April 08, 2011

The attachment dance

I have so many things to say relating to the attachment dance we've done on our adoption journey.  Some of them, I've just gone ahead and said, and others I'm holding back.  I'm holding back because I know that one day my son will grow up and perhaps read the words that I've written and I want him to feel like I've told his story of his place in our family with respect.  I never want him to feel any guilt for anything that I've written about the ups and downs of adoption.  

None of what he has been through is his fault.  His reaction to what he's been through is his body and mind's way of healing and making sense of all of it and I want him to know that I understand.  I don't always react in a way that shows that I understand, but I'm working on it.  Some days are still very rough.  There is grieving and manipulation and frustration in quantities so big that sometimes it nearly buries all of us.  And other days... well, yesterday was one of those other days.

Miles and I dropped the big kids off at a day camp for the last day of spring break.  Usually, when I only have one child, I rush around trying to get all the things done that I can't do with three of them very well- grocery, bank, paying the bills, etc.

Yesterday was different, though.  We dropped Sadie and Noah off and Miles and I went to the park to walk around for some very purposeful one on one time.  Miles reached for my hand and we explored the trails and sang songs as we strolled through the park.  He relaxed.  Miles doesn't relax very often.  He is continually on a heightened state of alert and while he was walking hand in hand with me, I just felt his body let go. I knew then that our date was going to be special.

We saw a turtle sitting on a log.  Miles, who is very scared of animals, put a death grip on my hand.  We stood there looking at the turtle and I just kept holding on to him until I felt his body let go again.  He said, "Miles scary."  He said how he felt instead of letting his behavior do the talking!  He clung to me when he was feeling a big feeling instead of retreating into his own world where he can't trust anyone.

We kept walking and sat down on a bridge in the middle of a lake.  There were ducks swimming toward us that posed a threat to Miles sense of security.  He came and sat down on my lap.  Y'all- with my biological children, I took for granted that they wanted to be stuck to my body all day long.  But with Miles, the inclination for him to want to cling to me was something that he had to be taught, and it is not an easy lesson to teach.  His first instinct is not to come to me.  His first instinct is one of complete self reliance.  For him to come to me willingly at a time when he was feeling vulnerable and scared was huge for him. We sat there for a long time- him in my lap, me with a huge smile on my face.

When I felt him get tense with worry about the ducks, I whispered in his ear.  "Mommy love Miles.  Mommy keeps Miles safe.  Ducks are nice.  Mommy will not let you get hurt."  If he hears these enough, one day I know he will believe it.  The amount of work required to help a child suffering from attachment issues and post traumatic stress disorder is huge and often times the rewards don't come all that often.  This was one of those days where the rewards made all the hard work he and I have put in seem paltry in comparison.  We sat there just like a mother and her child should.  The love was genuine even if the only way that Miles could verbalize it was to say, "It's FUN!"

We spent 8 hours alone together yesterday.  It was the longest that he and I have ever been together without the other kids around.  In those 8 hours, our relationship was rock solid.  There was no doubt in either of our minds that I am the mom and I will take care of my child and that he can trust me.  In all things, in all situations, there is an opportunity for growth.  In growth we find so much happiness- even if it seems like it is slow in coming.  I'm letting the happiness of my favorite day thus far with my son roll over my like a wave that just keeps gaining momentum.


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