Wednesday, December 28, 2016

What to Expect When You're Adopting

After months of anticipation and preparation, the day is coming! As this is our first time doing this, we don't really know what to expect, but, we have tried to prepare by reading and listening to advice from others. One of the final preparations we would like to discuss is what you, our friends, family, and maybe anyone else that might be reading our blog, can expect over the next few months.  

The key word in our family for the first year or so will be "Attachment." When a baby is born they naturally and gradually bond and attach to the mother when she soothes, feeds, talks to, and basically meets all the needs an infant has. Each time a parent meets these needs, the baby learns to implicitly trust them. They have a solid attachment to each other that develops naturally. Unfortunately, Quinn hasn't had this experience. We don't know how his specific orphanage is run, but we do know he has not had the consistent care of a parent. When he is hungry, he most likely doesn't get food immediately. When he needs affection, he most likely has to compete for the attention of his caregivers with the other children or may just never get touched. When he has a need, it most likely doesn't get met as it should. On top of this, his care comes from a rotating staff. They come and go, so he relies on whatever adult happens to be there. While we hope he has attached to one or more of his caregivers, an employee can never provide the same things a parent does. He most likely hasn't had a lot of sensory experiences. Just taking him to an unfamiliar hotel room will be terrifying for him. Not to mention getting on an airplane and coming to a new country. We smell different, look different, talk different, we will be constantly hugging and touching him, and will be exposing him to a whole new world. This is exciting, but we have to do it carefully. Quinn has lived in his care center since he was just a few days old. We will soon take him away from everything and everyone he has ever known. This will be very traumatic for him. We chose him, he didn't choose us, or for his life to completely change. While we are changing his life for the better, it will still be a huge transition and a mourning process for him. We need to help him attach to us.

So what does this all mean? It means we will have to teach him what it means to be in a family. What it means to have parents who are the only care givers he will have for the rest of his life. We will also be trying to guide him through the mourning process and traumatic event that just happened to him as well as anything he has experienced while not in our care. This will take time and a lot of patience. We will help him attach to us by consistently, day-in and day-out meeting his needs.
 
How can you help? Give us a little space at first. We mean that as lovingly and affectionately as possible. When we get home we will be using a technique called "cocooning." When we arrive home from Vietnam we will hunker down in our house and won't be taking Quinn out for at least 2 weeks in order to give him some time to adjust. If you come to our home during this time, please know that we appreciate you and love you and are grateful for any help you give, but you probably won't be meeting Quinn for a while. During this time we will be slowly introducing him to new things and experiences. Honestly we won't even show him his room for a couple days and just keep him with us.

After a couple weeks we'll be venturing out a little, but for short periods of time. We'll start introducing him to people, but will probably be holding him the whole time. During this time, we are still teaching him that we are the only adults that will meet his needs. We will reinforce this by us being the only people that give him food and help him with his needs. So, as weird as this may sound, if you would like to give him something (like food or a gift), please hand it to us first and we will give it to him. This will just reinforce that his needs are met by us and only us.
 
When all is said and done, our great planning may all be for nothing. Maybe Quinn won't want to stay cuddled together for two weeks. Maybe he will run up to you and give you a big hug when you meet him! I have no idea, but we'll figure it out as we go and do our best to help him transition to family life smoothly!

6 comments:

  1. I just found your blog through RR. I started my Chinese adoption journey in Jan 2016. My "Gotcha Day" was Dec 12th arriving back to Utah at about midnight Dec 23/24.
    I just want to say congratulations! It was worth it, right? Ready to do it again? Happy Birthday, Quinn (a day late)!

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    1. Thanks for reaching out! Yes! It is so worth it! I hope things are going well with you too!

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  2. can i contact you via email anywhere? thanks

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    1. Yes! You can contact me at callievanwagenen@gmail.com

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