I’m posting this because I’ve spent the past two days broken hearted and regretting the fact that I am an honest and introspective person.
My wife and I brought home our newborn baby girl in the second half of November. She is our second adoption through a local adoption agency. We brought our son home in May of 2007. My son is mixed race of 1/2 African, 1/4 Irish and 1/4 Japanese decent. My daughter is fully of African decent.
We had our first home visit two weeks after we brought our daughter home and during the visit the social worker asked if we had bonded with the child yet. I stated that my wife had, but I hadn’t yet. I wasn’t overly concerned and I had thought about the reasons that the bonding hadn’t quite taken yet. You see two of my many flaws are: the need to over-analyze everything (Thanks Psychology Degree) and the need to explain my analysis as honestly as possible to those who ask (or I think should know). So leaving myself open to be judged by alot of people who don’t know me, this is what I told the social worker:
First of all for the past two years, I had been expecting a mixed race daughter. In my mind I had been picturing her as looking like a female version of my son. My daughter, however, is nothing close to that, and it was taking me a bit to get used to what my expectations were and what the reality was. I was also completely shocked by the fact that my daughter had breasts. I had never heard of a baby with breasts before and to be honest, it completely freaked me out. I’ve since researched the phenomenon and now have no concerns, but that first impression was definitely an eye opener. I also explained to the social worker that there were other factors, like the fact that I had a contract position and so wasn’t able to take time away from work. My 2 1/2 year old son was also a complication. When I was available to be with the family he needed me as much, if not more than my new daughter.
I was never concerned about the bonding. I knew that it would happen. I had gone threw the same process before. And if you figure the time frame it had only been 3 weeks since we found out we were picked to be parents. Non-Adopting parents get 9 months to come to terms with the situation.
Anyway, 2 days ago (though it feels like weeks) we got a call in the morning from the lead social worker saying they wanted us to come to their office (a 45 minute drive) this next Monday. They were concerned that I hadn’t bonded with the baby. And they finished the call “Oh, and make sure you bring the baby with you.”
I was horrified. There had to be more to it then just the fact I hadn’t bonded after 2 weeks, right? How could that be an issue. They have us read all these stupid books about adopting and they always seem to mention how bonding is a process and don’t worry if it doesn’t happen right away. And then when I’m open and honest about it they decide they need to start setting up special meetings. I was in tears almost the entire day that first day. I sent an email to the head of the agency stating that I Loved My Daughter and this implied accusation broke my heart.
Loving your child is the part the means the most, isn’t it? Why does bonding matter so much? What does “bonding” even really mean?
Last night I woke up at 4 in the morning to feed my daughter (our family situation pretty much requires that I’m the one who has night duty [long story maybe another post]) and as I was feeding her I couldn’t stop thinking about that stupid meeting. What did it really entail? Why did it have to be at their office? Was there more to it than just this “bonding” issue? Why hadn’t anybody replied back to my email? Was I going to be walking into a room full of lawyers and a police officer who would ask me to give my child back?
For four hours I lay there, my stomach aching, my mind racing. My eyes watering. My Baby Girl lying there quietly beside me… 3 days until the meeting…
So this morning I called the head social worker. And she told me it really was just the bonding issue. It was a huge concern for them. Nobody had EVER said “No” to the question before.
She was nice, though businesslike (like most social workers seem to be), but she said she couldn’t say “Everything is going to be all right.”.
She did say, they weren’t going to take away the baby (which I, at first, never really thought was a possibility but at 4 in the morning seems ever more real) and that it would just be her and my family in a room, talking just like we were doing on the phone. She’d want to talk to us individually and together. And she just couldn’t move the meeting up. She basically finished up with: If you have any more moments of worry over the weekend you can call me.
Which, in a way was nice but not really all that helpful. I still feel guilty and hurt and scared, but about what? I don’t know. I guess when you’re sleep deprived negative emotions are hard to get over. And I assure you “After Adoption Depression” doesn’t just happen to mothers.
It does help to write this down (I feel better than I did when I started). And having my baby girl cooing in my ear as I do doesn’t hurt either. The bonding process definitely has started in full swing. Though as I told the adoption agency in my email:
So the concern that I haven’t bonded seems to be unfounded. There’s nothing like a vague suggestion that you may not be fit as a parent to help you bond with your child. It’s too bad it couldn’t have been filled with the natural joys of me getting to know and appreciate my daughter for who she is, instead of having it slammed into my psyche with a phone call.
Anyway, I wanted to post this some place where I could get some feedback from people who might understand. Maybe it’ll turn out it really is just me.
Thank you for reading this and for your comments.