by Christie Lader
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.” 2 Corinthians 5:17
Caleb*, who is two years old, was recently placed for adoption with John and Kelly. Caleb’s birth mother, Renée, is just eighteen and she was in foster care several times herself as a child. Caleb has been in and out of foster care and group homes since he was born. When a child who has experienced so much turmoil is placed with his forever family we are always concerned about attachment issues.
One resource I read while preparing Kelly and John to take Caleb home explains four attachment styles observed in children: secure, avoidant, ambivalent and disorganized.
Children with a secure attachment style view themselves as worthy of love and feel competent to receive love when they need it. They view others as reliable, accessible and willing to respond to their needs. Children with an avoidant attachment style view themselves as worthy of love and able to receive it, but view others as either unwilling, unavailable or untrustworthy of providing for their emotional needs. Children with an ambivalent attachment style see themselves as unworthy of love or unable to get the attention of their caregiver, but they do believe that the caregiver is capable of comfort and protection.
Finally, children who have a disorganized attachment style view themselves as unworthy of love or incompetent to obtain it and they do not believe that others are willing or trustworthy to give it. Sometimes they will even run to a stranger and ask to be held. Kelly has observed in Caleb evidence of the fourth, a disorganized attachment style. She shared that Caleb has gone up to strangers in a grocery store and asked them to pick him up or he will grab the person’s leg and not want to let go.
One resource we recommend to all of our families is Empowered to Connect (ETC). The late Karyn Purvis, Ph.D., one of the founders of ETC and author of The Connected Child tells us,
We must make God our primary attachment figure since He cannot fail, will not leave us, and is sensitive to all our needs because He walked on this earth with us as Jesus. God is the ultimate attachment figure because He loves us unconditionally, will never abandon us, can never fail us, is always available, and is emotionally sensitive to us. When He was here on earth, He experienced what we feel. Consequently, having a deep trusting relationship with God is a key ingredient to rebuilding the trust required to have a secure attachment style.
By God’s grace, it is possible to turn an insecure style of attachment into a secure one. It is possible that a new style of attachment can occur and the old style of attachment will fade away. God created us to connect to himself and to others.
In light of these realities, we count it a privilege to work with and pray for this family. We are praying that Caleb will develop a secure attachment to John and Kelly and see them as his parents. We are praying that Caleb learns that he is safe and secure in his new home. We are praying that Caleb grows to see himself as one of God’s children no matter what he accomplishes in his life even though he missed much of the nurture and development that builds a strong foundation of trust early in life. Finally, we are praying for Renée, that she will see herself as God’s daughter and that the Lord will place emotionally stable people in her life.
We have new life and a new identity in Christ, just as Caleb has new life and a new identity with John and Kelly. They love him dearly and are thrilled that he is their son. God is the one who creates families, and all of us at CCS have been blessed to see Caleb welcomed into his forever family.
*names have been changed