Thankful for 6 months with Kate Emerson

Thursday, October 4, 2007
HH1 220
April 4, 2007

The moment I held you!

Early days Kate 228

May2007 027

Kate's Baptism 149

UVA Photo 084





I am so thankful for the six months that Katie Ru has been a part of our family. She has brought so much joy to our lives. For the most, part she is doing amazingly well. When Dave got Kate she did not even have a pincer grasp and now she can use a fork to feed herself. This week she learned to blow bubbles with a bubble wand! Kate has learned to crawl and to walk. She understands most of what we say and she is adding words to her vocabulary everyday. She says up, more, hi, bye-bye, apple, out, bubble, Daddy, Mama, baby, puppy and this week she added "hot." One of the things I love most about Kate is her awesome sense of humor and her laugh is the sweetest sound you'll ever hear. She is a huge blessing to us all.

As hard as this is to share, I want to write about one more issue we have experienced recently. Kate is showing some signs of indiscriminate attachment. Indiscriminate attachment is sometimes referred to as "overfriendliness." It basically means the child will show affection to strangers. Miss Kate blows kisses to passerbys at the mall. She is definitely "overfriendly." As you all know, I did not let anyone hold, feed, bathe or clothe Kate for the first 6-8 weeks after her arrival home. I did this so she would form a strong attachment to me and Dave. She needed to know that we would meet her needs. She needed to know that she could trust us completlely. After about 6-8 weeks, we began letting very close friends who she had seen often hold her. Well, at the 8 week mark exactly it was Kate's 1st birthday and Baptism. My Mom and my sister and best friends had never met Kate. They travelled to spend this special weekend with her and I let them all hold her. After that, I let Kate go to people and hug them and kiss them if we knew them. I now realize that was probably a mistake.Kate is extremely affectionate and she wanted to hug and kiss everyone.
And I do mean everyone. She would hug little babies at the park and mommies at the Little Gym. She wanted to hug and kiss every single person we came in contact with. I knew this wasn't really right but I kept telling myself she is just really affectionate and loving. She hugs and kisses me 200 times a day! I read a lot about attachment during our wait and I have a Ph.D. in marriage and family communication and did post-doc work in counseling so my little inner voice kept telling me that Kate had indiscriminate attachment. But I didn't want to believe it. I didn't let 100 people come to the airport to meet her. I did all of the care-taking for a very long time. I kept her routine consistent and I didn't introduce her to a lot of people right away. Although I tried to do everything right, I felt like I had failed my little girl. After talking with some specialists in this field and reading a lot more on attachment, I know that this happens with adopted babies and it needs to be rectified so that they can learn boundaries and trust in relationships down the road. According to the research, indiscriminate friendliness does NOT necessarily mean that Kate has not attached to us. She just needs to learn that it isn't okay to hug and kiss everyone she sees. To this end, we are back to not letting anyone hold, feed or watch Kate again. We cannot even let Will or Harry hold her right now. She needs to know that Mom and Dad will meet her needs. It has only been a few weeks and already I have seen a big difference. She is not reaching out to strangers anymore and she only went to hug one Mom at the Little gym this week. She wants a lot of touch from me but that is okay. I am sharing this for two reasons. One is to remind myself of some of the issues we have dealt with (because I am so tired I know I will forget before long). The other is to let people know this can be a red flag for attachment problems. At first, I thought..."awww isn't that sweet.... she is so affectionate and outgoing." But if I do not teach her healthy and appropriate boundaries now, the problems she could encouter down the road are pretty awful. When I shared my concerns with a few friends, they had no idea that this extreme affection toward people was a red flag in the attachment process. So, for those of you on this path to adoption, tuck this away somewhere in your head and if you need more information, feel free to e-mail me.



  1. What a precious blessing she is.

  2. she is gorgeous!
    i can tell you are just the perfect mommy for kate. what a blessing for all 5 of you!
    thanks for sharing your heart.

  3. Kate is beautiful. I loved seeing the pictures!

  4. Kim,

    Congratulations to you and your family on 6 months of being a family of 5!

    Thank you for sharing about indescriminate attachment. We can all learn so much from each other. I know in your and Dave's loving hands Kate will come through this challenge beautifully.

    Btw, it was wonderful to talk with you today.


  5. I had a feeling you would eventually post on this. Even if you help just one mom you've done a great thing.

    Kim, I said this to you when we spoke a few weeks ago, but I'm going to say it again. I know deep in your heart you know it, but I have to say it. You did NOT fail your little girl.

