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A {Metaphorical} Road Trip or Attaching in Adoption

With both biological and adopted children, the path to secure attachment is more like a cross-country road trip than a direct flight.  Adoption and birth videos give us a glimpse of an incredible bonding moment, but not the behind-the-scenes, sometimes gritty work of attachment.  This kind of work takes both time and effort.  It's a marathon, not a sprint.  (This NIH article gives a fantastic summary of attachment research and theory.)

Children adopted from an orphanage setting often (always?) come to us hurting.  We may have to work differently, more intentionally, with children whose earliest experiences in life have taught them that adults are neither trustworthy nor reliable.  But the results are so worth it.

We have witnessed so much healing in our girl's heart as she has moved from a state of insecure/avoidant attachment to secure attachment.   For a long time, she preferred any warm-blooded woman to me.  Now she's my sidekick, pretty much (literally) always by my side.  

There are times when I sneak away for a little alone time only to hear the pitter patter of her feet trailing behind me.  She'll ask to just sit by me as I read.  And even though I was craving some time to myself, I do a mental fist pump, with a thankful heart that we've grown so close.

My prayer for Evie has always been that she would have shalom in her heart.  Shalom is a Hebrew word that we often translate as "peace" but it means so much more.  It also means wholeness, completeness, well-being.  I've prayed that I would be attuned to her needs - the specific ways her heart needs healing.  There was no magical cure.  Healing came slowly, through hugs and kisses, games and books, morning juices and clinking glasses with an exuberant cheers!  It came from loving when rejected, setting boundaries, and lots and lots of grace - for both of us.

Like any road trip, some moments are exciting and others are boring or frustrating.  There are times when you worry you've lost your way.  (Oh yes there were many of those!) But right now, I feel like we've made it to the top of the mountain... and the views are spectacular.

My heart overflows with gratitude for the healing that has come to our girl, for the love she so freely gives me, and the gift of parenting our Ethiopian beauty, Tarikua Evangeline.


  1. Hi Rachel, I've been reading and keeping up with you, but have just been a very lousy commenter :( Your photography is getting better and better friend! You capture the heart and emotion in their eyes. Thank you for posting. I love keeping up with your sweet family.

  2. Aw such a sweet story - you all are so brave and so kind. Way to attach, mama! :) Take care!

  3. So beautiful to read. So very glad to know that God has done a work in her heart. She truly is a beautiful girl. She just glows.

  4. Beautiful pictures! It really is a marathon, isn't it? With hills. We're currently on an uphill... Will email you about it when I get more time. Glad to know you're enjoying some mountain top! :)

  5. What a wonderful post. Thank you so much for sharing this part of your journey. What a beautiful, special person - special *spirit* - Evie is. How lucky you are to have her, and her to have her loving family and mother.

    Oh gosh, you got me all verklempt. Sniffle.


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