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There are many, underline many, articles and books written on attachment. Many pre-adoptive and adoptive parents and yes, even foster parents (but that’s a whole other posting) believe it should happen once a child has settled into the family. Perhaps after their birthday, or Christmas or Easter or…and the lists of when and how quickly goes on and on. It occurred to me recently that I wish we could help would be adoptive parents, kinship care givers, etc. understand AND accept that there really is no timetable. And yes, it is similar to grief (and the inability to attach has much to do with grief, loss and hopefully eventually, healing) it happens or doesn’t happen on an individual child’s timetable. And that child may well be an adult before it happens. So what do parents do, in the meantime…
In the meantime, which could be into adulthood, parents wait. Parents wait as long as it takes; and as you wait you show up…you show up physically and emotionally. You show up even if you are attacked verbally, if you are disrespected, if you are dismissed. And how do you do that? You acknowledge to your child that you are so very sorry that they experienced so many awful things; that adults who were suppose to care for them and about them failed. But you are here and you will continue to be here…it doesn’t mean that you have to be a rug that they wipe their feet on. Because you can physically remove yourself, making it clear that you are Mom (or Dad), you are their Mom (or Dad) and will always be there, waiting.
You are the hooks on a velcro strip, your child is the loops on the other strip. The hooks are waiting for the loops to move close enough to grab hold and wrap themselves around the loops. The hooks say, you belong here, we want you here, you matter and we will always be here, waiting, to grab hold of you.

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