Sunday, September 30, 2007
Shayla's Initial Attachment
I haven't had the time to write about this, but right now baby and daddy are napping, so I thought I'd share. When we first received Shayla on "Gotcha Day" or "Forever a Family Day" (or whatever you want to call it), she came to me without any tears. We were in the very hot Civil Affairs Office located on the 4th floor of the Lottery Hotel (yes that is the real name of the hotel) in Nanning in the Guangxi (pronounced like the spelling of Gwanshee) Province. All the other babies were crying instantly, but she was kissed by the Orphanage Director and handed to me and she was fine. We were told that when one baby cries, they all start and they were right, she did finally start crying, but stopped quickly as we were rushed out of the room and onto the bus. We were the 6th couple called to get our baby (out of 9). We already knew the order in which they would be handed to us and it went very quickly. Mark tried video taping the moment, but he also didn't want to miss his first meeting with his daughter, so the video is mainly of the side of my head and part of the couple standing behind us. Our camcorder gave us many issues while we were there, so we don't have any real video. After I held Shayla for a few moments, I passed her to Mark. Later he passed her back and we headed for the bus. She was fine riding on the bus. We were told that the babies had been sent back to the orphanage for the last 10 days and we had been taught some helpful Mandarin phrases. Even though we were in a Cantonese speaking area, the babies are all taught the same Mandarin phrases, so we learned how to say Mama loves you and Daddy loves you. Whenever I would say Mama loves you, in Mandarin, Shayla would scream. Then it got to where she would look at me, and all of the sudden let out these huge wails. She only wanted Mark to hold her and he wasn't allowed to sit down. She would totally freak out if he tried to sit down with her. His back was killing him, but he did what she needed him to do and got us through it. She would literally climb up his body and rest her head on his shoulder with her thumb in her mouth. I couldn't hold her for more than a moment without such loud screams from her. I tried feeding her, bathing her and changing her diapers, but she would get so mad. She would stiffen up and shake because she was so mad. This went on for about 3 full days. I had read things before about attachment and bonding, but I really thought that it wouldn't happen to us. I naively thought that as long as we both love her and were both doing things for her, that she would accept & love us both equally. I was literally heartbroken for the first few days and cried often. She smiled at Mark first and giggled when he tickled her. We found out after Gotcha Day that our guide had been misinformed. The babies had not been sent back to the orphanage before, they were taken directly from their foster mothers and handed straight to us. That helped me understand why when I said "Mama loves you" in Mandarin, she would scream...apparently the foster mother called herself this to Shayla. I started calling myself "Mommy" and made Mark leave the room for a while so it would be just the 2 of us. I also started feeding her alone in the hallway (without Mark) so she could accept me. Everyone kept saying it would be better by the time we left Nanning and went to Guangzhou...they were right...for us it was better. For some other families in our group, it wasn't. Many of the babies in our group did exactly what Shayla did...attached first to only one parent and the other was heartbroken in the beginning. I can say, we've now had Shayla for exactly 20 days and she has totally accepted me. She loves for me to hold her and gives me kisses quite often. She's a very good natured baby and smiles and jabbers all the time. Tomorrow she'll be 11 months old. She can say "Daddy", "Mommy", "yay", "hi", "bye, bye, bye" and says "Ma" instead of Max for one of our cats. She's cruising furniture and will be walking on her own soon. She's developmentally where she should be and I think that foster care has made the world of difference for her. I'm grateful for that. Anyway, just wanted to share our attachment story...maybe it can help others.