There have been almost three years of daydreaming that has led up to this point. I am finally sitting down to the computer to share some of the thoughts that have been brewing in my brain. We have thought at length about the life that the twins currently experience on a day to day basis. They live their lives in a small room with fourteen kiddos and two nannies. They leave this room for some of their meals and then return to this room. They rarely, if ever leave the orphanage grounds which has been their life day in and day out since they were 3 months old.
The transition to our American culture will be quite a shock. When they come home to our family it will be an incredible adventure! They will experience their first flights on an airplane, a night in a hotel, riding in a car seat for the first time and many strange places. The smells, sounds, climate and language will all be different. And of course… they still won’t understand why they are with us. They will probably be wondering when they will be going back home to the orphanage.
After our arrival home, it will take them time to realize that they belong with us now, that this is their new home, and we are their new caregivers (parents). If we have many visitors (just like the orphanage), how will they know whom to trust? If we take them on a lot of outings (church, grocery store, school events), not only might they be overwhelmed, but how will they know exactly where home is? Of course, many of these things they will figure out eventually (and in the process most likely grieve the loss of all that is familiar), but our goal is to allow them to figure out these details quickly… so they can feel safe with us, grow and learn.
When Elijah and Judah first arrive home, we will stay home with them as much as possible (this is called cocooning in the adoption world). We want them to feel comfortable here as their new home, and with us as their new family. This bonding is crucial, and we want the twins to feel loved and connected to us. I will be taking 8 weeks off from work and Craig will be taking 4 weeks off to spend time bonding with the boys. We will then determine if more time is necessary for bonding.
During the first weeks after returning home with the boys, we are going to be watching the twins closely to see how they are handling all of the changes in their environment. Craig and I naturally are very social people and fully know that there is a good chance that we might need to sacrifice our social nature for building this crucial connection. We will need to watch these cues to determine when we feel it is appropriate for us to take the twins to church, grocery shopping, errands, or any other public place where they could be touched, prodded or become completely over-stimulated.
Adoption professionals recommend that a child be cocooned (or intense therapeutic parenting time) for 1 month for every year that child was not with you. That puts Judah and Elijah at about 8 weeks of “therapy” IF they come home this fall at 2 years old.
During our time at home together, we will cuddle...listen to music, cuddle some more. Play little games, learn to speak each other’s language…cuddle. Tickle, massage, read books and play in the hot tub. More cuddles. Eat, try to make lots of eye contact and cuddle some more. Hopefully play in our back yard a lot, eventually go for walks or to the park. Get them used to our dog, and (hopefully) figure out how to help them sleep well. We will hold them, bathe them and give unending hugs and kisses. We will be the ones getting them food and drinks at all times. Craig, Aftyn, Haley, Aiden and I will be the ones providing all of their needs.
We will be cautious at first with visitors...we will need to begin with close family only and then we will gradually progress to a larger circle of friends when we feel the twins are ready for that. Believe me when I say that when we come home with the boys, I will want to show off their handsome faces to all of the people that have been praying us though...but we have a responsibility to do this right...and we only get one shot at this. Please, please do not be offended when we tell you that we can't let you hold the twins for the first few weeks when they get home.
The twins missed out on developmental stages that they would have naturally had if they would have been in our family from day one. We need to be the ones to hold them, change them, feed them and comfort them for a very long time. It is almost like reversing the clock so we can give them all of the nurturing and love that they missed. The twins are used to being independent and this might be a tough transition for them. They will be learning how to be a part of our family.
I have to say that it is fun to be daydreaming through the details of this transition. We are in the final stages of the process, and we want the transition home to be everything that God would like it to be. We continue to wait for one piece of paper...the adoption decree attestation for Elijah...then we will be submitted to get the boys' Visas. Please continue to pray for patience as we experience delays in the process and for God's perfect timing. We feel a peace about the adoption on most days, but as the timeline grows, there are definitely difficult moments in the midst of the peace.
Daydreaming and nesting,