Saturday, January 19, 2013

Snowed in, regardless of the weather

For some time now, we've wanted to share our plans for what we think life will look like upon our return home. I have borrowed some great material from the following blogs because, frankly, they explain the importance of these decisions so much better than I could. We are so thankful for these two blogs and the families behind them, in addition to the countless others we've read:

We first want to thank you all and acknowledge that we wouldn't be in this position if not for the prayers, support, and generosity of so many. The support you have provided in the past year has been nothing short of amazing. You have helped us bring our daughter home. I can not put into words what this means and how instrumental you've been in shaping our family forever.

So many of you (even after your extreme generosity) have asked about our plan when we arrive home as a party of three (or four - can't overlook Abby!), so we thought we would share. Our attachment/bonding plan is something that we have studied INTENSELY over the past year. Remember those 24 or so hours of training we had to take? No, it wasn't 24 hours of "how to hold a child" or "why shaking your baby is bad". Although those important issues were addressed, we spent a lot of time studying and learning about the strategies, challenges, and effective parenting methods of parenting a child who was adopted and how it looks different than if we were bringing a biological child home from the hospital. Among the most important topics are bonding and attachment.

We have chosen to share a basic outline of what we expect life to be like when we get home because we LOVE you and we WANT you to be a part of our daughter's life. You may disagree and you may know of other adoptions that didn't include these ideas. This is how we are choosing to proceed based on our situation and all that we have learned about the importance of our first few weeks together. These decisions are 100% about our daughter. We're not taking anyone else into consideration and I think that's okay. As a chronic people pleaser, this is not my usual M.O. but it is what we feel is the best thing for our daughter and our family.

Upon our return from DRC, we will be hibernating for a period of time. It could be weeks, it could be months.

This means that we will be spending time alone at home with minimal interaction with the outside world. While we all will rejoice that she will finally be home, we can not ignore the fact that there will be struggles and challenges. We're of course praying that these are minimal but we need to be realistic in acknowledging the probability that this transition will include some bumps.

Our initial transition time is going to be very crucial with our daughter. All research points to the importance of bonding and attachment. It's real and it's an important issue that we must intentionally address and get out in front of to ensure that our daughter bonds/attaches to us as her parents, her care takers her need-meeters (Best. Word. Ever.). If attachment doesn't happen, the consequences are real and tragic.

We have been waiting and praying for this day for over a year now. We have fallen in love with her through the dozens of pictures we've been able to receive. I often forget that this isn't being reciprocated. She's not sitting there in the transition home staring at pictures of us endlessly, day in and day out. We've sent some toys that have our pictures in them but for all we know, those may be some other child's favorite. We pray that we will not be strangers to her but there's a strong chance we will be.

We know that children are resilient. We know that she's almost 1, so she's still too young to fully grasp all that is and will be happening but it's still a lot of transition for anyone, including a little one. Her surroundings, her routine, everything she knows as "home" are about to change significantly, once again. It is going to take some time to get used to.

And aside from the new home, food, smells, language, pets, and white parents she'll be exposed to, she/we are also going to have to learn what it means to be a family. She has been in an orphanage and now in the transition house. She has had many caregivers over this first year of life and we want to make it clear that we are her permanent parents and we're not going anywhere. So we will "hibernate" until we are confident this is happening.

Here are some good definitions:

Attachment - "A child who felt consistently safe and nurtured by a reliable caretaker in early life, will become securely attached". Consider this definition when thinking of your relationship with your children or even your parents. What you have given to your biological infant in his/her first weeks of life is what we will be trying to recreate with our child.

Bonding: "The process that a child goes through in developing lasting emotional ties with its immediate caregivers, which is seen as the first and most significant developmental task of a human being, and is central to that person's ability to relate properly to others throughout its life." We are emphasizing bonding with our daughter in order to create a healthy attachment.

This is recommended by adoption professionals because, so often, orphaned children have never had the chance to develop trust in a parent and need the time to learn that there is a PERSON who will continually meet their physical and emotional needs. Because they are often used to many caregivers, it’s not uncommon for them to look to extended family members or strangers as possible “need-meeters". We need her to understand that we are hers. We are her PERSONS who will always meet her needs and always be her parents. We need her to learn to go to us when she is hungry, thirsty, tired and needs a hug and comfort. The time we spend "hibernating" will be when she *hopefully* starts to understand that we are her parents and she is our child. Forever.

As a part of the bonding process, we are strictly following these well-researched, it-will-mean-so-much-to-us-if-you-please, DO's and DON'Ts to ensure a strong and healthy attachment. Thank you for your understanding as we navigate this process.


