Attachment theory describes the dynamics of long-term relationships between humans especially as in families and life-long friends. Its most important tenet is that an infant needs to develop a relationship with at least one primary caregiver for social and emotional development to occur normally, and that further relationships build on the patterns developed in the first relationships.Adoptive parents worry a lot about attachment. The relationships mentioned above are a challenge for a child who is first abandoned, then placed in an orphanage, and then possibly into foster care before finally being adopted. A child's attachment to a parent breeds trust and faith that allow them happiness as they explore relationships with friends, teachers, baby-sitters etc. We feel that our children must attach to us before we leave them with other caregivers.
How do you know when attachment occurs? For a child it seems to be a trust that the child will be there for them. To feed, clothe, care for, and heal them as needed.
The path to attachment between us and Micah was a rocky one. He came to us torn from his foster mother of over one and a half years. He hated the blond woman calling herself Mama. He tolerated the fun guy called Baba. I didn't really like the wild ball of anger we had adopted. He hit, scratched and rejected me. It was all I could do to not shut down and reject him too. Over time, he allowed me to care for him and through that we developed a mutual trust and tenuous bond. Then came his palate surgery. When I saw my boy afraid and in pain, it was like it was happening to me. I was small enough to curl up in his hospital bed with him and through the days in the hospital he learned that Mama was there for him, offering comfort and relief. We were attached.
Noah is a completely different creature. He left the orphanage and never looked back. He was thrilled to have a Mama and Baba to care for him and most of all to feed him! I immediately took to this smiling, curious boy. Attachment was not immediate, but it grew steadily from day one. Then one day about a month after coming home, he fell on the asphalt and scraped his forehead. He immediately reached for me and I ran to him crying as if the pain were my own. Wow - attachment was happening already! We're not done with our work on attachment, but we're well on our way.