Michelle's Front Page

Attachment

October 27th, 2007

Most of us obsess over attachment.  We watch for signs.  We read books.  We piss off extended family by asking them not to hold the baby the first few weeks.  We keep a watchful eye for signs of healthy attachment and bonding and celebrate every shred of proof that it is happening.  We try to explain our joy over little Johnny gazing into our eyes while we feed him a bottle.

We have been lucky in so many ways with Sabrina.  She seems to have attached and bonded with us relatively easily.  We struggled a bit the first few weeks in Guatemala but she is such an easy going child that our struggles didn’t compare to those of many who I met.  Even though I am confident in where we are now, I still like to keep an eye on things.  Attachment isn’t just done in 6 weeks or 6 months.  It is an on going issue that we need to be aware of as adoptive parents.

Find the original list of signs of healthy attachment here.  I left off the last couple simply because they aren’t age appropriate for Sabrina yet.  I find that just taking a quick inventory like this every couple of months reassures me that all is well.

# Joyful the majority of the time.  Check.  Sabrina is a definitely joyful.

# Seeks out primary caregiver for comfort and to meet needs.  Check.
# Likes to be cradled and held facing primary caregiver.  Check.
# Makes good eye contact with primary caregiver and initiates eye contact–both close & distant proximity.  Check.
# When primary caregiver makes eye contact, the child smiles back, showing signs of being happy with the interaction.  Check.
# Smiles and exhibits pleasure when seeing self in the mirror.  Check.
# Frequently engages in playful interactions with primary caregiver (interactions initiated by both parent and child.)  Check.

# Uses different cries to alert primary caregiver of needs and wants; easily consoled by primary caregiver.  Usually.  Check.

# Accepts limits placed by primary caregiver.  Usually.  Check.
# Willingly allows primary caregiver to hold bottle, hand feed, and nurture.  Check.

# Melts into primary caregiver when held; lays head on shoulder; holds on when held; faces primary caregiver rather than away.  She doesn’t hold on when I carry her.  But the rest of this – check.

# Enjoys cuddling, hugs, and kisses given by primary caregiver and initiates cuddling, hugs, and kisses without wanting something in return.  Check.

# Can co-sleep without major difficulty.  I can’t co-sleep without major difficulty but she is usually fine with it once she gets over the excitement of sleeping with mommy.  Check.

# Prefers primary caregiver to all others.  This one I can only confidently answer yes in the past 6-8 weeks.  Prior to that I swear she would have left the grocery store with anyone who said she was cute.  Now she gets a little shy with anyone who approaches closely to talk to her.  She curls into me and puts her head on my shoulder – makes me melt!  Check.

# Imitates primary caregiver regularly (actions, language, etc.)  She and Steve have this sighing game in the car – he sighs, she imitates then they both giggles – cracks me up!  Check.

# Content to sit on primary caregiver’s lap or stay in primary caregiver’s arms for an age appropriate amount of time.  Check.
# Settles quickly when held by primary caregiver.  Check.
# Enjoys skin on skin contact.  Check.
# Prefers close proximity to primary caregiver but not in an anxious, desperate way.  Check.
# Consistently sleeps well and peacefully. Usually.  Check.

# Wants to please primary caregiver because he knows it will make his parent happy.  Check.
# Reacts appropriately to pain; wants primary caregiver to nurture him when in pain or sick; easily consoled.  She is a tough little girl but I’ll give this one a check too.
# Uses food appropriately. Recognizes when hungry and full.  She definitely recognizes when she is hungry.  The full part we are still working on.

# Shows true personality to primary caregiver and family and friends (discovering a child’s innate personality takes time.)  Check.
# Initiates “sweet nothing” talk with primary caregiver.  Check.
# Shows appropriate stranger anxiety.  Check.
# Displays age appropriate anxiety at brief separation from primary caregiver but is able to be reassured.  Usually.  Check.
# Reunites happily with primary caregiver with eye contact and physical contact.  Nothing better than the big smile I get when I return or the smile Steve gets when he comes home from work.  Check.

