Attached. Attachment. Mine. Ours. Belonging. Belongs. All of these words describe an ownership, a sense of commitment and, well, belonging. Isn’t that what we look for in a relationship? To be wanted? To be attached and feel like we belong, that we belong to someone, somewhere, something? We want to be attached to those around us, and feel like they are attached back to us. This is such a principle thing in motherhood, and parenting in general-attachment. We think of it as just something that happens: you have a baby, you are attached to him or her and they are attached to you. But it’s not always that easy. And attachment often starts far sooner than birth or placement. Attachment starts in your heart.
Tonight I’m watching the Little Couple on TLC. They are getting ready to adopt a little boy from China, and you can see so clearly how absolutely attached they are with this little boy-even though they’ve never met. They are now mom and dad, just a world apart. With each of our adoptions, even prior to meeting our children, we were attached. We were in, all in, ready to be mom and dad, ready to be the hero, the keeper of the Cheerios and the giver of hugs. And every time a potential adoption fell through, it was a huge loss to us. I can only imagine the similar loss that is felt with a miscarriage. As a woman, you’ve already attached to this little being within you. You’ve planned out the nursery, kindergarten, college, and grandchildren. You’re in. I know those feelings from even the multitude of weeks in which I thought for sure I was pregnant, and then the loss that follows. But I think that’s something that people don’t realize. So often our loss is trivialized. After all, we didn’t actually meet or hold the child, so how can that loss be as tangible as a child that has been loved and lost? But it is. It is just as tangible. And loss happens so quickly and so severely.
And attachment doesn’t come quickly for children. Not when you’ve adopted them when they are older, and even sometimes when you’ve adopted at infancy. We battle attachment issues still, and we’ve been parents for 5 years now. But there are some things that cannot be retaught, and can’t be replaced. The abandonment a child feels in infancy and toddlerhood systematically changes their brain development and how they respond to the world and other relationships. While Jon and I were attached from the moment we first learned of them, the same has not been the same for our children. And again, that loss is ever present, cutting quickly and deeper than you would think possible.
I feel, in so many ways, like I’m just now learning this. I think I’ve been through the swiftness of that immediate pain that now as I’m standing on the other side (in some ways) that I can look back and see the cause and effect more clearly, with less of my heart involved. And as a result, I’m trying to live my life with more purpose, more focus. I’ve mentioned before that I’m working my way through a bible study on the book of John, and it hasn’t really sunk in much for me. I’ve pretty much been going through the motions, but today one of my group members made such a beautiful observation. In chapter 9, Jesus heals a blind man, who is then excommunicated for in turn wanting to follow Jesus. When Jesus heard this, he sought the man out. He actively searched for him. And it made me realize that just as he actively searched for the man he had healed, he actively searches for me. And if he’s searching for me, he’s searching for you. The question I have to ask myself, is am I making myself available to be found? And what about that attachment? As the child in this scenario, am I allowing myself to be attached to my Father? Some days think yes, and others, I’ll admit are still a work in progress. But I’m trying. I’m focusing. I’m yearning to belong.