A few months after bringing Matthew home from Korea, I began my search. After a while, I thought that things were supposed to be perfect between us and they weren’t. They weren’t close. I was scared. I scoured blogs, books, and articles. I knew adjustment periods varied to a point, but I have a logical mind and I wanted to know when.
I wanted to know when every day wasn’t going to feel like an overwhelming amount of work. I wanted to know when the feelings that I wanted to feel were going to be there naturally so I could stop pretending. I wanted to know when or if my agitation level would ever decrease.
I read through blogs that mentioned “a few weeks” of adjustment. I rolled my eyes and tried not to throw my laptop out a window. Someone mailed me a copy of the book “Post Adoption Depression”. I told my husband, “I really don’t think I’m depressed. I’m just scared that Matthew and I will never, ever like each other……well, I guess that is depressing.” I scanned through the book, but I have a confession: I was trying to find a passage that had the magic number, the amount of time it takes you to bond with your new child. News flash–it never said. Stupid book.
When we had been home with Matthew for 3 months, someone emailed me and said that her sister adopted a sibling group from Ethiopia and it took her 6 months to feel “motherly” towards the oldest son. She said this in a way that was like, don’t worry, can you believe it took her 6 months????
I took a deep breath and told myself, 6 months, tops. I can do this. That was worst case scenario. At 6 months home, I was beginning to feel “neighborly” towards Matthew…..what kind of monster was I?
I don’t know the answer to that question. All I know was, I told myself, this is my family, every day. We finalized. We resolved to get through it and I really believed that one day everything was going to be good.
Matthew began getting specialized therapies through his preschool and finally getting sleep. Things slowly began to click for both of us. I had to let go of the timeline and accept that there is no formula for falling in love with your kid. I also had to accept that while it is hard for a lot of people, I still believe that our experience is on the outer limits of how hard it is for most people….and that is probably a combination of Matthew and my personalities put together.
The bad news is, if you are an adoptive parent and you are reading this, I cannot give you a definitive answer as to how long it might take you to bond with your child. It could be a few weeks or you could be like me and struggle through months and months and wake up one day to realize that the things that used to be so hard just feel like life now. You might be cooking dinner one night and think, wow, things are good. When did they get so good? Or when did they stop being so bad?
I take that back. I think I can give you a definitive answer. Do you know when I finally fell in love with my son?
When I least expected it.