Thursday, July 4, 2013

Since We've Been Home - Part One

Things have been going great since we have been home, but they have also been exhausting. We arrived home at 12:30 early in the morning on Saturday and went to bed after 2. My plan was to wake up the three oldest boys at around 9 because they all had to pack for camp. We were needing to leave our house no later than 4 to catch their flight to Amarillo where my sweet sister would pick them up and take them to camp. i joked with them that i wasn't sure they could handle the loooong one-hour flight :-) We had pre-packed some things for camp, but a helpful soul had unpacked everything. This same sweet soul had also put away all the clothes that I had pulled out that were too small for Cade and too big for Nate. I didn't realize this at the time, but figured it out after it was reported that Cade was wearing some majorly high-water jeans at camp :-). I hope he got some of the right-sized jeans into his bag. The boys were sleeping so hard that I left all of them alone except for Chase who had some mowing to do. I woke the other boys up at 11:30. My day consisted of washing clothes and getting them ready for camp.

Emma helping with the packing and enjoying some of her Cheerios.

We left for the airport around 4. Mark was still not feeling well, so I took the 3 boys along with Emma. I would have preferred to not take Emma out, but there was really no choice. It shouldn't have taken so long, except their flight was delayed for an hour. During this time, Emma made some new friends. She is really attracted to other children and wants to interact with them. She found a little girl who was around her same age and started playing with her. No problem there. The problem came when the parents of the children started interacting and playing with Emma, and Emma interacted right back. Why is this a bad thing? You have to understand a little bit about attachment with older child adoption to understand why this is not a good thing. I promise to keep this brief. Feel free to ask me any questions about it, I am always happy to talk about adoption.

When you have a biological baby, the baby is born already having a beginning of a bond with you. The baby already knows your voice, scent, etc. When your baby is hungry, you meet that need. When your baby is fussy, you come running and meet that need. When your baby wants to play, you meet that need. Your baby has a dirty diaper, you take care of that. Bath? Got it covered. You hold your baby, make eye contact with your baby, and love your baby. This is the very foundation of a loving and healthy attachment between child and parent. Everything else builds from this. In the adoption world we call this the attachment cycle. We didn't have that with Emma. Picture a circle. At the top you have "a need", then an arrow connects that to "met need", then an arrow connects that to "contentment", which then has an arrow connecting back to "need". With older adopted children, there is a high chance that the cycle of attachment was not present in a consistent manner. On any given day, maybe they cried because they were lonely but there was no one available to meet that need and the cycle didn't happen. Then they cried because they were hungry but that need was ignored for a while until it was finally met. They needed to play, but that need was not met and instead they were flat on their back on a crib. They learn NOT to trust. We know that Emma experienced some of these type of things, even though her care was far superior to most. Even if she hadn't, she has not experienced these things with us and does not have that foundation of trust that is vital to a healthy attachment. The good news is that we can still build that foundation, and we do that by starting at the basics. If she is hungry or THINKS she needs food, we give it to her - immediately. We aren't caring about nutritional value at this stage in the game. The need for food is a very primal need, and she must trust that she will always have enough food from us. If she wants to be held, we hold her - immediately. If she wants our attention, she gets it - immediately. Our number one job and responsibility right now is to build trust and attachment with her. This can get tricky because we need her to understand that we are her people, not others outside of our family. We need her to build that relationship with us before she can build relationships with others. We must protect this relationship or things will be so much harder when she is older. She needs the security of knowing who her family is. I hope this all makes sense. It can be very difficult to explain. In my work, I have seen what attachment problems look like and how very difficult they are to deal with and to overcome. I do not want to experience that. In order for us to securely build this foundation of attachment, I do have a few favors to ask of our friends. During this initial bonding period, it is very important that no one outside of our family gives her food or drinks. Even if she drops her cup and you pick it up. In that case, give it to us to give to her. She needs to understand that we are the ones who will meet her eating needs. Please try to not play or interact with her too much. We are NOT saying that you cannot speak to her or interact with her, just be mindful of this and keep it to a minimum during this INITIAL bonding period. If she gets hurt or upset, please let us comfort her. Don't feel bad if you forget and accidentally hand her a Cheerio. It is the natural thing to do and what we are asking you to do is what feels unnatural. If it happens, don't feel like you have to apologize or worry that we will put you on a blacklist. Well, some of you probably should be on a blacklist. We are also not saying that this is the way things will always be. This is just until we feel that Emma has formed a strong foundation of attachment to us. We love all you guys so much and can never thank you enough for your prayers and support throughout this process. Thank you all for opening your hearts to her. We want you guys to know her and to have loving relationships with her. She is attaching well and transitioning well, and we want that to continue. I can't wait for you guys to get to know her. She is absolutely amazing! I am so afraid of hurting someone's feelings, especially when I know their intentions are loving. I hope this post doesn't offend anyone. Please ask me any questions or let me know if it just doesn't make sense. The next posts will talk about discipline, sleep, eating, and her doctors' appointments. Here are a few pictures.

Pretending to take a picture with my phone, not that I ever take her picture with my phone :-)

The "cheese" face

First time swinging

One of her favorite things to do is to push her stroller

Her first experience with Play-doh. She loved it. Later, I had to throw away the container of white after an unfortunate incident involving an unflushed potty.

More pics to come

- Jenna

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