Thursday, July 5, 2012
Give us time. A heads up.
I wanted to write something about how weird we're going to be after Roland comes home. Just to warn you all. (Yes I know we're weird now! But we're going to be MORE weird. Yes that's possible. No I'm serious. Shut up!)
Ahem. We're going to do things like give him a disgusting, germ-covered, nose-insulting blanket (that he used in his birth country) and let him snuggle his little face into it. It will never be washed. We're going to sleep with him for months before moving him to a crib. We're going to be giving him a bottle (even though he's two) for a ridiculously long time. I'm going to wear/carry him constantly. I'm going to play an insane amount of peek-a-boo. We're going to shelter him a ton, especially at first. We're going to do a daily massage twice a day where our phones will be off. And worst of all for all you Roland fans dying to meet him, we're going to hoard him like Smeagol with the ring.
This will all be temporary (not temporary enough for grandparents) and with a definite measurable goal in mind: our son's healthy emotional development.
There's a great article here about what newly adopted children need who have come from institutional environments. I encourage you to read it in its entirety to answer many questions you may have about our new and strange parenting behavior. Children like Roland can develop attachment disorders, PTSD and behavioral issues. We had to take several classes on this as part of our Home Study. That's why I need my loved ones to hear me on this.
I had researched about all this before committing to Roland. In fact we had started on a Home Study while I had a job that I commuted to every morning. I had five years with this company and foresaw many more, but I knew that the best thing for a displaced child was a mommy who was home constantly with him. I immediately gave my notice (once we were serious about adopting) and was offered a position at home to accommodate the change in our lives. (That right there was a God-send.) I fully realize that doing my job from home while having an upset two year old strapped to me will be difficult, but for the sake of bonding I need to do it. (I had a dream once that I won the lottery and never had to work again. That was glorious.)
You see a child needs to bond to a primary caregiver. Roland does not have a primary caregiver, never has. For the sake of Roland's future wife and friends and for dealing with the harsh treatment for his disability he needs to develop healthy attachments now. It's just as bad for a child to not attach to anyone (and self sooth and not want to be touched) as it is for a child to attach to EVERYONE believe it or not. Both are unhealthy and lead to lots of issues you can research on your own if interested. The healthiest thing is to just bond with your immediate family, and more so with one caregiver (mommy). That means I can't hand him off to people as much as I will desperately want to. To quote the article, "YOU ARE THE ONLY CAREGIVER!! You always bottle, feed, bath, dress, change and most of the play. If friends and family want to help let them walk the dog or clean your house, wash bottles or do laundry, bring food or make you tea. No baby-sitters and no sending the baby away for respite. Until your baby is firmly emotionally attached to you, NO ONE the baby doesn't see daily should hold or even touch him or her, and even those that the baby sees daily should hold him or her at a very minimum."
And when we notice that he's fully attached to me, that may change after each and every medical appointment or surgery.
Roland may fight the entire process. (Yes I will be wearing an unhappy child most likely, and will have to watch for signs of overstimulation. We have resources and know to see a counselor if things don't improve over time.) I will need help. I will need someone to call when Rolly won't stop screaming in my ear and all I want to hear is, "This is temporary. You did not cause his problems and you can't fix them. But this is your job now and you can do it." (Avoid saying things like, "You signed up for this." Because however true that is, I will probably cold cock you through the phone.)
This is not a job I am uniquely qualified for by the way. Not even one I'm particularly good at. (I don't sign up for nursery at church. Sometimes I see the nice nursery lady with the sign up sheet and dive behind a table.) I really believe I'm being led down a hard path, just like when Laelia was first born, that will lead to the most incredible destination. I will be stretched to do things I don't do well. Help me through the dark times. Understand when I can't do anything for a while. And please please please please please band together and love on my daughter through this. You have my permission to take her to Disneyland for a day or buy her anything. Lots of play dates. Seriously. My love will multiply for my children but my attention will divide, and not always evenly.
We will be treating Roland differently than we treated Laelia at his age. He's been through a great trauma of being given up and he will go through another trauma when he is taken away from everything he knows and is brought home. Then add to that the surgeries, castings, medical and dental appointments to reverse two years of neglect and he's going to need a healthy way to deal with the hardships and grief. He's going to need to know how to ask mommy for comfort (by crying) and receive that comfort (be soothed by my touch, voice and smell). He's going to need me and he cannot feel loved through this if we don't bond like crazy. Since Laelia did not experience any of that trauma she can be parented in our usual manner. For example, Laelia gets timeouts if she acts up. These work great for having her calm down and control her behavior in order to be part of the fun again. Time outs don't work for a child who was thrown away and neglected. In fact they can damage him. This means that Laelia can be sent to her room, but when Roland acts up *I* get a timeout with him.
We're not going to do this perfectly. I promise you that at least once in this process you will look at us and shake your head in disagreement about something. We will have all the worries and stupidity of new parents all over again. But we have lots of advice and counsel already in place. What we need is support.
And chocolate. Lots of chocolate. If I'm not super fat by the time Roland is bonded to me you've all failed me as friends. ;)