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Inside the cocoon…

I’ve had several questions about our little family “cocoon”…so I thought I would share the philosophy and OF COURSE a few recent pics of what is happening inside ours;)…

When a baby enters the world–they are given the immediate gift of a mother’s arms–feeling their security and understanding quickly that it is this person who not only nutures but helps sustain them through feedings. Trust is quickly developed…newborns recognize the mother’s heartbeat, scent and voice…after all–for 9 months they have literally grown to hear and feel them as if they were his own. Many of you might remember what it felt like when someone asked to hold your child–and how it felt like part of your very HEART was seperated from you…and you might remember how it even comforted you as your baby began to cry and no one else could calm him…and the moment he was placed back in your arms…PEACE…

For many different reasons, the beauty of this scene doesn’t get to last for every child. And no matter how young or old the child is–a baby does sense being seperated from his mother…and trust is broken. The younger the baby is—of course the easier it is to reconnect to a care-giver. Best case scenerio a baby gets to meet his/her new mommy quickly after birth and a forever, consistent connection is made. Many times however, the next care-giver comes in the form of a foster parent or orphanage staff worker—and while trust is rebuilt and attachment happens—when a new caregiver comes into the picture trust will continue to be broken over and over UNTIL a forever parent comes into the picture. Depending on the ages of the child and how many changes they have experienced, reconnecting, trusting a new caregiver again and learning that THIS new caregiver is not only a caregiver…but here to STAY…obviously will require an extra effort and commitment during the reattachment phase—and THIS is what you hear called in the adoption world as cocooning.

Cocooning will look different for every family, but most adoption resources recommend a cocooning duration of 3 months. Babies and children who attach to a parent and form a healthy, strong connection will have a better chance in forming healthy relationships with others later in life.

One thing I noticed about Isaac Temesgen early on was how he would reach out for men during our time in Ethiopia. While some would see this as an out-going personality, it is also a red-flag to developing an attachment disorder later. I knew he would need to develop a healthy understanding of who his parents are verses who strangers are—and it was important for him to connect with his family before connecting with the outside world. Before going to Ethiopia, we had spent much time and prayer about how we would cocoon and help Isaac Temesgen form healthy attachment to our family–and we posted our plan both on our blog as well as sent out a letter via email to our friends and family. (Some one shared that letter with us and we customized it for our ITY…so feel free to use it as well.)

So…is our “cocoon” time and our heart behind it working??? We definitely see more and more progress and deeper connections with one another EVERY day. Honestly, I can see how beneficial it is for the other children as well. And for a daddy and son who didn’t get to meet in Ethiopia…I think these two are connecting beautifully…

I even love how Parker is looking on in these pictures…just as happy for this sweet bond…

Some incredible resources about adoption and attachment that I have enjoyed are: Focus on the Family’s Handbook on Thriving as an Adoptive Family, Dr.Karyn Purvis’s The Connected Child, and Cogen’s Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child.

Last but NOT least;). I get the funniest emails and comments about Frank–so I thought Frank fans;) would really think this was hilarious! So…those sweet images up top…the moment lasted for awhile—until…something else got their attention…

I know…I know…those of you who KNOW Frank’s CRAZY self can only imagine what he is doing THIS time…right? SO—THIS is what they are looking at…

Yes, he was being crazy.

Yes, he has icing all over his mouth…from a cupcake.

BUT…it didn’t get there like you would think. NOW…if YOU were FRANK—HOW do you think you would eat a cupcake???

Like THIS of course!!!

A word from Frankie-baby…

“Oh yeah…baby! You know I’m funny! It’s the ONLY way to eat a cupcake. Try it next time you have one…seriously—not only will your family think you are a nut…but you will crack YOURSELF up…and what’s more fun in life than being able to laugh at yourself?!”
See that eye shiner??? He took a spin around the living room yesterday and hit a corner…and he didn’t even cry! Love this kid…and so excited for his growing connection with his little brother…

When we break the coccoon once and for all—I’m totally taking these two on a boys outing to Krispy Kreme:) Aren’t they just yummy?! And Krispy Kreme donuts aren’t so bad either;)

Debb - July 17, 2010 - 3:39 pm

WOW! Your blog is such an inspiration, and your family ~ oh, so BEAUTIFUL!!!! My husband and I are nearing the end of our paper chase for Ethiopia adoption, and I find your blog so precious, yet so informative! THANK YOU for blessing so many via your blog!

