Monday, March 21, 2011

Attachment 'things' I hang onto longer than most

Shiny and colored objects usually attract Infa...Image via Wikipedia
In one of my magazines I received in the mail from Adoptive Families a couple of weeks ago (I guess they forgot to renew my subscription and so I got the last 2 issues at once...but I digress) there was an article about the first year at home.  Attachment was high on the list of what to be working on and as I read the list and questions most people have with babies/infants/toddlers in general, I'm happy to see that most of my instincts this past year were appropriate for Tigger and myself. 

On tackling topics of Security during the night:

Most people are anxious to get children into their own rooms quickly and try to get the little ones to sleep thought the night. 

*Well duh!  That is always the main goal, but in adoption particularly when adopting older infants and toddlers vs. newborns, this thought really should be thrown out the window.  In securing attachments with our new members of the family, they might not know that we are going to take care of them.  In fact, instead of not responding to every cry, in my opinion, NOW is the time to respond to EVERY sound that comes out of their lips.  Why?  Because they need to know that we will fulfill their needs, their wants (appropriately of course), and are safe individuals that they can love.  I personally kept Tigger's crib in my room next to my bed for a whole year from when she came at 4 and 1/2 months (Dec. 09) old til I actually did her room (Dec.'10) when the adoption was finalized.  Let's be honest, she spent most of the time in my bed for a while during those 11-14 months of age but that was fine.  She slept better and so did I.  Now she is happy to fall asleep in her crib at night in her beautifully decorated room, but if she needs to, she knows she can cry and I'll be there to soothe her and take her into my bed if need be.  (I think she has been having dreams lately, so I understand the need for security). 

I'm sure people would cluck their tongues with disapproval and to that I say, "my main purpose is attachment, after all she won't be attaching to YOU now will she?" 

In regards to the hot topic of bottle feeding:

*This new pediatrician I have stated that by 18 months all kids need to be off the bottle.  I say wow, ALL kids?  Maybe you haven't heard but toddlers adopted around 18 months of age will regress to an emotional age of infancy.  Going back to bottle feeding and rocking them to meet them at their emotional needs is probably one of the BEST things you can do for your new member of the family.  The pediatrician I had for Tigger before her adoption was finalized had seen many foster children and understood adoption issues.  Unfortunately when I had to change her Doctor due to the shift in her being added to my insurance, I didn't do my homework at the beginning and got a pediatrician that obviously doesn't understand adoption issues and makes exception to that.  One of my biggest mistakes was not doing that initial homework because I assumed every pediatrician was going to be as lovely as her first.  I am now researching within my network to find a better fit.  Tigger still holds on to the final bottle of milk before bedtime.  It's her bottle while I read to her, while I sing to her, while she gets all cozy snuggled up to me.  I am very fortunate that my cultural side (Hispanic) on this issue actually made it easier to not even think twice about this. 

And for those of you who silently wonder, yes I brush her teeth right after this bottle.  

On the boring topic of Keeping your world small and boring:

*Most family members love to see new children added to family.  Maybe they are used to other kids romping around family events until 10pm, 11pm, even midnight.  So of course there is the capacity for hurt feelings when suddenly you aren't around as much and definitely don't attend evening family events.  Children and even infants have suffered a great loss before coming to their adoptive home.  They need to know that they are secure in their new and final home.  Keeping a tight schedule (and for us that meant a strict 6:45pm bedtime) really made a difference in Tigger being able to function and become a happy child in my home.  It's only recently that she's been ok visiting other relatives at their home, doing more unscheduled activities, and last but not least, going to bed at 7:30pm.  It was in some sense a lonely and boring year, but it's exciting to see the good that it has done to us as a family. 

If you are thinking about adopting and believe that some things (rocking, bottle feeding, feeding kids in general, co-sleeping or sleeping in the same room, child wearing, small circle/small world) are things that you know may need to be done, please don't let anyone else deter you from making those decisions that you will deem important for attachment and bonding.  Don't let anyone tell you that your child needs to learn "independence".  For goodness sakes, they probably are the experts in survival and independence, what they need to learn is dependence....dependence on YOU, their parent. 

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Johanna S said...

You go Mama! I say working towards secure attachment is vital, adopted or bio child. So, as far as I'm concerned, call me crunchy or whatever, but my Ari knows that if she is hurt, sick, having nightmares, whatever, mami is right there. So what if we get a visitor in the middle of the night! I do see how this is even more important for an adopted child and I think it's great that you are increasing awareness by writing about this.

Last Mom said...

I would say that those things are just as important (and will get you even more tongue clicking) for older children! My daughter is 10, home with us for just under a year and does so much better when she knows we are there in the night if she needs us, having snuggle time (and, yes, even an occasional bottle feeding) and keeping her world small. You're doing great, Momma!

bunintheovenplease! said...

I love the things you are saying!

Sunday Koffron Taylor said...

Being the child of a very detached mother (my mother was adopted at 12) I may have a slightly different view of attachment and child development than a lot of people. All of my (bio) children were allowed to wean themselves from nursing, they all nursed at night until they were about 2 years old (and no I did not brush their teeth afterward). They all co-slept whenever they wanted for as long as they wanted, my 3 and 5 year old still climb in in the middle of the night sometimes. As long as it is child-driven, not you forcing the issue, I think the most important thing is that your child feels safe, secure, protected and loved.

And even after all of that, they hit about 11 and they won’t like you much anyway, the good news it isn’t for lack of attachment. LOL!

Unknown said...

Excellent post, Dannie. With each adoption we have really focused on spending less time with others and more time at home. Some people get it. Others complain that we are antisocial. But we have found it to be really helpful in helping the kids bond to us. After all, they are our highest priority.