Saturday, May 28, 2011

 Our Attachment Plan When The Boy's Get Home (there are 3 sections so keep reading after this one to read all of it)!

This might seem like a long and crazy post...I actually have somewhat dreaded writing it...but, we so want our friends and family to be totally aware of our plans with our boys when they arrive home. Oh, having them home...we can't wait! :) So, here we go! A lot of this post has came from friends “plans”, books, etc. we have read and required video's, etc. we have watched (one friend...I borrowed a lot of her writing...she just does a GREAT job!).

Attachment and bonding are often used interchangeably; however, they are two very different processes. Bonding is that phase of falling in love with your child and your child with you. Darren and I were very excited and overjoyed to meet our boys. I think I felt instantaneous love for Dagim upon meeting him. With Gadisa I certainly was excited, but I think I was a bit more overwhelmed when I met him. He is older, he had thoughts about what was going on (unlike Dagim), and I couldn't understand him and ask how he felt...(It is natural and normal for adopting families to not feel immediate love, and it in no way indicates that there are problems ahead. Sometimes love has to grow. Adoption, while beautiful, is unnatural, and by that I simply mean that adoption is not how God originally intended for families to grow. Adoption did not exist until after sin entered the world.)

While I feel love for is still growing and has grown more with our time apart. We found out quickly that Gadisa had his own friends, the Transition Home had became his home, and he wasn't as “into us” as we thought he would be. He was so very excited to meet us, (he cried days before wondering when we would arrive). He was excited to see us every day, and was very sad when we left...I don't know if it was a feeling of abandonment or what...but, it was sad each and every day. But, one on one for hours was just not natural for him. He had his own things to do at almost 9 and his own routine and, that's what I mean by him not being “into us” like I thought. That made those days a lot harder. I tried, we all tried but, felt like we were outsiders. But, then we would see the tears when we were leaving and knew that even though he didn't seem that “into us”...he did like us there while he was “doing his thing”. So, interesting.

I have realized after coming home and now that we are love has grown immensely for this young man, (I'm so glad we had to come home, because of this). I miss him, I want him here with us. It's incredible what walking away and leaving him did to my made it long and crave for him. Praise God. I can picture him here. I can see and feel and remember in the crevice of my heart each special moment now. Sometimes in the middle of frustration and craziness you just can't see all of the little things. I can see him stroke my arm, I can feel it! I can see and feel him touch my freckles, him studying me. I can see him look into my eyes so deep. I can see the tears well up when he knew it was time for his dad to leave and then each day we all left. I can see his smile from down the road. I can feel his tight hugs. I long for him now. Praise God for absence making the heart grow fonder.

While our love is growing for Gadisa, he does not feel that same love toward us yet, we are strangers to him, we have yet to bond. The bonding process is typically relatively short with a younger child. It usually begins to occur within a few weeks. With Dagim, I felt like he was attaching and bonding with me while I was there...I was amazed. For Gadisa, it was much easier for him to “just walk away”, “do his own thing”, and “not listen” (I will give the language barrier as a reason for that one). Bonding is about sharing love, relationship, and commitment. We have done very little so far (in the grand scheme of his life) to foster bonding with him. Even after our days with them in Ethiopia, we are still essentially strangers to them. Much of bonding involves physical touch. This is why it sometimes (not all of the time - not every case) appears easier and faster for adopting families to bond with infants rather than older children. Infants require a lot of physical touch, and it is instinctual and natural for most parents to touch and nurture an infant - even for those adults who are not inclined to a lot of physical touching in how they parent. I believe that bonding, especially after a child is adopted, must be initiated by the parents. A child that comes from a hard place will not usually, naturally interact with his or her new family through physical touch. It is a process that must be taught and prayerfully will eventually be mirrored and reciprocated in our boys.