    I truly believe she is attached to you and that she just needs to learn that you don't have to be so affectionate with everyone else. It's something you will work through. You're an amazing mom. I know you're working through a lot, and I feel badly for not calling and checking in. Anyways, you know if you ever want to talk I'm here for you.

    And when you're ready, I'd love to come see visit you. Even if it means getting on a plane. I've mentioned that I don't like flying, haven't I?

    Hopefully we can chat soon.


  6. She is so beautiful! Thanks you so much for sharing this information with me. In my rose colored glass world, I would have assumed my daughter was just so sweet and loving. Now I know what to look for and what I need to do when I finally hold Tate in my arms.


  7. Thank you for sharing what you've learned about her attachment issues. One of these days I'm going to do the same. I missed Sophia's issues for a year, and still kick myself for that.

    I think what people don't realize is that love isn't enough for them. You can love them to the moon and back, and they will still have attachment issues. I missed Sophia's signs, because she was doing well with the 'big' things, so I missed the little ones.

    She is absolutely beautiful!

  8. Thanks Kim for sharing some of the difficult bits. Adoption can throw some challenges at us, huh? I'm glad you listened to your little voice, because it usually says the right thing.

    When people told me they wanted to hold Brilliance, I told them "6 months" and so far so good. She waves madly at everyone (well, not everyone, she refused to wave hello to a certain kindergarten teacher!! THAT was great!! but I digress). Hang in there, Kim. She's doing beautifully. You are a FABULOUS mom!!
    Snick :)

  9. Kim,

    My oldest daughter Isabella was exactly as you describe Kate. I did not have a name for it at the time ... but I knew something was not right. Like you, right from the beginning I was very careful and did not let people hold Isabella, and Bob and I were the only ones that fed her. Despite our efforts I still noticed she was overly friendly toward strangers and our friends. I know I offended a few friends, strangers and family. The more I noticed Isabella's "friendliness" the more I kept her close to me. People told me I was over protective - but my daughter was more important then their opinions. I even had to have some serious conversations with well meaning family and friends. Sometimes even Isabella wasn't happy with me because I would never let her just "go" with people she knew and loved. Isabella and I spent a lot of time alone - it was precious time for me and it really helped Isabella attach. I can't tell you exactly when things started to change, but it did. I know when I returned to work when she was about 21 months old things were much better. Today, Isabella is a wonderful,smart, well adjusted 7 year old. So hang in there, trust your instincts ... I am very grateful I did!

  10. Thank you for writing such a profound and interesting post. Kate is lucky to have such an insightful and well-educated mother who is also willing and open to learning more! I don't even have my daughter yet but I find that often in these families I know or read about everyone is so happy to be together (finally), that it is forgotten that 10 months and often more of not having needs met do have an impact on the child. There's a lot to be said for Erikson's trust vs mistrust but if people are not in the field they don't necessarily know. I hope your post brings awareness. I think sometimes it is so painful for the parents to remember that they try to brush it aside. Good for you for picking up on it and making some changes. So glad Kate is doing better. Take good care. -Dale

  11. You wrote the sweetest note on my blog. Thank you for your prayers! I also wanted to tell you that I had gotten on your blog a bit ago. Your little girl is just beautiful!!!!! It has always my hearts desire to adopt two little girls from China since I was 10, so to me your daughter is just a amazing gift to your family. Your daughter and your boys all together just make one handsome family. What a sweet blessing!

  12. To finish. I will definately keep your family in my prayers for the "attachement" challenge. You seem just like a Mom that wants to love her children big and that is the greatest gift you can give them.

  13. Kate is such a beauty! I love how you have put her monthly pictures all together - they are all adorable!

    I also wanted to thank you for sharing the information about attachment. I didn't realize adopted babies can go through this. Hopefully with a little help and guidance from you and your husband, this will pass. Kate is obviously a very loving little girl, such a sweet heart and has a beautiful smile. Please keep us posted. :-)

  14. Kim,
    These pictures of Kate are just adorable!

    Thanks too for this post about your attachment issues. We had such a smooth transition with Sophie....and it is easy to forget that we may encounter attachment issues with the next adoption. Thanks for the reminder!

  15. Kim, the pictures are awesome---as usual. I am glad you shared what you did re: the attachment issues. I have a niece that is adopted and my sister and her husband were the same way and people thought them very strange. They waited 20 years to be able to have this precious gift---I didn't think it strange...I am just glad that their little one has adjusted and is secure w/mommy/daddy. She still doesn't like noise and has only been "cared for" by my mother and one other "grandmother figure". My sister and her husband are wonderful caring attentive parents. This topic really needs to be shared with others that adopt a child. Glad you shared!

  16. Kim,
    First of all, Congratualtions on having your little blessing home for 6 months! That is wonderful!

    You are such a wonderful mother and little Katie Ru is such a lucky little girl to have you, Dave, and the boys. There is no doubt that she will be just fine with such a wonderful family.

    Thanks for sharing your heart, I know that is not easy sometimes, but there will be those that you help!

  17. What a beautiful little girl! You have so much to be thankful for!

  18. Wow, six months already! I love seeing the tears in your eyes, you waited so long for that moment! So glad you called today, you bring a smile to my face! Such a tough topic of conversation but one that a loving, caring mother has to have. God chose Kate for your family, you have all of the skills that you need to help Kate get through this delicate period of her life. As hard as life is right now, you are doing the right thing. As I shared with you, Myah needed extra "love" too. Every baby is different and it is wonderful that we can all share what we learn along the way so that others can be well informed about what to expect. I think you need to write a book called "What to Expect When You Are Adopting"! Hope you had a nice day of shopping and lunch with Katie Ru! You are a wonderful mother to all of your babies!

  19. Kate is adorable...
    Thanks for the information..
    I will make sure to take your advice...
    Have a Great Evening..
    Happy 6 months..

  20. Good morning,
    Kate gets more and more beautiful each day :-)

    I am so glad that you decided to post this. I have been praying for you guys and I know that you have made some wise decisions to help Kate.

    Ladybug hugs,

  21. Happy 6 months together!

    We've been through a lot of the same things with our 4.5 year old. She was held and fed by us (no one else is really around much) and never had sitters except very occasionally with a sister or brother. I'll email you. Don't feel at all like you have failed Kate. You've done a great job and you instincts are good. This all takes time. Attachment doesn't happen all at once and unlearning some of the behaviors that helped these kids survive (and perhaps are the skills that enable them to move into new families) is a long and complex process. We saw big changes once she was old enough to discuss what was appropriate affection for immediate family, extended family, friends, neighbors, strangers, etc. It is still a work in progress, but progress is all we are asking for.

  22. Wonderful post....thanks for sharing. Kate looks so pretty in her photos! Congrats.

  23. Thanks Kim. Don't worry about getting back to me - you just focus on your peanuts (especially your tiniest peanut). But I hope we can definitely catch up soon.

    By the way, the first two photos of Kate are two of my favorites so far. And of course I love the photo of you with Kate.

    Talk soon.



  24. And so you know (although I'm sure you already do). You have all been in my prayers every night. That's 3 comments. I think I've said it all...

  25. She is beautiful. Thank you for sharing.

    Also, thank you for sharing your wisdom on attachment. Very informative.

    Thank you so much for sharing your grateful heart with us this week.

    Be blessed today and always.

  26. I so appreciate your comments on this subject. It is really one of those "tuck it away for the future" stories. I have been trained in this area also and I would have probably not thought of this as a problem. I would have thought she was just friendly. I really apprecite you posting this and Kate is amazing and I am so glad that you are already seeing improvements.

    Christy :)

  27. she is so cute!
    this is the first time I've ever heard of indiscrimate attachment ... thank you for sharing.

    Blessings ....

  28. ooppsss...
    should have written
    *indiscriminate attachment* ... ;P
    my mistake.

  29. Oh my goodness, she is beautiful and you are so wise to notice what she 'needs.'

    your wisdom will help others recognize what their baby needs too.. what a blessing
    your post was beautiful,

  30. What a BEAUTIFUL little girl! The photos were so very precious. Thank you for sharing!

    I had no idea about the attachment issues. It is funny how little about adoption most people know. It is such an enormous thing, more than just bringing a new person into the family. What a blessing, though!

  31. beautiful post. Love all of your wonderful pictures of your sweet girl.

    In 6 more months I think you will be very surpirsed to look back and see how far you have come. You are getting there step by step.

