Monday, December 5, 2011

The Time Bond

Not only is it vital for children to bond with their parents, adoptive parents need to bond with their children.  Bonding takes time -- lots of it.  I believe the amount of time is different for each parent and child, but whether the time be short or long it is worth it.

As I shared at the beginning of this series on bonding, God gave me a connection with my children before we even knew them.  However, just like with a phone, a connection can be weak.  It can be intermittent. Or it can be lost.  This connection had to be built upon so that a bond was formed.

My husband formed a close bond with our oldest adopted son within the first year.  It was my husband that was able to reach Troy through all his anger.  He held him when he raged out of control.  He cried with him.  He talked to him.  He learned to love what Troy loved (football) in order to reach him.  My husband is as close to him as any of our other children.  It has taken me much longer to the feel that bond, but it has developed.  We have some pretty special moments that I wouldn't trade for the world.  I call them heart treasure.

For Michael because of the Reactive Attachment Disorder it has been much longer journey to bonding.  We still have to continually work towards strengthening that bond.  This is part of the reason I say the amount of time depends on the child and the parent.  There are life circumstances that can make this process difficult.  As an adoptive parent we must not feel like we've failed when that bond takes more time then we think it should.  We must realize that it's a process.  If we are loving as God calls us to love then we are doing our part.  It is difficult though because our hearts and souls have been poured into these children.  Many days, months, and even years, it feels like there are no results.  But how sweet it is when progress is made.  It leads to a heart overflowing with love and joy.

I had a bond with our Amber Girl almost immediately.  When we met each other, it was like we knew each other from the beginning.  I spent nights singing "Jesus Loves Me" to her to soothe her fears.  I brought her prayers before my Heavenly Father begging him to hear.  My husband on the other hand has poured so much into the boys, that he feels he needs to work on this bond.  However, our little girl absolutely adores her daddy, and I think they have bonded marvelously.

Sometimes I think we are more aware of our lack in the relationships with our adopted children versus our lack in the relationships with our biological children.  However, if we are brutally honest we might admit the bond with any of our children can be lacking at times.  Sometimes we are not close because we haven't spent the time together.  We may not be close because we do not have the same interests.  Perhaps we're not close because our personalities clash.  Bonding takes time and work, but every minute and every bit of effort pays off.

Our Heavenly Father desires such a bond with us.  He sent his Son who said, "But I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all men to myself." (Jn. 12:32)  He longs for a relationship with us.  As parents we follow his example, loving our children and drawing them to us to form strong relationships.  In so doing we point our children to God, and that is what is important.  The eternal is what truly matters.  It is worth it all!

"I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus."  Philippians 2:14


  1. Bonding is so hard! But you are right, it is different with each child and even with each circumstances. We have two adopted children who speak only English, and two who don't speak English at all. Right now I feel like I have zero bond or even negative bond with our oldest non-English speaker, but I had instant bonding with our second non-English speaker from the moment I met her. The two girls arrived in our home at the same time and from the same country, but the two relationships are quite different. In the meantime we have two younger adopted children, one of whom has a particularly anxious attachment. Each child and each circumstances means relearning everything we know about building relationships with children. Bio parents tell me that, too, as you have mentioned about your bio kids, but most of our friends who say that don't seem to have the extreme issues in their children that ours have. It seems to me that adoption is "learning curve squared"! :-)

  2. I hear you. I've had to work very hard at bonding. It has been more natural or easy to bond with my bio children. I like your expression "learning curve squared!" I have learned so much in the past five years. And I feel like I'm just beginning to learn.