Cliff Notes on Attachment-Bonding
I mentioned in a post months ago that I would address Attachment-Bonding issues. That is quite a daunting task in a blog format. The information is plentiful and readily accessible for those interested. Some great sites for information are:
Attach.org and Adopting.org
There are also many, many books available on the subject. Here are a few that I've read:
Adoption Parenting-Creating a Toolbox by MacLeod and MacRae
Attachment in Adoption by Deborah D. Gray
The Out of Sync Child by Carol Stock Kranowitz, M.A.
From my reading there are some things that I will be doing to promote a healthy attachment and bond to Mary Alice and her to me.
1. I will hold, carry and maintain close physical contact with her as much as possible. I've purchased a Hip Panda to carry her.
2. I will encourage eye contact with her by facing her while eating and playing games. I've even heard it recommended to have a mirror available so she can see me holding her, feeding her a bottle, etc. so that even if she won't look at me, she can see how Mommy takes care of her.
3. I will be her primary caretaker (well, that's a given!), but what I mean is that I need to be the one to always feed her, bathe her, change her, etc. so that our attachment is secure. This primary bond is crucial for normal emotional development. This is not to say that I will ALWAYS do this, but initally, until I feel she is attaching to me, this is how I will care for her.
4. If she's taking a bottle, I may keep her on the bottle longer than most might consider "normal" to promote healthy attachment. Experts even recommend returning to bottle-feeding, even if she's already using a sippy cup. This feeding time help promote eye contact, touching and bonding.
5. She may not have had many toys to play with, so having a large selection of toys with lights and noises might be overwelming to her senses. Also, she may not have spent alot of time on her belly, so I'll be encouraging blanket time.
6. She may very likely not want to sleep in her crib...alone (and I don't fit). And, she may very likely have sleep issues. I will not be letting her "cry it out". She may end up in my bed, if that is where she feels secure and we can both get some sleep. I once read someone's post, "Either in the orphanage with cribmates or in foster care with the family bed, the last time my daughter was probably alone at night was the night she was abandoned, so I cannot put her back in that vunerable position". This will be a learning experience for me and there are many of those who've "been there, done that" that I can turn to for advice.
7. Using "Time-Ins" rather than "Time-Outs" are recommended in post-institutional kids. Time-Outs can trigger abandonment fears.
This is just a short list of the many things I've learned and hope to practice. The key to attachment is to consistently meet the needs of Mary Alice so that she will come to trust me and eventually herself and others. From this she will have a secure base for her own growth and exploration of this world. By and large, I believe most of the children do very well, but I want to do my best at easing her transition into a very different environment from what she has become accustomed. I always try to remember that the day I meet her will be one of the happiest days of my life, while it may possibly be one of the scariest days for her. That is why I want to get it right.