We never planned on adopting and it wasn’t our last resort, either…You can read about how adoption became our first choice.
And I can’t really talk about adoption without mentioning cocooning.
We cocoon.We did basically stay home for the first few months Eva was home with us, but we didn’t really cocoon because we didn’t read adoption attachment books prior to adopting.
After experiencing attachment challenges with Eva, memories of friends and family recommending The Connected Child by Karyn Purvis began to roll through my mind.
A year into being a parent I finally read The Connected Child, implemented suggested strategies, and saw positive fruits of those strategies…which led us to cocoon. A year in. So now we’re making up for more lost time.
We model what family is through our immediate family interactions so that Eva learns the concept. She seems to “get it” most of the time. She will still occasionally ask a (male) stranger to hold her. She still has a slight aversion to and distrust of women, especially maternal figures.
We keep her close to us nearly at all times and guard her interactions with others: Is she overly eager to be held by a stranger or casual acquaintance? Parental intervention. Is she uneasy and leans away from someone trying to give her a hug? Parental intervention. Is she comfortable, familiar with, and requesting to be held? Parental observation. An odd way to live. Cocoon is a weird word and a weird concept. It’s counter-intuitive to many of us.
As we cocoon with Audrey, I’m thankful that we’re more aware of attachment processes but not really looking forward to awkward moments. Isn’t it weird to ask friends and family to NOT show direct affection to your child and to not nurture him or her? Yes. Especially a child who has been abandoned and is presumably needing to make up for lost time in the love department? To our Southern and American culture, it’s odd. And can come across as being offensive and a little crazy.
You know what’s even weirder to me? Swooping in and taking immediate guardianship of a child who doesn’t know you and telling her to trust you and that you’re now family. Shazaam. Instant family. Even though the child doesn’t understand what family really is because they haven’t experienced it. And then playing at being a family with a child who speaks her own language, not yours. A child who on some level is likely grieving loss of birth family, loss of orphanage, and really loss of all that’s familiar.
It presents a beautiful, complex, rewarding, and occasionally painful environment. Just like many things in life, we can get stuck in one ditch or another: devoting too much time and energy to attachment and devoting too little time and energy. We want balance. We don’t always achieve it, but that’s our goal. And we think awareness helps.
Forrest Lien, the Executive Director of the Institute for Attachment and Child Development and therapist for reactive attachment disorder, posted this on the Institute for Attachment and Child Development February 24th, 2015.
I really appreciate what she wrote. The first year Eva was home, we dealt with a lot of these issues. At times, Eva can exhibit some of the behaviors but we’re not too public about it because our attachment with Eva is an intimate process and we want to speak blessings over our children. What I should also mention is that Daniel is really wonderful at recognizing when these behaviors arise and is patient, sensitive, understanding, and guides Eva away from these pitfalls beautifully.
Another nice explanation: