Adoption attachment therapy through the love for a calf

by Dewey Houston / Friday, 18 April 2014 / Published in Our Program

Through daily experiences and the help of loving mentors and therapists, adoption attachment therapy can happen in many ways at Discovery Ranch for Girls.

By Lee Bingham, Equine Director

Anna is a student that has suffered unfair trauma that no one of her young impressionable age should ever have to endure. She struggles with attachment issues due to her adoption as a tiny baby, then the loss of her first adoptive parents, and the subsequent abuse by her second adoptive mother. However, Anna is fortunate. She has been privileged to have a very loving and supportive couple come into her life and become her guardians. To Anna, they are the “Mom and Dad” she has been “waiting for her whole life”.

A few weeks ago Anna came to me in tears. She was very upset because her calf wasn’t feeling well.

The students at Discovery Ranch for Girls bottle feed their newborn calves. He was lethargic and not consuming his bottle.

Anna said to me in a very concerned voice, “Lee, I love this calf. I don’t want him to die.” Adoption-attachment-calf-program

I have a wonderful relationship with Anna and I felt comfortable to turn this situation into a teaching and therapeutic moment. I said to Anna with a raised eyebrow, playing devil’s advocate;

“But, Anna it is an animal, only a calf. It’s a calf that you have known for less than a month.”

I then asked her how close she was to him. I asked her how much she cared for him. I asked how much it would mean not to lose him.

I then turned to her and asked her about her relationship with her Mom and Dad. I asked if it was possible for them to feel the same about her, even though she was adopted, just like she had adopted the calf. We talked about her parent’s feelings and attachment towards Anna. We discussed how meaningful, deep and consistent their relationship is now. We discussed how they want her attending Discover Ranch for Girls so she can heal and return home. They only wish for her to be a part of their lives.

Anna humbly smiled and shook her head in understanding… and together we both managed to choke back a few more tears.

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