My brother got married this weekend! As is evidenced by the photo, great fun was had by all. My husband officiated the service and my sister and I emceed the reception. We got to publicly tell some of the funniest stories about my brother, including one where he puked in a bagel bag and another where he was caught fighting with my sister on the Jumbotron at a major league baseball game.
If that's not a recipe for fun, I don't know what is.
After the high of meeting our little man followed by the high of my brother's wedding this weekend, I am suffering from some major writer's block. It's not that I don't have ideas, it's that I don't know if any of my ideas are worth writing about!
Thankfully facebook exists and is the perfect inspiration source for a blogger with a mind blank. Grateful for the ladies who responded to my SOS call! (To catch my blog posts and sharp, witty comments [along with future SOS pleas] find my FB page here.)
All the replies were helpful and I will be filing them away in my brain for future use. My good friend Steph, however, always has a creative idea up her sleeve and right away responded with a list of good topics. (Side note: I think her creativity was exemplified this weekend when I visited her and met her goldfish Sausage and Dip. She tried to blame her girls - ages 2 and 3 - for their names, but she can't fool me. If those aren't the best darn fish names you've ever heard, I don't know what to say. Except please share the better ones you've heard.)
Steph suggested I write about adoption and attachment and needs of adoptive parents that people might not know about. So here I go.
Adoption and attachment. A google search of these terms will show you that there is no limit of information about this topic. In our home study homework, John and I also spend a few hours learning about attachment. In the past few months I've been distilling all the information I've read and have started to come up with a plan for developing an attachment- or bond- with out little man.
The "needs of adoptive parents" come in here too; probably one of the most important things for friends and family of adoptive parents to know has to do with attachment. And that is: when our little man first comes home we are going to be the only ones to hold him and meet his needs.
I'll be honest- this sucks. I mean, all we want to do as new parents is show off our kid and have our friends and family snuggle with him and love on him and give him cake and just generally celebrate him.
However, attachment doesn't work like that. To form a secure attachment with our little man, John and I are going to be the only ones to hold him, the only ones to pick him up when he falls, to offer him food and drink, to put him to bed, and to care for him. You can think of it as taking a few steps back in time, treating him a bit like an infant- basically "babying him."
After having different caregivers come and go, he has to learn for the first time what it means to have a mom and a dad. He has to learn to trust us to meet his needs, both physically and emotionally. He has to learn that we're not going anywhere.
Along those lines, five points in our bonding plan:
1. John and I will be the only ones to hold our little man and to meet his needs. I've read that the minimum time frame for this kind of parenting should be one month for every year the child was not with you. That means two months for us, but we are planning on four months to start and then re-evaluating.
2. We are hoping to co-sleep for a while. We are flexible on this because we don't know how he will respond to someone else in
3. Fussing over him. Scooping him up when he falls down, even if he doesn't cry, making a big deal about any little milestone, rubbing his back if he can't fall asleep- just generally nurturing the heck out of him like you would a new baby.
4. "Baby"-wearing (?) I am currently researching the best carriers for toddlers because we are going to make an effort to wear our little man when we can. Like the co-sleeping thing, we will be flexible on this, but I would love to see it happen. I have a bad back so I only see myself doing some carrying but hope John will get a lot of use out of our carrier and have some quality bonding time.
5. Playing games that emphasize eye contact, touch, and laughter. These three things are the cornerstones of bonding. Our house will be silliness central as we love on our little man, blow his belly, kiss his cheeks and rub our noses together.
Which brings me to the second part of the post: adoptive parent needs. If there is one thing we are anticipating when our little man comes home, it is exhaustion. We are going to be deeply in love, but also deeply tired, sleepless, touched out, and probably a little sick of kid-stuff. Here are the top 5 needs we anticipate:
1. Patience and understanding. Our parenting is going to look different than typical toddler parenting. We'll be doing that on purpose. Trust us, trust our choices, and encourage us in them. Don't be offended when we ask you not to pick up our little men. Instead, give his hand a squeeze or give him a warm pat on the back. When he's established a secure attachment with us things will start looking more typical in our family. And please ask questions when you have them! I think I speak for all adoptive parents when I say this.
2. Bring us food. Yes we would love to eat your meal. Thank you! :-)
3. Wait to come over but don't wait to celebrate. Because of the whole attachment process, we won't be having many guests over at our place, but that doesn't mean we don't want to celebrate his arrival! Emails, texts, cards, voice mail- we will want it all. And I think we will need the encouragement as we adjust to life as a family of three! We will offer invitations for company when we think our little man is ready.
4. Pray. There is no greater support you can offer than prayer. Pray for our health, for our sleep, for our energy levels, for our emotional well being. Pray that we would not just survive those first few weeks as a new family, but that we would find moments to cherish and time to build meaningful memories.
5. Offer to help. I'm not going to lie- I probably won't want anyone coming in and cleaning my house or doing my laundry but if it snows a lot in those first few weeks you are MORE THAN WELCOME to bring your snow blower over and clear out our driveway. Just sayin'.
Though we are still a few months away from bringing our little man home, I am per-emptively grateful for all the excitement, grace, and hospitality we will be shown by our amazing community. I hope you find this list helpful as you prepare to show Christ-like warmth to a newly adoptive family in your life!
And thanks for the questions Steph!