# Show signs of feeling safe in social situations; able to play and interact with others, but stays close and checks in with primary caregiver regularly but not in an anxious or desperate way.  Check.
# Is gentle to self and others.  Usually.  Sometimes hits mommy.

# Gets along with other children & siblings most of the time.  Check.
# Is okay with primary caregiver leaving the room for short periods of time. Conversely, cares that primary caregiver has left the room and shows happiness when that person returns.  Took awhile to get there but can now say check.

# Speech/language skills are developing appropriately.  Check.
# Angry outbursts/tantrums are infrequent, short in duration. Parent can soothe child.  Usually.  Check.

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Joyful seems like a good word.

This entry was posted on Saturday, October 27th, 2007 at 9:43 am and is filed under adoption. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

11 Responses to “Attachment”

  1. Jessica Says:

    Thanks for posting this!!! I liked this check list better then some I have seen!!!

    Have a great one…

  2. Meredith from Merchant Ships Says:

    Hi, Michelle! I found your blog through an accidental rabbit trail. (This comment is off-topic because I can’t find an email.)

    I’m hosting an informal coffee next Friday for local moms who blog–to connect, share advice and ask technical questions. I’d love to have you stop by if you’re free! Details at link above.

  3. mama k Says:

    So happy that she is doing so well!
    What a little doll baby.

  4. Julia Says:

    Oh Michelle – I just caught up on your blog – OMG –
    GREAT POST on attachment!!!! I can say from the little time I spent around the three of you- it was really evident to me that your baby girl is definately happy and well adjusted – (I know – just my opinion – NOT an exepert!)
    I am really sorry you got your feelings hurt. You are so right. YES we are grown ups – but a kick n the heart is what it is – it hurts!!!!
    It just plain stinks when you get your feelings hurt.

    I am really sorry you got hurt.

    BTW – Sabrina has the sweetest smile ever:)

    Julia:)

  5. Andrea Says:

    Great list. I have been worrying about K’s attachment for the last few days. Not because of anything he’s doing (or not doing) but because me going back to work has thrown us all off. Reading over this, it does look like he’s doing well. Except, reading it from this side of the fence (not the primary caregiver), it’s easier to swallow that he wants his Papas more than his Mamas right now. As much as that rejection can hurt, I see that it’s good for him to be attaching and bonding to his dad, since they are together more often. Still doesn’t feel GREAT, of course ;) But I am happy to see that K seems to be hitting all of these. And super glad that Sabrina is too. Love that picture! So cute!

  6. carla Says:

    thanks for these….emma is SO EASY GOING with regards to people I struggled with this for a while (what you said about the grocery :)).

    C.

  7. Sig Says:

    I knew Abby had attached (and transitioned) well, but I like this list, liked checking it all off. Thanks for it!
    Sabrina is adorable, as always!

  8. Soltana Says:

    She is tooo darn cute!!

  9. Jenny Says:

    Doesn’t that feel good, to make those checks?
    I was just trying to explain to someone the other day how important attachment is, how it affects so many aspects of the child’s life FOREVER and that is the most important job we will ever have.

    Good job!

  10. Steph Says:

    Okay, we’re screwed. I knew we were having attachment issues (still – 7 months later) but I couldn’t check about 1/2. Great.

  11. Kimmie Says:

    Your daughter is beautiful! She looks so happy. Adjustment and attachment are things that are continually worked at while parenting…building off the foundation of love and trust. Continue to pour yourself out and you will find a bond that will last a lifetime…at least that is what I have experienced.

    parenting, whether natural or adopted children is one day at a time. Some days are full of laughter, others full of tears, I find that I handle both best on my knees.

    Kimmie
    mama to 6
    one homemade and 5 adopted
    *and in process of another adoption

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