This week our newest additions to our clan officially move in. There is a lot of excitement, coupled with some anxiety and a few drops of fear.
Rooms have picked, beds have been purchased, clothes have been washed, toothbrushes are ready.
That’s the easy stuff. Yesterday as we were all hanging out together I just had this huge wash of fear about bonding.
What if I treat them differently or have different feelings toward them than I have toward my biological children?
In that moment I felt overwhelmed, ashamed and even embarrassed to deal with my feelings internally, let alone speak them.
Then the words of a wise friend came to mind. Just a week ago I got a message from an adult woman who was fostered as a teen. She said, “Just get to know them.”
With that thought my mountain got a lot smaller. My long-term goal is to be connected to these kids as closely as my biological kids, but the truth is I don’t know them yet. They don’t know me yet either.
My next step on this journey is simply getting to know them. I know my other kids. I know what their favorite meal is. I know how they will answer a question. I know how they will respond to specific situations. I know what makes them smile. I know what their fears are. I know what makes them laugh. I know their favorite TV shows. I know their friends. I know their habits.
I don’t really know any of those things about my new arrivals. My first step up the bonding mountain is a lot simpler than I let my fears make it out to be. I just need to get to know my new kids.
I need to work on this bonding thing in steps. They aren’t newborn babies I can rock to sleep at night. They are people. People who have had life happen hard. They are people who come with a story, with history. My job is to learn that story.
The best thing you can do for children… is to let them know you love them, that you will always be there for them, and will try to help them in any way possible if they ask you… and they may need much more reassurance than you think should be needed. They need to be told it’s okay to be angry about what happened before, and that it’s okay to mourn the loss of original family if they remember it. They need to feel that they can bond or grow closer to their new family at their pace and not the adoptive family’s pace. Remember, it is the adoptee who has been uprooted, who has the painful past, and who has to relearn to trust, not the new family. -Patty D. Schlossberg adopted at age 8
So I guess whatever the mountain is that we are facing, our challenge is to not get scared of the mountain. We just have to look at it one step at a time. We don’t have to conquer the mountain in a day. Today we just have to step.
If we live by the Spirit, let us also keep in step with the Spirit. Gal. 5:25