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My husband and I have our first foster placement, a newborn boy. He was placed with us because his case will likely go to termination and we would like to adopt him. For now -- and possibly for the next 6 months -- I take him to the agency twice a week for visits with his mother.<br><br>
I guess I'm just looking for support about how I feel after these visits and to hear if others have had similar feelings. It was new to me to not instantly bond with a baby; I have two bio children and the intense bond was immediate as soon as I looked into their eyes. Every day my bond with this beautiful boy grows stronger. It's not 100% yet, but progressing in what I think is a healthy way. When I pick him up from his visits it feels like we are knocked back a notch every time. He smells like somebody else's perfume, sometimes even like smoke. I know he is not my son and only hope that he will be someday. But it also doesn't feel right to leave these visits feeling like an underpaid babysitter when I know the best thing for him is to be deeply bonded to me no matter what the future may hold.<br><br>
I wonder if I'm afraid to get too close, yet afraid not to get too close.<br><br>
???
 

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I have foster-adopted twice. For whatever reasons, I bonded very quickly with my son (who came to us first), and more slowly with my daughter (who came to us second). That said, in both cases I can remember the sensory-emotional impact of the kids coming home from visits smelling so different (one definitely like smoke). Heck, sometimes they even looked different (their parents fiddling with their hair or wrapping them in a blanket they brought or whatever).<br><br><a href="http://www.tsbvi.edu/Outreach/seehear/summer05/smell.htm" target="_blank">Smell basically does not go through any brain filters before hitting our emotional center, and it happens to be our most powerful sense</a>.<br><br>
Of course this is what our children experience in coming to *us,* but that's not really your point here. What you are saying is that these visits offer a really palpable reminder that this child, with whom you are just starting to feel close, is not yours. And emotionally, this leaves you feeling less close to him and/or distancing yourself a bit, even though you know this little guy needs to experience a deep early bond with somebody, for his own good.<br><br>
With my dd, we both had trouble bonding with one another...her for her reasons and me for mine. I am certain, looking back, I was definitely afraid both of getting to close and not getting close. This surprised me because I felt like I would have been more relaxed the second time through the process, and that I would have been less guarded. But it is what it is. My slow bonding was an emotional protective mechanism, and all the guilt and sadness I felt about it wasn't going to stop it. However, it did motivate me to play "attachment/bonding games" designed to help children and parents bond with one another, to try for skin-to-skin even more frequently than I did with ds (though dd could tolerate being held, let alone skin-to-skin and attachment games for only VERY short bursts), and eventually to get therapy for myself, for myself and dw together, and for my dw and I together with dd (yes, all three configurations)! Those things helped, slowly but surely.<br><br>
Even so, it wasn't until dd's adoption was finalized at three years old that I was able to sort out how much of the slow bonding was self-protective on my part and how much came from a variety of other issues (the kids being spaced so closely together and both being really young, dd's attachment issues, personality match, the issues brought up by the social worker's approach to the case, etc.). There were a lot of factors involved.<br><br>
dd is now an older preschooler. We are thousands and thousands of miles away from the insecurity of our relationship in those early months. When I look back at the time it took to form our relationship, I do sometimes wonder if it was damaging in some way to her for me to have not felt as close to her from the start. She and my dw have always been more close, so even though I know dd will always have some attachment challenges to work through, I see the strength and skill she has gained through her relationship with dw. At the same time, I couldn't have rushed the process on either my end or dd's end. Other than the work that I did, I didn't have control over that.
 

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The bonding will come. Just give it time.<br><br>
that babysitter feeling... I know what you mean. But it will get better. You'll get more of a feeling of control and real parenting as you learn more about the system. I felt like I was merely a resource for the state, not a real person. But it gets better.
 

