Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Family and Attachment

Gary, Natalie and I recently drove to my grandmother's house for a family reunion where Natalie was initiated into many of our clan's traditions.  Getting to see beloved family members, many of whom I had not seen in several years, made the day so special.  Being able to finally introduce our long-awaited daughter into the loving circle of my family made it a momentous occasion.  On top of all of that it also turned out to be a pivotal day that fused the three of us into an even more cohesive family unit.  

I haven't written much on our blog about the adoption attachment process.  After spending time with my husband, daughter, dogs, house and career I don't often have time to dive into the details of the adoption process as eloquently as some of my friends do.  Plus, it's such a nebulous process that it is very hard to describe.


Many attachment specialists say that generally it takes the same amount of time that the child spent without you for complete attachment to take place.  In Natalie's case that would be 21 months.  We are currently at the 8 month mark.  Natalie has known for many months that we are her Mommy and Daddy, but her attachment to us has been a bit on the insecure side (which is not at all unusual).  It seemed like she was afraid she could be taken away from us at any time which makes complete sense given the fact that she had four sets of parents by the time she was just 21 months old.  She was having night terrors and nightmares that often woke me up 10-20 times a night.  I say woke "me" up because Natalie frequently slept through them.


The day of the reunion I saw a major shift in her whole demeanor.  Soon after we arrived Natalie let me put her down rather than demanding to be held the whole time as she normally does in strange situations.  She then began exploring my Grandmother's large front yard by walking a long distance back and forth between Gary and me.  She was aware of where each of us were, but seemed very relaxed as she ventured around on her little legs.  After the reunion her sleep dramatically improved, so it seems the impact of the day was tremendous.  She has even had several nights of zero waking...not even a peep!  

(In the following pictures you will see Natalie with a green chew toy in her mouth.  She was in the process of cutting her 2 year molars and putting pressure on the toy helped to relieve her pain.)

Natalie's Grandmother and Great-aunt eagerly wait for us to park our car.  
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Sleepy Natalie and her Grandmother
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Meeting some of our many family members.  Everyone was so happy to meet Natalie at last.
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Checking in with my sweet girl in the midst of all the family activities
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Daddy and Natalie head across the street to visit a horse.  Ever since this day Natalie has been obsessed with horses.  When she sees one in a book she excitedly says "A Horse, A Horse! Daddy, Natalie horse!  Hi Horsey!"  Natalie loves a Sesame street video of a boy who is learning to ride and care for a horse.  She will sometimes watch it 10 times in a row.
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Natalie's height gets added to the family growth chart that has been around for many years.
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"Daddy save me from this craziness"
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My sister and I with our girls (minus one Westpoint Niece who was spending most of the summer in jump school)
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Another family tradition: Locust shells on the nose.  "What is my Auntie doing?"
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Natalie's Granddaddy
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"These people are pretty silly, but I like them."
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Back row: Dad, Gary, Me, My Stepmother, My Sister, Niece and Brother in law
Front row: Natalie, Grandmother and my youngest Niece
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The horse was such a hit earlier in the day that Gary took Natalie to see the cows too. 
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At first Natalie called them "Doggies" which makes sense when you consider the size of doggie that she is used to.
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Me and Natalie with one of my favorite cousins.
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Natalie and her Greatgrandmother were the oldest and youngest people at the gathering.
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Gary and I have always been fond of this particular tree.  In the past we have had our picture made of us hugging it with our fingers linked.  This year little Natalie joined in our tradition.
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We are grateful to be part of such a big, loving family and to have our little family becoming closer everyday.

3 comments:

Debbie Sauer said...

Loved the pictures! Reunions are so much fun. You are doing a wonderful job with her. Blessings

Bebe Blogger said...

Great pictures from a wonderful event! Your family is lovely! I've never heard about the attachment phase before. 21 months will be here before you know it. :)

Nancy said...

So glad to hear it is going well. Can't wait till we get to 8 months, much less 23 months home.
And the reunion looks so fun!
nancy
ps-what is it with our nNanchung girls and their slow growing hair? Seems to take forever to grow!