By Helen Norman
When I was asked to think about attachment and how it related to our family, it occurred to me that it was more than simply the secure attachment of our son to us, and vice versa. It was also about the connections made with family (adoptive and birth; immediate and extended) and friends.
Our journey to becoming parents of our (now teen-aged) son was a long one, and, like many adoptive parents, we had a number of fears and misconceptions about what the process would be like. Before we attended PRIDE training, we had little idea of the importance of having a connection to one’s birth family or forming healthy attachments at an early age. We believed that the younger our child was when s(he) came to us, the easier it would be for us to attach and that a younger child would have fewer challenges.
When we started working with the CAS on our home study, our range of acceptance was newborn to 6 years old. After two almost adoptions, we started to extend our range a bit. Remarkably, the child that was best matched with us was an almost a teen. We were so blessed that our adoption workers and his family finder worker looked past what was on paper and saw that we were meant to be a family.
We learned that, in many ways, our son’s past helped him make the vital connections he needs in his new family and home. While his life with his birth mom was not ideal…otherwise he wouldn’t have come into care… he knew that he was loved, and he was a loving little soul right from the beginning. He had a really solid connection to his birth mom and his grandfather, which allowed him to connect with his new family remarkably well. He has a particular affinity for adults of his grandparent’s generation and is loved not only by his large extended family, but also by many of the friends we have that are like family.
And, in an odd sort of way, our son’s time in foster care helped with his connections to us and to his birth family. At the time that he was taken into care, he had only sporadic contact with his birth aunt (his birth mother’s sister). However, when she found out that he was in care, she went out of her way to see him as often as she could and support him through the process. She and her husband are now a very important part of our extended family.
At the beginning of our adoption journey, we had a very specific idea of what our family would look like, and how we would handle parenting challenges. What we have discovered is that our son has taught us how to adapt to circumstances and make connections that we never would have thought possible. Becoming, and living, as a family is nothing like we imagined and is everything we never knew we always wanted.