What to do when you get home – FAQ’s from our Agency

17 Dec

I just thought these were good Q&A’s from our agency. They came out in the last update so I thought I’d share them for the family and friends in our personal life and those people who are also adopting. 

Frequently Asked Question #1:  How do I start the cocooning process when my child comes home and how long should it last?

Answer:  In addition to rituals such as claiming and naming your child, another claiming technique that is recommended by adoption experts is cocooning when your child is first placed with you. Cocooning refers to pulling away a bit from the outside world and focusing your time and attention on your immediate family. This allows you to build bonds that will lead to secure attachment.

How you cocoon will depend on your child’s age and your family’s needs. You could, for example, plan to stay home together for an entire week without answering the phone or turning on the TV. You could declare that each night after six is family time and is a time for games, stories, and sharing. You could take a month and avoid any social outings, instead taking the time to just be a family together. If you’ve adopted an infant or toddler, you will want to spend a lot of time just holding him. If you have adopted an older child who is more self-sufficient than an infant, he may not be interested in being physically held for long periods of time. However, he will benefit greatly by you giving just as much undivided attention to him as you would an infant. 

It is important that this is done by you as parents and NOT by a sibling. It may be convenient for you to ask your older child to help with the care of the new child, but the initial attachment needs to happen between you and the child who just joined your family.  He/She needs to depend on you to have all needs met.  Once this has been established, you can incorporate the older children in helping directly with the child.  Instead, give the older children helper jobs like helping with cooking, tidying up or playing alongside their new sibling.  

We know that you want to “show off” your new family member, and when you start doing this, we suggest that you have one family at a time visit you in your home.  They should not try to hold your child or offer them food.  Adoptive mom and dad are the only people who change diapers, feed and clothe the child.  This is necessary so your child learns who they belong to.  If grandparents want to help, they can offer to cook meals for your family, do laundry, run errands or clean your home.  If your child goes to someone else and put their arms out to be picked up, make sure that the person who the child approaches directs the child back to you for comfort.

Frequently Asked Question #2:  What suggestions do you have for transitioning?

Answer:   The transition happens as soon as you receive your child.  It is important to remember that your child is grieving.  No matter how well prepared they may be, they are still grieving the loss of everything familiar to them.  Think of all the changes in the smells and sounds around them.  Think about how you will feel when you are helpless to stop their tears and can only quietly hold them close to you. The best way to help a child grieve is to support them the best you can.  Trying to take the pain away only causes them more pain.  Allow them to grieve.  (This grieving, in one form or another, will remain with the adopted person throughout their lives.)

Even on the long flight home, your child may cry and scream for many hours.  Ears popping while on the plane, the need to stay in a seat, no choices of food, limited room to play—these  are all new experiences that can be very difficult to your little one.  Korean passengers on your flight may approach you and offer to help—to talk to the child, hold the child, etc.  Children should not be passed from one stranger to another no matter how upset they are. After multiple hours of a screaming little one, you may be desperate to try anything and want to hand the child over to be help by an older Korean woman or someone who looks and feels familiar to the child. 

Once you arrive in the United States, minimize the number of people meeting you at the airport and absolutely do not allow anyone else at the airport to hold the child.  There are so many things that your new child has never experienced (bright lights in airports, huge crowds of people, overhead speakers, the rushing around that travel involves, the need to wait in lines and be patient, etc.).  Coming off the airplane to a sea of strangers, colored balloons and multiple people talking can be overwhelming and stress-producing for a child. 

At home, remember that it is typical for children to regress when they are stressed and it is OK for you to treat them as if they are a younger child.  You have missed out on the infant time of attachment with your child.  It is important to recreate opportunities for this as much as possible initially.  It is okay to hold, rock and feed a two-year-old a bottle, or for older kids you could use a sippy cup.  It is okay to do things for them to provide for caring, touching, and physical closeness.


3 Responses to “What to do when you get home – FAQ’s from our Agency”

  1. Amanda December 18, 2011 at 12:29 pm #

    Great information! Very well put!

  2. Anne Pirlot December 21, 2011 at 10:47 pm #

    Those are excellent pointers; I find this stuff incredibly interesting to read (as someone who’s not adopting). You are such an empathetic soul and I can’t imagine a better person to take on the task of putting herself in Cora’s place and easing her into her new life as an Adkins.

    • Jen December 22, 2011 at 3:34 pm #

      Wow, Anne, that’s very nice of you. *tears* <– doesn't take much. Apparently pre-child emotions do not necessarily come from the baby growing in your belly or the age of the child coming. I'm a pre-baby mess of emotions!

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