Thought for the day – Attachment


It takes a long time to build an attachment!
I see it all the time, people upset that their foster/adoptive child has not bonded with them. Eventually we get to the part where they say how long they have been with them and they say “3 weeks” or “2 months”. The carer/parent becomes upset because an attachment was not built already. The honest reply to this is simply that there has not been enough time, give it more time.
I would like you to consider how long it takes for a baby to build an attachment to the birth parent. The baby is carried in womb for 9 months, fully reliant upon the Mother. The baby will also hear voices from others that they will one day have a relationship with. The womb is the first place that attachment is built.
Next I want you to consider the very important and foundational developing years, the first three. This is when your child will learn everything that the rest of their lives is built on. Were they able to build a healthy attachment with their parents during this time? Was there abuse and or neglect? A child that was unable to build a healthy attachment with their birth family is not going to be able to build one with another family in a matter of days or weeks. Attachment and the feeling of safety takes time.
Consider now how many moves the child in your care has had. Have they they been in a cycle of being removed from care and placed back home? Have they gone from foster home to foster home to now be with you? Each time they have gone from one place to another is a time when an attachment was possible being formed and then it was broken.
I don’t want to leave you without hope. Attachments with children in and out of care can be formed, but it takes time. First they need to truly feel safe (this can take years). Then they need people who are willing to put in the time, to stick through those months and years of rejection. It also doesn’t happen all at once, it happens in small minute moments and grows. So look for those short moments in time where you feel it, where you know you had a real moment of attachment.
I have experienced the building of attachment from children that struggled and it can happen. Just like children having different personalities (so none are alike) I also notice that the way they learn to attach is different, it is very dependent upon their abilities and personalities. Building trust and attachment with the children in our care is very possible, but it takes time. Please give it the time that it really needs. At the least remember that a baby is formed in 9 months and the body does most of its development in the first 3 years…so think along the lines of months and years needed…not weeks.

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