When we come home

Photo via flickr user Joel Olives

 This will be my last post before we leave for Moscow on Saturday.

*Deep breathing*

I'm so ready.

Okay I'm so ready to bring him home. I think I'm almost ready for this final trip.  We've got the paperwork, the Russian rubles, our clothes, Arie's clothes, snacks for the plane ride home, toys for the plane ride home, and 5 different kids of over-the-counter kid meds for any kind of illness you can imagine. I even bought "sea-bands" from the drugstore to see if I can finally combat the motion sickness I suffered from on the previous two trips.  I'll let you know if they work.

We're ready, but I'll tell you what: I am going to let myself break down a little when we get to JFK and I'll probably have a full on happy cry on the three hour drive home from our final airport landing to home.  Hopefully Arie sleeps, otherwise he's just going to get an early introduction to what an emotional mess his mama will be for, oh, the next year or so.

Anyway, it's only a week-long trip. We can do this.

I really hope I packed enough diapers.

Anyway (for real this time), you might remember my attachment plan post from August in which I outlined our attachment plan.  You can go back and read the whole post for details and explanations but I'm going to give a review and add a few things for those of you who know us in person.  Developing a strong family attachment is going to be the number one priority for us in the coming months and we need the patience and understanding of our friends and family to do it.  We are going to be uncompromising in a few ways and I just am going to put a few things out there; this is not meant to offend, only to serve as an explanation for what could otherwise be seen as strange behavior from compulsive new parents.

1. Please allow me and John to be the only ones to hold, touch, and feed Arie. Arie has had many different caregivers in his short life and he has learned not to give his heart away because when he becomes attached, he gets hurt when the caregivers turn over. John and I have to earn his trust and show him that we're here for him.  We're here to give him hugs, serve his meals, fuss over his scrapes and bruises etc. We want him to recognize that we are his caregivers and no one else. So basically- don't take care of him. Let us do it. We will let you know when this stage has passed, but it might be a while (months).

2. Please do not swarm us at church. This is probably one of the hardest ones for me because our church community has been incredible during our adoption process and all I want to do is bring him to church and show him off to the world! But we do not want to overwhelm him and we especially do not want him to develop a fear of church, so our plan is that I will sneak into the service late, finding a back seat or a place in the separate infant calming room, and sneak out early again before the service is over.  Give us a wave and a smile and shake my hand during the mutual greeting, but when we're ready for him to meet new people I will stay with him after the service.  If you don't see us outside of the service it means he's not ready yet.  At the very earliest, it will be January before we start introducing him after the service. 

3. If you stop by after we're home to bring a meal or a gift please do not be offended when we don't invite you in or bring Arie to the door.  Evey good manners instinct in me will want to say, "Come on in!" and introduce you to Arie, but our goal is to keep our home quiet and peaceful for him so we won't be inviting you in quite yet. But thank you very much for the meal!!

4. Before the new year we plan to introduce him to: our immediate families (and a few relatives at Christmas) and my daycare families. That's it.  If you are not in those two categories you will likely not be meeting him unless you bump into us at church, a Christmas parade, grocery shopping or taking a walk outside.  Even then our hello will be brief. Again, we wish it was different but with the holiday busy-ness coming up we've decided to really limit things in order to not overwhelm him and to facilitate good bonding with us. We will re-evaluate what he's ready for in January.

I feel like a real meany-pants, over-protective, isolating mom and I guess I am, but I just want so much for our loved ones to realize that these decisions we've made are ones we've anguished over and ones we've made for our family's best interest and not because we want to keep Arie from all those who love him. I've had many, many people ask me when we'll "let up" on these rules and a lot of it will be based on spiritual guidance and our parental instincts but there are a few things we will be looking for:

1. We want to see him come to us for touch, food, and comfort.  We are so thrilled that even during our visits he has already come to us for laughter and tickles; this is a good sign!  But we also saw him fall down (hard) and not cry or reach out for help.  He just brushed himself off and kept playing.  This is not "normal" toddler behavior; he has leaned to rely on himself in certain ways and we want to see him seeking comfort from us for these types of things.

