Thursday, April 25, 2013

To "csmith"

Thank you for reading and commenting, "csmith." I have no other way to connect with you, as your profile shares no contact information or email address for a more private conversation. So I'm going to address your valid concerns and questions here. The questions you pose are too important to not address, as I do feel very strongly about attachment and bonding and how we choose to facilitate healthy adjustment. Hopefully other readers will also glean from the conversation (albeit a fairly one-sided conversation).

First, I appreciate you reading and following along. I appreciate that you are interested in learning and growing and preparing for your own adoption journey. I hope you have a great community of adoptive parents similar to what I am blessed to have. The sharing and learning that I've enjoyed with those folks has equipped me and encouraged me more than I will ever be able to articulate.

Second, with regard to your inquiry about our homecoming and settling in: I didn't take offense, nor did I receive it as criticism. But I do think you are only seeing a tiny glimpse of our life, the tiny portion that I choose to reveal and highlight for the sake of sharing our journey. I would caution you to remember that when reading any blog, there's huge parts of back-story that you aren't reading or may never fully grasp. In light of that, I've been writing here about adoption for a long time now, and I have many, many times addressed the very issues which you are questioning. Both in my own thoughts and in sharing links and writings of other adopters I read and follow.

So let me get to the heart of your inquiry, in my view. You said that the traditional wisdom you've been hearing is to:
"avoid crowds, not let others hold them or feed them, stay home as much as possible, in order to create really good bonding and establish you as the primary caretaker. You guys seem to be out and about a lot, sharing her with others (not that I blame you)."
Let me assure you, with the exception of the very important family day on Sunday that was planned far in advance of our travel plans, we have done just that. I mean, we can't avoid the crowd that IS our gang, but we have been very intentional to pull away, hibernate, and "shrink our world." If you follow either of the links I've just highlighted, you'll see what I'm talking about. Further, if you search the label "attachment" (see the "cloud" on my left sidebar) you will find lots of similar conversations I have had over the years since our wait for Li'l Empress.

By "out and about" I can only assume that you mean our "on the go" day this past Sunday, after only being home for 24 hours. (I'm assuming you cannot mean the actual trip time in China, as staying in the hotel room for hours on end is not a good plan for anyone.)

In point of fact, attending Sunday's events was a calculated risk that we knew would potentially have some hard consequences (and indeed, the fussy cranky baby and grumpy momma were not pleasant the next day!). But we also knew that Sunday was about more than just "The Gang" and our journey. The day was about honoring what God is doing in and through my brother, his wife, and their ministry. In a family as big and busy as ours (both immediate and extended), we often choose the bigger picture of the "wholeness" of family over the immediate of the circumstances in which we find ourselves. This was one of those choices, and I'd make it again.

In the midst of that choice, no one but The Boss and I (with some occasional help from LadyBug) held her or fed her all day long, not even my siblings or my parents. We are very intentional that right now, even the kids are barely participating in her physical care. We let them offer her finger foods and sit with her while she eats but they aren't giving her bottles or spoon-feeding her. It would be a lot easier for sure, especially since she is in "adoration of big sister mode" right now. But we know the link between providing for that basic need and establishing trust and confidence in our ability to meet that need for her so we are soldiering through.... though I must admit, yesterday's dish of yogurt was offered with drooping eyes and very little meaningful interaction on my part. I could.not.wake.up!

To your point that we seem to be "out and about alot," we've actually done no other socializing. We are in full hibernation mode (as we did in the fall of '08 for our first adoption). Yes, we step out to pick up Li'l Empress from school. To run to the grocery store. To get the banking done. And {sob, sigh}to say good-bye to my brother and his family as they load the truck for the big move. But it's limited. It's guarded carefully. For just short trips. And we make a big deal about coming "HOME."

And frankly, I'm loving it! I'm puttering in my kitchen, hanging out on the floor with my baby, folding laundry, and enjoying the absence of regular responsibilities. It's a short season of our life, and I fully intend to enjoy it while I have it.

Except for the necessities of school for four of the kiddoes, work for The Boss, and the older kids' events (to which they drive each other and themselves), we are pulling away from the world for the foreseeable future. It's a little pathetic how much fun I have saying "No" to requests for help or involvement and definitely a little sick how much joy I had on Sunday night when filling out our weekly family calendar. It was so empty! And it is likely to remain so for the rest of the school year.

If I thought I could get away with it longer than that, you can bet your bippy I'd sure try! So, thanks for your inquiry. I hope that you continue to learn and grow in your journey to your child. And I hope that you continue reading here... I'm going to continue to share snippets of our life together and be real about our journey. I hope that you do the same for your own journey.


Reena said...

I've been following your journey-- glad everyone made it home safe and sound. Different environments work better for different kids and families. When it comes to adoption and attachment I think after educating yourself-- I think it is always best to follow your gut. Taking the new little ones out of the house and returning also teaches them that the house is their home-- permanent. After both of our adoptions only DH and I cared for and held our new daughters-- but we still went out of the house shopping-- to the playground etc. They loved it and so did we. I can remember watching Josie especially when she really began to know and recognize her "house" when we returned home. It was great to watch!

Best to you all!

Aus said...

I should follow comments more GM - and please - no one find anything critical here - I'm one of the "more supportive" folks you find out here in the blogsphere!

Suffice to say that IMHO the "conventional wisdom" is good - but that every child and every adoption should also be taken as a "microcosm" of real life. What is good "most of the time" may not be good "in this case"!

I know that you know that - and I mention it only for those "new" to the adoptive world - and I also throw out there that "occasionally" or "just this once" doesn't ruin anything either. Adoption - like most everything in life - is a series of tradeoffs. I'm struggling right now to keep my eyes open and function at the office - because last night staying up late was the right thing to do! But everyday - no. And allowing a family to begin the bonding with a newbie has advantages 10 years from now that might be unknown today!

I'm.just.sayin... ;)

hugs around - aus and co.

The Gang's Momma! said...

To Aus and Reena - thanks for the perspective... again, this post is just a slice of the conversation. It flexes per child, per week, per season. And what is good this week may not work next week. By limiting the extras in our routine, we are free-er to take the "spontaneous" or the necessary changes as they come. And believe me, I'm no hermit. Li'l Empress must be picked up every day. Church must be attended. Milk must be bought. :)

Jen said...

Thank you for sharing yourself through your blog. Amazing mama- amazing family!

csmith said...

Thanks so much for your response! It is generous of you to share a wider look at your family's life. And it is so helpful to others who want to adopt. When considering adoption one of my biggest concerns has been bonding, I have spent more time worrying about that than the money or health issues combined. I know I can love a child that I didn't give birth to, but I worry about them having the same strong feelings and connection with our family. My kids and I are incredibly close and I see how that has made them happier and more confident out in the world. I've worried that an adopted child might not get that with us. We are a large and busy family. I know that we would be able give a child lots of attention, but I've had a fear that we might miss some "magic window" of bonding if we have too many visitors or trips. I know that is probably an unreasonable fear so it's nice to see that other people are able to visit family and go to the store without it negatively impacting their child.