*COME to the airport. Please. We want to see you. You have been a HUGE part of this process. We will be posting our arrival date and location on our FB group. But PLEASE keep in mind all of our please do's and please do not's.
*(Many of you have asked - so let's go ahead and address it) We would LOVE meals dropped off. The last thing that we want to do is leave our home to go to the grocery store because leaving our home means that one of us has to leave our daughter. The grocery store is off-limits for a bit. (If you want more info on food - email us -
*Come over one night after she is asleep and sit with us for a little while. Let me tell you, we will probably be lonely in those early weeks. We are home, home, home, home, home. Good-bye, date nights. Good-bye, game nights. Good-bye, spontaneous anything. Good-bye, church. Good-bye, big public outings. Good-bye, time with family and friends. So please bring some community to our doorstep. Bring friendship back into our lives. Bring adult conversation and laughter. Just know that during this time you will be with us and the world's cutest dog and not our daughter.
*Pray, Pray, Pray, Pray, Pray...The next few months hold so many unknowns that we are placing in God's hands. He has brought us SO far and we know He will continue to carry us through whatever we face.
*Text us- Facebook Us - Write us a letter... Don't be mad if we don't respond immediately or even the next day. We will need lots of encouragement in the next few weeks.


* We mean this in the nicest way possible, but don’t come over for awhile (during day time hours). We are going to hole up in our homes and attempt to create a stable routine without a lot of moving parts. This is not because we hate you (trust us, we don't); it’s because we are trying to establish the concept of “home”. Lots of "strangers" coming and going will confuse her, especially strangers who are speaking more of that crazy language and trying to touch her hair. :-)

*Please do not touch, hug, kiss, or use physical affection with her for a few months. We absolutely know your intentions are good (and we VALUE your affections), but attachment is super tricky. She has had many caregivers, so when multiple adults continue to touch and hold her in her new environment, she may become confused about whom to bond with. This actually delays her healthy attachment to us. Thank you so much for respecting these physical boundaries.

*Please do not disappear. We need you just as much now as we have in the last year.

* If the shoe fits - tell us how our story is affecting yours. If God has moved in you over the course of our adoption, if you’ve made a change or a decision, or if somewhere deep inside a fire was lit, please tell us. There is nothing more encouraging than finding out God is using our families for His work, beautiful things we would never know or see.

*Thank you in advance for not making judgements about our parental decisions. We are sure that you have the best of intentions for your kids, just like we do for ours. Remember that our child has not had the life that yours have had so we will be utilizing the research-based adoptive family tools that we have been given. We will be responding to our daughter's needs immediately, no matter how trivial they might seem, as we strive to show her that when she needs us, we will be there.

Adoption is MUCH more than the process we have experienced in the past year. It is a life-long commitment to parenting our child in the best manner possible. We are just SO thankful to have each of you in our lives to love, encourage, and model those Christlike virtues for our child. Thank you for reading and adapting along with our family.

Thank you for the part you've played and the part you will play in helping our daughter becoming the person she was created to be.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Go Time!

January 15th, 2013.  A day, a moment that I'll never forget.  Not just because it snowed in Dallas today.  If that was the only reason, I wouldn't be blogging about it and I would definitely need to get out more.  Right around 3:15 p.m. Central Time, my phone buzzed with an emoticon-less text from Jenny: "Call me please". Uh-oh. This usually means we've learned of another hiccup.  Another delay.  Another day wondering if we'll make it to DRC before our little girl's first birthday. 

I stepped out of my meeting to call Jenny.  I don't remember the exact words but Jenny's tone told me everything I needed to know. This call WASN'T another one of "those" calls.  This was a good call. This was THE call we'd been praying for for months. Finally. The visa for our daughter to come to the US was approved! IT'S FINALLY GO TIME!!!

It is amazing how this news instantaneously lifted a huge weight (or wait...) off of me.  FINALLY.  We're almost together.  Soon we'll be in DRC, meeting our little one, our family of three united.

In the days, weeks, months years ahead, there will be many more of those days, those moments, that I'll never forget.  This wait has been emotional torture but we'll forget all about it the instant we walk into the transition home in DRC and have our little girl in our arms. 

PLEASE PRAY - there is much to be done before we head out. We are going to a country unlike anything we've experienced before.  Pray that we roll with the uncertainty and continue to have patience through these days.  

For security reasons, we won't be posting on the blog until we're back home.  We have set up a private Facebook page for those friends and family interested in keeping up with us while we travel.  If you're interested, please let us know and we can add you.  Our email us Thanks for your continued prayers!  Enjoy these latest pictures of our daughter and some pics from the holidays.  We're coming, sweet girl! 

Standing up on her own! She's getting so big!

Here are some other new pics!

In the car for the Embassy interview back in December. 
First (and last) Christmas that will include a nap on the cold, hard, tile floor. I guess in DRC (high 80's and 100% humidity), this may be referred to as "air conditioning" :-)

The nephew, niece, and the rest of the fam getting in on the waiting!

And the Biebs! :-/