As we prepare for travel–we want to invest more time in preparing our plan for attachment for our Isaac. Think of it as when you got married and desired to prepare more for the marriage than the wedding. Richard and I have spent almost a year reading attachment books, praying for the Lord to guide us in making the best decisions in how we help Isaac heal, meeting with mommy mentors who have traveled the adoption road and seeking wise counsel from those with counseling and physcology backgrounds. I, oddly, enjoy this type of research and understanding how God created our minds and our hearts to thrive and even heal after they have experienced trauma.
In a perfect world, babies would be raised by their birth moms and never have to experience the trauma of seperation from them. They would be given the gift of knowing their mom’s heartbeat, voice, birth language. “A baby or child is at risk for attachment problems and future behavior difficulties when they have experienced abuse, neglect, separation from a caregiver, changing day cares or using providers who don’t do bonding, moms with chronic depression, several moves in placement or self-centered parenting” (Nancy L. Thomas in Taming the Tiger While it’s still a Kitten). Thankfully, there is a window of time where healing can take place—you can think of it as “Attachment ICU” also called “cocooning”. During this time, our family will be going above and beyond to help Isaac attach to our family and to heal.
We are very confident in the attachment Isaac has received at his orphanage. BUT–when we get Isaac–trauma will again happen as he leaves another caregiver he has once again bonded with. There will be grieving even from leaving the orphanage (we actually hope he grieves early–as this is a good sign for healing–but it won’t be easy for him or for us). We recently got an update on Isaac that said he was a “fussy baby” which this is a really good sign that he still has preferences and feels a caregiver will help or react to him if he cries out. We want to be very sensitive to our little guy as “a child in transition, is a child in pain” (Nancy L. Thomas). We want to remember the realities of his transitions thus far—for the first 6 months of his life he heard one language and connected to one caregiver. For the last 5 months he has heard an entirely new language and bonded with yet another caregiver. Next week, he will meet yet ANOTHER new caregiver (me!) and be introduced to yet another language, environment and family. It is very important that our son gets to know me as his caregiver and establishes a strong, healthy bond with us–which will enable him to establish healthy bonds in the future with other members of our family and our friends. But leaving his country, familiar faces and being older–this transition may be the hardest that he has endured yet.
When I think of it from a small scale–I don’t sleep well when I’m on a trip. I can’t WAIT to get home and be in my bed…that is where I simply am comfortable and sleep best. You could take me to the most fancy hotel–yet, I sleep and rest best in where I am familiar. Isaac will feel the same way for awhile. We will need to go above and beyond to help him see our home as his home, to feel safe and comfortable here. There will be brokenness in his little heart as he leaves the caregivers at the orphanage–and just as when you have a broken relationship as an adult some go to counseling and often struggle with trust again–we will be doing things that may look different to help with healing and gaining Isaac’s trust. We acknowledge that many of our family and friends have waited and longed to see Isaac as much as we have. You will be itching to see him and hold him. For this we are thankful! I know it will be hard for many of you when you read our plan and see you’ll have to wait several months until we see signs of attachment and that he is ready to form new attachment with others. During this “ICU attachming/cocooning time”, our family and friends can help us most by supporting us, bringing meals, sending cards of encouragement, respecting our need for privacy and waiting to visit with our little guy has strongly attached to us. Our connecting strongly with Isaac during this “ICU phase” will help him better connect with all of you later…and trust me, we will be anxious and ready to share his sweetness with you when the time is right!
Our plan may change when we meet him and see possible new needs–but this is where we are starting. If you are close to us, we ask that you would carefully read our plan so you can encourage and support Isaac and our family during our transition time…
As you can see–and probably imagine–this will not be easy. BUT, we are certain that our investment will be worth it! We feel there is a greater risk in under-doing it rather than over doing it. “Every minute you invest holding your little one and gazing lovingly in their eyes is one hour less pain when they are teenagers” (Thomas). Soooo…will we be exhausted? Absolutely. Will we regret investing all of this extra into our son? Absolutely not! We know it will be much easier to invest this time and effort into a baby rather than trying to fix unhealthy attachment later in a teenager. We also recognize there is nothing we can do–but ULTIMATELY–it will be the Lord’s healing and miraculous hand that brings healing through ALL of our cocooning time and years to come.
Another family’s plan that I love and appreciate is the Hertstein family. Jesse Hertstein wrote a wonderful post here on their plan as they brought home their itty, bitty infant baby girl. We are so thankful for all of those family’s who have gone before us who have offered us their experience and encouragement. And like Jesse said at the end of his post on their plan, we can’t WAIT, WAIT, WAIT to get started!!!