This weekend, like most weekends, we went to the park. Lily raced around and around, and ran far out into a field. Then she turned back to wave to me.
Waving at mommy may be an insignificant moment in most family's life, but for ours, it was huge. Until recently, Lily would run and run and run, and never look back. We sometimes joked that we would test to see just how far she would go. But we always got too scared to try.
Most 2 year old don't run far from their parents. They may play and run and chase, but they don't go more than a few yards from their parent: their "home base". And every so often, they run back to "base" for a hug or a sip of juice or to show off a boo-boo.
Our two year old would run, and run and run... until Andrew and I worried about her running into traffic, or out of sight, or into danger. Then we chased her down and made her come back to "base".
Attachment is a big word in Adoption. It's a big worry. It's a big deal. It's the thing that comes easily to most families, and that adoptive parents have to work hard at every single day. A healthy, attached toddler will not run far from mommy. A recently adopted toddler will simply keep on running. They have no "home base" yet.
When Lily first came home, she would go to any adult for the typical "mommy" check-ins. When she fell down or got bumped, she would show off her boo-boo or ask to be hugged by total strangers. She showed little preference for me when we were out in public. It makes sense, doesn't it, that when you have been raised from infancy in a care center staffed by multiple adults, that you think all adults are caretakers.
So we've been working on attachment. We are by no means done with this work, but little by little we are seeing tiny signs that our children are growing more deeply connected to us. We are definitely not experts on attachment; we've had lots of ups and downs on this journey. We consider ourselves extraordinarily lucky at how well our children are doing.
In the next couple of posts I'll go into detail about how we helped our toddler and our older child grow more deeply connected in our family. I'll also reflect on what didn't work, or isn't working.
Sleep update: (oh, how sleep and attachment are connected!). Lily is sleeping through the night, but taking a long time to fall asleep, and waking up just a bit too early. We're working on it. Thanks for all the advice!