That's quite a list of "correct parenting" pressure and that doesn't even begin to touch all the other regular parenting stuff. That's just the attachment and bonding stuff. And that's just some of it. And oh yeah, all of that effort doesn't guarantee anything, because attachment is a mystery. Yes, we need to do all that we can to help our kids through this very difficult period but we also have to just do the best we can and cut ourselves some slack.
Skeptical? Allow me to tell you the story of Bopa and GaiGai.
Bopa and GaiGai would be my parents, Button's grandparents. They arrived for a visit about 10 days after we came home to America and stayed about 4 days. The second Button met Gai Gai they had a gentle, pleasant communication. No strife. If Gai Gai said no then he just accepted that and moved on. If Mommy says no there is hell to pay. If Gai Gai changed his diaper it rarely turned into a bloodsport whereas, in those days, if Mommy did it there was carnage. Then there is Bopa. The whole world stopped turning for Button the second Bopa walked through the door. It was as if his favorite person ever, who he had known always, suddenly showed up to rescue him. Dare I say it? Bopa was more popular even than Daddy. Yes, it's true! Now my Dad has always been sort of a pied piper with little kids. I would not hesitate to say that all children like my dad and his 6 grandkids adore him...but this was RIDICULOUS!
It has been more than a month since my parents left town and Button asks for them daily. When he picks up his toy phone he calls "Bopa, Gai-Gai, Bopa". If he gets mad at us (frequently) he runs to the door and calls "Bopa" as if Grandpa is going to come and rescue him. Last week we took him for a picnic and he had a lovely afternoon out. Running and playing all day! Naturally, he was upset to go home so you can bet as soon as we put him in his car seat he started screaming for "BOPA, BOPA, BOPA!"
Then several days ago, I took him to the Best Buy to get a Sesame Street DVD and as we walked out there was an older couple who actually looked a great deal like my parents. Button went nuts waving his arms and calling to them "Bopa, Gai-Gai". Before I could stop him he raced over and hugged the woman's legs. When he looked up and saw it wasn't the right face he started screaming in terror and we had a full scale meltdown all the way home.
We don't know what enabled him to make this amazing attachment to my parents but meanwhile, we (his loving parents who care for him every day) are still working to gain access to the locked parts of our little boy's heart. Are we sad or jealous? No, absolutely not! We are thrilled that Button has a great relationship with both my parents and the Duchess. Do I wish that when Button had met us in Thailand he had been able to react to us with this instantaneous kismet love in the same way he reacts to my parents? UM....YEAH! That would have been amazing not to mention about a million times easier. But that is very rarely the way toddler adoption works - especially when the children are grieving for loving foster parents who they think are their parents.
There are no instant fixes and there is no activity, purchased item or therapy that can cause a relationship to grow when a child needs time. All we can do is give them love and patience and accept their grief. We need to give ourselves a lot of love and patience too because this is an amazing and strenuous new relationship that has taken over our lives. Attachment whether it be fast, slow, obvious, hidden or inexplicable is a mystery of the heart.