For many families, the arrival of a child is met with eager anticipation. Welling with joy and excitement, these parents’ lives and actions toward their child manifest a deep awareness that children truly are a gift from God (Psalm 127:3)! Cradled gently, touched adoringly and nurtured sacrificially, the child learns to see himself through the mirror of his parents’ eyes. “I am precious,” “I am safe,” and “I am loved” become the song of his heart. Ultimately, his inheritance of faith will be in knowing that he is “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalms 139:14) and deeply loved by a compassionate and merciful Heavenly Father. As a strong and secure attachment is created with loving parents, this child will be well prepared to develop trust and create healthy relationships as he begins to explore the world, as well as to “attach” in faith to the loving God who created him in His image. His earliest moments of life become the foundation for what he will come to know and believe about himself, his parents, his world and his God!
Researchers have documented the profound and lasting effects that early care or the lack thereof have on the development of trust (“I am safe”), self-worth (“I am precious”) and self-efficacy (“I am heard”). In addition, developmental researchers widely acknowledge that the formative early days dramatically influence attachment relationships and also have dramatic and lasting effects on brain development and brain chemistry. Tragically, many of the children that we love and serve came into an unwelcoming world and started life amidst very difficult circumstances. Disease, abandonment, hunger, mental illness, stress, substance abuse and a host of other risk factors may have conspired to create an environment where these children’s needs were unmet, contributing to the abuse, neglect and trauma that they experienced. These heartbreaking early harms and losses often hold our children back from developing in healthy or optimal ways and too often prevent them from developing trust and understanding just how precious they truly are...