2. We want to see appropriate "stranger danger" and caution. When Arie first met us he was shy and we were happy to see that and even more thrilled to hear him cry when we took him away from his nannies.  This is healthy toddler behavior! When he meets new people, we want to see him look to us for assurance.  We want him to trust us as the ones who will protect him and let him know who and what is safe and who or what isn't safe.

3. We want to see "orphanage behaviors" wane. We don't know yet what behaviors he will exhibit but we expect a few like rocking himself to sleep, banging his head for stimulation, drinking excessively (because fluids are so limited in the orphanage), and eating with haste and panic.  As he adjusts to his new life and begins to trust his new routines (ie: food and drink are readily available, mom and dad will comfort his fears at night etc), we want to see those orphanage behaviors melting away.

As we see these things in Arie we will be more and more comfortable treating him (and allowing him to be treated) like any other kid. As I said in previous posts, when in doubt about how to treat him just ask us! We will not be offended.

My next post will be coming to you from Moscow!  We are picking Arie up from the baby home on Monday! We have a few things to do with him before returning to our apartment, but I hope to get a post up on the blog before dinner time back home.  Let the butterflies open their wings and start flapping around my stomach!

PS: Check out the Christmas gifts you can buy from the awesome fundraisers listed on my A More Meaningful Christmas! And please keep sharing the post! 



  1. Anonymous11/16/2012

    Oh Jill, you mama bear you, I'm proud of you. Don't feel guilty for advocating for that sweet boy. Love you, safe travels!!!

    1. Thank you Leanne! The encouragement means a lot!

  2. WOW, I would have never thought to do those things but it makes perfect sense! And I commend you for making the hard decision to do things this way. Ultimately, this IS the best way to ease your son into this new life of his... and you're doing it in the most healthy way possible! And although it may seem like you're ultra-protective to other people (and maybe even yourselves), this period of time will eventually be a distant memory and Arie will be better off for the time you allowed him to adjust. I am very impressed by your parental instincts and the guidance you have sought from God in this! I truly hope that people will respect your decisions (and not balk at them) and that Arie will adjust more quickly this way. I look forward to reading your posts about how he is doing! And I will be praying fervently for your trip! This is a VERY exciting time!!! :) I am so happy for you, John, AND Arie! :)

  3. I am so happy and excited for you, John, and Arie! Have a good trip to Russia! This is the beginning of a beautiful chapter for you and your family!

  4. Such wisdom as you bond together. And speaking as an aunt who could hardly wait to get my hands and kisses on an adorable adopted niece and nephew, I waited with respectful and prayerful "im"-patience as my brother and sister-in-law made similar decisions.:) You'll know, and others will understand the precious importance of these first days, weeks, months. Praying that he'll surprise you with how well he adjusts to his new forever-family life. Blessings as this last phase of becoming a family unfolds. How overwhelmingly, wonderfully exciting!

    -Jacquie DeRaaf

  5. Katie B11/16/2012

    Praying for you all! Hoping the sea-bandz work...may want to buy some ginger pills, I hear they curb nauseousness too!

  6. I don't know you in person, so I can't break your rules, but I just wanted to say I don't think you sound overprotective at all. Your sweet Arie has been through so much, and will go through so much more in the coming weeks. You are just being a smart, protective, loving mamma and he's so very lucky for that! Prayers for a safe journey and wonderful reunion!

  7. All such good attachment practices! I'm so excited for you! :-) I hope your "trip" goes SO well! :-)

  8. Janelle Zwart11/16/2012

    So much wisdom in this post and in your decisions on how you will tackle the attachment process. Love him with all the fierceness you can muster, mama bear, and don't let anyone make you feel bad for it. Ray and I are so excited for you guys. Blessings this coming week! I'll be praying for safe travels :)

  9. Anonymous11/16/2012

    I found your blog through a friend and have enjoyed it so much. You have a beautiful way of expressing yourself and I love your honesty and the way you share your faith. If you are not familiar with it, I highly recommend "The Love That is True". You can go to the website at www.thelovethatistrue.com to find out more. It is available both as a beautiful book and as a wonderful app. You can also watch it as a free video online. I think you and Arie would read it over and over! (Your daycare kids would love it too!) Blessings to you, John and Arie as you become a family. ~ Leslie


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