Attachment in adoption
All parents spend an inordinate amount of energy focusing on their children’s development. Adoptive parents must have an extra energy source since they accomplish the impossible – they obsess even more than biological parents. Our main concerns? The twin pillars of successful integration; attachment and development (all types).
When we adopt toddlers from orphanages, we need to be aware that these children probably never had the opportunity to attach to any parent figure. We noticed that staff is rotated so that infants rarely encounter the same caretaker for any length of time. When we adopt the child as a toddler, he is already far behind his peers both emotionally and physically. One key to building a successful adoptive family is ensuring that the adoptive child develops attachment to the adoptive parents. Poor attachment leads to inability to maintain healthy relationships.
I believe that all orphanage babies will have attachment issues. The only question is how long, and what it may take, to achieve healthy attachment.
Attachment was a key issue my sister and I discussed while she was here. Karen took a very long time to attach to us, to me specifically. It was definitely more than a year before I felt that she really wanted me to comfort her, and that I wasn’t just the most convenient person around to do so at any given time. Matan is very different. He seems to have attached to me very quickly. The speed alone has me concerned since it seems to me that it is normal to face attachment issues with these kids. I’d like to think that Matan had better caregivers, it certainly looked like it from what I could see. But I’m concerned that his attachment may not be as deep as Karen’s. Maybe because her’s was earned through hard work by all of us. His attachment seems almost miraculous, too good to be true.
For anyone planning to adopt internationally, I recommend reading up on attachment issues. One of the more useful books I read was “Attaching in Adoption: Practical Tools for Today’s Parents” by Deborah D. Gray