Saturday, August 27, 2011

bonding...

Adoption is difficult...have I said that before? It is. It is difficult.
Beautiful.
Painful.
Confusing.
Fulfilling.
Dirty.
Messy.
Gut-wrenching.
Joy-inducing.
As Katie Davis says, "it is the gospel in my living room."

Bonding is one of those things that I never thought about until I was expecting Elijah. During the 9 months I carried him I was plagued by the doubt of a brand new mother...would I be a good mother? Would I mess him up? I read books and I came across this concept of 'bonding'...they said that some people bonded right away with their babies and for some people it took longer. What did THAT mean? Did they mean that I could be taking care of a baby that didn't feel like my own? Was I going to be despondent and depressed after giving birth because I didn't love my baby?? And it seemed like it could be up to fate...a simple dealing of the cards...some people bond, some don't. WHAT?!?!? I freaked out. Then I remembered, I don't believe in fate! God gave me this baby and love comes from GOD...not from nature, not from genetics, not from the air...love comes from God and He will develop it and grow it.

Thankfully, for a brand new mama who was already struggling with confidence, I did not struggle to bond with my baby when he came. I didn't even have to try. It was completely natural and I never thought about bonding again...until my next blessing was put in my arms 2.5 years later and my first thought was, "Who is THAT?"

I had to try a little harder with Iliana. I loved her, without a doubt...but she wasn't as familiar. I held her and babied her and loved on her, just as I had with Elijah and slowly, over the next few weeks, I was hooked. My ah-ha moment...so THAT'S what they meant about bonding...

With both of my bonding examples God filled me with love...I didn't get to watch Him do it with Elijah--it was immediate--so fast that I didn't even realize I had been blessed...but with Iliana, I got to watch Him grow my love for my baby girl. He filled me up with love for her so clearly & measurably that I was able to praise Him for it daily.

Bonding is really just a scientific label for loving. While most of the time we use the word love when we are describing how we feel...it really is an action. Bonding is the action of loving. When I was bonding with Iliana, I would sing to her, hold her, rock her, dress her, feed her, soothe her, bathe her, talk to her... all loving actions that grew love for her in my heart. It is the same with adoption.

One of my very favorite books in the Bible is 1 John. Long before I was a parent, I loved this scripture. It has helped me-- a rather closed, careful person by nature-- to open up and to love others. God has used 1 John 4 especially in my life to teach me. When Jared and I were first starting to date, God used 1 John 4:18 to help me to open up to Jared when I was scared to be vulnerable. 1 John 4:7-12 specifically spoke to all those questions I had in my heart (and from others) while we were going through the adoption process...How can I love a child that is not my own flesh and blood? Can I love them as much?

Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God...no one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and His love is made complete in us...and so we know and rely on the love God has for us. God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God and God in Him.

I love love love this. It fills me with peace and gives me confidence. God IS love. The love I have for Elijah is not made less because I love Judah...it multiplies...and not because I am some endless fount of love, but because God in me gives me more of Himself.

If I practice love on Canaan and Eden, I love them. My heart grows more connected with them. But I have to actively love them. No, it isn't natural...but it is against my selfish, sinful nature to love ANYone more than myself. The God in me trumps my sin-nature. Oh, how I thank Him for this. Instead of limited, selfish love; I have God-sized, supernatural love to give to my children--ALL of my children.

The practice and process of bonding with my 'homegrown' children all took place when they were babies. It's the same with Canaan and Eden. They are in their 'infant' stage in our family and I bond with them the same way I bonded with Iliana.

I dress them.
Even though they can dress themselves, I frequently help them--not because they need my help but because they need to learn to rely on me.

I talk to them.
And with this, I have to make the conscious effort to make eye contact with them. I don't know why, but my natural tendency while keeping myself guarded is to not make eye contact with people. I have to force myself to look at my kiddos in their eyes when I talk to them and to listen to them with my eyes.

I bathe them.
Yep, I'm their mom. I'm responsible for their messes, bodies included.

I hold them and soothe them.
Canaan's tendency when he came home was to soothe himself. I pretty much had to force myself on him at first when he would hurt himself. He didn't want my sympathy--it didn't help him. Slowly, he grew to accept it and now, he needs me more.

I laugh with them.
Very important. We have fun together. Tickles. Wrestle. Chase. Draw. Dance. Sing.
Fun together.

I share my drink with them.
Weird huh? I have never been a parent who shares my food with my kids. They drink out of their own glasses because I think floaties in my drink are gross ...but with Canaan and Eden, for some reason, the sharing of spit warms my heart to them. Kinda like a mark that they are mine. Call me crazy...but it really, really helps.

Bonding. The practice of loving--actively, consciously. And God supports it, enables it, IS it.

Gotta love the real.

4 comments:

JJ said...

oh my goodness,I needed that. Thank you! Oh, and how is the mold? Gone hopefully? Update please!!! =) Thinking of you!

Ryan and Dorothy said...

just got all caught up on your blogging, you are such an inspiring family and we will be keeping you in our prayers!

The Raudenbush Family said...

Would you allow me to repost this on We Are Grafted In? I would love to. I'd need a bio for you and a picture of you to go with the bio. Let me know!
Kelly
www.wearegraftedin.com

Claire said...

My sister pointed me to your blog and although I've read only one post, I'm so blessed by the life you lead! Look forward to reading more and being encouraged by your beautiful family.

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