Attachment is bigger and more complicated and
usually takes much longer than bonding (think months not weeks and sometimes even years). Simply stated attachment is a process of trust. I believe that the research for attachment is extensive, on-going and changing, and because every child is so different it is very important to continually and constantly be researching, learning, and growing as parents while giving our children over to God. Some research indicates that the attachment process begins in the womb as the baby receives nourishment from the mother. I am not educated enough to say whether or not this is factual. However, I have heard some very convincing theories that babies in utero who experience trauma or stress will have a brain that develops differently from a baby who did not experience such things. From these studies it truly does seem to indicate that the attachment process is not only very real, but happens very early in a child's life. Regardless of that, I do believe that enough data has been collected to prove that during a child's first 18 months of life, he or she has learned whether or not their caregivers can be trusted to meet their needs. When a child's needs are met continually in the first 18 months of life, the attachment process begins in a healthy normal manner. However, when needs are repeatedly unmet- for example a baby cries out for food and no food is given, the attachment process is disrupted. Although, it is unlikely that a child would remember this occurrence, the affects of this could have lifelong implications if tools to heal this wounded child's heart are not implemented. Children who are in orphanages may discover that sometimes their needs are met and sometimes they are not, so they learn to trust no one. Sadly many of these children have had to find ways to gratify and sooth themselves - even at very young ages.

As Gadisa and Dagim's parents we feel that it is absolutely vital to commit to fostering both bonding and attachment between ourselves and them and among our family as a whole. We understand through various research that the first few weeks and months that they are home with us are absolutely critical to the future healing that we desire to take place in their hearts. We are ready to invest our time and our energy into doing everything we can to transition them into our home - into our family. Now that I have set the groundwork for why we feel this is so necessary I will share how we plan to do it and exactly what our attachment plan looks like. Hopefully in sharing all of this, it will make our plan a little more understandable and less crazy sounding! If you ever have questions...please ask. I hope I can answer them.

The issues surrounding attachment, bonding, and cocooning can be sensitive and controversial. Just so you know...this is our decision and not necessarily how everyone adopting will “do things”...after research, training, prayer and searching the Scriptures this is our plan. It could change...but, for now...we at least have a goal. If you are a family that is not involved in adoption, please understand the carefulness that went into all of this and know that yes it will most likely look very, very differently from how you do things with your birth children. I also want to clearly state that because we are doing things special with the boys does not make them more special than Corbin & Lauren. We seek to meet our children at the place that they individually are. And is that not how God deals with His children? Please read this with grace, and understanding. We are only putting this into writing so everyone is on the same page and no one's feeling are hurt when the boy's come home :)!

The reason I am writing this is because I have been asked by many what our plan is. A lot of what I found was the hard truth of problems that
can (does not always) happen when a child is adopted into a family who did not establish an attachment plan. Much of the information and our plan that I will share is not original to us. I am not an expert. I have never lived through this with an adopted child, but I have been adopted. I will not pretend to know it all about any of this. We gathered information from a few blogs, books, seminars, our social worker, adopting friends, etc.

Gadisa and Dagim have came from a hard place. They have had a very difficult first 20 months and 9 years of life - no matter how you look at it. With saying that...I pray you will treat them normal and like our other 2 kiddos...they are all 4 ours...we are their mom & dad, period. Anyway...According to Dr. Karyn Purvis
any child that is eligible for adoption or foster care comes from a hard place. Yes, even that newborn infant adopted the day of his or her birth, comes from a hard place. A child coming from a hard place may have experienced some or many of the following (our boys experienced many...and there may be some we do not know they experienced):

In-utero stress (drug or alcohol related, a stressful environment, a traumatic experience that the birth mother went through - even stress while deciding whether or not she should place her child for adoption, etc.)
Traumatic Birth
Separation from birth mother *
Foster Care
Orphanage Care *
Separation from primary caregiver *
Shifting between foster family and birth family
Move to a new country *
Move to a new institution *
Unresolved medical issues
Neglect *
Adoption *

Parenting a child who has been adopted is not the same as parenting a birth child. Adoption is a means to bring a child into a home and make him or her a son or a daughter and become a source of healing for that child. Every foster and adopted child needs to to be given the tools to heal. Obviously every child is different, and depending on the child and the family, this can be a very difficult process. However, it is
not an impossible process or a process without hope. We feel that it is a process that we must prepare and plan for, so that we are equipped to pass on the tools that Gadisa and Dagim will need to heal from their traumatic experiences. I also strongly believe, that when families are adequately trained and are equipped with the knowledge and tools they need to help their new children heal, that people will start noticing this and stop feeling so fearful about foster care and adoption. Then maybe we will start seeing our churches explode with children who are being loved and nurtured in church families because of the beautiful ministry of foster care and adoption.

