Before I update how things are going, I want to preface our personal experience, advice and results with the reminder that every child and every family is different... there is absolutely no black and white formula in adoption! Just as everyone who adopts has their own unique experience and challenges, we also have had a rare experience with it's own difficulties. We brought home an almost 1 yr. old right after bringing home a newborn, 4.5 months earlier. In essence, we faced the new and stretching experience of "twins" at the same time as the new and stretching experience of adoption. Certainly God-ordained but completely unfamiliar territory for me.
I have a few friends with twins and many friends who have adopted, but no friends that have had both at the same time. I'm pretty sure I'm not the only one that feels "alone" when there is no one around facing the same circumstances as you. Remember that is ONLY a feeling though! God will never leave us nor forsake us!
Because of our interesting situation, there is something that has to be mentioned. Bonding and attachment is readily talked about from the child's perspective but rarely talked about from the parent's perspective. In our situation, I struggled with bonding to Sarah on some level. I didn't recognize it at first because I thought our "disconnect" was coming from Sarah not bonding to me. And there is truth to that, but I guess it's kind of like trying to figure out if the chicken came before the egg.
I struggled because.... when I would walk into the room, Emily would smile and squeal and Sarah would just look at me. I struggled because I couldn't seem to comfort Sarah the same way as my other kids. I struggled because there were fewer "mommy" moments than "caretaker" moments in our relationship. It's funny, it seems men are usually the ones that struggle with these thoughts before deciding to adopt, but I wouldn't be surprised if it's the mommies that struggle the most in post-adoption.
Well, before anyone might get discouraged about adopting.... let me say, Sarah and I are doing GREAT!! There are 2 reasons why.
Remember, in my post last fall, that I felt God telling me that He was going to heal Sarah's hurting, insecure heart through me? Well, God continued to teach me in this. Part of why I struggled was the little differences I noticed in how Sarah responded to me versus the other kids. A few months ago God impressed on me 1 John 4:19, "We love, because He first loved us." Wow! Do you see that? When God adopted us, He loved us FIRST and THEN we were able to love Him back. Is that not the same in earthly adoptions? The Truth really does always set you free : )
We received a book from Lifesong for Orphans, after our adoption, called The Connected Child by Dr. Purvis. It is WONDERFUL! I highly recommend it. Here are three things we got from this book that have helped tremendously in perspective and pro-activity:
1. Time- Relationships take time. Don't expect too much too soon. Every time table is different. Patience, patience, patience and then some more.
2. Intentionality- It's no surprise that the newborn stage is vital to learning to trust and bonding. When that stage is missed, Dr. Purvis suggests recreating some of those important aspects of infancy, like, long periods of eye contact, skin on skin touching and one on one interacting. This was incredibly good for me in connecting with Sarah... loved it!!
3. Discipline- The first year Sarah was home I disciplined her the same way I did Emily. By the end of that first year, every time I disciplined, she was worse. We were doing a lot of "time-outs". Dr. Purvis says that "time-outs" can reinforce feeling separated, disconnected or unloved. Instead, we've tried her recommended "time-ins" the last few months. It's been a great success. We don't take Sarah to her room anymore when she misbehaves but now we sit her against a wall in close proximity to us where she is not isolated. I can't begin to tell you how much better this has worked for us!
All in All, I am madly in love with mi Princesa, Sarah! She is sweet, funny, kind, mild-natured, shy, and absolutely delightful! Sarah and I share so many intimate moments that are full of sheer joy! I am so thankful for the beauty God has created in our mother/daughter bond. God is so good and so faithful. He never ceases to teach me about His unfathomable grace! What privilege it is to experience the "shadow" of our spiritual adoption on this earth with my precious daughter from the heart.
Oh, and by the way, now BOTH my girls smile and squeal when I walk into the room... just ask the church nursery workers!!!