I've written before describing what exactly indiscriminate affection is. It was the way H. interacted with the world and it can be extremely challenging. I am thankful that H. is now entirely appropriate in her affections and it is not something we have had to worry about for a long time. I am also thankful we had that initial experience with her because it gave us some inkling of what it was like to live with such a child and how to address it. We needed this information because R. evidences indiscriminate affection to a greater degree.
I find it a little difficult to write about our experiences sometimes. There is the tightrope that I feel I continually must walk balancing my family's and children's privacy with the fact that raising children from hard places is just hard and other parents need to know they are not alone. Then with R. we have the added consideration that she has an entire community of people in China who love her and who poured their lives and finances into making sure she had a chance at a life and a family. I never in any way want to indicate any sort of negative feelings towards all those lovely and wonderful people. They showered R. with immense love and care and gave her a chance at having a future. I am hesitant to share some of the hard thing because I don't want it to come across as in any way critical of those who cared for her before she became our daughter. Tone in writing is sometimes difficult to convey, thus I wanted to be sure to carefully spell all of this out before I continue.
I have mentioned before that the change in family, language, and culture has really knocked R. for a loop. The transition has been difficult for her and as a result has caused some significant regression. Currently, she is a very young child in an older child body. She is having difficulty finding her footing in her new life. An example... for the past two months, R. has consistently asked multiple times a day if tomorrow we will take an airplane to Chicago. I know that her foster parents did an excellent job of preparing R. as well as she could be prepared for her new life, and flying to Chicago on an airplane was one of the pieces of information that was given. She was excited to go to Chicago. The trouble is, the airplane ride to Chicago was evidently not what she was expecting, thus what she was expecting was still yet to come. It was a constant in our lives since arriving home. We then drove to Arizona. It was a very long drive. She knew we had left somewhere and arrived in another place just because it took so darn long and she could see the landscape moving out her window. And then we drove back. We drove back to Chicago and suddenly the constant refrain of "Tomorrow we go feiji (airplane) Chicago?" has stopped. She has realized we are in Chicago and I'm not sure she is quite happy about it.
R. is a charming and sociable child. She loves meeting new people. She is very good at meeting new people and being charming with them. What she is still working on is the harder work of learning how to navigate being in a permanent family. I'm pretty sure that with the new found knowledge that she has arrived in Chicago she has also discovered that this new family is the one she is stuck with for good as well. And we have seen an even greater regression than before. It is clear that 'here' is the exact place she doesn't want to be. Except when a new person, not a family member, walks in the door. Suddenly, the lights go on and the charm comes out. The stranger gets the animated personable child. I have peeled her off more people in the last few days than I care to count. I am reminded exactly how difficult and how much work real attachment is. It is hard on everyone and the worst part about it is that it just takes time. Time to learn to trust. Time to find things you like about these new people. Time to get used to things. Time to grieve the losses life has already handed you. It just takes time. Time and grace.