Thursday, July 3, 2014

Adoption and Bonding

Many of you are wondering how things are going with the new children. This is a very important time for all of us as we get to know each other. The bonds that our new children are forming with us as parents and siblings will be the foundation of their new lives.

The attachment and bonding that needs to take place can be very difficult for some children. Children who do not attach to their new families may be diagnosed with Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD). You can read more about RAD here, (Thank you Wikipedia). We have had personal experience with RAD in a child and it's not fun. In fact, it was the most emotionally exhausting thing we have ever dealt with as parents.

To help with the attachment process there are a few things we do/have done, to make this process go smoothly. These are all things we have done with our previous three adoptions so many of you already know and understand how and why we isolate ourselves for a time. For those of you wondering about this attachment process, our family "cocoons".

1. We stay at home.
They are learning about their new home and family. They are also learning to trust. The best way to do this is to stay home.

2. We do not have people over.
Do not be offended if we do not invite you inside. Our children are getting use to us, new parents and siblings. Having other people around is confusing. The first month, or even longer, is only the immediate family (grandparents, aunts and uncles) and very close family friends (hopefully).

3. Love, Hugs, Kisses, and Comfort
These things are ONLY from us. Part of the attachment process is the understanding that we are the new caretakers. We provide comfort when someone is hurt. We give lots of hugs and kisses, and spend a lot of time cuddling. We want our new children to feel loved and for that love to become innate and unquestioned.

4. Food
Again, food ONLY comes from us. Food means so many different things, but because food is life sustaining it is important it come from the parents. They will start to depend on us as the people who care and love them because we are providing for their basic needs.

5. Care
We don't leave the children with anyone. Yes, we need a break. Yes, I'm tired of being home, all the time. I could really use a night out, alone, with my husband.
Leaving them now, even for a short time, is difficult. Again, it's all about trust. Can you imagine how scary it would be for your new parents to give you a kiss, say "goodbye, we'll be home soon" and have no idea what that even means?
In a few weeks, if all is going well, grandma may come over so we can get a "date", but even that wouldn't be more than two hours and it will not interfere with bedtime.

Here are some things you can do:

1. Do not be offended. I can't say this enough. We love all of you. You are still our friends. It may be awhile before we completely emerge. If someone talks of how they saw us or were at our house, DO NOT take it personally. They may have caught us on an outing or on a really good day at home.

2. If our child runs to you for a hug or seeks comfort from you for any reason, please respond carefully. You may gently hug them and reassure them while at the same time directing them back to one of us, the parents.
Many newly adoptive children will seek out attention from any adult present. Part of this is testing out their new surroundings and part of this is testing their bonds with the new parents: are you going to still love me if I go to this person? If I refuse your comfort, what will you do?

3. Please do not offer any food to the children. It's kind of like, don't feed the animals. If you feed them children, they depend on you. We need them to depend on us.

4. Take one of the older children.
This is an adjustment for everyone. Our older ones are "on" all the time. They are learning how to interact with younger siblings and how to communicate in Creole. They are learning patience and endurance and frankly, they get exhausted. They would love to have a break and just hang with their friends.

I know this is a lot to read, but we could not do this without your love, prayers, and understanding.


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