  32. All of the pictures are so precious.... oh, how she makes my heart smile.
    Kim, you did not fail your little girl. I admire you for realizing so quickly. Before I read all of your post I was thinking to myself that it is amazing the Kate has only been home for 6 months and is so well adjusted. You are doing a wonderful job and there is no doubt in my mind that you are giving her everything that she needs and will need to grow into a healthy young lady. Don't beat yourself up my friend. You are a fantastic Mama.
    I will be praying for you and call me anytime... I will call you when I can. I miss you.

  33. This is my first time by for a vistit. You have a beautiful blog, and I will be praying for your daughter.

  34. Thanks for sharing this, Kim. I'm sure you will help someone by sharing what you are going through. You are an awesome mom to your 3 peanuts, and your an inspiration to others!

    Kate is so beautiful, and you've captured this so well in the photos of her. As they say in China, she's a "lucky baby" to be a part of your family. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

  35. I'm so glad to have bounded into your blog through Thankful Thursdays. Your daughter is precious! Praise God for bringing her into your life and giving you all the gifts/talents to be her parent. Thanks for the education, too. It was very enlightening!

    May you feel God's extravagant grace today!


  36. Thank you so much for sharing this. My dh and I have only been waiting since April but I am so glad that you shared this. I will make sure to put this in the back of my mind once we bring home our little Matelin.

    ~Happy 6 mos with Kate!!

  37. I am so happy for you and the blessing you have received over the last 6 months. The pictures are priceless!!! Thank you for sharing about the attachment issues. I am struggling to explain to family and close friends what this is all about. People who do not adopt have NO UNDERSTANDING about this issue. It's not that they don't want to, it is just that they are uneducated to this because it is something that they do not have to deal with. I am going to email you!!

  38. You are such a beautiful and wise mommy. How blessed Kate is - we have the opposite issue, Hannah will not permit anyone else to meet her needs. On one hand it is a postive because she has attached to us beautifully, on the other, it is exhausting. We kept the no holding rule in tact until Hannah showed us she was ready for something else and even at that, she has back-tracked a couple of times.

    Our attachment therapist is happy with all the good that we have reported and we are very hopeful because the signs have been small and some would call me crazy for even noticing them. Momtuition leads us and we find answers and solutions...

    Happy Six months - we share your joy!


  39. Beautiful pictures. Great post. I have to remind myself that attachment is a life long project and depending on the child could be a great deal of time. Glenys is extremely controlling and refuses to look at me unless she chooses. We have been home 2 1/2 years. Glad you recognized it now. Happy 6 months.


  40. Wow! We are waiting for our LOA for our 15 month old daughter in China. To be quite honest, I had no idea on the complications of attatchment. Can you recommend some readings or web sites to start educating myself on healthy attachment. Our adoption process is happening much faster than we first anticipated, so I have alot of learning to do in the next few months. Thank you for sharing your knowledge. You have given me a much needed "wake up call" on this!

  41. May God continue to guide and direct you in raising your little blessing.

  42. Wow.. that 6 months just flew by. Katie is such a sweetie. I love those dimples. :0)

  43. My god she is so beautiful!! I lost track of your site somehow, glad to have found you again.

    I hear such mixed things about attachment. I had the pleasure of hearing Dr. Aronson speak and she was really adamant to only read child development and know what the "normals" look like and not to get to weighted down on the attachment stuff, she said the more people that hold/love your child the better and that your child WILL know who mom and dad are... almost instinctively. I hope she truly just has it in her nature to be affectionate. My nephew was/is just like her and he wasn't adopted... anyay. I hope it all works out!

  44. thanks for posting this...can I have you send a copy of your post to my in-laws!

    We think our daughter has attachmed wonderfully, however we are still going for an assessment with attachment specialist to give us tools to continue on with as we have seen some issues and want to address them before they manifest into a larger issue.

    Our daughter has some indiscriminate friendliness what I call "shopping for new parents", so we want to make sure she understands we will meet all her wants and needs.

    When she came home we asked for at least 2 months before family started to visit, but noone listened to us. It was a disaster! We saw Dr Dana Johnson at the clinic at University of MN, he said absolutely no way no how no one else holds feeds or loves on your child for at tleast 12 weeks!

    Next time we are doing 12 weeks of non stop just Mummy & Daddy. Then relatives can come for small periods of time. It is vital!

    Can you recommend some reading materials that you have found useful.

    Sincere thanks

  45. The beauty of 6 months!

    You absolutely did not fail your child, you knew exactly how to help her and when. This is a great post and one that we all can learn from. Thanks for sharing your heart.