Gadisa and Dagim were in an orphanage for a few months and now have been in AWAA's Transition Home (TH) since September. The TH is wonderful. It is clean (yes small and very simple when compared to American standard's) and the children are nurtured, cared for, and I even dare say loved by the wonderful nannies. Yes, the nannies are overworked, yes there are about 5-7 babies per nanny, but for being an institution in a developing country, They are getting phenomenal care. Both have bonded with their nannies. When we swoop in for our gotcha day we will be introducing trauma once again into our boy's lives. They will grieve the loss of this special place and precious people who met their needs for the past 9 months of their lives. They will be handling some very major transitions from new foods, clothes (think snow gear this next winter!), smells, a room that does not have as many sleep mates, people, language, experiences (think car seat!), environment, climate etc. All of these transitions will happen very rapidly, and they will all cause them more pain, more confusion, more healing that will need to take place. As their parents, we want to be sensitive to all that will be taking place in their hearts, all of the pain that they will be enduring. We want to be equipped and ready to help them begin the healing process. We feel this is our role as their parents. It is our obligation with each of the children God chooses to bless us with. Because of this we are taking a rather intense approach, and we plan to cocoon them for a few weeks (once home we can adjust just how many weeks as we see how they are doing). I will share our specific plan in a minute.
 Cont. from Above:

Here is an analogy that I read on adoption. This gives just a taste of the pain and trauma that adopted (and foster) children face during their transition. I know this is extreme, but at the same time, it really softened my heart and opened my eyes to the truth of the hurt and insecurities that undoubtedly will be in Gadisa and Dagim's hearts.

Imagine for a moment…
You have met the person you've dreamed about all your life. He has every quality that you desire in a spouse. You plan for the wedding, enjoying every free moment with your fiancée. You love his touch, his smell, the way he looks into your eyes. For the first time in your life, you understand what is meant by "soul mate," for this person understands you in a way that no one else does. Your heart beats in rhythm with his. Your emotions are intimately tied to his every joy, his every sorrow.
The wedding comes. It is a happy celebration, but the best part is that you are finally the wife of this wonderful man. You fall asleep that night, exhausted from the day's events, but relaxed and joyful in the knowledge that you are next to the person who loves you more than anyone in the world…the person who will be with you for the rest of your life.
The next morning you wake up, nestled in your partner's arms. You open your eyes and immediately look for his face.
But IT'S NOT HIM! You are in the arms of another man. You recoil in horror. Who is this man? Where is your beloved?
You ask questions of the new man, but it quickly becomes apparent that he doesn't understand you. You search every room in the house, calling and calling for your husband. The new guy follows you around, trying to hug you, pat you on the back,...even trying to stroke your arm, acting like everything is okay. But you know that nothing is okay.
Your beloved is gone. Where is he? Will he return? When? What has happened to him?
Weeks pass. You cry and cry over the loss of your beloved. Sometimes you ache silently, in shock over what has happened. The new guy tries to comfort you. You appreciate his attempts, but he doesn't speak your language-either verbally or emotionally. He doesn't seem to realize the terrible thing that has happened...that your sweetheart is gone.
You find it difficult to sleep. The new guy tries to comfort you at bedtime with soft words and gentle touches, but you avoid him, preferring to sleep alone, away from him and any intimate words or contact.
Months later, you still ache for your beloved, but gradually you are learning to trust this new guy. He's finally learned that you like your coffee black, not doctored up with cream and sugar. Although you still don't understand his bedtime songs, you like the lilt of his voice and take some comfort in it.
More time passes. One morning, you wake up to find a full suitcase sitting next to the front door. You try to ask him about it, but he just takes you by the hand and leads you to the car. You drive and drive and drive. Nothing is familiar. Where are you? Where is he taking you?

