I want to take a moment to talk about something that a lot of adoptive parents struggle with and many are afraid to admit. Bonding issues. I have had them with all 3 of my kids. All in completely different ways. And I am at the point where I have accepted that I just take a while. Having said that, while I am going through it, i still feel shame and guilt.
Bonding is different for everyone. I hear stories of so many moms who, whether by birth or adoption, fall madly in love with their children the moment they are in their arms and never have an issue. Take Mary Beth Chapman for example. In her book Choosing to See, she talks about that very thing, while discussing another topic completely.
"I saw it. The second she was placed in my arms, I would have fought to the death to protect her. I loved her with everything inside of me."
Now, let me clarify something. I have never felt love so strong as I do for my children. I too, would die to protect them. But for me in the beginning, I had to become familiar with who it was I was protecting. Who it was that I traveled the spanse of the globe to claim and name as my own and protect forever. God had designed that each of my children would be mine from the moment the universe was created. He knew each of us as Kobys and he would bring us together in this destiny that is our story. But He also knew that it would take me a little while to bond.
It was a decision i had to make at first. As Aimee was plopped into my arms in that stuffy little smoke filled office in the far reaches of south central China, screaming bloody murder and clawing to get away from me as she watched her foster father leave forever, I had to make a decision. "I will love this child. No matter what we go through together, in the end it will make us stronger. It will make us mother and daughter. Forever." I at times had to remind myself of that. Eric had to remind me of that as she (and I) continued to cry for the duration of our trip, overwhelmed by the stress of so many factors. But we would get there. That even though things seem a bit off balance for me now, they will one day just click. And there we will be. Her and I....truly bonded forever.
I remember the moment it happened with Elias most clearly. To be honest it was when we were in China. When I left, I loved him. I knew he was my son. He made me laugh and smile more than any little boy on this earth. He was yummy to hug and sweet to rock to sleep at night. But when I saw him on ichat, so far from me, so out of my reach, I realized at that moment that I loved him madly. Did you get that? I REALIZED it. I had had those feelings all along. But they just clicked at that moment. It was like a light bulb went off in my head and God said to me, "See Heather, I told you. I made every hair on his head and when I did I knew you were the mommy he needed. No one else could love him that much. Right there. You see it? That much...You love him that much. Take it in, let it warm you to the core."
And you know what?! Today is that day for me with Aimee. My light bulb went off and there we were. She and I, and it was beautiful.
Sometimes we need to just be honest with ourselves. Everyone is different and our feelings and struggles are all legitimate. It doesn't make you less of a mother because you struggle. Heck if that were true we'd all be done for.
We also need to remember that love is not just a feeling. My mother always used to remind me that love is a responsibility. It is work, and tears, and defeat. But it is also play, and joy, and triumph. And those are things we need to remind ourselves of. Those are the things that make great memories. And those are the things that allow us to be honest in times of struggle.
I am so proud of where God is bringing me as a mom with my family. If it weren't for him we surely wouldn't be where we are now. And we do have far to go. I have a son in Haiti as far as I am concerned and I know God is concerned. But for some reason he has us at this place. In an untraditional set up. Me loving him from afar, but still able to care for him through the love of others. That is the way it must be for now. But I will not stop until we are where he wants us to be. Because our journey ends when we die. My pastor said that once, and I have never forgotten. We don't get to retire from being his hands and feet. We must press on, no matter how we feel or hurt, or tire.
And that is the story of us. And my story for today as I enjoy my light bulb moment.