Friday, June 6, 2008

Bonding with the 'Other' Baba

Eric and I have been trying to teach Noelle to call us 'Daddy' and 'Mommy' to no avail. Eric is still 'Baba', and I'm just 'Ehhhhhh'. I have to admit that this has been hard to take. I've often felt sad that I'm a no-name to her. Noelle bonded with Eric in China over that traumatic medical exam (the day I was so sick in bed) and has never looked back. Our bonding has been a little slower in coming. Now I know that my daughter likes being with me, and loves me even, in her own way, but I was never included in the inner sanctum of Noelle + Baba.

Eric and I have had many conversations about this, and he has encouraged me to hang in there. We eventually concluded that Noelle has had so many experiences with females leaving her in her young life, that she has been holding back from me a little to see if I will leave too. This idea made a lot of sense, and I have been clinging to it while waiting, hoping and praying for a breakthrough.

For 2 weeks now, Noelle has been trying to cut 4 jaw teeth. She has been a major crank - very whiny, fussing, clingy - the whole bit. It has been a special challenge for me, especially since Eric has had to work some longer hours and I haven't gotten much of a break. One of our helpful adoption resources explains that internationally adopted children struggle more than most kids when it comes to something like illness or feeling poorly. These kids tend to regress to much younger behaviors and can act a bit irrationally. No kidding! It's taken lots of prayers and all my strength to get through these days. But surprisingly, in the midst of the pain, crying, frustrations (on both sides), we have bonded. When I have felt bad for snapping at Noelle, she has responded by wanting to be with me even more. When I thought I couldn't lug around my whining fussing child a moment longer, she rewarded me with a hug, a sloppy kiss, and a huge grin. Her discomfort with the teething pain and my discouragement at the difficulties of new motherhood have succeeded in drawing us closer than anything else up to this point.

Just yesterday we were at the kitchen table munching together on an orange at snack time. We were each lost in our own thoughts when Noelle said suddenly, and with incredible conviction, "Baba!" as she pointed to my heart. I was a little in shock. I smiled and thanked her and waited to see what would follow. After a few more quite moments, Noelle repeated the same gesture, as if trying to convince me of something. Wow! I smiled and thanked her again feeling quite amazed. At this point, Noelle began chattering away happily, and we proceeded slurping away on our juicy oranges. Then a third time, Noelle referred to me as "Baba" and my heart sang!

I whispered up a prayer to Jesus, thanking Him for this breakthrough and this precious gift of a daughter. All it took was four teeth and some very sore gums to bring a mommy and daughter together. And inside I shouted, "I have a name! I have a name! It may not be 'Mommy', but I have a name!"


bugs parents said...

Contgratulations on hanging in there! You're a great Mommy to Noelle.

Those little ones sure know how to test the love of a mommy and daddy. I think it takes them a bit to learn to trust but it seems Noelle now knows her mommy loves her and will comfort and protect her.

What a wonderful thing to hear your name from your child for the first time - no matter if it's Mama or Baba!

Carla said...

I could have written your post! Katie screamed if I even looked at her in China, and Dh is always Baba unless she's mad at him and then he's "daddy" to her. ;) Me? I counted it good if she would look at me some days. Then, slowly, ever so incredibly slowly, she started coming to me, wanting me...but I never had a name. Then, one day, she called me "baba" and my heart melted. I told her that was her Daddy and I was "Mama" (she asked for "My Mom" in china so we think she called her Fostermom something that sounds like that).

After 4-5 months of being home and listening to her big brothers, I became, "Maaaa-oooooooom" with all the indignation of a preteen saying it. I get called that now when she's wanting something from me, or mad at me.

I still do not have a name she calls me when she's in a good mood.

Jennifer&Eric said...


Thank you so much for writing me, and thank you for sharing your experiences. It helps to know that there is another mom out there dealing with the same issues. When I pray for Noelle to bond more strongly with me and for her to bestow upon me my own name, I will remember to pray for you and Katie too! :-)

This adoption parenting thing is the most difficult job I have ever had in my life! It can be so very exhausting and frustrating, again, more than anything ever before in my life. But the rewards are SO much greater than I could ever have imagined!

Isn't it great to have kindred spirits and online friends to pray for and encourage one another? Just know, I got your back, girl!

Love and hugs,
P.S. If you have more breakthroughs with Katie, I'd love to hear about them!

Carla said...

awww, I'm glad I could help you. I know it helped me to read that I was not alone as well.

Katie ran to me at VBS today when I came to pick her up...excited, happy, flapping her arms, and then proceeded to give me a HUUUGE hug.

Still no "name" for me, but she showed me that she loves me. :) I'm a bit peeved that her older brothers are called by name "Mon-Mah!" (for John Mark) and "mamul" for Samuel. *sigh* One day, right?!