I didn't fall head over heels in love with Puppy right away. I held him and studied him. I felt protective of him. I looked in his teeny face and wanted to do everything possible to make him feel safe and loved. But there was no drowning in maternal love, no instant bond.
I don't know exactly why this was; maybe there was no reason. I am generally that way by personality, slow to befriend but fiercely loyal once a relationship is established. T stayed at home with Puppy the first three months until my leave began--maybe if I had spent those months as his primary caregiver it would have been different?
I kept my feelings--or lack of feelings--to myself. I knew other mothers had walked that road before me. I knew there was no shame in it. I knew those things. But I wouldn't admit to anyone that it was happening to me.
A friend who birthed two children before we adopted our one had been where I was. With her second child--BAM!--instant connection from the moment of birth. But with her first child, three or four months passed before that connection was there. She said during those months she would have died for him, but she didn't yet love him. She confided that to me when Puppy was only weeks old and I understood what she meant. I was living that paradox. But I didn't tell her that I felt the same way. I think she sensed it, was offering a safe place for me. But I held back.
I held back because in the stillest part of my soul I wondered if the real reason was that I wasn't his birth mother. Maybe if I had earned my motherhood through pregnancy instead of receiving it by grace, then I would love my son. If adoption was the reason, then perhaps the love would never come. And if that happened, then, my God, what had I done?
I didn't tell anyone because I thought it would reinforce the myth that it's just not possible to love adopted children as much as bio children. I feared someone would say of course you don't feel that bond. If you had given birth you would know what it is to love a child. To hear that would have crushed and enraged me all at once.
I look at Puppy today and know that a piece of my heart lives outside of my body. I love him with the force of a summer storm. But until now I've never admitted that it wasn't that way at the beginning.