Attachment Plan.

Of the things we talk about in my adoption group, the thing we discuss the most is what life is like AFTER the child comes home.

This is so great. We have actual moms who have adopted–some have had their children for years, some for months and others just for a week or two. Their perspective is unbelievably valuable. The knowledge I’ve gained from these women combined with the training we’ve taken part in and the books we have read, have helped us form an attachment plan that we feel is best for our situation, but that will be continually changing and evolving as we get to know our son and seek to meet his needs.

A little disclaimer….

We’ve spent the last six months falling in love with a little boy across the world — gazing at his pictures and memorizing his every feature — and we can hardly wait to have him home and deepen and strengthen that love. But Baby Boy doesn’t know us at all. Studies show that even infants mourn loss, though they may not be able to articulate it. The familiar voice and heartbeat of his birth mom disappeared when he was born and it was a loss that affected him. Since that loss he has had multiple caregivers in an orphanage — and even though we truly trust that he is getting excellent care, there are many faces and arms and voices coming in and out of his life. It will take time to get used to me and to everything about me — my voice, the color of my skin, and the language that I speak. Throw in there the whole different country, the time change, the car seat, electricity, etc. — well, that’s a whole lot to adjust to no matter how old you are.

So, family and friends who plan to see us during the first month or two after Baby Boy comes home, please don’t take it personally — but we’re going to have to be super-overprotective, because parenting an adoptive child is different than parenting a biological child. And since our day is coming soon (embassy interview tomorrow!), here’s the low-down…

1: Primary Caregivers. We can’t let you hold Baby Boy for a good long while after we get him. We can’t have you and the kids over for a big celebration at our house. And it’s not because we don’t want to share our precious son with you or because we don’t love you and your kids partying at our house, but it’s because we have to be oh-so-careful to establish a good attachment with Baby Boy during these first crucial weeks and we need to be careful about overstimulating him with too much “new”. At the orphanage, Baby Boy can turn to any adult for care, and he may have even established survival skills such as being charming with strangers to get attention (called “mommy shopping”). He needs to learn that now he has a forever family to meet his needs. Get a little bit of the “stranger danger” in him. If we have a lot of visitors when he first comes home, then it’s no different than what he’s used to experiencing in the orphanage with people coming and going. So…we love you all and we know that soon our son will, too, but please try to limit physical contact with him until we feel that he is securely attached to us.

2: It’s a small world after all. Baby Boy is coming from one of the poorest countries in the world and has left the orphanage on just a few occasions for hospital visits and a trip to the embassy (tomorrow!). So, we’ll be keeping his world as small as possible for his first weeks home. Yes, he’ll have some necessary trips to the doctor, physical therapist, etc. But other than that, we probably won’t be out much with him (sorta like having a newborn), and when we do start going out, it will be very gradually. When that times comes, we will still need to be the ones holding for him and caring for him.

3. Routine. Because of all the major disruptions Baby Boy has experienced, setting up a routine and sticking to it will be very important to him to protect him from overstimulation and help him feel safe. So you may find that we’re rushing home for nap times and that we’re not so flexible with our day-to-day-lives. Who knows? Maybe he’ll turn out to be a super flexible kiddo and a routine won’t matter so much, but for the first little while, a routine is going to be very important to help him with transition.

4. Wanna party with us at the airport? Now that we’ve insulted your hospitality by asking you not to come near us with a ten-foot pole for a few weeks (kidding!) we want to invite you to come to a brief arrival party at the airport, before we begin our bonding time together as a family. If you’d like to be there to meet a very exhausted Joel, a really cute Baby, and a really excited Mama and Yaya, then feel free to e-mail me so I can pass along flight information when we have it.

It’s hard to put this out there, because so many of you have been praying for our family and for Baby Boy, encouraging us at every step in the process and helping us out with fundraising towards our expenses to bring him home — and this journey would not have been the same without you. We would love nothing more than to show off the newest member of our family. But…we know that establishing this healthy bond is super important and that all you awesome, amazing friends will continue to be awesome and amazing and bear with us just a wee bit longer.

Did I mention the embassy interview is tomorrow?

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