Thursday, August 16, 2012

Attachment/Cocooning Part 2


When we initially bring Brandt into our home, we are going to experience a time of "cocooning." Cocooning is another adoption buzz word, which describes a very intensive care season, in which mom and dad are not only the primary caregivers, but the only ones to hold, feed, change, touch, and comfort him. We won't be introducing new people and won't be leaving the house much. Our agency suggests this time frame being between 6 weeks and 3 months, although most families continually re-evaluate where their kids are at each mark.

The cocooning process allows the children to understand that mom and dad will meet their needs. It allows the children to be acclimated to the new environment with minimal overstimulation. We must remember that our son won't know what a mom or dad is. In the safety of our cocoon, we will teach him what any biological one year old already knows: mom and dad love me and will respond to me when I cry and have a need. Brandt must learn that we are those people and that he can't go to just anyone to have needs met. He needs to learn that being passed around and having multiple people respond to his needs is not his reality any longer.  This will help with not only his psychological development and attachment but also allow for him to set up healthy boundaries for the future.

What will this look like for us?

1.)  We won’t be going much of anywhere (including house church or church) or having many visitors for the first few months Brandt is home.
2.)  We will be the only ones to feed, change, touch, hold, and rock Brandt (sorry family but we promise this won’t last forever!!). 
3.)  Brandt will be worn in a front pack or a sling for a majority of the time once he is home. Physical contact is one of the best ways to bond, and it will help Brandt begin to develop trust in us.

It may seem harsh to not pass our son around, or allow others (even family) to hold and kiss him, but we know that the best interest of our son is for him to know that mom and dad are the ones who give affection and care for him most. Eventually, when Brandt is ready, those things will come, but for the first few months especially, we have to put the best interest of our son first. Even after we are out of the cocoon, there may be times we need to go back in and allow Brandt to recover from overstimulation, especially if we see that he is not attaching well.

How Do You Know if it’s Working?

The great thing about adoption is that "little" things are BIG milestones! When we see that our son is seeking our approval before going to strangers, that is a good thing. "Charming" strangers is a habit of institutionalized children- where they are always "parent shopping" and may seem overly happy or silly to get attention. Although that certainly may be part of our son's personality, we want to be careful that he knows that WE are the ones who respond to him first.

Other signs of progress: when our son cries or acknowledges that he has a need, because it means he knows that we will meet his needs. I know, this may seem weird, but a lot of institutionalized children don't cry and don't tell parents when they are hungry, have a wet/dirty diaper, or need something. We have to teach our son that we will meet his needs, and celebrate when he lets us know them! Sometimes institutionalized children may hoard food or toys, because they fear that they may not get them again later. This is a positive sign if hoarding is not an issue.

It is also a good sign when our son is able to make healthy relationships and able to communicate with others using appropriate words and actions. It is a good thing when he shows us his happy moments and sad and angry moments- because he knows that we acknowledge his emotions and value him; our love does not depend on him acting a certain way.
Will be have an airport party?
YES!!  No matter what time of the day we’d like to invite those that would like to meet us at the airport when we bring our son home.  We will look disheveled and possibly be grumpy but we’d love for you to welcome us home!!!
 How can you help during this time?
1.)  Pray! Pray that Brandt attaches quickly and that we are able to come together as a family. Pray that he adjusts to life, time zones, etc. Pray for Amaya as she learns what it means to be a big sister. Pray for Tami and I as we learn how to balance life with two children.
2.)  Bring Meals (but don’t be offended that you can’t stay to eat with us J)
3.)  Call, write, and check-in on us! Since we won’t be going out much it will mean the world to know that we haven’t been forgotten.
While we know that this is a lot of information to absorb and understand we believe that we must be very intentional about the first weeks that Brandt is home. We also realize that some of you may not completely understand or agree with our approach and that is completely ok. However, what we will ask is for your understanding and patience as we walk through this process together. If there are questions that we can answer for you please do not hesitate to ask. There are no dumb questions and we promise to respond with whatever information is needed so you can better understand this process. We are continuing to learn more each day about Brandt’s potential needs and our desire is to be the best parents we can for him.
As we said in the beginning, we covet your prayers during this time and are excited about the end of one chapter of this adoption journey and the beginning of the next one.
 Tami & Josh

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