  46. She is so very beautiful.
    I am sorry that you have had to backtrack a little bit with the attachment issue. It is very wise of you to be able to see it and admit it and deal with it quickly. Sometimes it takes me a little time to accept an issue with one of my children because I so want their lives to be perfect. She is lucky that you are her Mother and are educated in this area.
    Please keep us updated. I am learning a lot about what to look for when my daughter comes home.

  47. She is absolutely adorable!

    Thanks for sharing. We need to know about these things, so we can be prepared.

  48. Hi Kim,
    I've been missing your blog (took a break from reading blogs). Kate is just precious--love the photos.
    I'm glad you posted this but please don't be hard on yourself. You are loving her and that's the most important part of the equation.

    Praying for you---

  49. She's beautiful, and I know that God will continue to lead you as you parent her to be a godly young woman. "With God, all things are possible!"

  50. Happy 6 Months! Kate is just beautiful. Thank you for sharing such a heartfelt post. Your are helping to educate so many of us who have not traveled this road yet. Kate is blessed to have you as parents who are able to step back and look at your lives and make changes where needed for her best interest.


  51. Kim - Thank you so much for being honest (again) on your blog. This is invaluable for those of us that are waiting. I'm trying to use this long wait to soak up everything I can. I'm definitely sharing your post with our families.
    I enjoy checking in our your beautiful family.


  52. Kim,

    First of of let me say Kate is such a doll! Thank you so much for sharing your story as I'm sure it wasn't easy to do. Your story will definitely help us adopting parents. We are in the process of adopting from China (almost DTC). I will certainly file this information away as I'm sure we will need in a few years. Thanks again!


  53. I cant believe its only been six months. It seems like I've been keeping up with your family longer than that. Miss Kate is too cute for words.

    Thanks for posting about what you are going through right now. Its the blogs like yours that I like to follow for that reason. You tell the truth. I want to be as prepared as I can when our Gracie comes home. I hope that I can be as good a mom to Gracie as you are to Miss Kate.

    Take Care

  54. Hi there,
    Don't beat yourself over Kate Emerson's issues with attachment; you recognzied this and are doing the right thing. I have a PhD in nutrition and still struggled with my DD's eating behavioral issues when she first came home. I believe my education background helped me circumvent the worst of the issues and to start her out well; but it was still hard. Three years later my DD is doing a great job.
    I love your blog;

  55. Oh Kim,

    You did NOT fail your little girl. Most parents would've blown these red flags off saying, "oh she has a loving spirit." You are getting the help you both need.

    I can't wait to see her Homecoming Video! I think it would be perfect to share it on this special day. :D


  56. Thank you for sharing this Kim - you are a wonderful mom who knows her daughter better than anyone and your taking action to help the situation. By the way, she is absolutely precious.

  57. Kim,
    Congratulations on six months with Miss Kate! What joy she has filled your hearts with! :)
    I'm sure it's been a bit scary to recognize her IA and maybe a bit disappointing, but at least you are aware and have taken the appropriate measures and have even seen improvement!! I can imagine it being very hard to see a difference between that and just being very friendly and affectionate!
    I'm sure your family is doing a GREAT job and she will continue to blossom under your incredible loving care.
    Thanks for sharing! :)
    Love all the pictures!

  58. Dear Kim - I admire you so much! You're doing great things! Hope also experienced some simliar 'friendly' behaviors, and we've also tried to tell people at times to politely BACK OFF. It is difficult to talk about and it is so hard to ask the people we love to keep their distance sometimes. Thank you for sharing Kate's story with us. I'll say a special prayer tonight for you and your family. Blessings - Beth

  59. Kim,
    Thank you for sharing this. God truly knew the perfect family for Miss Kate Emerson Ru! You are a fantastic mother! Blessings to you as you work through this challenging but very meaningful time in your life with Kate!

  60. Oh my achin' did I get so behind on your posts?!?!?!? This is just beautiful. I loved reading it!

  61. I would love in the long run to really speak with you about adoption. This has always been my hearts desire. Piage Knudsen, blog "simple thoughts", is my dearest life long friend and that is how I came across your blog. I am engaged and getting married mid summer 08. After that we are wanting to pursue adoption of a little girl (or two) from asia. If you are willing mid-summer, I would love to email you and just hear about your journey and find out information that would help my experience be a positive one.

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