Sunday, June 26, 2011

She's Coming Home!!! - What To Expect

Dear Family and Friends,

After almost two years of waiting (and waiting), our precious Lil' Lady is finally coming home!  We know that each of you reading this letter has, in some way, supported, loved, and prayed for us.  Because we know you care for Miss T and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone around her to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation - emotionally, physically and spiritually.

In many ways, T will be like the children who entered our family through birth.  We will parent like other Christian families as we bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord, but there will be a few, initial differences.  For years now, we have prepared ourselves by researching the bonding and attachment process in children, especially those coming home through adoption from an institutional orphanage setting.

We are confident of this: God's design is PERFECT!  His plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of His love for us.  Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need.  The primary caretaker (usually mama) meets the need and soothes the child.  This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent.  If the baby is hungry or cries in distress, mom nurses and calms the baby - which teaches her that this person is safe and can be trusted.  By God's very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their learning, conscience, growth, and future relationships.  The security provided by parents will ultimately give children a trust for and empathy towards others.

Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process.  The loss of a biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts.  The good news is that we can now, as T's parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds.  When Lil' Miss comes home, she will be overwhelmed.  Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about this new environment, but also about love and family.  Even with the amazing care she received at Hannah’s Hope, she has not experienced God's design for a family in an orphanage setting.  The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed her.  As this repeats between us, she will be able to learn that parents are safe, and to trust and love deeply.  We are essentially recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once our Lil' Lady starts to establish this important bond, she will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.

T will have, what may seem like, a lot of structure, boundaries, and close proximity to us.  Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on immense amounts of research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors.  We will be doing what we believe is best to help her heal from those interruptions in attachment as effectively as possible.  Why are we telling you all of this?  Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our daughter settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future.  There are a few areas in which you can help us:

The first is to set physical boundaries.  It will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with T.  This will (for a while) include things like holding and excessive hugging and kissing.  Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone - which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents.  Waving or blowing kisses are perfectly appropriate and welcomed!  Lil' Miss should know that the people with whom she interacts are our trusted friends.

Another area is redirecting T's desire to have her physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet them.  Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults.  A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit.  It may appear harmless and as if they are "very friendly" but this is actually quite dangerous for the child.  To share this is difficult for us because we have snuggled, cared for, fed, and loved so many of your children.  Please understand that we want nothing more than to have T hugged, cuddled, and cherished by ALL of you (after all, she's completely irresistible)!  But until she has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you would direct her to us if you see that she is seeking out food, affection, or comfort.

We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones around us!  We couldn't ask for a better extended family and circle of friends for our precious Lil' Lady.  Thank you so much for your love and support over the past two years. If you have any questions please feel free to ask at any time!

With Blessed Hearts,
The R Family  =)


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