I’ve struggled with what to say, and how much to say, regarding our attachment process. So much of it is Ella’s story, and not mine. But I also don’t want to pretend things are happy and easy. I’m trying to find a happy medium with our story.
What I have learned is that attachment is not a one-time thing. Following the check-list doesn’t equal a perfectly attached child. I think it’s something that comes in waves. A period of attachment followed by some bumps and turns. We have been warned about certain ages and milestones that will cause hiccups. But if we put in the hard work now we’ll manage those bumps easier. That’s what I’m banking on at least.
We are pouring all the right things into Ella. And we are seeing some great improvements in our relationship. And we are also seeing a few steps backward, which we were told to expect. I have let go of any magic number of months or years that things will become “perfect” and just accepting our new normal. Life is so much easier when you let go of expectations!
But Ella is gaining more and more confidence every day. And we are seeing a shift of preference from Chris to me. We are now at an equal level of preference. That was a lot of work, and deserves to be celebrated :)
I’m always so busy looking ahead and anticipating her needs that I forget to look back. Most nights she will ask to talk about China during bedtime. Usually it’s just random questions or a short version of our trip to get her. Sometimes we look at her picture books. Sometimes she tells me random pieces of her past. I have no idea if they are fact or fiction, but they are her stories. And I let her lead the discussion and try not to ask any leading questions.
A few nights ago she left me speechless though. She suddenly broke down sobbing and asked why she had to wait so long for a Mommy and Daddy. She was 2.5 when we met her in that cold, red civil affairs office!!! Yet she KNEW that she was missing out on a Mommy and Daddy. That sweet girl knew she needed a family and didn’t know why she had to wait. The tears that she cried that night were unlike ones I’d seen before (and if you’ve spent any time with Ella you’ve seen more than a few tears). These were grown up tears that slowly fell down her cheeks. She quickly wiped them away as if she was embarrassed and tried to hold it together. She wanted to know why WE didn’t get there sooner. There wasn’t much more I could say other than we got there as quick as we could. We just had to wait on God to make the time right. But now I have to wonder if it’s taken her 18 months to verbalize/ask us that question. I cannot imagine what all she’s been thinking all this time.
A friend mentioned that their son thought for the longest time that they would eventually take him back to China and leave him. He was terrified for months! (I made sure to tell Ella tonight that we would never take her back there and leave her.)
There’s no neat wrap up to this story. I guess it’s truly a “to-be continued” story. But that is where we are at 18 months after meeting Miss Ella Wei. We have come SO far, and have even further to go.