Monday, February 23, 2009

Nothing new to report

Today is the 11th day since we got our PA. I don't expect to hear anything more until at least next week or the week after. But I'm still not losing hope that we'll get a surprise call this week.

~~~ I'd love to hear your voice this week Stephanie -- hint, hint.

So below is something I have read on may adoption sites and blogs and came across it again today on a blog -- so I thought I'd share it with everyone. I have lots of friends that are either getting home from traveling, in China now or getting ready to travel -- so I thought the timing was right to review the basics again. We have shared all these topics with our family and friends over the past three years but it's always good to review them again. You'd be surprised at how once people hear you are adopting they all have advise for you on what to do. And this mostly comes from people who have never adopted international, domestically or sometimes don't even have children. And a lot of the times it's from complete strangers -- like when you are at the grocery store buying extra bottle nipples to pack for your trip and the cashier asks if you have a new baby and you say 'yes -- I'm adopting a baby girl from China'. Then the advise on raising my baby girl comes flooding out. It's kind of funny in a sad twisted sort of way. I just try to bite my tongue and smile.

So here's some dos and don'ts:

1. Offer household help (running errands, preparing meals that can go right from the freezer to the oven, etc.) so the mother can spend more time holding the child.
2. Trust the mother's instincts. Even a first time mother may notice subtle symptoms that well-meaning family and friends attribute to "normal" behavior.
3. Accept that attachment issues are difficult for anyone outside of the mother to see and understand.
4. Be supportive even if you think everything looks fine to you.
5. Allow the parents to be the center of the baby's world. One grandfather, when greeting his grandson, immediately turns him back to his mom and says positive statements about his good mommy.
6. Tell the baby every time you see him what a good/loving/safe mommy he has.
7. When the parents need someone to care for the baby for a night out, offer to babysit in the child's home. (After the child has been home for a substantial period of time.)
8. As hard as it may be for you, abide by the requests of the parents. Even if the baby looks like he really wants to be with Grandma, for example, he needs to have a strong attachment to his parents first. Something as simple as passing the baby from one person to another or allowing others, even grandparents, to hold a baby who is not "attached" can make the attachment process that much longer and harder. Some parents have had to refrain from seeing certain family members or friends because they did not respect the parents' requests.
9. Accept that parenting children who are at-risk for or who suffer from attachment issues goes against traditional parenting methods and beliefs. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.
10. Remember that there is often a honeymoon period after the child arrives. Many babies do not show signs of grief, distress, or anxiety until months after they come home. If the parents are taking precautions, they are smart and should be commended and supported!

1. DON'T Assume an infant is too young to suffer from emotional issues related to attachment. Babies are not immune.
2. DON'T Underestimate a new mother's instincts that something isn't right.
3. DON'T Judge the mother's parenting abilities. What looks like spoiling or coddling may be exactly what the child needs to overcome a serious attachment disorder. Parenting methods that work for many children can be detrimental to a child with attachment issues.
4. DON'T Make excuses for the child's behaviors or try to make the mother feel better by calling certain behaviors "normal". For example, many children who suffer from attachment issues may be labeled strong-willed by well-meaning family members. While being strong-willed can be seen as a positive personality trait, this type of behavior in an attachment-impaired child may signify problems.
5. DON'T Accuse the mother of being overly sensitive or neurotic. She is in a position to see subtle symptoms as no one else can.
6. DON'T Take it personally if asked to step back so the parents can help their child heal and form a healthy and secure attachment. You may be asked not to hold the baby for more than a minute. This is not meant to hurt you. It is meant to help prove to the baby who his mommy and daddy are. Up until now the child's experience has been that mommies are replaceable. Allowing people to hold the baby before he has accepted his forever mommy and daddy are can be detrimental to the attachment process.
7. DON'T Put your own time frames on how long attachment should take. One mother was hurt when she was chastised by a relative who couldn't understand...after all, the baby had been home six months. It could take weeks, months, even years. Every child is different.