BTW, we just launched our T-Shirt Giveaway, if you are at all interested in entering! Please feel welcome but certainly not obligated! Blessings ~

april - July 17, 2010 - 4:09 pm

love this post andrea! Love all the explanations and for those who have not adopted..i am sure it will be beneficial to them and to help them understand! 🙂

Jenny - July 17, 2010 - 5:51 pm

wonderful post!!! I’m sure I’ll look back on it a few times before we bring Joleigh home. Love the pics of daddy and Isaac:) SO adorable and little Parker is such a cutie pie in them, too!

Mandy - July 17, 2010 - 7:19 pm

I have read your blog for so long but have never left a comment! Today I had my mom watch your “gotcha day” video and we both cried together! It’s so great to see other families that love and spread the word about adoption! Thanks for being an adoptive advocate!!

JonesEthiopia - July 17, 2010 - 8:59 pm

Cocooning was excellent for both our girls. They both needed it so much but for different reasons. It looks to me like Isaac is is getting stronger and feeling more secure every day!

Rebecca Harley - July 17, 2010 - 9:07 pm

oh, I love your new pictures! and what a great post on cocooning – something that we are still wondering how to tell our families about:) I will definitely be using Cris’ letter too!

kelly - July 17, 2010 - 10:29 pm

Looks and sounds like everyone is benefiting from this special family time! What a blessing these two little ones will be to each other and the rest of the family, as well. My older two so enjoy just watching the younger play and interact…You have so many sweet times ahead. Thank you for sharing and keeping it real!!

Megan - July 18, 2010 - 2:43 am

That picture of Frank and Isaac melts my heart!!! Praying it continues to improve! Thanks for sharing all the wonderful insides of cacooning…just now in my researching phase and look forard to checking some of those books out!

Kimberly - July 18, 2010 - 4:56 am

Hi 🙂

My family and I are just starting the process for either Ethiopia or Rwanda and planning to use AGCI. I wanted to know how you felt about their ethics- I’ve heard some really concerning things about other agencies and ethics and I want to make sure we glorify God in all things and use an agency that is ethical.

We are in a unique situation as a family currently living in China (starting our 4th year here at an international Christian school). We are praying for His will in all of this to be done. You inspire us so much!

Jennifer - July 18, 2010 - 7:40 am

Blogs are funny. Some just stand out in our mind. Yesterday I was going on and on about Frank, the playground pic, Frank jumping in his baby “thingy” and the rest of your post to my mother on the phone who is 80 and has probably never turned on a computer. I was trying to describe Frank, and I said I can kind of see what he will look like when he is 80. 😉 Frank cracks me up with his love of food, and Isaac is just adorable. Even in the photo where everyone is looking at Frank, Isaac’s eyes just stand out. You have got such a cute family!

Dawn - July 18, 2010 - 8:38 pm

Too CUTE!!! Love the pics 🙂

Kris - July 18, 2010 - 10:52 pm

I’ve been lurking here for a few weeks on Kelley B’s recommendation. I have 3 kids(ages 5, 3, and 14 mo) and I am gathering initial paperwork for our Ethiopian adoption. Just wanted to say thanks for your blog – it has been so helpful to me as I explore and research! Looking forward to following how life goes post-placement with 4 little ones!

Christina Anderson - July 18, 2010 - 10:56 pm

Thanks SOOOO much for posting about your helpful resources! I can’t wait to read more helps about bonding with our adopted baby girl as parents and as a family! We still have around a year before she will arrive with us, but I’m SO ready to study up and prepare! I was going to ask for your 2 cents as your plan seemed very studied and purposed……I knew you had to have tapped into some awesome resources somewhere or that you were just walking awesomeness yourself (which I’m not doubting either) 🙂 Ummm…..and enjoy a cupcake for this encouraged reader!

Tiffany - July 20, 2010 - 9:14 am

I think this is something that I am most looking forward to. I really appreciate you sharing the details of your cocooning.