Though adjusting to being the parent of a new child can be tough, it's nothing compared to the adjustment an older adopted child has to make.
Have you ever had one of your child’s friends over and found yourself counting down the hours until the little pal goes home?
What happens though when there is no pick up time—no one is coming to collect the child in your home—the one you’ve just adopted? Though experience reminds you that, at some point, life will indeed return to normal, it will be a new normal and it won’t change in three hours or three weeks. If this is your situation, reassure yourself that this is to be expected, bonding requires time and you are not horrible because regret and self-pity occasionally rear their ugly heads.
Addy, my new daughter—my second adopted child—is four-years-old. I’d done my reading; I knew what to expect, but she arrived with an already formed personality, specific likes, dislikes, and habits. She had her own way of doing things and I had mine. My patience ran thin after a short period of time and caused frustration for both me and her.
Now, at the five month mark, things feel less developed than I would like. Her language is impressive but it’s still very challenging when every response to, “Why did you do that?” is, “I don’t know.”
With each new addition to my family, and when it becomes hard, I realize it is always a temptation to allow my mind to drift to greener pastures; whether it is an accurate picture or not, the lure to remember the “good old days” sneaks in.
Then, just the other day, while bathing our new daughter she and I began chatting about her birth family, as we have done many times before. I love to hear her stories of life in Haiti. She can still recall a remarkable amount about the time spent with her biological family and in an orphanage. As the conversation moves from sleeping, to bathing, to cooking in Haiti, she looks at me and says, “Mom, can you call Marlene [her birthmom] and tell her, “Addy is ready to come home now?”
This one comment reminded me of the unbelievable journey this child is taking, the incredible life she has already lived and the profound loss she has endured. I reassure her that one day she may see her family again, and if she wants she can live in Haiti when she is older. Her excitement is evident as she smiles big and says, “Oh thank you Mom.”
As I consider my other daughter, who knows no other mother than me, I wonder will it ever be the same for Addy and me. Will she ever look to me as her mother and desire to spend time with me when she is older? Will she want me with her when she has her own babies, or will she one day return to her birth family and we will be a distant part of her journey?
Bonding is akin to a tree, beginning with a seed of hope, sprouting from the ground with fondness, growing in laughter and enjoyment, bending with personality and blooming with love. With each season, new colours of expression appear, but at the base we are strong because we remember a tree doesn’t grow overnight and neither does attachment. We will cherish this season of growth as our family once again blends into one, a new branch added but still one tree.