fiddlehead.....every changing, ever growing

fiddlehead....ever changing, ever growing

Monday, February 28, 2011 the hope

testing, testing.....1,2,3.....testing.

There have been many moments in the last year that I deeply wished we could do a quick and simple test on our connection, our attachment with our daughter.   Then, maybe, I would have the answers I so dearly desired.  Is she feeling secure and cared for?  Does she know I am her Mom...forever?  Does she trust us?  And then the big one....does she love me?

But the truth is that I do have a lot of that information, it is just hard to see it clearly sometimes.  Hard to feel it and to trust this process when I feel rejected, hurt and confused by her and our attachment, or connection.

The fact that Tessa was well cared for and loved by nannies (for nearly 8 months) in her ET care center leaves many with the impression that she should have come out of that situation unscathed.   She was healthy, clean and seemed happy, she was clearly adored by the nannies.  But it was a care center, an orphanage, and that can in no way replace being with a family, with a parent, a mother or father loving you day in and day out.

A year ago we were in Ethiopia getting to know our sweet girl.  A year later, here is what I do and don't know about Tessa's early months and making connections, and where we are today.

I don't have any idea how many times she cried and couldn't be soothed.
I do know that she when we met her she sucked her thumb fiercely and constantly...still does when tired.

I don't know how many times she cried and could not be picked up, how many hours she laid in a crib.
I do know she routinely lays in her crib, goes to sleep and wakes without crying as if it is second nature. *full disclosure*  I love that she is so incredibly easy to lay down, it makes my life easier.  I never had that with my birth children, but I realize this sleep training wasn't exactly from an ideal situation.

I don't know for sure how being held outward and given her milk by cup affected her.
I do know that she loved a bottle the first time I gave it to her in Ethiopia.
I do know that she wouldn't make eye contact with me and that my instincts told me to make sure we made this eye contact.  I fed her right at my chest, held inward and if she broke eye contact I would pull the bottle up gently from her mouth and give it back as soon as we met eyes felt right.

I don't know how much she played or how much playtime she would have been able to have with a nanny.
I do know she had no idea how to play when we got home (at 8 months).
I do know that it seemed like she didn't know how to "laugh"....and in time she learned.

I don't know if she was particularily attached to any one nanny.
I do know that after we arrived home, I was a nanny in her eyes for a long time....
I could feel it and see it.  When I realized she saw me as another nanny it did hurt but I also understood it.

Today, in this moment, it is crystal clear to me that this is all about Tessa's pain.  The grief, while it may be subconscious, it remains.  There had to be such loss before Tessa could become apart of our family.  And while Tessa was far too young to understand or remember it, her experience remains.  As humans we are innately wired to seek connection, to seek a caregiver to bond with, to survive.  To make eye contact, to feel secure and soothed by another, to have all of our needs met.  And the truth is that was impossible for our sweet girl in her early months.  So, I feel when that bond and security doesn't happen naturally early on in life, what remains is a wound of the soul.

I most need to remind myself of this soul wound when Tessa overtly rejects my love.  When she is hurt and needs comfort, but reaches for another.  When she won't let me soothe her.  It is in these moments she is showing me her soul wound.  She needs us to really "see" her and the information that she is able to give.

There are is also the signs that her soul wound is healing.  {we are healing, we are healing.}  I see the healing in the moments she laughs; when she makes a little expression just for me to see;  when we snuggle, sing and rock in our chair; when she says "Mama, hold me" and reaches up with those sweet little hands.   When the soul wound resurfaces I need to remember the journey, why it is here, what we are all suppose to be learning from it.

Through all of the ups and downs in this adoption journey (and there have been many), the journey has always been about hope.  Even Tessa's name is derived from her Ethiopian name, Tesfanesh, literally meaning "you are hope".  I do hope and believe that the soul wound will heal.   And I know that we are healing that soul wound everyday...I am staying with the hope.

testing, testing .......1,2,3.........connecting to the hope.

**Claudia over at is holding a blog symposium on attachment.  be sure to stop over and check out all the links...people sharing about this most personal and important topic!


hotflawedmama said...

love that. Hope for sure.

Mrs_Thielke said...

Thank you for posting this. I too am going to adopt in the future, and it will be an older child. You have given me wisdom from experience and I thank you. You are so blessed to have this little girl. :)

kn said...

Wonderful post, thank you!

Kristin said...

Wow....amazing post. Thank you.

Buckeroomama said...

Hold on to the hope. I read a while back about a similar experience from a mom who adopted from China. It took a while and she went through similar things you are experiencing now, but she feels they've made wonderful progress now. :) You could read about it here:

The Lost Planetista said...

Beautiful. I like the part about how when she overtly rejects you, it's her showing her soul wound. It's funny because I consciously know that when DD does it, but I still struggle with it hurting my ego for some reason. It's so tricky.

Claudia said...

Oh, what a beautiful meaning for her name, and what a beautiful way to write about the hope that you share. I was talking about attachment to someone a few days ago (trying to explain to someone who isn't an adopter) and said just what you did about how much I wish there was a test for it - I think I said that I wished there was a simple urine test for all of us! But there's not, and it takes so much time for new families to become tuned in to each other.

This really is such a hopeful post - you've done my heart a lot of good :)

cleanundies said...

The unknowns are some of the hardest things to deal with.

Phoenix Peacock said...

hugs! So important.

bethkhenderson said...

Thank you so much for directing me to your blog....We have 3 sweet girls, and are looking and praying about adopting a boy, and our hearts keep coming back to Ethiopia...I cried when I read your post...Thank you for your honesty, your family is beautiful, and I know you are blessed by this sweet precious girl that is apart of your family. We are so excited to start our journey to our son soon!

Julie said...

Beautiful post.

Annie said...

I could have written most of the this too. Beautiful post.

2become4 said...


Me. Us. She. said...

Thanks for introducing yourself on my blog. I loved coming over here and reading some of your recent posts!

Heidi said...

Beautiful. Thank you for sharing your story.

eastiopians said...

Love this post. Thank you for your wisdom.

scooping it up said...

awesome. like annie, your words resound in my heart.

Thank you for visiting the fiddlehead report!