The list of apprehensions and risks when adopting older children tends to be longer than with a baby or toddler. We were urged by the experts to beware of sexual exposures, past abuses, physical outbursts, delays, effects of long-term malnutrition, RAD… I think the list was long enough that we didn’t overly concern ourselves with worries about bonding. In fact, along the way (even with our adoption of Mez) folks wondered aloud if loving a child that is not biologically ours and didn’t come to us as an infant would be possible. Strangely enough (as you know I’m a worrier by nature), it NEVER made the list. I suppose it was one of those things that God supernaturally abolished from my worry repertoire. Over the years’ of preparing for each of our adopted children, we had plenty of time to bond with the “idea” of each child and long for them to finally arrive. I did, however, consider that they might not bond immediately to us. I prayed constantly their hearts would be open to our love. There was NO guarantee.
In Ethiopia, the trio did the immediate bonding. The easy bonding. The bond based on “you took me from nowhere and alienation and made me belong,” the “finally I have something, someone to call mine,” the “you hug and cuddle and sing to me and make me feel precious for the first time in my life” and on it goes. Even though the trio jumped in full force, it was clear we had a way to go for me to be mama, really mama. A month later after arriving home, the bond deepened as we experienced boundaries, discipline, love, and belonging as a cumulative matter. The children began to see that these parts abide perfectly to create a safe love (even when they don’t like it). And somewhere in the mix, it’s shifted again. I have realized their attachment to me continues to morph. Instead of hovering underneath me, the children glance my way, catch my eyes, and without a word spoken ask for the stamp of safety. Once given, they are on their way. I’m finding boo-boos are reserved for my kisses and hugs alone. Mama isn’t just a novelty but safety and theirs.
Last night, I wasn’t with Hewan to put her to sleep. (I know we broke the Purvis' rules. Don't tell.) I was struggling through the question: to call or not to call when the phone rang. “Mama, It’s me, Hewani-ye. It’s time for me sleep. I need your voice. Sing me, mama. I’m here for you sing me. Your voice is for me, mama,” Hewan’s chirped. I was never happier to belt out 2 verses of “Slumber My Baby” in a less than private venue. By the end, my baby was ready to slumber, and at that moment I felt like Hewan welcomed me just a bit deeper into her heart and staked her claim clearly. I felt tagged. Labeled. Owned. You are my mama, and I am yours. Music to my ears. I know this is a marathon, not a sprint; but I never cease to be amazed at how quickly God is making all 9 of us 1.