In the week before O’s birth, one of the adoption blogs I follow had an excellent post about attachment that, me being me, got me worried. It discusses the concrete steps that this couple took to help ensure attachment when they brought home their twin sons from Haiti. And, in the post that it links to originally outlining their attachment plan, there seemed to be nothing that I was going to be able to do properly. Mama Imperfect said that reading about parenting always makes you feel inadequate (and this coming from someone whose parenting and confidence I greatly admire), which helped with the sting, as did the application of some logic, but it’s still worth discussing.
I don’t mind saying that the prospect of attachment disorder scares the shit out of me. I know it’s not common, but it’s throughout adoption literature, and it’s terrifying. So attachment is something I have been concerned with for a long time. One of the excellent points made in the more recent post from Johnson-McCormick is that attachment flows both ways. It’s not just a matter of attaching child to parent, but also parent to child, something that doesn’t seem to get discussed in the parenting community at large or the adoption community in particular. And since I’ve worked pretty hard, as an educator, not to allow myself to get too attached to children I meet, I have been worried about my side of the attachment equation. Although we have a good relationship, I have definitely guarded my heart with BMA; what if this extended to the baby?
The limited (and as I waited for his birth, ever-shrinking) time that I’ll have with O before I go back to work is something I have tremendous guilt about. I think it’s the right thing to do for me professionally and personally, but I worry: am I going back too soon? What will happen over those hours each week when he’s in someone else’s care? I trust Tony (the nanny) completely, but it can feel like there’s no implicit reason for O to be more attached to me than to him.
This leads into the “we didn’t let anyone but us feed them” point from the blog post. That obviously isn’t feasible in my situation, nor is it really desirable for me. I have this tension in my mind around O’s attachment process. On the one hand, I need him to be firmly attached to me, to solidify familial bonds of love that will be tested every time someone asks me who he is, or where his mother is, or any number of questions that, while usually well-intentioned, serve to undermine our family. On the other, I aspire to, and need as a single parent, for O to be gregarious, willing to go to lots of people for holding, attention, food, and love. The most important thing on the chesed calendar that SBCG set up is baby holding, to give me time to shower and do other things that require both of my hands.
Ultimately, I know that the things discussed in the post, and in most adoption literature, have to do with adopting older children. They specifically talk about regressing with the twins so that they can have that baby bonding time, and I am truly fortunate to be having that baby bonding time at the developmentally appropriate time for O. We had a week alone together in a hotel room, and we do co-sleeping now. I hold him a lot, and have him in a carrier often (although with the lack of cold here in the Boston winter, it’s sweaty work!). Ironically, I’m now trying to have time away from him every day, so I’ll be ready to go back to work and be away from him; I nearly had a panic attack when we were still in the hospital and my parents took me out to dinner. He is an incredibly easy-going kid, and willing (so far) to be held and fed by almost anyone, as long as they don’t have cold hands. What comes later will come later, and while my anxiety about his development certainly doesn’t go away, I’m trying to roll with discovering who he’s going to be. Trying really hard.