Tuesday, August 07, 2012

the "adoption cocoon" and what it means for our family

This is probably the toughest post I've had to write so far because I don't want to come across as crazy but I realize our desires need to be expressed…

*sucking air*

Attachment is a critical concept in parenting any child successfully. But attachment is THE critical concept in successfully parenting an adopted child. Attachment is TRUST building. Thanks to Max, I understand how this happens in the infant/parent relationship. Baby cries, his needs are met and he learns trust through this cycle. However, Zoe is coming to us after almost two years of life experience and multiple losses - first with her birth mother, then her first foster family after 5 months, and soon to be second foster family after almost 19 months. This is a pattern that she will likely expect to repeat itself. But this is where we will help her rebuild trust and accept us as her "forever family".

and this brings me to the point of this post…

When we arrive home from Korea, we welcome our friends and family to meet us at the airport for Zoe's homecoming. (Details will be available to anyone who would like to come.)

When we get back to our home sweet home, Brad and I will be the only two to meet Zoe's needs for at least her first month home or longer if necessary. This includes showing affection, comforting her, feeding, bathing, dressing, etc…


Zoe needs to learn (across a huge language barrier) that we are her parents and she can trust us. We will attempt to earn her trust by quickly, lovingly and repeatedly meeting her needs. 

When we finally venture out of our "cocoon" we welcome your kind words to Zoe. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Zoe needs to know that the people with whom she interacts are our trusted friends. If she is running around and comes to you for holding or comfort, please, direct her back to us. Maybe say, "Let's go find your mama. She's happy to hold you." A child who is struggling with attachment may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless as if they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the child.

As soon as we are comfortable that Zoe understands we are her parents and we will be here for her no matter what, then we will welcome you holding and hugging and loving on her. We want to share her with you and know you love her, too. And we are so thankful for your love and support through this process. 

Does this plan seem odd? 

It would to me, if we hadn't read what feels like a million books on adoption and attachment. There are plenty of stories of families who did NOT cocoon or guard the basic care giving duties of their newly adopted child and sadly, they regretted it. But I have yet to know of any families who DID cocoon and guard the basic care giving duties who regretted it. No one we know was sorry they guarded and protected and kept their new child's world small. This is often hard for the parents. But it is GREAT for the new child. 
Finally, I don't want to make sweeping generalities here. Not all adopted kids and/or their new families are alike. I am not an expert on any of this and readily admit it.  I only know what I learned from other adoptive parents who shared their experiences as well as through personal study, classes, books, and articles.  

Truly, the real education is about to begin and though crazy nervous, we are excited and ready for this adventure to begin…

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for posting this. We are bringing home an 18month old in a month from a very loving group foster home where she has regular caregivers and has lived for almost a year. We are inviting family and close friends to meet us at the airport also and then it's home to cocoon. I am curious how it went once you were home? How soon did you allow visitors? How soon did you allow holding by someone other than you and your husband? Thanks for your tranparancy - it made me feel less like an over protective mama :)