Bonding with an adopted child was a big topic of adoptive parenting 33 years ago. Everyone knew how important it was to bond with your baby. I think that for each of my kids it was a little different. In our case the differences depended on their temperaments, the time of year, and lots of other variables.
Bonding with Colin, our first child
My first baby was so exciting and so emotional, partly because we had a long build up to my son’s birth. We had met his birth mother the second week in July. She was 18 and very mature and independent. We formed a very close bond with her from July until Colin was born, talking on the phone every Saturday morning at 10:00. We knew so many things about each other, and it turned out that we had people in common in our lives. Jack and I were so happy. Colin was born in Santa Barbara, so we had to fly down for the delivery to make it on time. We took him home on the plan at just 22 hours old, and that was the start of our parenting journey!
I adored my first born so much that I couldn’t imagine loving another baby as much!
But then 11 months later we got Molly, and how I fell in love with her too. Her birth mom had very different needs than Colin’s. We went out to dinner one night to meet her, and then in a matter of 90 minutes, she told us we would be great parents, and it was time for her to get home and watch the 49ers first game! Okay, here we go! To weeks later Molly was born not far from our home. We met Molly’s grandmother on the escalator at the hospital. Molly ended up in the NICU due to complications from her birth. Her birth mother left the hospital with hardly a word. It was such a different start. We had our family of two almost instantly, and we were so thrilled. Molly turned out to be the dream baby–easy, happy, patient (if a baby can be called patient!) and ever so tolerant of her older brother who became her best buddy. These two babies were Irish twins who looked alike by the time they were one and two. I took them everywhere in a double stroller, and they always attracted a lot of positive attention. I was in heaven. I couldn’t believe our luck at having a family.
Jack and I wanted to keep adopting more children.
We both came from big families and were hopeful to have a family of six. A neighbor tipped us off about the possibility of adopting our third, Brendan, and we couldn’t wait! When Colin was 4 and Molly was 3, Brendan was born. It was yet another very different experience with our birth mother. We met Megan in November over dinner–after a long and treacherous drive to the east bay in a rain storm. We immediately loved Megan, and we were hopeful that she would choose us. Brendan was due on Valentine’s Day, and Megan already knew she was having a boy. Megan’s decision process was very different in that it took her more time to tell us that we would be Brendan’s parents. This was also the first time a birth father was part of our adoption story. It seemed to us that Megan would have liked to parent Brendan if the birth father would be involved. Finally, in January, Megan told me that it was a go. I remember going to the doctor’s appointment with her two weeks before Brendan was born. And he was born two weeks early at the end of January. The delivery was very quick–he arrived minutes before we got to the hospital. Megan had originally asked me to be at the delivery but things went so, so fast. I met Megan’s mom at the door right after delivery. She told me that Megan was doing fine and resting. Soon I was able to hold Brendan.
I immediately fell in love the moment I took Brendan in my arms.
I drove home later that morning and that afternoon Jack and Molly and Colin and I went to pick up Brendan and bring him home. Megan wanted to meet Colin and Molly so she could see who Brendan’s siblings would be. Megan’s dad greeted us at the nursery and together we wheeled Brendan to Megan’s room. That was so so tough for me to see this grandfather saying goodbye to his first born grandson. Megan was so wonderful and stoic and cute with Colin an Molly. I think we all felt good about it, but very emotional deep in our hearts. We were so grateful that Colin and Molly were there with us to pick up their brother. It was a very concrete example to them of how adoption works. They both knew they were adopted, but it’s hard to tell when this becomes something they clearly understand. A week or two later, when we were watching Mr. Rogers’ Neighborhood, Colin made a comment I’ll never forget. Mr. Rogers was showing all these mommy animals nursing their young. Colin said that we didn’t do that sort of thing in our house because “we don’t born our babies.” I knew then that Colin understood the concept well. For my kids, I think, they thought that adoption was pretty regular stuff.
Sometimes I think that my three kids and I are more bonded at this point in our lives than most families.
We are incredibly close. Their father passed away 10 years ago suddenly of a massive stroke, and everyone moved back home at the time. We healed together in our own ways and in our own time frames, but we really came through it well. And we came through it together. My kids are now in their 30s, and I couldn’t be prouder of where they are individually in their lives. Bonded is definitely a word that would describe how we feel.