Friday, October 18, 2013

Bringing Deacon Home

This is a long blog post but please read the entire post to better understand our needs after we bring Deacon home. This information is important and most adoptive families have had to do exactly what we are doing in order to help inform our friends and families.

This information is not my own, but it comes from people that are a lot smarter than us and have more experience in dealing with adoptive families and their needs. So, please read this and if you have any questions please let us know. Please understand that we love you all and we are really excited to bring Deacon home and introduce him to all of our family and friends. Now, I don't want to make this post any longer than it is so without further ado.....

As we get ready to embark on the most exciting event in our lives, we are thinking a lot about the people around us and how much our lives are going to change. Family has always been important to us. We are so fortunate to have such loving, involved family and friends. We appreciate the support and excitement that you have all shown to us as we have made this journey. We're thrilled about bringing our new child home! We've done a lot of reading, research and asked a lot of other adoptive parents about this process and we feel prepared to help our baby become a well- adapted member of our family.

There are some things about adoptive parenting that are the same as parenting a biological child. There are also quite a few areas that we have learned are different. Through our adoption agency, the UAB International Adoption Clinic, books, other adoptive parents, adoption social workers, psychologists and more, we have learned that our baby needs a specific type of environment and parenting when he first comes home in order to feel safe and secure and to learn how to live successfully in our family.

While we know that every child is different, we also understand that there are many possible things that will impact our child's beliefs and behavior when he gets home. These include how much nurturing our child received, if there was abuse or neglect, the amount and quality of food received, illnesses, the quality of care and our child's unique temperament and personality. The result of these things can include behavioral issues, emotional disorders and a sense of grief and loss from being separated from the only home and caregivers our little one has ever known. Adoption is a traumatic and scary event for any age child whether they are newborn or 10 years old. They're being removed from all of their routines and familiar surroundings. Even babies will feel grief and sadness at an event like this.

In order to help our child feel safe and learn that we are his parents, we are creating the type of environment that will help promote security during this stressful time.
When our child gets home, at the recommendation of experienced adoption professionals, we need to implement specific parenting approaches to help encourage a strong, attached, emotionally healthy family member. Our child needs to learn that we're the parents. He needs to feel nurtured and safe. He will not be used to having parents to love and care for him.

Here are some things we will be doing for our child based on research and experience with other adopted children. 

- We'll be living a very quiet life with limited trips out and few visitors in for a little while. Social workers and psychologists tell us that when children are first adopted, they may be overwhelmed, scared, and nervous. By keeping our lives very boring at first, we'll be helping our child feel safe. This does NOT mean that we do not want visitors coming to see our little one for the first time. We will just have to limit it a little so it is not overwhelming. 

- We do not want family to stay away from us. We just can't pass our new baby around for everyone to hold a lot and we will have to be mindful of overloading with new things and people.

- We know you'll all want to hug, kiss and help spoil our new baby, but it is recommended that we be the only ones to do that at first to improve his chances of attaching strongly to us. 

- Until we feel our child has attached and clearly knows we are his parents, we will need to feed, change and take care of him. I know that missing out on some diaper changes will disappoint many of you. Have no fear; there will be many more once he becomes comfortable at home.

- As strange as it may seem, adopted children who act very outgoing and affectionate with strangers is not a healthy thing. It is called "indiscriminate affection" and can mean that they haven't really attached to anyone. It would not be a good sign that our baby has attached to us if during his first months home he will let just anyone take him and hold him without searching for his mom or dad. 

- Please do not get upset if we do not allow you to hold Deacon. He needs to learn that we are mommy and daddy. 

- Attachment is a two- way street. We need to attach to him as much as he needs to attach to us. So these guidelines also help ensure that we grow to love him as his parents. There may be times that we are faking it until we make it. Or, to say it in a nicer way, parenting with our hands until we are parenting with our hearts. Be patient with us and know we want to do this no matter how hard it is. 

- Pray for us. Encourage us. Know that new adoptive parents can experience the same kinds of emotions as post partum depression. And we also aren't getting much sleep. So be nice. 

For sure it is going to be a weird and wonderful experience for us. We are so excited and can't wait to bring our baby home so you can all see him and get to know him. Things are just a little different when you are adopting a baby rather than having a biological child. He will be adapting to a lot of new things . . . new parents, new family, new home, new foods, new time zone (totally opposite of what he's used to). That's a lot to swallow at one time.

We appreciate your understanding in reading this. We've giving you all this letter so that you will understand how dedicated and committed we are to helping our new child adjust and adapt during this stressful time in his life. We feel confident that everything will smooth out quickly and we will be on a more normal schedule. 

Thank you!  We love you all!
Matt and Jacque 

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