Sunday, August 23, 2009

Attachment Issues

This has been a crazy, adoption filled weekend. On Thursday evening, we were informed that our social worker would be coming by our house at 4:30 p.m. on Saturday. We had already signed up to attend a two day seminar on international adoption (a requirement) that would go from 8-4 on Saturday and Sunday. Adam had a 16 hour shoot on Friday, and I also work on Fridays. With us being gone, how on earth were we going to be able to clean and baby proof the house for the social worker? Enter Jenna and Zach. Jenna helped me clean, and Zach shopped and installed some baby proofing locks for our exterior doors. Adam came home in the evening, and he started working on cleaning his office. We were up until 2 a.m. getting the house in perfect shape, and moving my office stuff out of the baby’s room. I even steam cleaned the carpets!!

We woke up at 4 hours later to get ready for our seminar. The entire way to/from the seminar and our lunch break, we were finishing up paperwork for the social worker. The seminar was so tiring, and afterwards, we rushed home for the social worker. We had dinner after the social worker left, and we crashed. Today, we woke up early again to finish off the seminar. We are tired! (Even though we are tired, we had a great night with Wes & Cal and posted a video of our playtime in the video section of this blog.)

We did learn some valuable information at the seminar. Even though your child may be under 2 that you adopt, it doesn’t mean that they will attach to you. Most likely, they won’t immediately attach, and you have to spend a minimum of a month working on this. Sometimes it can take years. You think back to when you were 18 months, and you probably don’t remember anything. However, when I look back to when my kids were 18 months -- they understood a lot. They were starting to talk, and they understood what was happening and what I was saying. So even though our child may not remember what has happened to her many years down the road, while she is going through the orphanage process, she does understand some things. She understands that her mother, her primary caregiver, is gone for whatever reason. She understands that she is in a new place where she doesn’t get very much attention, and she sees people coming and going. These places could be orphanages, foster homes, hospitals, transition homes, etc. Orphans can move around a lot when they are young. When we come to pick her up, she doesn’t understand that we are going to be her forever family. She understands that we are another person coming into her life that may walk away at any moment. That is really scary for a child. Just because you love and cuddle with an infant, doesn’t mean they give you that love back. Sometimes infants are scared to attach to anyone, and some don’t understand what attachment is -- so they think you are no different than the cashier at Wal-mart.

There are scary stories, and great stories of adoption. Being educated will help us raise a healthy, adopted child. Our instructor discussed a period of time, at least a month, where only Adam and I are the primary caregivers for our daughter. No one else can feed, bathe, or change our daughter. Our parents and siblings may briefly hold our child at times, but it is best that it stays between Adam and I for the first month. If our daughter is young enough, we are strongly encouraged to “wear” our child as we walk around the house throughout the day. This helps establish that we are going to be there for our daughter. It helps make her feel safe, and understand our permanency. This idea was completely foreign to us, but it makes sense.

We also learned that you need to “spoil” your child for the first few months. Having them sleep in their own room immediately is scary because they never have. Having a child “cry it out” isn’t good because that triggers the abandonment all over again. Again, this is not something we had initially planned to do, but it makes sense. We were on a strict schedule with Cal & Wes, and we let them cry it out in their crib. I see how things should be different this time around. Before establishing rules, we must establish trust.

So even though the seminar felt never-ending, and we needed lots of sugar to stay awake, it was well worth it. We also made a few friends with other families adopting from Ethiopia. One of the families has twin boys who were born 2 days prior to Wes & Cal.

As for the social worker, we have one visit out of the way, and one to go. Normally they can’t really smile, laugh, or show much emotion. A lot of parents worry that they won’t pass. However, our social worker was extremely nice and stated a few times that she was impressed with our stability, reasons for choosing a girl, etc. While never stating it, she indicated that her report would be a positive one. We will meet with her again in the next week or two before she finalizes the report. The next meeting will consist of separate interviews of Adam and I.

We are moving along. The boys will go to their 4 year check-up tomorrow, and the doctor will provide us with a letter for our dossier describing their health. This is the last document that we have to turn in to the agency at this time. Once we have our last social worker visit, it takes about 2 weeks to write the report, and 2 weeks to get approved by the State Court. It takes a little longer for us to get approved by immigration. Once this is done, we then submit our dossier to our adoption agency for finalizing. We are getting closer.

P.S. The picture above this blog is a picture of our daughter’s room. Once we are approved by the courts, we are going to start painting.

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