I think of attachment as many woven strands between parent and child. These strands grow gradually and continually throughout the relationship. Both parent and child have to work at creating the weaving. When the weaving progresses smoothly, and the relationship is mainly cooperative, we call the attachment “secure”. Secure attachment provides the child with a safe base (a parent) who helps the child maintain physical and emotional balance as the child moves away from the parent-base to explore the world and become an individual person. Reconnecting with the parent is a way for the child to regain equilibrium and to process experiences.
That romantic view is pervasive and powerful, one that puts a burden on adoptive families and adopted children. It allows, even encourages, parents to embrace unreasonable expectations, and then pass them, unfairly, on to the child.
When we connect with kids first, show them we are a resource for them, they gain confidence in our relationship with them. They BELIEVE that there is room for them to make mistakes and learn and grow from them. We are there to help guide them, NOT offer shame and guilt. We build their ability to have BIG emotions, to experience disappointment and ride the emotional roller coaster that goes along with those moments… and to learn that it is NOT the end of the world. That life goes on following disappointment, that learning comes from mistakes, that we are there to support them and offer empathy, kindness, and warmth along with help problem solving and holding them accountable for their choices that landed them in the situation.