You pull up to a large building. He leads you to an elevator and up to a room filled with people. Many are crying. Some are ecstatic with joy. You are confused. And worried.
The man leads you over to the corner. Another man opens his arms and sweeps you up in an embrace. He rubs your back and kisses your cheeks, obviously thrilled to see you.
You are anything but thrilled to see him. Who in the world is he? Where is your beloved? You reach for the man who brought you, but he just smiles (although he seems to be tearing up, which concerns you), pats you on the back, and puts your hand in the hands of the new guy.
The new guy picks up your suitcase and leads you to the door. The familiar face starts openly crying, waving and waving as the elevator doors close on you and the new guy. The new guy drives you to an airport and you follow him, not knowing what else to do. Sometimes you cry, but then the new guy tries to make you smile, so you grin back, wanting to "get along." You board a plane. The flight is long. You sleep a lot, wanting to mentally escape from the situation.
Hours later, the plane touches down. The new guy is very excited and leads you into the airport where dozens of people are there to greet you. Light bulbs flash as your photo is taken again and again. The new guy takes you to another guy who hugs you. Who is this one? You smile at him. Then you are taken to another man who pats your back and kisses your cheek. Then yet another fellow gives you a big hug and messes your hair.
Finally, someone (which guy is this?) pulls you into his arms with the biggest hug you've ever had. He kisses you all over your cheeks and croons to you in some language you've never heard before.
He leads you to a car and drives you to another location. Everything here looks different. The climate is not what you're used to. The smells are strange. Nothing tastes familiar, except for the black coffee. You wonder if someone told him that you like your coffee black.
You find it nearly impossible to sleep. Sometimes you lie in bed for hours, staring into the blackness, furious with your husband for leaving you, yet aching from the loss. The new guy checks on you. He seems concerned and tries to comfort you with soft words and a mug of warm milk. You turn away, pretending to go to sleep.
People come to the house. You can feel the anxiety start to bubble over as you look into the faces of all the new people. You tightly grasp the new guy's hand. He pulls you closer. People smile and nudge one other, marveling at how quickly you've fallen in love. Strangers reach for you, wanting to be a part of the happiness.
Each time a man hugs you, you wonder if he will be the one to take you away. Just in case, you keep your suitcase packed and ready. Although the man at this house is nice and you're hanging on for dear life, you've learned from experience that men come and go, so you just wait in expectation for the next one to come along.
Each morning, the new guy hands you a cup of coffee and looks at you expectantly. A couple of times the pain and anger for your husband is so great that you lash out, sending hot coffee across the room, causing the new guy to yelp in pain. He just looks at you, bewildered. But most of the time you calmly take the cup. You give him a smile. And wait. And wait. And wait.--Written by Cynthia Hockman-Chupp

This can leave one feeling hopeless, but I just want to reiterate that we are not without hope. Yes, we want to understand and be prepared for the hurt, the pain, the trauma that our brown-eyed boy's have encountered and will endure, BUT THERE IS HOPE. We are trusting God that by investing in Gadisa and Dagim's lives and diving into the middle of their hurt immediately is going to produce long-term positive outcomes in the healing of their heart. We are not promised an easy, pain-free road. If we were looking for that, we never would have pursued adoption - we probably never would have had any children! Not every day will be beautiful and calm. This could be a messy, long process, but so was our adoption in Christ. Nothing about that was easy.

