You guys, our Lucy is sweet. Since we first met her, we could see that she is a compassionate soul. She deeply cares for others and is quick to comfort another and apologize. She gets her feelings hurt easily (remember, 2 year old here!), but is quickly comforted and back to playing. She is quick to smile and her laugh is the BEST. I am so thankful for that smile. It has reassured me many times when I have felt like I’m not connecting with her.
Speaking of- let’s talk about attachment really quick. Attachment is a a term used to describe a child’s level of bonding or close relationship with a parent. With kids adopted from China, it is not uncommon that they first attach to the father, which is what happened with Lucy. She was immediately more comfortable with (and comforted by) Shawn. She would run to me when she was upset, but there have been many moments where she preferred him. This was tough because at first Shawn felt like I was being overly-sensitive about it (something I have definitely been guilty of), but he has come to see what I am talking about, which has made us on the same team. It is so much easier to parent when you are on the same team as your spouse!
As far as she is concerned, we just want her to feel comfort! So any attachment in our eyes is wonderful. As far as I, as her mother, am concerned, this is HARD. Mentally, I understood that it wasn’t about me, but emotionally, I was dealing with all the negative marks on my ability as a mother. And to add to that, it was like her baggage had finally arrived at our home, and mine was stacked up right behind hers. This bonding process has forced me to look into some of my own trauma (yes, apparently I have some!), wrong thinking, and heart-issues- it has been awful to confront at times BUT I am so thankful to have come out the other side with more FREEDOM than ever to really trust God, as a person and a parent. I will write more on this later, because I think it is something all parents (and people) deal with- not just ones with adopted kiddos.
So- attachment is happening- which we are super thankful for. Some days we can really see it, some days we wonder where she went. And this is due to one thing: trauma.
Many people who have reached out to us regarding adoption (which we LOVE to talk with anyone about- we are not experts but we love adoption)- have a similar question: what is her trauma like? Sometimes it is asked in a way that assumes there will be less trauma based on her young age at the time of her adoption. I am pretty sure this is at the core of what most people mean when they say, “so how is she adjusting?”.
The truth is any adopted child will have experienced trauma. In the womb, shortly after being born, in experiencing the loss of biological parents, dealing with complex medical issues or basic needs that aren’t being met- all of these things result in trauma. It’s just part of the reality- adoption begins in brokenness.
Trauma for our house right now looks like a general distrust in caregivers (us as parents). Lucy frequently asks for food, needs to be told where she is going and that she will come home WITH US, some grappling for control over toys or shoes, and the hardest one for me to see- complete emotional withdrawal. Lucy is an internalizer, so when she chooses to cry, we are thankful and sad at the same time.
What I have learned is that so much of it is out of my control. The trauma she has experienced is not my fault, and it’s not her fault. It doesn’t even help to place blame, really- it’s just there and must be recognized for what it is. I am comforted by the fact that time will help, and she is going to forever be in our family. I am also comforted by the fact that we serve the Ultimate Healer. God sees all our broken parts (ones we don’t even know we have), and He delights in drawing close to those hard places. We will get through this with Jesus. It helps so much to give trauma a name. It rends it powerless because we know the One who IS power. This is something Lucy will deal with all her life, because it is part of her story (and all of ours now), and my hope is that we are able to give her a great foundation in recognizing trauma, giving it a name, and proclaiming victory in Jesus over it.
I’m so proud of our girl in this arena. Though we have some really tough days, watching her trust has taught me so much. She has little reason to trust us- we’ve only been in her life 6 months- and yet she does. What a miracle!