Friday, October 2, 2009

And Yet*

So you've probably already read/heard the story about the woman who decided to terminate her son's adoption after 18 months. There were bonding issues, marriage issues, etc. The woman did all the right things: counseling, attachment exercises, more counseling. And yet.

I remember our first 5 months with Zoey. Huge chunks of it were hell for me. It's a special kind of soul breaking pain to love someone so very much and yet feel no connection. You feel thin, transparent. There's nothing you can hold onto or ground yourself in. Any minute, you will blow away. Any minute, you will be gone, a missing person forever. You try and look the part. You smile for pictures. You hold the baby. You are gentle. Careful. But inside you are ashes.

You don't give up.

You. Keep. Going.

And then: Sunlight. You begin to feel. The baby holds your finger. Tight. She cups your chin in in her oh so tiny palm. You notice the sweet smell of her neck, the softness of her hair. Late at night when you hold her and rock her and whisper to her, your bodies are one. You cry from the relief, amazed that one moment can undo so much darkness. Amazed that one tiny moment can be so sacred.

You wait as long as it takes for these moments to pile up. You catalog them, glossy prints sliding over and under one another. Pictures from your life. Pictures from your loving. You wait. And wait. You get better. More practiced. For the rest of your life, and hers, you wait. You let the moments unfold. Because they will. Oh, they most certainly will.

* Thanks to Amy for letting me steal her delicate use of the phrase 'and yet'. Without even asking. You know I love you. And worship you. And think you look very buff.

ALSO, check out a slightly happier post over at Cool Moms Care. It's about soccer. And other stuff . . .


  1. It's not just an adopted baby thing... I could so relate to this post. The good news is, it gets better. So much better.
    I love that picture of you and Zoey. She's just adorable. When I finally meet her I am going to, in the words of Blondie from Scrubs, snuggle the crap out of that baby. :)

  2. in the past few months, a few dads have spoken to me -- in a soft, telling-a-secret tone -- about the difficulty they experienced in bonding and making that connection with their biological child in the very beginning. it took time for them to see the smile that would stay with them for the rest of their lives.

  3. I think this is a worry that all parents have no matter how the child comes to you. There is this tiny person that comes to live with you and you don't know what they like or who they are and they are completely reliant upon you for their survival - not like any houseguest I've ever had. Oh, and they are coming to stay, for good. I think it takes time to build a relationship, to get to know one another. You are such a great mom and I love that you think about all of these things. That is what makes your blog such a joy to read. I don't feel alone in my neuroticism.

  4. Wow. You are in your 'sweet spot' when you write from your heart ... which, it turns out, you always do.
    Love you, J. You're the kind of Mom every kid wants. An honest one, who says YES to the journey, even on days when it feels like NO.


  5. Man oh man (just a turn of phrase!) can you write. And wring emotion from me while I'm minding my own business, drinking a diet A&W Root Beer and listening to the news. You are gifted, my friend, as writer and human being. Here are a few things I like/remember/think are strong:
    "..inside you are like ashes," "soul breaking pain," "You wait as long as it takes for these moments to pile up."
    I'm off to forward this post to everyone I can think of.
    Carry on!

  6. My heart hurts so much for that little boy and the woman who gave him up, but I see absolutely no parallels between that situation and your amazing family. You described those first few months of motherhood so beautifully. You and Zoey will always be connected by that silver thread. I can't even organize my thoughts well enough to write a coherent reply, but please know you are my inspiration!

  7. Wow. Let me say it again. Wow. And one more time for emphasis: WOW!
    This essay is a prize-winner! Fabulous. Oh my gosh that "inside ashes" line is incredibly powerful.You really bring your reader right along with you on this journey of experience - from the ashes to the joy. Wow.

  8. I am SO not a crier and this post made me totally weepy. I felt a lot of those same feelings during Sosi's first couple of months. It makes me sick inside to remember back to the first couple of months when she wasn't gaining weight fast enough and she didn't seem to know or care who I was. You described it so perfectly, Joslyne. Your family is one of the families I look to for inspiration, advice, and comfort while I'm attempting to navigate my way through the first year of Sonia's life. Thank you for being able to so beautifully articulate the stories of your life!

  9. You are so brave to talk about this. I know its helpful for so many new parents. And maybe it also applies to parents of older children, when they might feel disconnected during a phase of their child's development. I dont know. And its even helpful for non-Moms-- I can relate in my own way... I went through such a difficult bonding time with my sweet dog when I first adopted her. I wish I had read something like this back then. Thanks Jos! Keep on writin'!

  10. Simply a gift that you have shared. Thank you.

  11. I've held back on commenting because this is such a powerful topic and I'm still processing my thoughts on it. I can tell you care so much for Zoey and all your efforts are paying off. Thank you for sharing.