Tuesday, November 17, 2009


I am laying in bed doing some reading on adoption and attachment and bonding. We've been physically doing so much for the adoption - decorating the nursery, registering for gifts, buying things we will need, fundraising that we have forgotten about our agency recommended reading. I am feeling a little under the weather tonight and Peter is busy studying so I lay in bed reading books. It is easy in all the excitement to forget about the very real and possibly not very easy transition our family may go through.

Those first 9 months with mom are so critical for a child and our baby will lose that bond. We are thrilled and excited to bring our baby home but for him it could be a totally different experience. He is going to have no clue about how much we have been looking forward to holding him. He is going to lose everything familiar - the people, the smells, the noises, and be brought into a world full of white people, totally different smells, and very different noises. We may hold him differently then he's used to. Bathe him and feed him different foods that he is not familiar with.

The first few weeks are so important to his attachment with us and his understanding that we are his parents. From what other families are telling us, it will take years to see if he actually made that connection with us early on. Most children do bond quickly with their parents but some suffer from attachment disorders for life. So we definitely want to proceed cautiously and do everything we can to make the transition for our baby as smooth as possible and give us the best chance to have an adjusted and bonded child.

The top suggestions to make this happen are:

Be his sole providers by being the only one's to feed, change, and soothe

Call him by his first name (his new name) and his middle name (his Ethiopian name) for awhile since he will probably recognize his Ethiopian name. This gives him time to adjust and learn his new name.

Limit time spent out of the house. Read his signs and signals and don't push it.

Wear him in an infant carrier as much as possible while at home and out of the house

Shower with him to promote skin to skin contact

Massage him, sing to him, rock him often

Have him co-sleep so his needs are immediately met and also for skin to skin contact

Always have his mother feed him. Mimic nursing him (leaving bottle stationary so he has to come to it) - complete with demanding eye contact, position of holding him, switching sides (which promotes both sides of brain development)

Limit visitors so as not to confuse him or overstimulate him

Be sure everyone is healthy who visits as his immune system will be weak.

This is the list we have of recommended behaviors. It is also recommended that we cocoon ourselves in our home with just us and him for the first 2 months but I don't see that happening. We will definitely be limiting visitors and limiting who gets to hold him and we definitely will be the one's always taking care of his needs (feeding, changing, consoling). We Will utilize several of the above recommendations but not sure on all of them yet.

One of the things our agency requires of us after referral is to make a written transition plan of how we want the first few months home with baby to look like. What we will do to bond with our child and what type of restrictions we will have on visitors. We know family and friends will be very anxious to get to know our little one and we are going to do our best to share, but we hope that everyone can be understanding of this critical time in our family. I am sure we will probably make decisions that others do not understand but we have to do what we think is best. We are discussing what our plans will be after arriving home with our baby and how we want the first few weeks and months to be. There is a lot to figure out and plan for this critical time but we still have time to work out all the details.