Its been almost a year since I posted an adoption update here. Honestly, there aren’t enough words to describe how hard that 8 months of waiting for i-600 immigration approval was for our family. Nightmare seems like the most appropriate word to summarize it all.
Due to the sensitive nature of that process, we limited our updates to our personal social media profiles. You may have missed the play by play, but the important part is that in February we finally received our approval. (THANK GOD!)
The weeks since receiving that approval letter have been a whirlwind of applying for visas, talking with our foster family to help prepare the kids to come home and getting our house ready for all six of us to live here!
To make the wait easier on our bio kids, we had not set up brother and sister’s room or unpacked any of the hand-me-down clothes we had been given for them. Everything was waiting for this approval.
Now the room is ready.
The clothes are sorted.
The beds are made.
Now we wait for the message that says its time to come HOME!
While we wait, we’ve been getting a lot of questions about our plans for when they arrive.
I typed out a couple of texts to friends and then realized that this was better suited for a whole blog post.
Partly because it would make a crazy long text. Partly because I know we aren’t the only adoptive family in most folks lives.
So for readers who may not know us offline, what I share here might help you to better understand another adoptive family when they are in this same season.
So here we go – What to expect when our adopted children come home
For the first few weeks (and possibly longer) that our kids are home we will be entering a period called “cocooning.”
Cocooning is strongly recommended by adoption experts and backed by tons of research. Basically, we will keep brother and sister’s world very small. They will rarely leave our home and they will almost exclusively interact with their new parents and siblings.
The goal of this period is to help them establish a feeling of being safe, loved and secure in our family.
While this is not unusual for someone welcoming a new baby, it may seem weird that we’re keeping our big kids at home so much. But that precious bonding that takes place with a newborn is something they deserve with us too, even though we didn’t bring them home as babies.
We adore our extended families and friends and we know that brother and sister will grow to have special relationships with them too. But the best way to ensure that is to help them learn to love their immediate family first.
So what is this going to look like?
Basically, we’ll be hermits. We’ll miss a few weeks at church or only some of us will attend. We will be limiting visitors into our home and being very strategic about who we establish relationships with first.
If you bring us food or a gift, I’ll likely meet you on the porch to get it. Not because Aaron and I don’t trust you around our kids or want to show off how adorable they are, but because you’re a complete stranger to brother and sister. And this is about them right now.
Limiting affection from others:
Y’all… our kids are adorable! I know you haven’t seen their whole faces yet but trust me on this! I know the urge to hug on them and give them pecks on the cheek will be real strong. But this is where you have to be the grown up and help us teach the kids what is healthy, appropriate affection.
Think about it… when you were in preschool did some friend of your mom’s that you’d maybe seen once or twice in your life just randomly walk up to you at the soccer field, pick you up and give you a big kiss?! No! Because that would be majorly weird!
And that’s exactly how it would be perceived by our kids!
Or worse, they will think that ANYONE should be allowed to show physical affection towards them and we all know that’s an unhealthy and dangerous thing for a child to think!
So what CAN you do when you see our kids? Wave, blow kisses, make silly faces, offer a high five or a fist bump.
Limiting help from others:
Again, we’re trying to help the kids learn that mommy and daddy provide for their needs. So please don’t give them snacks or refill their drinks or help them in the bathroom. If they do approach you and ask for help, please reinforce what they are learning by pointing to Aaron or I and saying “Mommy/Daddy can help you.”
Honestly, we don’t know. We are going to play this by ear and see what our kids need. Its not fair to any of our kids to set an arbitrary date for when we’ll resume “normal” life when we have no idea what this adjustment period is going to look like for any of us.
In fact, when I told my mom about this blog post she even suggested I wait until the kids had been home a few days to publish it, just because we truly have no idea how long our family will need this. (She’s definitely laughing at me for admitting that I didn’t take her advice).
We are hopeful that the experience our kids had of living in a loving foster home will help them adjust to family life quickly. But they are still going to be dealing with a major cultural change, the language barrier, new siblings, etc…
But my friend who adopted/fostered never did this… why are you?
Every family is different. Every kid is different. This isn’t a one-size-fits-all sort of thing. This is the best approach for our family, but that doesn’t mean that your friend did it “wrong.”
The most important thing to remember is to support and encourage the adoptive family in whatever their plans may be.
Don’t cast doubt on the decisions they’ve made or criticize the choices they are making for their family. Saying things like “I’m sure that will be really good for all of you” or “I know this is really hard right now but you’re doing a great job” go a LONG way!
So what CAN you do?
Pray for Aaron and I as this season will be a very difficult one as parents. Worth it? Absolutely. But also very hard.
Pray for all the kids as they adjust emotionally.
Pray for physical health and healing for brother and sister as we begin medical appointments and vaccinations.
And don’t worry, you won’t have to wait until the cocooning period is over to meet brother and sister online. Stay tuned to my facebook and instagram. :)