adoption · bonding · parenting

Adoption? Or Parenting?

Saturday and Sunday were by far the most difficult days so far, especially those nights. Saturday my mom (grandma!) came over for a few hours so I could get some sleep and Keith could run some errands and do some fix-it-up type stuff around the house. So my mom held Little Man for like 3 hours. Mostly while he napped.

On Sunday, we went to church and then went to my aunt’s to watch the Colts game (Go COLTS!) and celebrate my cousin’s 16th birthday party. We didn’t sleep well Saturday night, so we had a mini-meltdown during church on Sunday and then went to my aunt’s. Where my two aunts and grandma held little man. And his belly button fell off. And momma freaked out a little about how gross that is. And he slept in the car seat in the car when we should have been awake.

Sunday evening, Little Man stayed home with Keith to watch more football while I went to Bible study (and Keith staying home – gasp – alone – with Little Man made him a total hero to the other girls, which I don’t think I’ll ever understand….).

So Sunday night, Little Man was awake every other hour. It went something like this: 10:00 eat, 10:30 sleep, 11:00 fuss & cry, 12:00 eat, 12:30 sleep, 1:00 fuss & cry, and so on and so forth. The only way Little Man would sleep was on top of me.

Which I love.

Until I started to nod off. All of the baby books and the doctor have stressed NOT SLEEPING WITH YOUR BABY. I tried to prop myself up in the glider, but was afraid I’d drop him. I didn’t want to curl up on the couch, because I knew I’d fall asleep and smother my son (probably not, in all reality, but still…the “experts” have petrified me!). So momma didn’t sleep.

This led to yesterday…a day at home in our pajamas while I desperately tried to re-establish our schedule. And lots of self-reflection, which isn’t necessarily a good thing, especially when one is exhausted! I was trying to figure out why Little Man only wanted to sleep on momma.

Is it an adoption thing? That is what my question boiled down to. Did he miss me because I’m his momma and other people held him? Is he confused about who his momma is? Did I break our bonding routine? Am I failing at bonding with my son?

Would I have made different decisions on Saturday and Sunday if I had given birth to Little Man?

No. We would have gone to church, we would have gone to my aunt’s (where I would have let my aunts and my mom hold him), and I would have gone to Bible study. I’m 100% confident in my husband’s ability to father, and I want Little Man and his daddy to bond and have a great relationship. And, we want to model for Little Man a healthy marriage and healthy grown-up, balanced lives, which include Bible studies with our adult friends.

But in our adoption education classes, we talked a lot about bonding. And we were cautiously (but specifically) told to not play “pass the baby” and to not let others meet his needs (feeding, changing, comforting) for at least six weeks. Well, Keith and I are the only ones to have fed him (I think my mom gave him one bottle at some point when I was utterly exhausted and overly-emotional), changed his diaper and comforted him. And people have held him mostly while he was asleep.

But I find myself questing parenting decisions based on this: is this an adoption thing or a parenting thing?

Who knew it would start this early!?!?!

13 thoughts on “Adoption? Or Parenting?

  1. Check out “The Baby Book” by Dr. Sears. even if you don't agree with all of it, much of it makes a great deal of sense.
    BTW the Sear's family has at least one adopted child FYI.
    Both of my kids slept in my bed as infants (and we had one of those cosleeper crib thingies attached to the bed). Both sleep in their own beds now. No problem. Neither was ever in danger of being smushed or smothered.
    I was very against co-sleeping before I had kids, that all changed once I became a parent.
    The main danger in co-sleeping comes if a parents is overweight, a smoker or drinking and/or using drugs.
    In most other countries families cosleep until the children are practically grown. Not that it makes a difference for what you do in your own family, but it is good to know for reference.


  2. Thanks for the comment! Yep I am Indy! Very cute, I was on the hunt for a 12 month onsie as my little my is too little for his onsie, he fits in the pants and jacket still but I couldn't find anything – the proshop only had a jersey for $40, not paying that! So now I need to find him something for the Superbowl!!!

