Someone asked not long ago if we felt the kids were securely bonded with us now. We've been home 10 months on the 7th, and my answer was "mostly". I can't say "yes" because Emma WAS 5 years old when she came home and bonding issues are more difficult with older children. She has generally come to trust us, to love us, and to know she's "ours", but there are often days where I feel like we made "new progress"... so it's definitely not over- the bonding I mean.
Last night at church was a good example of this. Emma comes to the service with us while the other three kids go to the nursery. This originally was because Emma's health didn't allow us to have her with other kids in that atmosphere. Then it was because she was still "fragile" and we were concerned both for her and the nursery workers. Now it's mostly just because we are already dropping off 3 kids and they have been short staffed lately and we do recognize that to most people, taking care of Emma for an hour and a half along with 10 other children (there are usually 2-4 people in the room) of varying ages and my other two that are delayed could be overwhelming. Eventually we'll discuss this with the nursery workers and let them know when we'd like to begin leaving Emma in the nursery so we can know what we can do to prepare them for her (so they can feel better about it... we realize that she's really not all that different from other kids- just ones much younger- and they'll eventually see this too!).
Ok, on to bonding. Emma doesn't generally just "relax" into us. She's always holding her own posture, she holds her head up when she can now, she sits up tall (tho she will cuddle in with her body) and when we're standing she looks all over the place. I think that even though we're in a large group at church, this is a great 'bonding time' for us with Emma. She is held for 90 minutes straight! How often does she have that opportunity elsewhere?
Last night Emma was relaxed on my shoulder as I sang the worship songs and talked to our Savior at church. She just seemed to curl right in to me and enjoy being held. Then during the beginning of the church service she sat nicely with me... but after a time she was DONE. After all, she'd already survived Brianna's birthday party and was held a lot of the time at that as well. So I sat her next to me (at the end of the pew) and let her have just a little space.
At two different times she got very frustrated and started to squirm and fuss. I took her up in my arms like a baby and held her tight, looking right in to her eyes. At first she avoided my eyes, this is my first clue it's going to be a fight! Then she did focus on me and stayed looking right into my face for a minute... but unlike other times when she'll then decide she's "ok" and calm then start to sit up, this time she relaxed right in to my arm. She laid there almost fluttering against sleep for a good 10-15 minutes the first time. Then Daddy held her for a little while and eventually once again she was frustrated, thrashing and fussing. Back to the cuddle-cradle hold. She calmed immediately this time and stayed this way for the rest of the service.
What a special time, to sit with my sweet girl laying relaxed on my arm staring into my eyes, blinking as she fights back sleep, listening to the Word be preached with my husband, her Daddy, at our side. That is REAL bonding. And the last song at the end of the service had a sweet relaxed girl laying on my shoulder taking comfort in my grasp as I closed my eyes to Worship the Savior. Quite an incredible experience.
People often say that their biological children are no different from their adopted children and vise versa, but I can honestly say that I would not have taken as much intense love from these simple acts from Kristopher and Brianna because I already know that they have and do trust me since their birth. Micah even has formed such a trusting relationship with us that a moment like that (though it would be treasured because it would mean he STOPPED MOVING for a time! LOL!) wouldn't surprise me nearly as much. So yes, there IS a difference between biological and adopted children. We celebrate their DIFFERENT accomplishments. Just like there IS a difference between each of my children with varying abilities. We celebrate their accomplishments differently... but ALL are CELEBRATED and LOVED!!