I've been kicking this post around in my head for a while now, time to get it out there!
Shortly after we got home from Ukraine, someone asked me what has been the most surprisingly difficult part of the whole process. I immediately answered: bonding with Lily.
You see, silly me, I didn't anticipate that I would have trouble feeling bonded with her! I knew it would take time for her to bond with us, but for some reason I didn't realize that it's a two-way street: if she doesn't have a bond with us, then it's very difficult to feel bonded to her (some may disagree with me here, I'm just stating my own personal experience). That really threw me for a loop.
I will never forget the evening of our Gotcha Day. Lily and I were on the bed in our apartment (Rob was at the grocery store trying desperately to find something that she would eat); she was crawling around, crying and screaming...I was crying and having my first real, "What have we done?" moment. This little stranger had suddenly invaded my life and she wasn't going away! We were stuck with her!
For the first few days I really wanted nothing to do with her (doesn't that sound terrible?! Honesty post, here!). Rob did everything: he made her food, fed her, changed her, held her, etc. I just did my best not to cry as we flew through the rest of our adoption process and made it home in record time.
I had done plenty of reading about attachment and I knew what the experts said to do: hold her constantly, have only one person feed her and change her, rock her to sleep, don't let anyone else hold her aside from Rob and myself, no visitors for a month, cosleeping or having the crib in our room, etc. I had great plans of doing this perfectly and having a secure attachment after a few weeks...HA! We didn't do any of that. We just couldn't. I couldn't. Lily couldn't. It was too much for all of us.
So we let other people hold her. We had visitors the day we got home and most days since. We started off feeding her in a chair with her holding the bottle. We let her rock herself to sleep. She's slept in her own room since Night 2.
I am happy to report that things are getting easier. Lily is showing more signs of attachment to us, and I am feeling more bonded with her. She wants to be held more. She prefers to be held by us, although she will let anyone hold her for a short time. I feed her in my arms now, holding the bottle for her and making lots of eye contact.
Lily still puts herself to sleep and sleeps in her own room. I think all three of us need that right now. I feel confident that there will be a time when she can't fall asleep without one of us in the room with her, and that will be a good sign. I feel like I will be ready for that when she is; none of us are ready for it now.
I hope that this post will encourage any other adoptive (or biological!) mommies who are struggling with bonding. It does NOT always come naturally, and that is ok! It will come. I no longer think of attachment as something you either have or don't have; rather, it is a continuum that you slowly move along from one side to the other. I am happy to say that Lily and I are on the move :)