Wednesday, January 29, 2014
As we did after coming home with Lil Guy upon bringing Blessing #6 home we will be having a time of “cocooning” – basically we just stay at home as much as possible (very minimal away from home events), we won’t be introducing lots of new people, and hubby and I will be the primary caregivers for all of her needs. It is a time where we begin to establish a strong relationship between us and our little girl. Our agency suggests this time frame minimum of 6 weeks to 3 months sometimes even longer (as we needed with Lil Guy). We have even read that the length of the cocooning period varies, but a general rule of thumb is one month for every year that the child received sub-standard care or was not with you.
In many ways, our daughter will be like the children who entered our family through birth; we will parent like other Christian families as we bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences. For years now, we have researched bonding and attachment in children, especially those coming home through adoption.
According to Patti M. Zordich, Ph.D. cocooning is one of the most important things you can do to develop a secure, trusting, strong relationship between you and your newly adopted child. http://www.lianalowenstein.com/articlesParentAdoptedChild.pdf Cocooning helps adopted children adjust to their new home and family with minimal overstimulation. Along with helping her to understand that we are her dad and mom and will meet her needs.
What we will do: Dad or Mom and will be the only ones to hold, feed, change, rock, put Blessing #6 to bed. We will be “wearing” her often in our Ergo baby carrier, she will be co-sleeping with us in our room, read books, cuddle, play with simple toys, and listen to music. We will limit visitors in our home for a little bit then family and friends that are very close to our family. Obviously she will be coming home to a house full of excited siblings and they will all get to hold her and play with her but all her basic needs and majority of the time will be with hubby or I. Also, Lil Guy already has ways he can “help” her by sharing his toys and he has decided he will teach her words (so sweet).
For a while we will not be taking her out to grocery shopping, to stores, church, or other public places. Even with her special need we have some doctor appointments scheduled when we come home but those will be limited until she is more comfortable with us.
We are confident of this: 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 nurses & calms the baby – which teaches them 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 good news is that we can now, as Blessing #6’s parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help her heal from these emotional wounds. When she comes home, she will be overwhelmed. Everything around her will be new and she will need to learn not just about her new environment, but also about love and family. 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. With cocooning we are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection.
Blessing #6 will have, what may seem like, a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us. Please know that 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.
While cocooning can be very lonely, exhausting and some days super challenging we seen many benefits with Lil Guy and know that in the long run our children will be able to have healthy relationships later if they have secure attachment to us first. We would appreciate your prayers for our family during that time.