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Empowered to Connect

Written By Dawn Heckert

Empowered to Connect

Adoption is a very familiar concept  for our family. My husband is adopted. His parents were both adopted. My parents adopted seven children after raising five biological children. In many ways, I assumed adoption would be part of my marriage at some point. Eventually, my husband and I discovered adoption was God’s plan for creating our family.

Both of our beautiful daughters entered the world on their own time table, which was early by typical standards. Our oldest daughter burst onto the scene at 29 weeks. Her early arrival at 2 pounds and 3 ounces, meant a long hospital stay while she grew. The first 72 hours after her birth were pretty much all medical touch: firm poking, prodding, and assessment. Under all her little medical equipment we could make out a tiny little form that literally filled my husband’s hand. Her first six weeks of life were a little bit of holding by us and a lot of medical hands assessing her daily. Her body couldn’t keep itself warm enough to be outside of her incubator, so my time loving and holding her as a mom was extremely limited. When we finally were able to take her home we thought parenting was so easy. The medical plan of sleeping and positioning made her the easiest baby to care for once home, because she didn’t need to be rocked to fall asleep. As a toddler she didn’t want to sit in my lap to read endless books, but rather sit beside me. Fast forward and I have a teenager who avoids all forms of touch. This is hard for a full-contact mom!

A few years ago, I attended a Trust-based Relational Intervention (TBRI) training by Texas Christian University for foster and adoptive families. The same group who will be leading the Empowered to Connect event at Christ Community’s Brookside Campus on April 8-9. The research they shared with parents that day opened my eyes to understand not only my daughter’s aversion to touch, but so much more. Our daughter’s first 72 hours of medical touch had wired her body and brain differently before I even had a chance to hold her, rock her, and love her. Thanks to the research, training, and teaching by Empowered to Connect speakers, I now understood the reason why she didn’t receive my full-contact mom love!

Good news! The group at Empowered to Connect not only provided me with the aha, but empowered us to retrain my daughter’s brain to receive touch. It took time and help from professionals, but I can tell you the day touch changed for both her and I. She initiated a need for comfort by reaching out and taking my hand as we strolled along on a busy sidewalk.

There is a great mystery in how God designs each child uniquely. There is truth that enters that child’s storyline the moment she is born because of her environment. God’s design and understanding of each child adopted, fostered, or biological can be strengthened by what you learn at a conference such as Empowered to Connect.

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