Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Melissa's post

We have been fortunate enough to come into contact with many wonderful adoptive parents. I truly value their experiences and advice and carefully consider their way of seeing things. Kim, Nancy, Adrienne, Carol, Amy, Janette, Melissa, Nicole and many more have all a been wonderful support throughout this process. It's nice to hear what you have done right, and it's even more valuable to know what you have done wrong. Thank you all!

In the theme of setting expectations during the initial bonding stages, we wanted to share some experiences other families have had. Melissa gave me permission to post an entry off her personal blog that spoke to me when researching bonding. She, her husband and their new son Iliya were finally on their way home after their long trip to Russia.

Have I mentioned how we are so excited to come home? I think you all were pretty right when you said that I am getting homesick. I really am enjoying my time with my husband & my son…I’m just ready to be home to sleep in my bed and cook with my dishes and eat my food. I guess what I’ve got could be deemed a form of cabin fever. Anyway, today marks the end of Day 8. Two more days to go, then we do a couple days’ worth of paperwork and then head out to Moscow. I’m not sure if we will have internet access in Moscow (though I will try to post if/when I can), for one reason because it can be very expensive.

So before things get too busy, I wanted to talk for a second about our homecoming.

I know that a pretty large group of people is set to meet us at the airport, and I can’t tell you HOW excited we are to see you! I just want you to be prepared that Iliya may not be quite as excited…he may surprise us, but we totally anticipate him being overwhelmed. When he’s overwhelmed, he is likely to get really shy…and/or…cry. We won’t know what he’ll do, till we are there…so please be prepared for these reactions. The only thing that we ask is that no one tries to take him from either of us. He’s pretty shy with strangers, but then again, he could surprise us and try to go to someone with their hands outstretched. Even if he does this, he’ll have to stay with one of us. We hope that if you know of anyone who is coming…and they are not regular readers…please help us spread this word.

I think this will be the hardest thing about our homecoming. Because if you’ve seen a picture of our little one, you KNOW, he is an irresistible little thing. And by irresistible, I mean that his presence, alone, brings on the desire to kiss him, squeeze him, and pretty much eat him up. And we want everyone to have their time with him, when he is truly ready…BUT for a while after we come home, we will have to be the parents, and we will have to be the ones to hold him, help him, and primarily care for him. If you ask to hold him, and we say 'no,' it's not because we don't think you are incapable...it's just that he needs to see us as his primary caregivers. The people who love him best and who are supposed to meet all his needs.

I explained it to our niece like this: Little I has not ever had a mommy and a daddy, so when he comes home, he will still be learning that we are his mommy and daddy (and what it actually means to have a mommy and a daddy). Part of this learning process means that we’ll need to do most everything for him when he first comes home. We want to be sure that when he needs something, he learns to come to us for it…and not to just anyone.

This is something that a lot of people (who have children from the time they are born, or at least extremely young) often take for granted. The child grows up and just knows who takes care of them. This is not to say that there are not biological children with unhealthy attachments out there, but as parents of a post-institutionalized child, we do not take attachment for granted. It is something that must be worked on and I think that I speak for most adoptive parents when I say that we hope that our friends and family will understand by allowing us to be the ones that our child attaches to.

So, all that to say that we completely appreciate your support and prayers up to this point…and will appreciate them in the days, weeks, and months ahead of us. We want you to come see us at the airport…we just want you to be prepared for all the possibilities of that night!

I know that I just way oversimplified the whole attachment thing, but it’s the easiest way to explain it. He is doing SO well right now…for that, we are extremely thankful. But such a huge change of scenery may cause some confusion for him (though we hope not) & we want to be able to keep on this good track, even after we come home!

One of the things that has stuck out in my mind about an international adoption parenting seminar we went to is the social worker saying that when friends & family come over, if the child needs anything to let the parents do it. But the example that really sticks in my mind is that she said, "if a grandparent (or whoever) is over, and the child brings a bag over to them and asks them to open it for him...then the grandparent should take him to the mom/dad and get them to do it." Basically, I think she was saying that other adults -- friends/family -- can help model these attachment behaviors for the child.

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