1.a thing used to tie something or to fasten things together.
2.an agreement with legal force, in particular (vow, oath)
It starts as the latter, as a foster parent you literally sign a foster care agreement form. You make an oath unsure of what you are getting yourself into. You have a list of behaviors you can expect to see, an idea of things to watch for but what you can’t plan on is the fact that in situations like this love comes softly in unexpected ways.
The bond can not be forced, you can start with the agreement to care for someone, to love them but it is in the road to healing that you really find yourself fastening together. It is in the conversations, the rockings, the kissed owies and fears conquered moments that you are bonding you in an inseparable kind of way. As I look at my growing family I have realized that the bond we fight for is the welded together kind. We choose each other, we choose to say yes to the call, to create space and to welcome in, committing to love well. It is in that commit that the love grows.
As foster/adoptive parents we do not get the 9 months of preparation and bonding as they grow in our womb. We are instead given a kiddo(s) already wired and conditioned by their trauma and experiences. We pick up a scared little stranger from shelter who has had their world destroyed by the realities of addiction. Or we pick up a newborn fresh from someone else’s womb, losing all things familiar in the first hours of life. It is in the moments that follow where bonding begins.
The array of tiny humans I have in my home is showing me just how true it is that the journey to bonding is as different as our fingerprints.
Trauma, hurts, abuse, neglect and personalities all are at play, affecting the process of bonding. My home is filled with Littles who have come to me at different ages, stages and in different seasons. My relationship with them all has blossomed and changed over a period of time, surprising me at times with the complexity of it all.
My child with an attachment disorder, it took time. Fighting with you as we looked for that connection. We fought hard and processed together, it took 9 months but we did it. I will never forget the day you looked at me and I knew by the look in your eye you had opened your heart to me. Our bond gets stronger each day as you learn to trust me. There are seasons the bond is fragile but the longer we are in this together the more stable the bond seems to become.
My child equipped with all sorts of trauma our bond happened as you learned to trust me, letting go of the secrets your heart carried. Bit by bit as you let go of the control, allowing me to have it, our hearts synced up. Our bond grew in each conversation and with every follow through. May our bond always remind you that allowing others in is worth it.
My child fresh from the hospital. You were not marked by abuse or neglect but your first 9 months shaped you in the womb, my voice and smell was new to you. Our bond grew over midnight feedings and kangaroo care. I fought hard to give you my heart to bond with, knowing that it sounded differently than the one you grew under. I remember the day you were two weeks old and I wept over you realizing that somewhere during those exhausting days I fell madly in love with you and it hurt. You have been hurting me ever since that day but in all the good ways.
My child who has come and gone. Each time you are here with us all feels right. The days you are gone a piece of my heart is with you. There are days I am lost in the grief of the goodbyes. Aching and longing for one more kiss, one more hug and to just laugh again together. When you are returned things are familiar to me but there is always a process of getting to know each other all over again. My bond for you is deep, because I have had the pleasure of knowing you and the sorrow of losing you.
My child who the bond just hasn’t come. My love for you is commitment, I am choosing to love you each and every day. The bond is coming slowly with each greeting and kiss goodnight. There is shame here at times that I am not a better Mama who can just fully love you with all her heart but for now I commit to love you well at the best of my capacity.
Regardless of the time I am confident that our family is the tie that brings us all together. In our case it is not the blood that bonds us but the love.