Monday, November 14, 2011

Karate and attachment

Cadence has started taking Little Dragons at our local karate dojo.  I've been looking forward to this because:

#1. Sierra and Laurel went there for 4 years and stopped this past December.  I've been looking forward to seeing everyone again.
#2. Cadence can use a space to run around and she excels in being loud.
#3. I was curious to see if anyone else could sway Cadence into doing what she is supposed to do, particularly when she has decided that she doesn't want to do it..

We accomplished #1 and half of #2.  She loves the running around but she quickly clams up in unfamiliar situations.  Despite going once a week since August she is still fairly quiet in class.  As for #3, well the answer is a big, fat N-O!  I spend the first two months out on the floor doing most of the activities with Cadence.  She refused to let go of my hand if I encouraged her to do something by herself.  One day, as the kids were walking in to class, I was engrossed in conversation with another mom.  Shihan (the instructor of the school) took Cadence by the hand, led her into class, and she did the whole class without me - as long as she didn't visualize me!  We did this routine for a few weeks and it seemed she was starting to get the hang of it.  I have been dying to watch her in class so last week we had a little talk before class.  I asked if she wanted me in the room to watch her.  She said yes.  I said that I would stay and watch her if she did the class without holding my hand.  She said yes.  I have no idea why I thought that this conversation with a 2 year old would actually hold any ground in real life!

We got to class and she refused to do anything unless I was on the floor with her.  When they were getting in line to run laps she got up by herself and started participating.  After a couple of laps she figured out that I wasn't  going to run with her and the tears started.  The instructors ran with her and told encouraged me to leave and see how she would do.  She howled cried.  And cried.  And cried.  I kept hoping if I waited just one more moment she would stop screaming settle down and decide to take part in class.  She most definitely did not!  I finally went back in and we bailed decided to head home early!

Later that evening I saw a fellow adoptive mom (ironically the same person who bought our old house and they have 2 adopted children).  Her daughter also does Little Dragons and she has seen Cadence's resistance to take part in class without me.  She didn't see the performance that day, but I told her about it.  She gave me her take on the situation, the thing that she loves to see.  She sees that Cadence wants me and only me.  She wants me because she knows that I am her mom and I will take care of her and be there for her when she needs me.  She wants me because she is attached to me.  And as an adoptive parent, that is huge!  I remember when Sierra was a baby and we were letting her "cry it out".  My heart ached and I felt terribly guilty and worried that she was thinking that we had "abandoned" her.  But I never doubted that when I walked into her room and got her out of bed that she would feel safe and secure in my arms.  It never crossed my mind that Sierra or Laurel wouldn't think of me as their Mommy.  This isn't the case when you adopt a child. 

When I worry that Cadence might feel like I am abandoning her, I am truly worried that she thinks I am Abandoning her.  Why would she not think that?  Twice in her life, she has been left.  Her biological mother left her in a  hospital.  The orphanage workers, the people she knew as her caregivers, left her in my arms.  While I hope to think that one day she will view that latter as a blessing,  I cannot overlook the fact that she knows that the people who have taken care of her have "upped and left" her.  So why,  when I walk out of the dojo and leave her in a room full of strangers, why would she not think that I am never coming back?

That is why it's so good and so reassuring to hear that another adoptive mom, another woman who has felt these same concerns,  sees what she does.  She sees attachment.  And with attachment, and time,  Cadence will know, to her very core, that when we are apart, I will always come back.  She will truly know that I am her Mommy.

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