    Also to your post…we passed baby boy around to everyone, and others fed him too and he was sleeping through the night in his crib at 5 weeks. Now naps were another thing, he was never a good napper (does better now) and slept for awhile in the carseat (on the dryer sometimes), in his swing, and alot of the times he would take a nap only on me, my husband couldn't even get him to sleep on me, I think its that they know its mommy, they know your smell and your voice and you know how to hold them just right. I used the sleepnest in his crib and I LOVED it and he was also swaddled until he was about 4 1/2 months old (when he rolled over is when I stopped swaddling)…hope some of this helps…

    You are not failing at bonding, but if my baby boy did get passed around too much he didn't like it, if you see that happening, just take charge and get him and you hold him – let them know that is why he is fussy! Also sometimes he didn't want to be held he wanted to be in his carseat, swing or just freeon a blanket…


  3. Well, it is an adoption thing that you are worrying about it, but all of it is normal and just parenting.

    I personally stuck to all the warnings made by professionals. In hindsight, it was a bunch of baloney, for me anyway.

    I think as new parents who really revel in being parents and live and breathe being a mom at this point, you aren't going to smother your baby and you should feel fine sleeping with him.

    R has ALWAYS really struggled being out of her routine, even at ten months. If we go to a gathering with lots of people, she turns into this clingy, sensitive child that I don't really know. I don't mind it at all, but she just likes her schedule, likes it to be just the three of us and struggles a little when we leave her comfortable environments.

    Little man knows you are his mama. I have kinda been the bonding nazi with my kiddo, so I think it is ok if you want to hog him a little, but if you don't, it will be harder on YOU than him. Don't forget, part of bonding is YOU bonding with him, not just the other way around. Do what YOU feel comfortable with and in the end (and probably the beginning, too) you will have bonded tightly!

    Enjoy these times, I miss them!


  4. Ahhhhh! Welcome to the joys of parenthood!!
    Here's my 2 cents:
    Those adoption classes are great, they really are. BUT…at some point you need to let your mothering insticts kick in. Those classes and books don't “know” your baby. YOU do.
    No one expects you to be sleep deprived and numb for months on end (although with a newborn it can be inevitable! lol!) and never have help. Obviously if Little Man wants to sleep on YOU, he is bonding! He loves the warmth and comfort of his mama! Life with a newborn IS hard, but also rewarding. Give yourself some time to get in a groove, and rest when you can. Enjoy the moments spent cuddling and feeding him. You will be suprised how things will fall into place after some time!
    Good luck!


  5. Well, I haven't experienced adoption things, but I have experienced lots of parenting things. And everything you just wrote sounds like parenting stuff to me. The bonding questions, the desperation of getting no sleep, the exhausted self-reflection (which, I completely agree, is very dangerous), the balance of marriage versus parenting roles…parenting stuff.

    And here's another parenting thing…Babies (ALL babies, some more than others, and on some days more than others) fuss and cry for a million different reasons, or for no apparent reason, even every half hour all night long. As much as I would have done anything to know exactly why my babies cried when they cried or slept when they slept, I never did figure it out most of the time. And the times when I tried to reflect and analyze and worry about it didn't do anything but make me more frustrated and more exhausted. I know you're dealing with an additional set of questions and worries and concerns because of adoption, but just remember that there are some questions you'll never have the answer to. That's okay…and that's parenting. 🙂


  6. It's a parenting thing. 😉 Somewhere around a week old, babies go thru growth spurts. They are fussier, and wake hourly to eat. It very well could have been just that.


  7. I agree with Erika and Sarah, this all sounds Perfectly Normal Parenting stuff to me. Sure they don't like changes in their routine, never do. At 2 weeks, they really much more portable to let you do the things that you want to do, like go to a bible study or take to a birthday party. That he wants to sleep on you sounds like he's pretty Bonded already, he knows his Mama, and she makes him comfy when he's not feeling it. That's a good thing, and don't freak out with the sleeping thing, both my boys and I took naps on the bed together, I'd lay them down, no blankets on them in bed next to me, with my arm right above their heads, so I couldn't inadvertantly roll over on them. They are alive, and Mommy is a better mommy if she sleeps, may be lighter sleep, but better than none. Also, They do go through growth spurts whic make them heinous. My Mom told me 3 and 6 weeks, 3 and 6 months, and she was pretty right on.


