I know a lot of people, as well as us, are curious about how things are going to look when we finally get home with our little boy. I've had several questions and we thought it might be helpful to share this letter that explains things a bit more.
Another adoptive momma shared her family's letter to family and friends when they brought their son home from Ethiopia and I thought it was so helpful! So I borrowed some of her ideas and added some of my own, for our family and friends. Thank you so much for taking the time to read it!:
Dear Family & Friends,
After the last several years of waiting, our precious boy is almost home! We know that each of you reading this letter has, in some way, supported, loved and prayed for us. Because we know your care for Brooks and our family, we want to share with you some information that we hope will best equip everyone around him to assist us in laying the strongest and healthiest foundation – emotionally, physically and spiritually.
In many ways, Brooks will be like the children who entered our family through birth; we will parent like other Christian families as we bring all of them up in the instruction and discipline of the Lord. But there will be a few, initial differences. For years now, we have researched bonding and attachment in children, especially those coming home through adoption from an institutional orphanage setting.
We are confident of this: God’s design is PERFECT! His plan for parents and children is a beautiful and meaningful picture of His love for us. Attachment between a parent and child occurs over time when a baby has a physical or emotional need and communicates that need. The primary caretaker (usually mommy) meets the need and soothes the child. This repeats between a parent and child over and over to create trust within the child for that parent; the baby is hungry, cries in distress, mom nurses & calms the baby – which teaches him that this person is safe and can be trusted. By God’s very design, an emotional foundation is laid in the tiniest of babies, which will affect their learning, conscience, growth and future relationships. The security provided by parents will, ultimately, give children a trust for and empathy towards others.
Children who come home through adoption have experienced interruptions in this typical attachment process. The loss of a biological mother at an early age can be a major trauma on their little hearts. Even for children who are adopted at a young age. The majority of brain development happens in the first two years of life and when a portion of those years is spent in an institution it can have a big effect on the child. The good news is that we can now, as Brooks’s parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help him heal from these emotional wounds. When Brooks comes home, he will be very overwhelmed. He has spent the majority of his little life in one room. This type of under-stimulation has set him up to be easily over-stimulated in new environments. Because of this, not only will we keep him close to us for the bonding process, but we will also kind of “cocoon” and stay close to home for a while. He will have just been removed from the only “home” he’s ever known and brought to a completely new, completely strange and completely unknown environment. This will be scary for his little mind and heart!
Everything around him will be new and he will need to learn not just about his new environment, but also about love and family. He has not experienced God’s design for a family in an orphanage setting. The best way for us to form a parent/child bond is to be the ones to hold, snuggle, instruct, soothe and feed him. As this repeats between us, he will be able to love deeply, and learn that parents are to trust. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection. Once Brooks starts to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch out to other, healthy relationships.
Brooks will likely have, what may seem like, a lot of structure, boundaries and close proximity to us. Please know that these decisions are prayerfully and thoughtfully made choices based on immense amounts of research and instruction from trusted adoption mentors. We will be doing what we believe is best to help him heal from those interruptions in attachment as effectively as possible. Why are we telling you all of this? Because you will actually play an awesome and vital role in helping our little boy settle in, heal, and lay a foundation for the future. There are a few areas in which you can help us:
The first is to set physical boundaries. It will help us immensely if adults limit what is typically considered normal, physical contact with Brooks. This will (for a while) include things like holding, excessive hugging and kissing. Children from orphanage settings are prone to attach too easily to anyone and everyone – which hinders the important, primary relationship with parents. Waving, blowing kisses or high fives are perfectly appropriate and welcomed! Brooks should know that the people with whom he interacts are our trusted friends. This isn’t to say that you may not ever hold him or hug him but it would be best to let us lead that and please don’t feel offended if he’s staying in our arms a majority of the time. Again, it’s just to teach him who “mom and dad” are and form healthy attachment.
Another area is redirecting Brooks’s desire to have his physical and emotional needs met by anyone (including strangers) to having us meet them. Orphans often have so many caretakers that they, as a survival mechanism, become overly charming toward all adults. A child struggling to learn to attach may exhibit indiscriminate affection with people outside of their family unit. It may appear harmless and as if they are “very friendly” but this is actually quite dangerous for the child. To share this is difficult for us because we have snuggled, cared for, fed and loved so many of your children. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have Brooks hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. But until he has a firm understanding of family and primary attachments, we would be so grateful if you direct him to us if you see that he is seeking out food, affection or comfort.
We’re obviously new at all this as well and in all of our research and investment over the last several years this is the best plan we’ve come up with. We won’t have it all figured out perfectly but we’re so grateful for your grace and help as we navigate this new journey. And we know God is ultimately sovereign over it all.
We would also really appreciate your continued love and attention towards Grahm and Jack. They, too, will be going through major changes when Brooks joins us. Life is going to look a lot different for all of us for a while and it will be hard for their little minds and hearts to adjust as well.
We know that we may get many questions from others about Brooks. Please understand that most of his history will be kept in the quiet of our hearts and Brooks will choose when/if/with whom he wants to share when he’s older. But we are so excited to share that Brooks will be about 13 months old when he comes home if things go as we are hoping! He’s from Ethiopia. J His full name is Yohannes Brooks and you’ll probably hear us calling him both. He’ll likely go by Brooks for the most part but there’s something special to us about calling him Yohannes, so if you hear us interchanging what we call him, that’s why. J And most of all, he’s very loved by so many people, especially God and his family! J
We are incredibly blessed to have so many loved ones around us. We couldn’t ask for a better extended family & circle of friends for our precious Brooks and our entire family. Thank you so much for your love and support over the past several years. If you have any questions please feel free to ask at any time!
We love you all,
Callie & Luke