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The Importance of the Parent-Child Bond

May 20, 2013

Attachment – the intense relationship between a child and his or her primary caregiver, usually the mother. Attachment encourages babies to explore their environment and helps them build confidence. According to Professor of Psychology Leslie Atkinson of
“attachment really is the child’s first strategy to deal with stress. As such, it plays a major role in our mental health as adults.”

Silhouette of Family

Silhouette of Family

It is the intensity of this relationship and Dr. Atkinson’s confirming findings that make the real-life drama of Rachael Clark’s life story so utterly amazing. Dane and Jennifer Clark waited for eight years and fostered more than 40 babies before finally getting the phone call that their county’s child protection service office had a baby girl ready for them to adopt.

On the September day in 1989 when Rachael was born, she was knotted in a dark, plastic garbage bag and thrown into a dumpster hard enough to cause her skull to fracture. She was badly injured and had hematomas, blood poolings, on both sides of her head. Her umbilical cord and placenta were still attached. Thomas Stephenson heard the baby crying in the back of his wife’s flower shop and rescued her, just moments before she ran out of oxygen.

The search for Rachael’s birth parent began, but they were never found. Rachael is now 23 years old and a straight-A student, graduating from the University of Maryland/ She is planning on getting married this summer and would like to have at least four children. She has set a goal to write a book about adoption and she also intends on pursuing her master’s degree in marriage and family therapy.

Today Rachael is okay, other than her issues with abandonment. Despite years of intensive therapy she still has some days that are just really rough getting through. But overall, Rachael is doing very well thanks to the continued love and support of Dane and Jennifer Clark. They have loved her unconditionally from the moment they first met her 23 years ago.

The Clarks have decided to make their story public for Rachael’s sake. Because, in spite of everything that has happened, Rachael has a deep desire to locate her birth parents. This desire is something that has persisted throughout her life. And as strange as it may sound, it is something that I too, as a foster mother of children, each with their own horror story about neglect, abandonment or abuse, who too, want nothing more in the world, than to ‘right’ the ‘wrong’ of the relationship with their natural parents. This attachment is something that pulls at each and every single child that has walked into our home over our our entire foster career.



Like the ‘love-light’ in Spielberg’s ET, these children are connected to this yearning to reconnect, to get another chance to make it right, to be accepted this time, and not discarded, not rejected, not made to feel as if they are unworthy of their birth parent’s love. The light dims, and in many cases with older, angry children, it gets muddied and covered over with a lot of dirt; but it never gets extinguished… NEVER!

According to NBC Washington Rachael has ‘more questions than anger’ for her birth family. “I just want to be able to tell them that I forgive them,” she said. “I definitely would want to tell them that I forgive them, and that my life has been great without them,” she added. Rachael has gotten to this point in her life after years and years of intensive therapy and the miraculous love and support of her Dane and Jennifer Clark.

But for the hundreds of thousands of other foster children, many of whom have not been adopted, but who remain wards of the county protective agencies; the ones that get bounced from place to place and continue to learn more and more destructive, negative behaviors; the end result is certainly not aimed at forgiveness. If only people of all walks of life, no matter what paths they choose, could understand and internalize the massive impact of the parental bond they assume before they give birth to yet another child who they are not in a position to care for and love.


I’m a licensed clinical social worker and have worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. I combine professional experience in the mental health field along with my love of writing to provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. I hope my down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life is easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

  1. i am her adoptive mother. love the article! jenifer clark

    • Oh my Goodness!!!! I am soooo thrilled to hear from you! What a glorious story you and she have to tell. I am honored to be able to meet you and I would love to keep in touch because I want to write more about your story!

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