Saturday, May 28, 2011

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!!!

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