I fell in love with Ponce the moment I heard about him. Seeing him for the first time was icing on the cake. There is not a doubt in my mind that from the moment I held him for the first time I would have traded my life so that he would never experience a single troubled thought. HOWEVER … I would say that it has taken me about nine months to be certain that I could not love him more. I can’t even write that without worrying that someone reading this will misunderstand me.
I have spent nine months trying to explain this to myself. Maybe it’s just the way I am. Maybe no matter how my child came to me I would have been one of those mothers who doesn’t bond immediately. I think of bonding in degrees, as a spectrum. I bonded with Ponce right away, but it wasn’t until very recently that I KNEW that I felt what I SHOULD be feeling: That I missed him when I put him to bed at night (rather than being happy with him during the day, but looking forward to bedtime for some alone time); that when I woke up before him on a Saturday morning I didn’t have a fleeting moment of “dread” if he woke up before I finished my tea … I felt a lot of guilt for these feelings.
I don’t know that there was a specific incident that caused me to finally feel the feelings I knew I “should” be feeling … but getting there has allowed me a lot of time to ponder “guilt.” I think that it may be just my nature to bond slowly, over time. I fell in love with my husband slowly. I fell in love with my dog slowly. I’m not sure I’m fully bonded to my own parents, but that also is growing and becoming more evident over time. But part of my also wonders if Ponce’s adoption is part of the reason for my slow bonding.
I feel a lot of GUILT around Ponce’s adoption. Everything from feeling guilty that we added to our family before other couples who are just as amazing (maybe more amazing) than we are. That Ponce’s first mom lied about his existence, taking away an opportunity for her parents to raise Ponce (and they are amazing, and deserving). That Ponce’s birth dad never knew about Ponce until he was in our care. That every night when I kiss Ponce goodnight, there are at least three other people who wish they were the ones kissing him goodnight. I feel guilt about being given this incredible, awesome gift, and opportunity to love and raise Ponce, and yet knowing that it took me almost nine months to FEEL like a mom should feel (head over heels, crazy in love with her child) … there is just so much guilt and for whatever reason, I seem to be extra susceptible to feeling it.
I know that Ponce’s birth family would never want me to feel any of this. Let alone know that it may have had an effect on my ability to fully bond with Ponce right away. See, if I let myself I could let this circle of guilt perpetuate itself ad nauseam … and what good is that? For anybody?
I know that I could spend my brain energy elsewhere. And for Valentine’s day I am giving myself that gift. Ponce’s first mother chose to relinquish him. Nobody in her life pushed her to do this. Ponce had been in care for two months before we ever got the call about him. WE were not involved in his birth mother’s decisions to lie to her family or lie about his birth father. We do not own any of that guilt. The only guilt we could own is of not allowing Ponce’s birth family into his life … and considering his birth grandparents just spent an evening in our home babysitting him … I think we’re on the right track with that one.
We are fantastic parents. And Ponce is happy and thriving. I am ridding myself of guilt I do not own.