Monday, February 6, 2012

the complication of bonding and attachment

In the adoption world we speak at great lengths about bonding and attachment. Most of us have at least one book on our shelves related to this topic.

When D and I became parents to baby T we were in shock. Two months after our hellish summer and knowing about T for three days we were now a mommy and daddy. It was surreal. It didn't take us long to fall in love with T, but it took me quite some time to bond and attach in that "I am your mommy" kind of way.

There are many experiences I was unable to have with T. I did not carry him for 9 months, I did not birth him, and I was not the first significant person to hold and welcome him into the world. I recognize that we have been blessed to experience parenting T since he was 2 days old...but none of those first few wee moments were ours to experience.

I will experience all these first moments with this new baby. All the parts of T's history that I wish were mine to share with him, will be mine to share with new baby. When T asks me about his womb and birth experience, I will essentially have nothing to say. When new baby asks, I will have much to share.

I sometimes wonder if some of my resistance to this pregnancy -- beyond the shock and real desire to have one child -- has to do with bonding and attachment. Perhaps my subconscious doesn't want to fully engage and experience what I was unable too with T. Perhaps fully acknowledging pregnancy and then birth will make me "less" of a mom to T. I struggled for a long time feeling that J had much more legitimate reason to claim the title of mom than I did because she did have that history with T.

I can hear your argument...of course you will never be anything but mom to T...this experience will never take any of your love, bonding, attachment, etc. away from him. This I all know and believe. However, what this blog space does for me is allow honest processing. And that is what this post is about. Being honest with myself and others about what is running through my head. To contemplate motherhood through adoption and then through birth has many layers and for me requires much intentional thought and processing.

I also acknowledge that if I am unable to experience some bonding or at least positive energy while pregnant, this baby will miss out. I choose to believe that, although faced with some tough decisions, J loved on T while he shared her womb and those first moments in the hospital when it was just the two of them. I pray and hope that someday T will be able to hear about that experience from J. If I can't share moments of love during pregnancy with new baby no one else will ever be able to fill in those shoes. This I know, but as I've said many times and will continue to say...I can't feel what I don't feel.

Lastly, I am also very aware that many women do not bond instantly with their newborn child. This can be a process and growing experience. So because of this, I am not concerned about my ambivalence towards this pregnancy and what might occur after birth in regards to bonding. I experienced ambivalence in my understanding of what it meant to become a mom in 3 days after signing a piece of paper. I worked through that time well enough to come out on the other side fully engaged and aware. I can do that again.

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