Wednesday, February 29, 2012

OUR COCOONING IS WORKING......and WHY!

Imagine having your baby the "old fashion way" and then having them tell you they are sending him or her to Africa for an undetermined amount of time.  And then imagine that undetermined amount of time being FIVE MONTHS!!!!

That is what it was like for us after meeting our sweet Kaleab in JULY ~ and having to wait until DECEMBER to go and get him!  Oi.  And now, again, we are waiting to return to bring our older son home.  Praying it is NOT another five months!

Now......imagine having your precious baby HOME but not being able to "show him off" to family, like every proud parent enjoys doing.  Ugh.  TOTALLY WORTH IT.   But ugh, nonetheless.

We are so very THANKFUL that God lead us to all of the Karyn Purvis and Empowered to Connect training that we have obtained.  This wealth of knowledge that is based on 10 years of research by the famous child psychologist, Karyn Purvis, is and will be so very helpful with BOTH of our children!

Children who are adopted experience grief and loss.  No matter the age.  Even babies know when they are no longer with the woman who carried and delivered them.  Even babies know when nannies are replaced with another nanny (change in staff and/or moved to another orphanage).  Changes in caretakers often occur multiple times before a child reaches his or her forever family.  This often repeated loss cannot help but impact children.  As we learned more about this, Jeff and I became thirsty to learn as much as we could about "raising kids from hard places" with Karyn Purvis and the Monroes' at Empowered to Connect.

We are applying as much as we can with Kaleab right now, which includes establishing ~ and sticking with ~ a schedule.  This is not always easy, but VERY beneficial for Kaleab.  Our plan (referred to as "cocooning") also includes not letting others hold Kaleab, shower him with love (hugs, kisses and gifts), or meet his other needs such as feeding and diaper changing.

Mommy and Daddy need to be the only ones meeting those needs right now to establish a solid relationship of trust and love between us and Kaleab.  If others hug on him, hold him, feed him, change him, etc, then he continues to believe that "anyone" will care for him.  Much like life in his orphanage when nannies came and went.  We want Kaleab to learn that we aren't going to eventually change shifts, quit or get replaced.  We are his primary caregivers and providers ~ FOREVER!  Every.single.day.  {Of course, this is aside from the needs only the God and the Holy Spirit can provide}

NOT doing this "cocooning" would forever hinder Kaleab's ability to attach to us, his parents, as well as others in the future.  We have this current window of time.  That is it.  If we blow it now, we will forever struggle with attachment.  That simple.  That black and white.

That serious.

We believe in this philosophy to our core.  We have seen the fruits of this philosophy with Kaleab.  He is learning that WE are his mommy and daddy!  

Having the time with us in Ethiopia helped facilitate attachment tremendously.  However, coming home ~ to a new environment, new sounds and noises, new people, new food, new ways of life (i.e., car seats, high chairs, new crib, etc) and a new schedule ~ it has been almost like starting over.  Not that our new life in America steals from our time with Kaleab in Ethiopia, but it does create changes that require continuing the "cocooning" stage.

We need to continue doing what we are doing.  It is crucial that all good things continue to come solely from Jeff and me for a while (duration dependent on how well Kaleab is attaching).  To children from an orphanage, every adult is a possible caregiver or someone to distrust.  Or both. We want to remove both stigmas from Kaleab's mind and heart and show him a new perspective.


We see the fruits of our efforts!  Kaleab is showing signs of trust and love toward both of us, as well as an understanding that WE are the ones to meet his needs ~ not all of the nice people in mommy and daddy's life nor the strangers walking down the street.  Grasping this will not only help him attach to us, but it is key to him ever being able to bond and trust others in his life as well!

I didn't even post about this "cocooning" on my blog, but we are blessed by people who seem to naturally "get it" and respect it.  Everyone has understood that we would need our time as a family, to become our family.  Everyone has been so good to not hover and smother sweet Kaleab.  You LOVE HIM and yet you patiently await your day to really interact with him.  WE THANK YOU!!!!

We apologize if any of this plan seems selfish.  We promise that the only selfish component is wanting the very best emotional health for Kaleab, now and in his future.

One of the difficult things about this successful attachment approach, however, is that our family has still not yet been able to meet our pride and joy.  Friends have met him at church or as they stop by for a quick visit or to bless us with dinner, but they give Kaleab his space and don't hold him nor do they try to meet other needs, such as feeding him or giving him things.

Neither my family nor Jeff's family live in Boise.  Herein lies the challenge.  To travel from Colorado or Wisconsin, we want family to be able to cuddle and play with Kaleab until the sun goes down.  Every day.  And they just cannot do that.  Yet.  It would confuse little Kaleab.  The research proves this.  Therefore, we had to ask family before we even brought Kaleab home, to be willing to wait to meet him.

And they agreed.  Lovingly.  Though they are all so very excited to come to meet him personally!

We are not asking them to wait until they can change K's diaper and feed him ~ that would be an even longer wait! But we have asked them to wait until Kaleab has shown us that having people spend the night for multiple nights, laughing and playing with him daily, will not confuse him.  We have to know, for Kaleab's sake, that he understands not just who Mommy and Daddy are, but what role "Mommy" and "Daddy" have in his life.  WE are his source of help and survival.  His ability to have healthy relationships with us ~ and others in the future ~ relies on his first learning this.

This will happen.  It is happening!  It just takes time.  But when we are SO EXCITED to have our family share in our complete JOY of this precious gift from God, it makes it hard to wait.  For us, and for all of our family.  We are so thankful to all of them for their patience, understanding and prayers.  And for being willing to put Kaleab's needs before their own.

We see even more, after being home, that God so knew what He was doing {like we had to question that, right!?}  We are seeing how important  it is for Kaleab, Daddy and I to have this time just the three of us, before Big Brother joins the family.  Things will be getting so busy with being a family of four, that God knew the importance of Kaleab having this time to establish healthy trust, love and attachment.  THANK YOU, GOD!!!

So, we thank all of you wonderful friends who have been so excited to meet baby Kaleab.  Thank you for giving us time to be a family.  Thank you for giving him his space and allowing him to look at you, and not being offended that he doesn't reach out to you.  Thank you for loving us through this incredible journey!

And family, WE SO CAN'T WAIT for you to meet and hold our sweet baby Kaleab!!!  We thank you for encouraging us as we all wait to be united with one another!

We thank you, Karyn Purvis and Amy and Michael Monroe, for passing on such amazing parenting information before our children were even home!

THANK YOU to ALL of you for continued prayers for Kaleab's transition and attachment, as well as  for Big Brother!  Prayer is what kept God's power, provision and protection over our children thus far, and prayer is what is still needed to walk through this chapter of K being home and awaiting to pass court and obtain embassy clearance to bring S home!

Blessed to be the parents of our boys.  Blessed to call you family and friends.


2 comments:

*Overflowing* said...

Very well shared my friend! I get so excited when I see other adoptive parents "get it"! So many don't understand. I can tell you first hand....it most definitely works :)

April D said...

Great job communicating what K needs right now and your commitment to him. These first months are HARD but SO worth it. You will reap the fruit of your labor before you know it. Stay the course, momma. :)

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