One thing that many parents worry about with a new baby is bonding. This is not exclusive to adoptive parents, but there lies an extra layer of worry. We wonder if the lack of DNA connection means a lack of human connection. What makes a child of this world connect to you when you have nothing in common?
Steph and I talked about this months ago while taking our adoption preparedness classes. We both said we didn’t think it was a problem, but how do you really know? I based my thinking on Quinton. We adopted him after he was eight weeks old, and despite not sharing family, or sharing breed, we’ve bonded over the years.
This was one of a number of things that I would translate from dog ownership to being a parent. Yes, there are many similarities, but having a dog in preparation for a baby is like playing Mario Kart to learn how to drive.
There’s a bathroom at the top of our staircase. It’s my bathroom (until further notice), but as with many things in this house, there are slight flaws. Our house was built during the boom, so it was built fast and hid its flaws well. The flaw with the bathroom is that the door will not stay open. If you open it, it will fall back to a 45 degree angle from the door frame. Not devastating, but something that drives my better half crazy.
To alleviate this issue, we have a duck. Obviously. It’s one of those “massage ducks” that you press a button and it vibrates and you hold it on your back. We use it as a door stop. I may have found it silly at first, but now it’s just second nature to use it to hold the door open.
Why have I spent two paragraphs talking about our door duck? Well, now with the door open fully, when you come up our stairs you can see yourself in the mirror. For two months now, I’ve come up those stairs with a baby in tow. For a while, it was me and a beautiful baby. I knew she was mine, but there’s a difference between knowing and feeling.
I’m not sure when it happened, but one day I came up those stairs. She was no longer a beautiful baby, but my daughter. It was no longer just a statistic that was written somewhere, but a fact of my heart.
I don’t know when Steph had her bonding moment, but I know that she has. The evidence from Hell Week was abundant. What was Hell Week? Just everything happening at once. The week started off with a visit from my parents, my brother and his girlfriend. She loves them all, but she’s got to be a good host, which can be stressful on it’s own. Throw on top of that the fact it was her last weekend before going back to work makes it just that much more stressful.
Going back to work means working on her spring show, reaquainting with her students, and worrying that maybe they don’t want her back. It also means meetings, grades, and early morning choir. At the end of the week, it’s also immunization time for baby. Worrying about what will happen afterwards, not to mention the initial pain that getting stabbed will be.
What’s most telling though, is the thing she worried most about was daycare. Going back to work also meant the start of daycare. The start of someone else caring for her every need. Someone else experiencing all the cuteness. Someone else there when she does something for the first time.
Tuesday morning came, and I got Eva ready for the day. I changed her, fed her, and gathered her things for the day. Steph got ready for work, and was doing fine….until I placed Eva in her car seat, the straw that broke the camels back. Steph started to cry. It was sad that she wouldn’t be there for Eva today. She gathered herself and took her to daycare.
I told Steph I would stop by at lunch to check on her. The teachers at daycare were very sweet and understanding. They told me they felt so bad for Steph that morning. While she had gathered herself at home, once she handed Eva over to them, it was more than she was ready to bear.
Every emotion is running through her. How can I be so selfish to drop my baby off with these strangers? Am I a terrible parent for leaving my baby here? How will they know how to raise my baby?
She made it out of there, tears in hand. She was comforted by a friend on the way out, but that could not contend with the rampart of emotions. She cried all the way to work, and gathered herself with her children, only to nearly fall of the cliff again when a co-worker would ask how it was to be back.
Perhaps lost in all this saddness is a shining light. Each of those questions she asked of herself, she always referred to Eva as “My Baby”. When I tried comforting her that morning, there was one thing I told her that was most true. We don’t have to worry about her bonding with Eva.