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Try to also remember that it is very good for the baby to be close to both of you. While yes, it's true an attachment to you will be good no matter what; it's also true that the time spent in her arms listening to her voice will also be good for him. I think it's hard not to be territorial (I have a difficult relationship with my mom, and I detested letting her hold my babies because they reeked of someone other than me since she's big on the perfume and ick).<br><br>
But it may help to remember that loving touches from his mother are all good, whatever mothers that they might come from. If it's not right that you come away feeling like an underpaid babysitter, it's not "wrong" (in the sense that it is not understandable or natural) either. I think that probably both of you feel sad and unsure and even resentful of "the other woman's" scent on the baby. I don't think it's a knock on you, or that you should worry about those feelings--they're understandable and I'm not sure that they're all that controllable. This is a stressful time, doing the limbo while the clock runs out. So really, that can affect things as well. Be gentle with yourself.
 

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I think everything you are feeling is normal. I've been there and I know it's hard. But I would also caution you against assuming that TPR will happen. While obviously you know the situation and I don't, DHS (or agencies) is notorious for promising TPR to get a kid into a home, and it doesn't happen. If visitation is twice a week, it doesn't sound like TPR is close. Usually if they're that close to TPR, visitation is every other week or less.<br><br>
Just keep loving the baby the best you can. The attachment feelings will come and go, and there will be times of fierce love and times of total alienation. Just keep being tender and loving and he'll get what he needs. Hugs, mama.
 

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I used to feel that way too.<br>
Over the past 2 years I've come to have a good rapport with bio-parents. Now there are no more visits and we're adopting our little guy.<br>
I caught a whiff of their smell on a plastic bag, of all things, and I hid it to save it for just awhile longer.<br><br>
((((hang in there))))
 

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It's been nearly two years for us, and the emotions don't get much easier (in my experience). They just change over time. Of course, our case is very uncertain and has been for so long. My LO would cry hyterically for the entire visit, from removal at a month until she was about a year. That was so tough. I would sit there listening to her screaming and I couldn't do a d**n thing. I would get her back, and she would melt into my arms from exhaustion. She would reek of smoke. She would be overfed. It was a mess. I wore her for a good 15-20 min straight after just reconnecting before the carseat, sometimes longer. After she turned one, the visits left the agency, though still supervised by a third party (as they STILL are today). That was very hard, handing her off. I would be so angry and hurt on the drive away. I would turn on angry music and just cry, because she would have cried and clung to me when I had handed her off.<br><br>
Nowadays, she's bonded with them. She gets giddy when she sees her mom when we pull up to drop her off. I was flipping through Mothering the other day, and the first page was an ad with a woman who looks like her mom, and she got excited and said, "Mama!" We were at McDonald's playland the other day, and she started climbing into the lap of an older man I was talking to who looks like her maternal grandpa. These things sting... but they give me a little bit of ease, too. Knowing she's bonding so well makes it "slightly" easier to envision her leaving.<br><br>
I have often said that we live in a world of denial most days. I don't mean I'm ignoring the truth, but for 6/7 days, I'm mom, they *never* call or engage on non-visit days, and we live so far away in a completely different life. It helps to bond with her. I was bonded quickly with her, but I knew her from birth anyways, so it was different. I can say my bond and relationship have changed and grown in different ways over the last two years, though.<br><br>
Give it time. Let yourself feel what happens and comes over you. Cry. Get angry. Be happy. And journal. Journaling really, really has helped me. Expressing everything in words. Unfortunately in this state, or at least in my experience, there isn't too much support for FP, and I wish that was different. I wish there was a support group, somewhere you could go monthly to meet with others who feel the same. People just don't get it if they aren't going through it.<br><br>
It is often like she and I are parenting two different kids, in my head. The way I raise her, the things she is/isn't allowed to do, are so different from her mom, that I feel as though she's a different child. And then I get downright pi**ed off at the system for letting her get caught in the middle like that for so long.<br><br>
Many, many ((hugs)).
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Polliwog</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15399178"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Do you think she's really bonding with her mother or just happy to see someone she has fun with?</div>
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That's a good point. It has crossed my mind that may be happening.
 

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<div style="margin:20px;margin-top:5px;">
<div class="smallfont" style="margin-bottom:2px;">Quote:</div>
<table border="0" cellpadding="6" cellspacing="0" width="99%"><tr><td class="alt2" style="border:1px inset;">
<div>Originally Posted by <strong>Polliwog</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/15399178"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Do you think she's really bonding with her mother or just happy to see someone she has fun with?</div>
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Does it have to be either/or?
 
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