Saturday, February 23, 2008


For the past few days (and on and off for what seems like forever), I've been thinking about this thing they call attachment again. I am not sure where to begin, but I do know that people will tell me not to worry and that everything is OK.

Lil M and I are doing fine. She's a joy and I am so privileged to be her Mommy. Some days I wonder if we've got enough time together. I mean, we only get a few hours together each day, except on the weekends. I realize this is what pretty much all working parents get with their kids, regardless of how they came to be a family. I do wonder sometimes, though, if it's enough time for us to have proper attachment... I know she knows that I'm the one who gets her up each day and puts her to bed each night. That I'm the one who comes to get her from daycare... and I try to do those attachment types of things they suggest doing... but some days when she looks at me it seems distant... or something. I can't explain it. Maybe it is just me. Maybe it is just my fears or worries. I still worry that she won't eventually accept me as her Mommy. I think that sometimes I keep my distance in response to those (unfounded) fears. And I hate that about myself. I don't want to do that or feel that way.

It's not that I don't love her. I love her very, very much. I know she's mine. I know she's my daughter. But why do I sometimes feel like it's a dream? Or that it will all go away? I hate that feeling. Today, for some reason, I feel like I need to acknowledge it, though. I think I'm going to do some more reading about attachment and how others feel through this process.

I think part of it is the crummy stuff I've had to go through in the past few months, that have nothing to do with her at all. And those things have colored my feelings about everything. Makes me sad and angry. I'm trying to let go of that situation... and move on. And I'm feeling a bit better every day, which is good. But, I still worry about mine and Lil M's relationship. Just because someone knows one the outside that they are loved doesn't mean they know it in their heart. And I wonder... does she know?

I realize when she is growing up she'll deny me at times. Say I'm not her mommy and all. I hear that is normal. But it is going to BREAK MY HEART. I'm already fretting. What the heck...???

Yes, it will be OK. Yes, I am her Mommy. Yes, she is my daughter. Yes, we love each other. Yes... this too shall pass.



  1. Dear Melissa (sorry long post but didn’t know if you had a contact email)

    I doubt that any of us do not worry about attachment. I am home 2 months with my daughter and dread returning to work and only seeing her for a couple of hours a day. Like you I worry about how this will affect our bonding and whether it will damage her understanding of our relationship. Will we have worked through our current attachment problems? Will it cause other problems for her? How will she know I am special in her life if she only sees me a few hours a day? I don’t have the answer to that and can only hope that I can make the time we are together extra special and make sure I keep some things (like bath and bed time) for us.

    I don’t think you are alone either in knowing on an intellectual and emotional level that this is your daughter, and loving her deeply and unquestionably – and yet it having a ‘dream like quality’. It has taken me a while to feel like a ‘mom’ and not a long term baby sitter. I don’t doubt for one minute that I love my daughter and would die for her: but just as my daughter has to attach to me, I think I have to attach to the label ‘mom’ for it to become a true part of who I am. Some times I just feel like I am faking it, and that everyone else seems to have some instinct for parenting which I lack. It is as if I borrowed a label that doesn’t belong and am cheating, and sooner or later I will be found out and everyone will ‘know’ I don’t deserve this amazing gift I received. (I equate it to how I used to feel buying baby clothes and toys pre-referral: I not only felt as if I was an impostor, but I felt as if everyone else could tell just by looking at me that I wasn’t the real deal, and any minute I would be called on it).

    And to be quite honest I don’t think I do always feel like my daughter’s mother the same way a parent of bio-children would feel, because we lost so much time together. On many, many levels my daughter and I do not have the depth of relationship that the biological parent of a same-age child would have. Realistically I know it will be many months – if not longer – before there is a solid, deep and secure emotional bond between us. Intellectually I understand that: emotionally it hurts me.

    I also understand when you say people tell you not to worry and that everything will be ok. It may be well meant, but it can be the most unhelpful thing to hear at times – as if somehow it is dismissing you very genuine concerns.

    I think we all have great days, good days, bad days and awful days with our kids in terms of attachment and bonding and our own feelings about it. Within the space of 5 minutes I can go from being filled with joy that my daughter turned to me when upset, or reached for me to hold her, to being in the depths of despair as she starts smiling and waving and crawling over to complete strangers. My daughter can be totally indiscriminate in her affections – and I have lost count of the times I have been told how great it is she is so ‘friendly’, simply because people do not understand (unless they are adoptive parents too) what problems our children may have and what we are trying to do to help them heal.

    I honestly believe that it is a good to question our relationship with our children. It means we are aware of the issues to look for and the strategies that can help. It shows we are active in forging a relationship, and are not complacent or blind to possible problems. I think as adoptive parents we set very, very high standards and expectations: not of our children, but of ourselves and therefore can be very condemnatory of ourselves if we have a bad day. Your worries are totally natural, especially with the stress caused by work and the grief you have had to face recently. Stress does magnify our fears: and the things we love the most and those we worry about most too.

    Worrying about your daughter means you have her best interests at heart: which is what a mother does.

  2. Exactly how I feel. You nailed it. We've been together for 8 months now... and almost every day is a good day... but what you said is true, I can feel one way and then 5 minutes later feel differently because of something that happened or didn't happen.

    And the expectations I put on myself are WAY more than I put on her or anyone else. Crazy, huh? Impostor... I do wonder sometimes. Bio families do think we have less of a bond... and my fear of "being found out" is there, too. Again, my fears...

    It is better to be aware than not, in my opinion. Sometimes, are we "too aware" though??? These thoughts definitely come up for me... all of them!!

    I'm so glad someone else out there can relate!!!!!


  3. Well, I don't think I can say much more than Lindsay- but I'm certain what you're feeling and going through is perfectly normal. Attachment takes years, truthfully- it will get better and better with each passing day.

  4. It took me almost a year to feel that completely in love feeling with Eliza. I constantly felt like she didn't like me. I wasn't prepared for these feelings at all. I guess I felt like she could have had a million other options and she got me and I wasn't enough. It always seemed to happen during times that she was teething or irritable for some reason. We are in a much different place at this point. I don't ever, ever, ever question her love for me. I love her inside and out and more and I know she feels the same. I think it helps that she is a little older now and able to express herself better. All in all, I just have to repeat to myself over and over that I can only do my best and the rest will have to work itself out. Hang in there. I think most people experience these emotions to some extent.


  5. I think that it's easy to take for granted your emotional connection with your child. Truthfully, parents who don't adopt, may not think about it like we do.
    We know what attachment is, others may not. Especially if they travel etc.
    I also think 2 parent families go through it differently too. As one person who is solely responsible for this child, we are the only one monitoring this.

    I think when you become a parent, you carry a sack of issues that you go back to regularly.
    Attachment is one, race identity is another for me,
    Emotional availability is one for me to. I constantly ask myself if I'm emotionally available to her.
    I also seem to regularly check to see if I expect her to conform to everything I want her to, or if I give her the opportunity to express herself, be grumpy, make choices, etc. I like to be in control, but I don't want to be controlling. And sometimes, it just doesn't matter (or shouldn't) if my to-do list gets done.

    Guess we all pack our own bags.

    But that being said. We always get another day to get it better. I need that day if I've been grumpy or frustrated, or even yelled once or twice....
    don't be hard on your self.