How Adoption is Like Our Relationship with God
Adoption bonding is a tricky thing. He reaches for me. He waits for me. He smiles and giggles and opens up his hands. But is his heart open? Is he really attaching?
Adoptive mommas know – adoption bonding is hidden and sneaky. It is a marathon, a journey, not a race with a finish line. Even two years home, I still see where attachment is not as strong as it could be with our daughter.
So with our new little guy, I’ve been highly sensitive to his needs, to his cries, and to his preferences. He loves to be held by me, if it gets him something he wants. He will accept comfort when he is hurt and has started running to me for hugs and kisses over boo-boos. He is not 100% there, though. I can’t explain it. On the outside it looks healthy and strong, but small things reveal places he hasn’t completely let go and let us into his heart.
He still cries and doesn’t like to be rocked to sleep. He will fight and scream and sometimes hit. He will gladly go to someone else if they give him what he wants. Songs are a way into his heart, we are learning. All I have to do is start singing “This Little Light of Mine” and he calms a little. When he realizes I won’t put him down, and I want to comfort him, he resolutely and reluctantly concedes to my cuddles with a stiff head on my shoulder.
The head on my shoulder isn’t a sign of comfort or snuggles, it is an acceptance. A willingness to give up and give in to my affection. He will “kiss” all of us freely – especially at night, but it is routine and a ritual. It is not affection. He will hug with the same attitude. He is only two, so I can’t expect a deep heart connection. I know – this boy born to another mother – will eventually let me in. He will eventually see me as more than just a caregiver.
The other day he was coloring in the dining room. I was in the kitchen. He rushed in, patted my arm, “Mama, Mama,” he called. I looked down and he is holding his picture up for me to see. I smiled and told him good job. He smiled and ran back to finish his artwork.
So the bonding and attachment are moving much faster this 2nd time around. He is easy to like. He is lovable and cute and squishy. But I know I can’t let the outward deceive. I’m still fighting for his heart. He is getting there – but attachment is going to be guarded. Protected until….well, I don’t think I’ll ever relax. Bonding is a constant moving forward, with all of my children. As they grow, the bonding and attachment must grow as well.
So if you see me giving in to him more, don’t worry. We aren’t spoiling him. We are showing him what love looks like. If you see me pick him up and cradle him, way beyond his years, its because the early years didn’t have the cuddles it should have. If you see me use different disciple techniques – its because we are keeping the invisible thread of attachment strongly attached with trust and boundaries.
Isn’t that the case with us as well? Our Heavenly Father longs for us to attach and bond with Him. Trust and boundaries is the same tool He uses with us. God is teaching me so much through parenting, but the most important thing I’ve learned recently is trust happens over time. Trust builds, one brick at a time. We give God a little, a little more, and suddenly, we realize He is worthy of all of our trust. In every area of my life, there are places I keep back. I hold onto and try to control. Whether its my parenting, my marriage, or my friendships, I don’t fully let God have access to pieces of those things.
The boundaries set forth in His word are for our protection, and also so we can attach to Him. Connect with Him and see Him as the loving Father He truly is. The more our son is with us, the more I get to know him. He loves blocks, and trucks, and even baby dolls sometimes. He loves Chinese food and hates popsicles. The more we get to know God, the more we can learn to trust Him. The more our relationship with God will grow.
On of the ways for our relationship to grow and flourish is to get encouragement from His word. I don’t know about you, but as a busy mom, I don’t have time to do a lot of in-depth study of God’s Word. I’m lucky most days to ready one or two verses before we head out the door to drop the boys off at school.
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