  8. Your post brought me back to my first few weeks with Nora. It is so incredibly hard being a new mom, especially with the sleep deprivation. In hindsight, I was a complete disaster. Don't be hard on yourself. No one tells you how hard it is in the beginning to be a mom. Not sleeping really takes a very intense toll on you. I felt, and still feel, so many of those same things about bonding etc. But, when I take a step back I know that everything is just fine. Don't be too hard on yourself.

    It's so great you are surrounded by so many awesome supportive people. I can tell you that each month just gets easier and more and more fun. Nora is up at 2 am now each night and it feels like I've slept for 10 hours. So, somehow, your body gets used to the lack to sleep and the once a night getting up feels like paradise.

    It sounds like you are doing great!


  9. We did a lot of sleeping on our chests when she was little. We were always on the sofa slightly propped up but she wasn't going anywhere as she couldn't roll over yet and we would feel the slightest movement so we never worried about dropping her or anything. So fall asleep on the couch with him if you want.
    But that fear is a typical parent thing. But the bonding thing is all adoption. I was a freak about it and my husband understood and was gentle with me as we both learned the ropes of parenting. Once person gave Isabel a bottle those first two weeks other then us and I was so scared it would hurt the bonding. But it didn't, sometimes you just need the help. And him sleeping on them is not going to hurt his bond with you. He's still going to know you are his mommy. Hopefully that's reassuring to you.
    You'll figure it all out.


  10. I had to laugh when I read this post, but in a knowing/understanding way not because anything you said was funny.

    First of all, it's ALL normal! Your fears and concerns, especially about bonding are NORMAL! Bonding is the one huge issue in adoption, and we all want to make sure that's the one thing we don't screw up. I think BB is exactly right when she says the fact that we have to wonder is an adoption thing, but the concerns themselves are universal.

    I still remember the first time Charlie cried and I couldn't get him to stop. He was about one month old and I cried too, a lot. I was just so certain that I was a complete failure and that he wouldn't stop crying because he had finally figured out I wasn't his mommy. Looking at that thought pattern now, it is clearly irrational, but at the time it's what I felt.

    Rest assured, you are doing a great job as a new mommy and the fact that you went to bible study and let your family hold and care for him throughout the weekend will NOT cause him to become confused about the crucial role you play in his life!

    Also, give yourself a break on the routine thing! Lots of babies have trouble settling into a real routine until six weeks or later, and it's perfectly OK for you to do what works for you at this point. In saying that, if sticking to a routine comforts you then go for it!

    And as for the sleeping thing, my theory is that it's all about the boobies. 🙂 The reason he sleeps so well on you is that you are warm, soft, comforting, and you smell good to him. You would want to sleep there too, if you were him! It is so hard, and I completely understand how petrified the thought of sleeping with him makes you feel, believe me I do! I'm not sure what you've read, or what route you want to go, but I've been reading “The No Cry Sleep Solution” and really enjoying it. I've actually wished I had read the book earlier.

    No matter what, hang in there and remember that this time does pass rather quickly, in the grand scheme of things. Parenting a newborn baby is a tremendously overwhelming experience, but before long that little man will be smiling and cooing at you…then he'll start to do more and more and these trying times will only be a blurry memory. 🙂




  11. My 2 cents….it's a parenting thing…..I have gone through the adoption thing…and that doesn't matter at the infant stage…in my opinion…you are his mama and that is all that matters….The only way Samuel would sleep besides on me was in his vibrating chair…and he slept that way for the first 2 months. At 3 months we starting putting cereal in the formula and the clouds went away and the birds sang….the amount of sleep increased exponentially…..anyway all kids are different, but now my little man is an amazing sleeper. Give yourself a break. God bless and sleep.


  12. oh sweets i'm with ya. it's not an adoption thing i'm pretty darn sure. after my experience i'm hearing it over and over from people who've “come out.” it's a newborn/mama thing, and why didn't anyone tell us? haha

    typing one handed now b/c he refuses to sleep anywhere else this naptime.

    and i'm startimg to heartily resent “experts.”


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