Our family is not capable of doing this on our own. We cannot walk this in a vacuum. We need help, we need to know we are being supported, even if you think our plans are way too excessive and crazy. Even if everything I wrote here seems like jarble and nonsense, but if you love us then please respect us and support us and get involved! This is a vital time in our life when our family must be surrounded by
only those people who are willing to walk this long, hard road with us. We need encouragement, love, and we need prayers. We need lots and lots of prayer. This is where our church, our families, our friends - those specifically that do not feel the call of adoption on their lives at this time - can step up and take a huge part in carrying out James 1:27. Although, Gadisa and Dagim are no longer orphans, Their hearts are still orphaned, and they need the love, prayers, and support of many people. They need for their church and school (co-op) families to understand where they have come from, and that they may not act the same as children in our church or co-op who have grown up in permanent birth families. We are praying that our investment up front will pay off in the end, and that God will bless Gadisa and Dagim and our family and heal the broken heart of our beautiful boy's. We are praying that God draws Gadisa and Dagim's hearts to Himself and one day they experience full healing in accepting Jesus Christ as their Savior. We pray that ultimately, no matter the outcome, that God is honored with our story, and that He receives all of the glory, all of the praise, and all of the fame. For it is ONLY He that deserves any of it.

I read the following in one of the many books we have dove into:

America is so rich compared to Ethiopia.  And yet in some ways Ethiopian mothers may know more about what babies need than we Americans do.  We in America focus so much on getting babies independent.  If an American mom carried a baby as much as Ethiopian moms do, people would probably tell her she was spoiling her child.  The pressure on American babies is always to grow up faster.
When groups of American mothers get chatting, talk can sometimes sound like a competition.  The faster a baby sleeps all night, loses the binky, gets rid of the bottle, walks alone, soothes himself to sleep, the more competent a mother is seen, (personally...I see a lot of it as selfishness...and wanting "me", the baby needs to do it for "me"'s what "I" want, “I” have a life besides this baby).  The push is always towards independence and maturity.  I think this push is sad--it robs babies of the chance to simply be babies.  But especially it is sad for newly adopted infants and toddlers, because it is exactly the opposite of what a newly arrived adopted child really needs to become well attached.  It is a wise parent who resists the pressure, and simply allows the baby to be a baby.
Here are six simple things you can do every day to help your new child become well attached.
1.  CARRY your child on your hip or in a baby carrier as much as possible each day.
2.  ROCK your child several times a day, very close and cuddly.  A child newly home may resist at first.  You may have to rock facing outward for a few days.  But gradually work towards a face-to-face intimate cuddle.  And a bottle or two a day during rocking time is great, even for toddlers.
3.  FEED him at mealtime.  Even preschoolers can get little morsels from your hand every now and then during a meal.  In fact, in Ethiopia, feeding each other choice bites is something Ethiopian adults do quite often.
4.  SLEEP or nap with your child if you feel comfortable doing so.  Some parents bring a child into their bed.  Others lay a big mattress on the floor of the child's room and lie with the child to get him to sleep, then sneak off to their own bed once the child is asleep.
5.  PLAY on the floor with him.  Play this-little-piggie or peekaboo.  Roll a ball back and forth.  Play chase.  make dolls talk to each other.  Look at story books together.  Build block towers and laugh together when your baby knocks them down.
6.  LAUGH and be silly with your child every day!  Laughter has tremendous healing power.  Tickle him, dance with him, be goofy and have fun!
Cont. From Above:

So here is the plan (much information for us has came from online courses we have been required to take, from adopting older children books, and adoption books in general, along with suggestions from who we are adopting through and other adoption families). What we plan to do is not reasonable for every adopting family. Again, please understand that this is our plan. It is not necessarily the best plan, but we do feel it is the best plan for our family. We are dedicated to taking extreme measures during the first critical weeks of introducing the boys into our family. Our plan is subject to change as we get to know the boy's on a deeper level and as we feel out how our family is melding together. But we have a starting point, a plan to start with, as we come home exhausted with 2 brand new son's.

