously disturbed, unattached child today". You may do everything you can possibly think of and still end up with a seriously disturbed, unattached child, but if you know that you put in over 100% effort to try to prevent it, that's something.

The Gang's Momma! said...

We've practiced various forms and intensity levels and styles of attachment parenting since our first bio was born 16 years ago.

So, while it felt slightly more intentional in the early days with Li'l Empress, it never ever felt like too much. Not for her - as she is thriving and growing ever-more confident in our attachment to her and hers to us; nor for us.

All intentional parenting is hard work. Not all of it is common sense. But finding our right groove and how that plays out for each kid has become a matter of knowing that kid intimately. One of mine really needed co-sleeping to build that confidence, some of my others did not. But all of them needed me to hear their heart-cries that they couldn't always put into words, and all of them needed me to respond to them in a way that made sense to them and ministered to their unique make up. There is no formula but to know your kid and adopting often means we have a lot to "catch up" on in the learning curve. (Having not been there since day one, I mean.)

I for one am so thankful for the tools that attachment parenting resources have given me to do all that and to keep trying so many other things that might work along the way.