Anyway, this is about more than a TV show. This is about a more important contact... a moment when "everything happens!"
As an adoptive parent, contact is a word that I have rolled around in my mind more than most people. Contact plays an important role in adoption and fostering. Specifically, I'm talking about contact with first-parents.
I used to think that I would have trouble keeping in contact with a first-parent, because of my own jealousy and need to feel important. Wow, did those feelings change over time. In fact, I am convinced more than ever that contact is super important in adoption.
I'm often encountered with extreme surprise or disbelief, when I tell people that we keep in touch with Meerkat's first mom. They seem to be afraid that talking to A will make Meerkat want to go live with her, or feel like she's missing out on that life. And, I used to feel the same way. Now, though, I feel the exact opposite. By maintaining contact, we are helping her to feel connected to her story. She will have the opportunity to have a relationship with two families who love her. It doesn't have to be us or them... It's just all of us! Meerkat is lucky, because she just has more people to love on her than most! A has become a very special person to all of us, and we're anxious to visit her this summer so she can hold Meerkat for the first time ever!
When it comes to fostering, the contact is different. It's a requirement, not a choice. But it's still something important. Through this contact, we (all of the people involved in the care of the child) get to know what type of relationship little Mr. has with his parents. But, we also get to keep their relationship strong. Little Mr. loves his visitation days. He runs to put his shoes on when we say he's going to see Daddy and Mommy. Through our own contact with Little Mr's parents, we have built trust and goodwill. It makes it infinitely easier to imagine letting go when it's time. Knowing that they are working on themselves and seeing their love for him every time they say hello and goodbye to him both breaks my heart and strengthens it. I know that when he leaves, I will mourn him to some extent. But, I also know that it will be a joy filled day for him and his parents, and to think that I had a role in keeping their relationship strong, and in enabling them to care for themselves, gives me peace.
I'm sure every scenario is different, and there are times when contact has to be minimal or non-existant. But, for the time being, I'm thankful that I have the opportunity to communicate with the people who gave life to two of the most beautiful, hilarious, imaginitive human beings I've ever known. :)
This post is probably going to be all over the place. I just need to get some thoughts out, and this is the place. I will ramble, and it may become "pep-talky" but it must be said. And, if someone else fostering, or someone considering it, is having these feelings, maybe my thoughts will help them feel less alone.
Albeit cheesy/punny, I think the title of this post is quite appropriate when it comes to attachment in foster care. It is something that must be fostered/encouraged/cultivated in order to grow.
Don't get me wrong, I feel an attachment to little Mr. In fact, when he first joined our family, I felt such a strong love for him that I was surprised. He immediately felt like a member of the family, despite knowing that he wouldn't be staying long. But over time, I've come to question my level of attachment... and this is, in part, due to his age (I think).
He's two. As a result, he throws tantrums (and toys) when he doesn't get his way. He screams "Iowannit" (I don't want it) to EVERYTHING. And recently, he's started adding to this phrase "Iowanpotty" (I don't want potty) "Iowantookie" (I don't want cookie) "Iowandobet" (I don't want go bed). He hits Meerkat. He tattles. He pushes boundaries and smiles while he's doing it.
It drives me absolutely insane. And I find myself lashing out (yelling) when I shouldn't. It's not like we're yelling all the time, but if you know us personally, you know it's very unlike us to yell at all. We're quite peaceful people. So, when I see my husband about to tear his own hair out because little Mr. has just forced himself to throw up so he wouldn't have to eat pasta, it makes me question things.
The first thought was, "maybe we're not attaching. Maybe because he's going home, we're not feeling the connection we need in order to be patient during a vomitfest." I guess to some extent that makes sense. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that's just not it. Despite knowing that Mr. is going to go back to his parents someday, I would do anything for him. The connection is there. There's no doubt about it. When he cries, it breaks my heart. When he's sick, I want to snuggle him forever. When he goes to daycare, and I creep out the front door and watch him wander into the other room to play, I feel so proud and happy that he's beginning to like it there. When he says something new or does something smart (which is A LOT of the time), I am so proud I could burst.
But maybe the attachment is different than the attachment I have with Meerkat, to some extent. And I don't know if that's a bad thing.
We are learning as we go. So is Mr. He has never been in foster care before. He goes back and forth between here, his parents, and daycare. How could we ever expect him to behave 100% of the time? It's insane! He loves us; it's obvious. We love him; there's no doubt about it. But we have to cultivate the attachment and keep it strong. It's very important to keep that doubt... those little clouds of "what if" and "what's wrong with me" from taking over. If those thoughts take over, it will drive a wedge into the attachment that's already there. I believe that wholeheartedly.
This isn't the attachment post I planned to write. I still have things to say about attachment in foster care, and the parents role in that. I will compose that post in a little while... for now, I need to mush around in my thoughts for awhile. :)
We are two, happily married teachers/writers journaling our journey to build our family through the adoption process.
We are unable to conceive a child due to infertility. Though painful, it has grown us closer together, strengthened our desire to build our family through adoption, and brought us our beautiful little girl. We are journaling the excitement, fears, ins and outs of our adoption process so that others can learn from our experience.