Updated: Oct 14, 2020
When I gave birth to my two biological children, I never considered bonding and attachment. The gift naturally occurred.
In my defense, I was not a seasoned mother. I was only 18 when I delivered my first child and 21 when my second child was born. Yet, I wonder if all older mothers give much consideration to the fact that not all babies have the same beginnings in life.
Even when a child stays with their birth family, there is still a need for intentional and purposeful bonding and attachment.
When we adopted an infant from China 26 years after having our second child, we had obtained many years of parenting experience, as well as ongoing early childhood education on trauma, bonding, and attachment.
Our eyes and hearts were opened wide by our innocent baby girl and the needs she carried.
Then, we adopted again ten years later, and brought home an older child. We were as prepared as we could be.
That doesn’t mean we had all the answers, but we knew where to go.
God has made all the difference. Each child is unique. Each family is unique. Each situation is unique.
But I knew; God is always the same. He has carried us every step of the way.
Our eyes and minds have been fixed on Him for wisdom, guidance, understanding, peace, love…everything. He makes all things possible. But not all things are easy.
What undeserved blessings we have received! We've witnessed miracles. Loss and grief have mingled with new beginnings that only God could orchestrate.
What brokenness we have watched God heal.
I remember when we were newly home with our youngest. Her past had been heart-breaking. Only God can continue and complete the healing that must be finished in her lifetime.
On this particular evening, she was wearing a sundress we had purchased from H&M and sent to her while we were waiting to bring her home.
This thin, inexpensive dress cost us $5.00.
It was something easy to purchase and send for her to wear while in China. It was not very attractive, yet meant everything to someone who never received new items. This inexpensive garment was beautiful to a little girl who never had the opportunity to wear or own something new.
After we received her, she wore it as a nightgown. It was a compromise everyone was happy with. When we arrived in China, we had brought more clothing to give to her. Since we stayed over two weeks in China, we had begun a routine she was used to.
After we returned home to the U.S., a new routine had to be established. Absolutely everything was foreign to our young daughter. We, who had been strangers until two weeks before, were now the most familiar thing she had. Except for the nightgown.
One evening, I insisted she go to the bathroom before bed. She had not been to the restroom for several hours and I was unsure how she would do through the night.
I knew she wouldn’t want to accidentally wet the bed. I didn’t want her to be embarrassed or ashamed. I didn’t know what type of punishment she may have endured in previous years for an accident like that.
Although I didn’t force much, I persevered and made certain she visited the toilet. Our strong-willed youngest wanted to make sure she didn’t use the toilet. So although I walked her to the bathroom and made sure she sat on the toilet. She made sure she was not going to relieve herself. By the time I let her off the toilet, it had all gone downhill.
She had squirmed and tried to move away from me and ended up dipping her backside into the toilet bowl, along with most of the dress that hung around her thin body. There was no way she could wear it to bed. It was almost completely soaked.
I now had a full-blown meltdown on my hands. Our relationship has come a long way from that night. We’ve both changed. Three years has brought a lot of bonding and attachment.
What we have achieved has been brought through a lot of work, attention, prayer, and blessings.
I remember another time shortly after our youngest was home, she was having a melt-down. I was sitting on the floor of her bedroom with her. She was unable to tell me what she was feeling.
How could she? Our language was strange; she had never heard it before coming to America. Everything was completely different for her. Her emotions told me she was frightened and she was grieving all that she knew and understood.
I wanted to be close to her. I wanted her to realize that I wouldn’t leave her in the hard places. She would never be abandoned. She was treasured.
It was hard. She wouldn’t let me hold her. She didn’t want to hear my voice. But, she let me sit near her. In fact, if I tried to move away, she wailed louder. She confirmed my instincts.
I stayed close, thinking of the Casting Crowns song, “Just Be Held.”
The song lyrics flowed through my mind, intermixed with fervent prayers.
“Hold it all together. Everybody needs you strong. But life hits you out of nowhere and barely leaves you holding on.”
Yes. Both of us were trying to hold it together. She was struggling to find a way to keep her control. I was definitely praying as I sat with her or I would not be able to hold it together for her. It was extremely difficult to sit through all the wailing and not be able to do anything. My heart was breaking for all she was fighting and going through.
“And not a tear is wasted. In time, you’ll understand. I’m painting beauty with the ashes. Your life is in My hands.”
More song lyrics came to mind.
“Your world’s not falling apart, it’s falling into place. I’m on the throne, stop holding on and just be held. Just be held. Just be held.”
If only she would just let go and be held, I thought. There’s no way she could know or understand the changes her life was undergoing. She couldn’t understand the depth of our love for her already.
I had to make sure I let go and let God handle the situation.
I knew I had no answers.
I relied on Him to comfort her, unique to her needs, and individual to the plan He had for her life.
I wanted her to realize that she was safe. That she could trust me - trust us. That with time, she could trust our love. God's love.
Our family didn’t even know the way our love would deepen and evolve as we all bonded, attached, and grew together.
Just as we cannot possibly fathom the love our Heavenly Father has for each one of us. He has a special love and relationship with each of us. We need to just let go and simply be held. Just accept.
“See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him.” 1 John 3:1
My bright, beautiful, sensitive, humorous, caring daughter was not cherished in China because they did not recognize what a gift she is from the Father.
The children who were mean to her did not know the Father.
Most of the caregivers did not know Him.
How could they recognize and adore her?
After time with us, she was content to be held. In fact, she treasures family.
How many of us resist God and struggle for years? How many still do not release control and allow themselves to be held? How many do not realize their worth through Him?
A beautiful, but sometimes painful fact is that as we believe we have released control in one area, there is another to work on.
Often, even when we believe we have released control in an area, God allows us to continue digging deeper to release even more.
Nothing we experience in life is wasted. Not even one tear is wasted.
“Record my lament; list my tears on your scroll – are they not in your record?” Psalm 56:8
“Jesus loves the little children.
All the children of the world.
Red, brown, yellow, black, or white.
They are precious in His sight.
Jesus loves the little children of the world.”
Just as he adores them as grown-ups. No matter what we think or do.
Let yourself be held. Experience transformation through Him.
He truly is (more than) enough for all of our needs.