1.  We will be cocooning for the first few weeks.  We will not be welcoming any visitors into our home at this time - family or otherwise - and we will not be going out much at all. An exception will be made for doctor appointments as these are very important for the boy's to attend. We won't be inviting people to come over to see the boy's (although we will be posting photos, etc. for you).  Even meals being dropped off will have to be a quick thing at the door...we will be so appreciative though as we will be exhausted and dealing with time changes and major adjustments!
*Why you might ask? Why so drastic? The answer: I have witnessed my boy's having “MANY” care givers: Nannies, the “guys” from AWAA that adore them, and many families who have loved on our boys for many, many months and brought them gifts and love. They will run to anyone and let them love them. If we do not have this time to bond...they will never truly understand that WE are their parents and family. They no longer have a sense of family after being left in an orphanage (and we have no idea if they ever experienced true family when with their birth family). They don't know who will care for them or love them next and we have to totally turn that around and let them know that we are it!

2.  Darren will resume going to work as soon as he needs to, but will try to stay home at least the first few days. After Darren has gone back to work and I am home with the children, I will be very conscientious to not take phone calls during the day. We will do everything we can to make our home quiet and calm and structured with little stimulation - such as TV, loud noises, excessive toys, etc. We have learned that structure and routine bring comfort to children from hard places (Actually I really believe all children benefit from this!). All of my attention will be devoted to the children during the day. We will start some schooling with Gadisa as soon as possible, understanding it may look and be different during this time. Gadisa will be assigned chores and responsibilities the same as Corbin and Lauren...the key is to help him feel immediately like one of the family.

3.  We won't be going out much, especially to events with a lot of people, noise and stimuli, for possibly a few weeks or months if needed.  This means birthday parties, church, the mall and other functions, (it's gonna be so hard...but, it's needed).  It doesn't mean indoors all the time, but we have to pick and choose our outings carefully.  Again, predictability and comfort are important here.  We will ease back into the craziness soon enough. I explained it to Lauren like this: Going somewhere with a lot of familiar people to us (such as church) could really be overwhelming for them. I told her to picture her being with new parents in Africa, not being able to speak their language and being taken to where all of their friends were. Then all of those friends coming up and getting in her face and kissing and hugging her. They know who she is from hearing all about her and seeing photos...but, she has no idea who they are and cannot understand what they are saying or doing. That would be scary and overwhelming.

4.  We will need to be the only people holding Dagim for the first few months.  This might be the hardest one, as it's typically the most natural way to bring family and friends into the life of your child.  However, this is also one of the most critical aspects of bonding and attachment and it's important not to confuse that process.  We want him to understand our role in his life and how it is different than anybody else that he encounters. Think about that our boys have had many care givers, they have felt abandoned and they don't know who is taking care of them and will they be there tomorrow.  They seek attention from whoever will give it to them and as of now will go to anyone who will show them affection. Because of this we want them to attach to us as their caregivers,We cannot do it without the grace of God. We have never heard of a family that has cocooned and followed an attachment plan and regretted doing it, but we have heard of several who have regretted
not doing it.
These first critical weeks are a gift, and they cannot be relived. This is how we are choosing to open our gift. as their parents...and they have to know that "we are it". So, bear with us because they will have a lifetime of loving you.  We don't know how long this process will take...we may have to extend these times if we feel like we need more time for the bonding process.

5. "D" will be taking a, "don't freak out" :). This is the norm in Ethiopia...well actually nursing for a looong time is...but, at the orphanages this is the norm. This will continue for awhile to have that bonding time.  Why? Malnutrition for one.  He needs the nutrients.  2nd, it's a GREAT time for us to bond with him. 
We will be the only ones who give him a bottle. We will keep him on our lap and be focusing on eye contact and physical touch. We will be the only one's who spoon feed him, and change his diaper. I learned that infants typically get about 4 hours a day of eye contact over the course of 12 feedings (From
Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child). Dagim has missed a lot of this in having his bottle propped for many, many of his feedings. This is a gift that we can give to him.

6.  Another tidbit: They might be sleeping with us, or in the same room...who knows (it depends on what they need).  Our kids do that now...a lot less than they use to, (they seem to venture in...or dad is traveling and they want to slumber party, or they just want to camp out).  We will play it by ear.  I'm excited to bond and snuggle with our kids.  They have gotten very use to having many in a room sleeping...we cannot expect them to be “alone” in a bedroom.
You know...we are one of the very few countries who have huge homes and many bedrooms.  I saw that in Norway...all of these wealthy families still have small apartments and little bitty bedrooms (or they all sleep in the living room together).  If you think back to bible times...I'm sure they didn't have 5 bedroom tents, lol...and for sure my grandparents didn't.  And they still managed to have multiple children without all the privacy, and had long, long marriages and were happy!  Imagine that!  If we were raised anywhere else in the world...there's a chance we would be sharing a small one room hut with our's all good, it all works!!!

