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Attachment and Trauma



Well, that was quite a surprise. I didn’t expect yesterday’s post, Have We Made Attachment an Idol, to gain so much  attention; in fact when I clicked the “publish” button, I was nervous about how it would be received. Apparently it struck a chord with many of you who have pondered this as well.

I want to be clear about something. Secure attachment is beautiful – it is a good thing to desire for our children. God wired children’s brains to attach to their parents, but as we know, sometimes that wiring is damaged due to neglect, abuse, and trauma of all kinds.

Love my girls!

I spent last weekend with a small group of adoptive moms who are all ministry leaders; the time was deeply meaningfulOur conversations were rich, faith-filled, and honest. What a relief it was to know that we are not alone in our challenges, purposes, and joys.

One topic we wrestled with is attachment. We have all studied attachment theory and methods for facilitating its development. With some of our children, secure attachment has been achieved, while with others, it has not – all within one family. Among our children who came home at older ages, it has been more difficult to achieve.

Dimples - May 2007

Dimples – May 2007

It’s been ages since I’ve posted a Tuesday Topic and I’ve missed hearing from all of you. The accumulated wisdom here is remarkable and I love seeing us help one another. Today’s question should have been posted a few weeks ago when I received it, but it is so relevant that I’m going to share it now and look forward to hearing your thoughts, experiences, and encouragement. It comes from Natalia who writes,

We have two foster girls (3 and 5) who have been with us for about 5 months. Both of them will be starting preschool/pre-kindergarten in the next couple of weeks and as they enter into the school year I am anticipating a lot of “getting to know you” activities in their classrooms


I pre-ordered this book, No-Drama Discipline: The Whole-Brain Way to Calm the Chaos and Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind and it arrived a few days ago. I haven’t pre-ordered many books, but I’m a big fan of the authors’ earlier book, The Whole-Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind and highly recommend it. I even wrote a series of posts on it, one for each of six chapters, which I invite you to read.


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In my last two posts I’ve written about three points of encouragement we are focusing on with Dimples. The first two are:

1. Fun to be around

2. Cooperation and Respect

The third is:

3. Handling hard feelings


Monday I wrote that we are focusing on three points of encouragement with Dimples.

1. Fun to be around 

I wrote about that earlier this week in this post.

Our second point of encouragement is:

2. Cooperation and Respect


Dimples continues to have great days, one after another. We want to grab hold of this honeymoon period and keep the positive coming, so we’re focusing on three points of encouragement. The first is:

1. You are fun to be around.

Last week Dimples’ glasses broke, so in the midst of the back-to-school flurry, we raced to the eye doctor to pick out new frames. It was a rare and wonderful day because Eby and Little Man had been invited to go to the Snake River for a day of swimming with friends.  Sunshine was shopping with Mimi, and as always, Annarose’s day was packed with people and exciting things to do.

dimples and mimi

My sister asked recently, “So, I read on your blog that Dimples is doing great. How is it really going?” I’ll be honest, when things are very bad, I only share a fraction on my blog. With just a bit of hyperbole, I tell my close friends and family, “Whatever I write – assume it’s ten times worse.”

In this case, I can only say, things are going just as well as I’ve written. I wake up every day amazed at our girl. Yes, her bedroom is messy, her chores are sloppy, and life isn’t perfect, but she continues to walk through each day with grace.

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We walked into the cottage after the long drive to Montana, and one of the first things I heard was one staff member say to another, “I’m really going to miss that kid.” Those words characterized Dimples’ entire farewell.

Dimples “Goodbye Ceremony” was lovely. All of the children from her cottage were present, and many of the staff. She also invited the chaplain and a couple of kids from other cottages who were close friends. Her therapist lit a candle and spoke of Dimples, how she had grown, the hard work she had done in therapy, difficult moments, successes, and overall affirmed Dimples for the progress she made. Then she lit the candle of the cottage case manager who shared her thoughts, who then lit the candle of her closest staff member who spoke more affirming words.


Leaving Montana with Dimples – Mimi shared the driving.

So many of you are praying for Dimples and our family as she settles in at home. The days are flying by, but I need to pause to tell you that she is doing amazing. I have tears in my eyes just typing that. Let me share a few quick thoughts.

*She is so happy to be home. It was hard to say goodbye in Montana, and she misses her friends and the staff, but she was ready to make the transition.