I climbed into the car after dropping Amie off at preschool. When I looked up, there she was in the window with her sweet smile and a little wave. This melted me.
Most moms would think this is nice and cute and move on with their day. I sat and relished the moment because it was a true gift. When you adopt older kids who have attachment disorder, these kinds of things can be few and far in between. With Amie it is a sign that she and I are creating a healthy attachment. That I feel like “mommy” to her and she feels like “daughter” and she wants to see me one last time before I go.
Kori Heuvel, another adoptive mom, very eloquently calls adoption a “beautiful heartache.” It’s been a long road, this attachment process. Often difficult. You can’t take things personally. One of the reasons this little wave meant so much is often when I have to leave to a meeting at school or run an errand and there’s someone else watching her, Amie will often say, “Bye Mommy,” over and over before I’m even ready to head out the door. Her way of saying, “I’m fine, I don’t need you, you don’t matter.” It’s just a defense mechanism, part of the process, but if I were to take it personally, my heart would be breaking all the time.
I celebrate the journey, though, and I celebrate how far we’ve come. One year ago, after a year of being her mommy, I got my first “Mommy’s HERE!!!” when I picked her up at preschool. I cherished that moment and can still remember how my heart swelled with those words and her first time of showing excitement at seeing me after being apart.
Yesterday, she sat in my lap and just wanted to be held and hugged. I had a million things to do, but reminded myself that I never got to just sit and snuggle her as an infant, and when she wants to be close with me, the laundry can wait. So I cuddled and squeezed and tickled and scratched her back and just loved on her for an hour. And it was great.
She is healing and attaching. I am learning to take each little wave and snuggle and smile as a gift. We are on our way!