7. We will be doing “time in's” instead of Time Out's. Sending our children out of our site when they are in trouble can cause a feeling of abandonment. They will stay in site and still be disciplined. Our bio kids understand that discipline will look different from what they have had. But, each child is unique and in this case their circumstance are very different.

8. We will have to work with the boys slowly and with a lot of patience and slow to react techniques on teaching them the in's and out's of our culture and our home. There will be things they have never seen. Ex: A gas stove, electric outlets, and other potentially dangerous things. Another: Walking away from or out into traffic or up to strangers. In Ethiopia...everyone walks an roams. It will be a new thing here to understand that going out into the street or walking up to strangers is not okay or safe. We will have many things to work on in a new environment. You know...things they might have did in a village in East Africa will not be the same in a civilized city. I will have my eyes open for anything being possible with a boy who was raised very differently for 9 + years.

9. The boys will not spend the night away from us for the first year that they are home. 
10. Dagim will never be left in our church nursery or co-op nursery. This is simply because of the similarities it has to the rooms he has lived in day in and day out, and his inability to differentiate between the two at his age. He will sit with us when we attend either. Gadisa we will play by ear. We are wanting him to meet friends and hang out at church and co-op. We just need to make sure that we can communicate and he understands that we are not far away and that we are not “leaving” him. We never want him to feel abandonment like he did when he was left at an orphanage.

11. We know that this summer Gadisa will not attend camp, and possibly not Bible school if not directly with our 2 oldest. We know that camp would look very familiar to his Thome with bunk beds and sparse conditions and being away from his mom & dad. We would not want to bring back any memories of being abandoned or left at the orphanage or Thome.

For some of you, these steps seem natural and understandable.  For others, it feels like you are being shut out from someone you have been supporting, praying for and looking forward to meeting.  Please trust us in this process and know that all of you are very important parts of our family and our friends that love us and love our children. You are a huge part of our, please support us with understanding and prayer :)

Please pray for us.  This will all be new, beautiful, wonderful, but also inconvenient, awkward, difficult, and stressful too.  We have to remember however that it would be silly to bring them home and not work on the important parts of making us a family.  I know we would reap so many bad things later if we just "didn't do it".  I'd rather it be a bit tough now then really, really tough later on down the line.  It's so important to establish this new family now...We cannot do it without the grace of God. We have never heard of a family that has cocooned and followed an attachment plan and regretted doing it, but we have heard of several who have regretted
not doing it.

These first critical weeks are a gift, and they cannot be relived. This is how we are choosing to open our gift. And let me tell you...I am going to LOVE having a baby who is attached at the hip to me! Some have asked in a “You now are gonna have your hands full with a 2 year old” tone, “Are you ready to not have any space and have a baby on your hip?” Oh, I SO am! I have missed one of my sweet child's 1st 9 years and the other's 1st 2 years! I am so excited to have this closeness with both of them!!!

We got the call that we now have an Embassy Date! Our date is June 7!  We will be flying out on the 3rd and coming home the 11th!

Praise God...the boys are coming home!!!   

Monday, May 2, 2011

We Passed COURT!!

Today is a GLORIOUS DAY!!  We passed Court!!!  Gadisa Jacob & Dagim Oliver Henderson are officially our Boys!! In our hearts...they always have been...but, now it is official on paper!!

Now on to Embassy!!!

Let me tell you...the wait has been long, and there have been many dark days...I am thankful for the women who went on this journey with me.  It was quite the ride!!!  Jackie Mullis and Heather Jurrens...we made it through.  Jen Hatmaker...still praying for you sister and many more!