8. DON'T Offer traditional parenting advice. Some well-meaning family members will tell a new mother not to pick the baby up every time he cries because it will spoil him. A child who is at-risk or who suffers from attachment issues must be picked up every single time he cries. He needs consistent reinforcement that this mommy/daddy will always take care of him and always keep him safe.
9. DON'T Fall into the appearance trap. Some babies/toddlers with attachment issues can put on a great show to those outside of the mother/father. What you see is not always a true picture of the child. Even babies as young as 6-months-old are capable of “putting on a good face” in public.

10. DON'T Lose hope. With the right kind of parenting and therapy, a child with attachment issues can learn to trust and have healthy relationships. But it does take a lot of work and a good understanding of what these children need.

We are planning for the worst with attachment issues with Cassie and praying for the best. Hopefully we will fall somewhere in the middle of the road. Only time, love, understanding and prayer will help get our baby girl through the tough times.

I'm hoping the next update I do includes a picture of our sweet baby girl.

Keep praying that it's really soon!!!!


3peas1pod said...

No advice here, just encouragement (and I hope it comes across that way) after getting 3 very different girls who have attached at different rates!

There is one good thing about being trapped in a hotel room with a new baby for 2 weeks...there is no doubt in the baby's mind that you are her mama. At that age, it is unlikely that she will remember nothing before you by the time you leave China and will look for you always. My oldest attached instantly and didn't care if anyone else had her as long as she saw me. My middle one hated me and generally just tolerated me for 6 months, but looked for me and needed me near just days after we got her. Celia screamed for a couple of days and was and is a big mama's girl by the time we hit Guangzhou. It is amazing, but somehow, they will know. I don't know how after having so many people in and out of their lives, but somehow, they know. You will be a great mom. Cassie will love you in her own Cassie way - I promise. Can't wait to see pics very soon!

Sherry said...

Thanks Deborah. Advice and encouragement from you guys -- my China sisters -- is great. :) I'm sure I'll be leaning on you guys in the months to come. However, I have gotten some advise lately from cashiers, people I hardly know at work, while out shopping, etc and of course it's all on things that I disagree with. I know people mean well I'm just a little worry that what if Cassie hates me and it shows to others that she's just tolerating me -- I don't want them to think I'm doing anything wrong.

All this extra time waiting had given me too much time to think. So I'm rereading attachment stuff -- maybe I should just go back to packing and shopping.


Thanks for sharing your story with me.

M & M said...

Hey Girl, we will have something to report on real soon. I can feel it!! It's coming.

Pam said...

I think it's a great idea to spend your time re-reading attachment resources. Our social worker gave us Toddler Adoption: The Weaver's Craft which I had not read before, and I found it very helpful. Of course, our situation is different than yours since Maddie is so much older than Cassie. Anyhow, I love reading books about adoption, but you will find that your mommy instinct kicks in almost immediately, and you will just know all the right things to do. Let's hope you get a chance to try that out very soon! Michele, too!

stephLAgwca said...

i'm hoping it will be soon, too!!! i will let you know if i hear anything at all. can't wait for that phone call!

Susan said...

Hi Honey! I want to thank you for posting this list. I just copied and added it to our blog. We are finding it hard to get family and friends to understand this crucial time, and hope that sharing this information will help make sense of what they may see as selfishness on our part. You will see how hard it is to tell family and friends that you need time before introducing Cassie to everyone. And once you do, it's even harder to bite your tongue when everyone starts trying to pick her up and she goes to open arms. We can chat about this later, but I wanted to thank you for the post.
Susan, Roger and Maiya

Sherry said...

Susan -- you are welcome. And I did also post this for you too in a way. I was hoping you would read it and have it help ease what you must be going through now that you are home with Maiya. I know this is going to be tough for us too -- everyone is already asking when will we be bringing Cassie over, to their office, etc. I'm sure there will be lots of hurt feeling in our family too. We must remember that we need to protect our little girls for a while and let them adjust on their terms to their new life.

Love you!!!