Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Attachment and Bonding

Bonding and Attachment and stuff
Now that we are home I wanted to mention a few things...

Attachment and bonding are a huge concern in adoption--especially with older children.  It's hard to believe that Vika and Lena are considered  "older" children but they are.  The first two years of development are crucial.  After that time, adoptions can encounter some additional challenges.

I have no idea how this change is going to affect them.  As far as I know and can tell, they have been well cared for. they have not suffered the neglect and/or abuse that a lot of kids in Eastern Europe have.  Based on what I saw, it seems that she has staff that care for them and interacted with them.  Even with those "advantages," they have not experienced a family or a mother. They know what that looks like or what her role in a family is.

They are going to have to learn what it is to be in a family.  They need to learn that their wants and needs will be provided for by their parents.  They have had multiple caregivers in their short lives.  They probably change with the shift, with vacations, with new employees, with transfers.  They have learned that they can get her needs met by any number of adults or by their own means.  Neither of these theories are healthy. They will have to learn that not all adults are equal in their lives.  They need to learn to trust their parents to meet their physical, emotional, medical, social, and spiritual needs.

In short, we need to bond.  We need time to learn to be a family together.  After all, I will be learning what it means right along with her.

There are a lot of people that will tell you that you need to "cocoon" your family for a long time upon returning to the US.  Like months!  In all honesty, I can't imagine doing that completely.  First, I will have to go back to work at the beginning of April so that just isn't possible.  Secondly, I think I'm going to really need all of you when I get back!

At this point, I am planning to do a modified version of cocooning and we'll see how it goes.  Here are some general guidelines that I'm planning to follow after researching and talking to other APs.  (I reserve the right to change the rules at any time depending on the girls' adjustment.)

*Please call, text, message, facebook us.  Ask how we are doing.  Invite us to play or eat.  I may say no depending on their mood or ours.  Don't be offended.  It will mean the world that you asked.

*Bring your children over to play.  They will be more comfortable here than at your house.  It will be less overwhelming for them.  I want them around other children.  That's what they're used to!  (And they need to learn some English.)

*Speak to them in English.

*Don't be surprised if we don't take you up on your offers to spend the night right away.  For a while, if they can't go, we won't be going.  I don't know how often we'll be at church or anything in the beginning.  Her adjustment is paramount.

*Please don't pick them up, feed them or ask to hug them. We know that sounds harsh but it's important.  we've never been a huge fan of forcing kids to hug people.  We think it unintentionally erodes important personal boundaries.  If they need to be picked up and comforted, we will do that.  If they choose to hug you, that's different.  It's very possible that they will have food issues related to orphanage life.  Please do get down on the floor and talk to them and play with them.  If they need something, please direct them to us so they learn that their parents meets their needs.

I know that some of you probably think I've completely lost my mind and I'm turning into one of those parents.  I'm really not.  If you want some research and blogs, I can point you in the right direction.  These things might seem either little to you or very extreme but I assure you, they are important.  They have undergone a HUGE life change and we want it to be as healthy and smooth for them as possible.

Please, if you have questions, leave me a comment or send me a message.  I hope I'm explaining myself well but I'd love to clarify things if I'm not.  Also, fellow adoptive parents, let me know what things I'm missing on my list!

Oh, and please don't think this means you can't welcome us back to the US.   Just know that we will be the only ones holding and hugging them.  You will all just have to settle for hugging us instead.  Also we wanted to mention that Vika has some severe delays...she is just perfect and we love her but we wanted you to be aware of some of her issues ahead of time.  When she gets mad she had not been taught to use her words and instead, tries to hit herself. This can be scary to see if you aren't expecting it. We are starting to restrain her from hitting herself and others but she is just now learning that it is not ok.  Also since she has never been encouraged to think or speak for herself she doesn't always talk. And she still plays with "baby" toys. While she is 7 years old she is really at a varying degree between 15 months to 5 years old.
she has already learned so much. WE appreciate your understanding if she starts to scream and hit her self and scream bloody murder she is ok we are working with her to help her understand` that it is ok to talk it out.

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