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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Quiet Alertness

Lisa’s list of the 7 Baby Bs may be poignant for adoptive parents to read – it certainly was for me. There is so much I don’t know about my daughter’s first 8 years, let alone her first eight hours, eight days, eight weeks or eight months. Were these 7 Baby B’s part of her life? What if they weren’t? What do I do? Is it too late? If these foundations of attachment are not solid will my daughter develop courage? My own emotional courage as a parent is put to the test in moments such as this.

Upon reflection, however, I remembered an observation I had made some time ago. My mother and sister and I were visiting old colonial towns in Mexico. It was Holy Week, and many families were out and about, watching the religious processions and enjoying their holiday. After a few days it dawned on me that I never saw any children either in strollers or prams, and then it also occurred to me that I never saw any children having fits or hysterics or being scolded, and I seldom saw babies crying. Everywhere I looked, babies and toddlers were being held and carried, either by parents or aunts or uncles or grandparents or older siblings. Now, to be sure, these almost medieval towns were unsuitable for such wheeled transport, and no doubt the cost was also prohibitive for many families, too. But I think, as well, that they just wanted to hold and carry their babies, and I saw a lot of “quiet alertness” in those children.
As in Mexico, so it is in Ethiopia, and all over the developing world where the terrain is usually even less suitable for strollers and prams, and people have even less money. The babies are held and carried. Period. Baby-wearing is the only option! As for bedding, one of the other B’s in Lisa’s last post – let me just say that “co-sleeping” is not a parenting choice where houses typically have only one or two rooms. It’s just what happens.

In my journey as a single mom I am called to bring my own quiet alertness to the fore, to notice the signs of attachment in my girl and find ways to support that process as we become a family. Thankfully, this much I can read between the lines of my daughter’s story: I know that her first years must have been spent in her birth-mother’s arms or within easy reach. Once upon a time, when the Lovely K. was small and her own heroic journey was just beginning, there was another mother who held her, and didn’t let go until she died.

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