“If you don’t cuddle her, she will cry; if you cuddle her, she would laugh happily; you kiss her neck and play with her, she would giggle” (from Ava’s file). I can picture sweet Ava laughing and giggling at her nanny’s touch. The smile that comes across her face when she sees a familiar adult approaching. But then I can’t help but wonder, how often is she given this opportunity to laugh and giggle from touch? Once an hour? Once every few hours? Once a day? Once every few days? While her nanny does her best to tend to all of the children in her care, it is impossible for her to cater to each beyond his or her basic needs. Ava has made it clear that she enjoys physical touch, as that is human nature. But she doesn’t get it nearly as much as she should.
Many of us take human touch for granted, myself included. I can’t even count how many times I touch my boys throughout a given day. From the moment they wake in the morning, to the hug and kiss at tuck in, I feel as though I am constantly touching them – holding hands, ruffling hair, bear hugs, tickles, high fives, snuggles. If I had to guess, I’d say at least every 15-20 minutes I touch them. It’s intrinsic to my Mom-denity. I can’t NOT touch them. Doesn’t Ava deserve the same? A Mom who just can’t leave her alone?!
In a way, I am grateful that Ava craves touch. I have seen far too many orphans in orphanages recoil in anticipation of touch, as they have learned to fear it – whether from abuse or strict unfamiliarity with it. Nurturing human touch is something so foreign to them that they cannot recognize any good from it. But not Ava. Ava holds out hope for that touch. Somewhere within her, she recognizes its importance, and how it brings joy to her sedentary life. Ava has made amazing strides in physical therapy, maybe in large part because touch is involved. Oh to think of the positive gains she would make in a family. In a family who would love on her, and hug her, and kiss her, and tickle her to her hearts content.
Ava is 3 1/2 and is waiting through Madison Adoption Associates. There is a $1,000 grant available for the family who adopts her. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.