Today as I’m working through some of the online course requirements for our adoption, the subject was Attachment. Of all of the unknowns that come with adopting a child internationally, one of my biggest mommy questions is “Will our baby bond to us? Will we bond to him? What if he rejects us?”
Even though the course work is time consuming, I’m so thankful for it. I have the freedom to process all sorts of thoughts, fears, and possible challenges that our family may face as we adopt.
I’m also amazed at how many wounds of the human heart carry over from one scenario to the next. For instance, attachment issues are not limited to children who have been adopted. Babies that are born prematurely and are hospitalized in the early months, with limited skin-to-skin contact sometimes struggle with attachment. Infants that are abandoned and later, adopted, grieve a very real loss even though they may not remember the biological mother. Sometimes that loss isn’t even processed until the child is grown. What about the abandonment that happens every single day, perhaps indirectly, when parents divorce and a beloved parent suddenly no longer lives in the home? Or a parent is diagnosed with a potentially life-threatening disease, and the child’s brain “prepares” him to be abandoned. What about all the teenage girls who look for love and a sense of value and wind up giving themselves body, heart, and mind over to boys who out of the blue move on to someone new? Do the girls remain soft to love or hardened and bitter, maybe using love and sex to control something so frightening as rejection, abandonment? What about the child who was never loved, never put first? Never abandoned, yet never cared for. A child that moved from place to place like an afterthought as a young mom forges her own way through love and loss. Will that child not also struggle to surrender to love, or will he instead attach to anyone and everyone or no one, ever.
Interestingly, children who struggle with attachment usually resist the people who are most interested in loving them. The adoptive mom who quits her job to stay home with her child, to invest in him, to bond may face biting, spitting and hours of temper tantrums as that precious child fights to defend a frail heart. Can you imagine the “Fight or Flight” nature of a broken heart, where rage is confronted with love and touch and the two cannot exist at once?
I remember the volatility of my own teen years. I don’t know if I was a normal teen or a bit of a troubled one. Maybe there is no difference. I do remember pushing my parents away; the same parents who loved me and sacrificed for me. Who came to every choral concert, every recital. Parents who took me camping and rubbed my back and hugged me and told me I was beautiful. And I raged at them. Especially my mom. One thing that stands out to me about those years was her steadfastness. Yes, I made her cry and scream back. But then she would gather herself together and make me roast beef and homemade mashed potatoes for dinner. She brought me breakfast in bed EVERY morning during those years, when she probably would have preferred sometimes to dump the freshly-made coffee on my head. She wrote me letters telling me I was loved. My mom and dad read every single apology letter that I wrote and most importantly, they forgave me, time and time again. I know that growing up with that kind of forgiving love, changed my life. Even though my parents were human, and imperfect, because they knew Jesus, and walked humbly before Him, they were given this really amazing grace to love me, even as I rejected them.
God’s love for me has also been like that. His forgiveness of me, and adoption of me through Jesus has changed my life. I have become His daughter, I get to live in peace instead of fear. I get to have purity and vulnerability in my life again, in place of hardness and bitterness. I get to have sweet joy and thankfulness and Light that far outshines the darkness. I get to have His love for the “least of these.” I think that the “least of these” doesn’t just refer to an actual orphan or widow, but it speaks to the deeper spiritual state of those who have experienced loss, rejection, and abandonment. His love is for all of us, we ARE the “least of these” in that we have all, in some way, experienced spiritually, the state of an actual orphan or widow, this state of soul-brokenness and a heart-wrenching need for healing love.
As we become attached to the great Lover of our souls, we become a vessel of His love in a hurting and broken world.
Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.
35 For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, 36 I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’
37 “Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? 39 When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’
40 “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’