Believe it or not, one year ago today we were holding Eli in our arms for the first time. In some ways it feels like so long ago and in others it feels like it was yesterday. This has been one roller coaster of a year. In truth, every year of parenting is a roller coaster, but this one was unique.
With Eva everything just worked out. We couldn’t have asked for a more positive adoption experience, or even a better fit, with both the birth parents and Eva. Of course we experienced the ups and downs of being new parents, but everything was new and wonderful…almost magical. Never in my wildest dreams…okay, maybe my wildest…did I expect what would hit us the following year.
We learned of Eli’s expected arrival when Eva was only 8 months old. While I may have made it sound like I was wavering about whether to say yes or no to welcoming this new sibling into our home, I knew right when I heard the news that we had to say yes. I could not say no to Eva’s blood sibling. I could not say no to a situation that God seemed to have served to us on a silver platter. As adoptive parents, you can’t ask for a better scenario…well, maybe waiting a little longer between children would have been better. As we often do, I did struggle saying yes to God in this situation. Had we had enough time with Eva? Did we have enough love, energy, and resources for another so soon? Could we afford both the adoption expenses and to raise a second child? As you well know, we did answer yes, which led us to what happened a year ago.
Eli came into the world on his own terms. We went to the hospital three different times. He was on track to arrive early morning, but took his sweet time. Once he decided it was time, he didn’t even wait for the doctor, and the poor nurse ended up delivering him most of the way. Yes, he made quite the entrance. We should have known then that things weren’t going to be easy.
Soon after delivery, while birthmom was resting, Scott and I looked at each other and I said something to the effect that it just doesn’t feel the same this time. I don’t feel like I’m bonding with him. I just feel like I’m taking care of someone else’s child. Scott reassured me that he felt different as well, but it was all okay. We had heard about delayed bonding in our adoption classes. Everything would be fine. We decided to head home for dinner to see Eva. I sobbed the whole way home. What had we done? We got back to the hospital and I sobbed some more. I wanted to be home with my baby girl, not there taking care of someone else’s baby. I texted with my very supportive friends and got some much needed sleep. I was able to see everything in a new light the next morning…thank goodness. Apparently the stress and lack of sleep had gotten to me. That day I felt more at ease and felt like we’ve got this, we just did it last year. Everything will be fine.
Eva took to her new brother pretty well and things went relatively smoothly. However, neither of us were prepared for the chaos factor, nor the witching hour (the hour before supper). Eva continued to go to day care for a few months so I could focus on Eli during the day. Bonding was still and issue for me. I would do things for him, but not because I wanted to, because I had to. Eva was a needy baby. She was difficult to put to sleep and wanted to be held all the time, which made bonding a bit easier with a sleeping baby on your chest. Eli fell asleep easily and did not want to be held while sleeping most of the time. This was great since we also had a toddler to take care of, but it did not help with bonding.
Eli and I had our first major bonding experience when I took him on a solo trip with me to Portland, OR to a friend’s wedding. Everything went so well, and we had finally made a connection. Only two days after returning from our trip, we got the call. The “you need to call your lawyer and file an interlocutory order right away because another potential birthfather has stepped forward and wants Eli” call. Our world was shattered and so was my bond with Eli. I couldn’t bring myself to bond with him if he was only going to be taken away. In fact, part of me just wanted to give him back then and there. After all, as horrible as it sounds, if we were going to lose him it would be much easier to do so after 2 months than a year. We struggled through a number of phone conversations that night, as we wanted to prepare our families before they made the trip out for Eli’s baptism that weekend. Yes, that’s right, we had to celebrate only a few days after hearing this heart wrenching news. To add to the stress, I had just made the decision to be a stay at home mom (definitely not something I took lightly), and now we were looking at possibly paying outrageous legal bills.
Over the next months, we went through spurts of hearing nothing, and then hearing more. While my bond was getting stronger, it would fracture a little with every bit of news and bring old memories and feelings back to the surface. We made it to our court date in July where we were elated that we were going to have this behind us, only to be told by our lawyer and the adoption agency that it still wasn’t over, that this really only would slow someone down. We left the courthouse feeling like we were no better off than when we had arrived. Then we made it to October, when Eli’s adoption was finalized! We had a party and celebrated, but I still had my reservations. I knew that the adoption file could be reopened until a year from finalization. While we were distracted by all of this, and not to mention a toddler as well, Eli was growing by leaps and bounds and hitting milestones faster than we could turn around. We missed it. We didn’t appreciate it. We said, finally you’re rolling over, sitting up, crawling, walking, etc. We have continued to have these ups and downs with hearing news, as well as the typical ups and downs of parenting, and we have missed our baby’s infancy. Eli, our baby boy, is a year old now. What happened?
However, I also look at Eli now and think, “You are my son. I do not want to live without you. It would be more than I can bear.” Somewhere during this roller coaster of a year he has stolen my heart…we have bonded. All those things I worried about when we first heard of his expected arrival are obsolete. His smile and laugh melt my heart, just like his sister’s. We are a family and he knows he is loved. In the end, that is really all that really matters. Happy birthday, baby boy!