I woke up this morning to an article that a friend sent to me asking me to read. You can read the article here. I feel like the author hit the nail on the head. As someone who tends to give a general disclaimer to romantic prospects that I can be intense, I could definitely relate to the author’s words. It’s like running a race and having a lot of false starts. It’s easy to get attached when you want to get attached and as a result it can be hard to discern clearly what exactly is happening. You get tired of being the only one there for you and you just want a companion. It can be a two edged sword because being too open too quickly can be a recipe for disaster while staying closed off means that the relationship will never grow. Balance is key.
A few days ago I took some time to watch the movie Losing Isaiah. There was a certain sense of urgency as Netflix was about to take it off in order to make room for more movies. I first saw the movie at my grandparents house in Michigan. I remember renting it with my very own library card when I was 9 or 10 and watching it in the living room sprawled out on the very comfortable carpet. I remember being happy in the end that the baby was returned to his biological mother. However, this time I watched the movie with a different perspective. One that’s been informed by several years of being a social worker and working with families and kids. The movie brings up some interesting questions that are still relevant today. A mother abandons her baby in a trash can. The baby is born addicted to drugs because she used substance while pregnant. A kind social worker at the hospital he is transported to adopts him. She and her family raise him as her own. Meanwhile, the baby’s mother gets her life together after finally becoming sober and decides that she wants him back because he’s her child and she never received notice that her parental rights were being terminated. So there’s a lengthy court battle where bio-mother’s lawyer insists that black babies need to be with their black mothers. However, there is a marked difference between the income of biological mother versus that of the family that has adopted the child. The life that he lives with his adopted family is vastly different than the one that his bio-mother can finance. The movie ends with full custody being given to the bio-mother who soon realizes that she needs additional support so she reaches a hesitant agreement with her son’s adoptive mother. There are certain situations where I don’t think people should be allowed to have a do over. I don’t think that any child should be denied access to their family of origin but primary custody should have remained with the adoptive parents until the child was old enough to make a decision. I’ve met a good amount of parents who have adopted kids and then decided that they were too hard as a result decided to relinquish custody back to the state. I’ve worked with parents who have voluntarily given up custody of their children because they felt powerless and felt that their lives or the lives of the other children in the home were at risk. It’s a hard decision to make. My whole point is that kids shouldn’t be taken out of a loving, stable, and safe environment because their bio-parent decides that it’s for the best. There were other options that would have allowed Isaiah to stay where he was happy. Yes, children can be resilient and they can recover but there’s no need to inflict that trauma on a child and mess up his primary attachment so that he can be with a black parent. No reason. It’s cruel and unnecessary.
There’s this theory in the counseling world about attachment. The basic premise of this theory is that our relationships with others are a result of our first relationships with our primary caregivers. This goes all the way back to being a newborn. Babies are conditioned to cry in order to get their needs met. The process of crying and then having someone come to their aid reinforces the fact that they are safe and that someone will care for them. When a baby is ignored for long periods of time and his or her basic needs are not adequately met, either the baby becomes really clingy or the baby can stop crying and withdraw. It’s funny how you can see the same behavior in adults when they feel that their needs are not being met. What all this means is that people can find themselves in emotional distress due to not having a secure attachment with their primary caregiver when younger or even not having a secure attachment when they are adults. A secure attachment is when you are securely connected to someone (usually a significant other) who you can trust and allow yourself to be vulnerable with. The whole idea is that if you have a secure attachment you won’t be as concerned about what others think about you because you have at least one person in your life who means a lot to you and is 100% supportive of you. It took me taking an actual class about this to realize that I don’t have a secure attachment with anyone right now. Definitely not the greatest news to discover as a therapist but it wasn’t a huge surprise. And while that is something that I’d like to change, I’m not quite sure if I want it to change. I’ve mentioned the “three year rule” in a previous post and that would definitely come into play as far as me having a secure attachment. I’m not necessarily upset about that, but I’m not ok with it as well. However, that’s where I am for the time being and it’s going to take me being super deliberate in order to change that.