He was fine. He gave me a kiss goodbye and was immediately distracted by cars and friends and buckets of toys to be dumped out. He played with trains and babbled happily to the teacher. He put stickers on a page and sat in the circle for story time.
I should have been happy. It was the first service I sat through in months. A rare chance for Glen and I to be WITHOUT the littles: holding hands, sitting with the grownups, listening without distraction, without drama or tantrums or grabby, sticky hands on my face.
But I cried at the door. I lingered behind all the other parents. I felt sick going down the stairs. And I choked on the songs we sang.
Doesn’t he need me? What if he does need me and I’m not there? Is it too soon? Am I compromising attachment? Have I been hovering too much? Will they really call at the first sign of sadness? What is wrong with me?
I don’t stress about my other kids this way. Not even B with her special needs and behavioural issues and one-on-one helper and pull-ups at age 8. I know them. I know what they can handle; what to expect from them and for them. I trust my instincts.
But the boy is new. I love him every bit as much as my other kids. But I don’t know him the way I know his sisters. The four months we’ve had together have made a huge difference. But I haven’t been raising him these past two years. And the instincts just aren’t there.
Or maybe they are there, but I question too much to hear what they have to say. I wonder about the traumas he’s been through, the adoption itself, his medical issues, his temperament and personality, and what his version of “normal” is supposed to be. When things go wrong, I panic. When things go well, I doubt.
The rule of thumb for adoption is: however long you were apart from your child, that is how long it will take to feel that seamless sense of belonging. That means almost two years of adjustment – for me! So much of our focus has been on making HIM feel safe and loved and truly at home with us. But it cuts both ways.
Those first weeks felt like a really long babysitting job. I had to keep reminding myself that I am the Mom. As wonderful and magical and God-ordained as adoption is, it is not a natural situation. My boy is not home-grown, and transplants take time.
We are adjusting and growing together every day: sleepy morning cuddles, dancing to Jukebox oldies in the living room, ‘helping’ me clean the floor… He fits. This IS where he belongs. And someday I won’t even remember life without him.
Until then, parenting isn’t quite the same. My emotions run high and my confidence is low and my big 2-year-old boy gets treated like a baby sometimes.
So here’s me, having a little trouble cutting the apron strings.
Linking up to The Parent Hood for the first time!