As we get ready to board a plane to China this week, there is something I need to address here on the blog and I really need you to read on all the way through to the end.
We love all of you...our friends...our family...our church family. And we cannot ever repay you all for the support you have shown us over not just this adoption journey, but the last few years.
As you can imagine, adoption is different than giving birth. The way we relate to Kylie in her early days with us is different than if I had given birth to her. So, I want to be sure to address this with everyone so everyone can understand why we choose to do what we do.
We can't wait to meet Kylie and we can't wait for you to meet her! Read on and please, PLEASE don't hesitate to ask us if you have questions!
Dear Family and Friends,
After over 18 months of waiting, our precious Kylie 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 have seen firsthand your care for Kylie 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, Kylie will be like Jenna who entered our family through birth. We will parent like other Christian families as we bring both of them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences.
For a while now, we have researched bonding and attachment in children, especially those coming home through adoption from an institutional orphanage setting. There is one thing we KNOW: 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 Mommy - 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. The baby is hungry, cries in distress, mom feeds 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 woman who carried Kylie in her belly for 9 months and whose voice Kylie knew, gave her up after birth. So, Kylie has started her life not experiencing that typical attachment other babies do. The good news is that we can now, as Kylie's parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds. And yes, even tiny babies have emotional wounds when they do not have this attachment in their early days.
When Kylie comes home, she will be overwhelmed (as will we!). Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about her new environment, but also about love and family. She has not experienced God's design for a family in an orphanage setting, although we expect she was very well cared for.
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 to trust and to love deeply. We are, essentially, re-creating the newborn/parent connection. Once Kylie starts to establish this important bond, she will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.
Kylie will have what may seem like a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us. Please know 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.
We are overwhelmed with gratitude for all of you who have prayed over us, and shown your love and support over us throughout this journey.
We hope as many of you that can will welcome us at the airport when we return. We can't wait to see you and for you to meet Kylie! We can't wait to tell this sweet girl how each of you prayed for her before we even knew who she was!
(Letter copied, in part, from another adoptive mom)
Why are we telling you this?? Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our sweet girl 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 Kylie. This will (for a while) include things like holding, 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, blowing kisses, speaking to her or pats on the arm or leg are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Kylie should know that the people with whom she interacts are our trusted friends.
Another area is redirecting Kylie'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 Kylie hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. But until she has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct her to us if you see that she is seeking out food, affection or comfort. For a while, she'll be close by our sides, but this is all information to keep in mind while she adjusts to her new life.