Last week Russ Bone gave a seminar on Attachment in Adoption here in Colorado Springs - it was great and I would recommend this type of education to anyone dealing with kids from hard places. By hard places I am thinking of any child who endured high stress or exposures to drugs/alcohol/tobacco in utero, those who were neglected or abused in their original homes or those who have moved through the foster care/orphanage systems. Basically any child who's normal neurological development was impaired in those first few years after conception due to exposures, experiences or lack of experiences - which includes many of the kids we love.
Unfortunately, between the seminar last Thursday and tonight my folder has disappeared from my nightstand and I have a pretty strong hunch that one of my own kids from a hard place has hoarded it away somewhere. What that means is that I can not use my copious notes to write a nice, tight, fact filled post about the seminar - relying instead on the impact points that have stuck deepest in my brain.
Point One: Adopted kids who have been with us from infancy can still have serious attachment issues. Attachment is not just a 'feeling' or 'trust' issue it is also having the correct neurological/emotional development to process the emotions. "Getting them early' doesn't guarantee that we wont experience attachment issues.
Point Two: There is no guarantee that 'normal' two-way attachment can be expected with a child who has been traumatized prior to entering our family. As much as we want it to be within our control, it's not our decision (as parents) to determine the quality or quantity of our children's attachment.
Point Three: People who haven't experienced attachment issues will very rarely understand what we are living with. I can't be mad at them for judging my parenting or my kids behavior - they are simply ignorant and I don't have time to worry too much about educating the general public (except through blogging!)
Point Four: There can be a very physical, very real medical aspect to the attachment issues that our children exhibit. Because of their early exposures/experiences they may not have enough of the appropriate receptors to receive the hormones that they need to experience and develop the attachment that we crave. (This is where I want my notes!)
Point Five: Attachment is a life long challenge for many people and something that we need to recognize with more weight within the adoption community. It's real, it can be devastating and it's just a fact we should expect when adopting children from hard places.