Wednesday, April 13, 2011


There are so many things about adoption I did not know until we started this journey. Adopting an older child has it's upsides (no diapers or barf) and downsides (needing to bond with the child). The following serves to explain why and how we will be treating S in the ensuing months, so you don't think we're crazy. Please read it to your kids. (I plaguerized portions of this off another blog because I thought it was so well written ;-).

Our top priority from an adoptive standpoint will be bonding and attachment with S.  This will not be an easy process for many reasons including the fact that he is an older child and has been institutionalized for about 4 years.  Since he lived with his babushka from birth to 3 years, hopefully he developed the ability to bond as an infant, toddler and very young child.  If so, this process will be much easier for us all.  If you have parented an older adopted child, you probably understand what we are talking about .  If not, you might wonder why in the world would we make a big deal over this or you may even think we are crazy (I know I might have a few years ago)!  We are not asking that everyone agree with us or even understand the process we're going through, but that as our friends and family you would trust our heart, respect our decisions and support our parenting.  If you would like to understand more about this, please feel free to ask us questions or for some books that can help you understand what we're embarking on. 

We've shown him pictures of all the kids in the neighborhood and some of the parents. He knows a few of your names already, as well as names of his cousins, Aunts, Uncles and Grandma/Grandpa.
So, what can you expect now that we are home?

- He will be very tired (maybe for a while as he adjusts to his new life).  Please greet him warmly with a hug, but do not be offended if he does not respond.  He might not hug you back or even speak to you.  He will be overwhelmed with emotions and might not warm up to you easily.  Please respect his boundaries.

- Keep in mind that our goal is for him to bond with us as Mama and Papa...which is what his life should be centered around.  Please let us do all of the care-giving (offering food, consoling, disciplining, offering choices, helping with tasks, etc.)

- Please do not give him anything he asks for without first telling him to "ask Mama or Papa" - don't ask for him.  He needs to ask!  This applies to food, permission, help, anything!  He is learning English and can do this himself.

- Back us up.  If we direct him to do/not do (or eat/not eat) something, please go along with us even if you would do things differently.  When he sees you respecting our words to him, he will learn from that example.

- Please do not allow him to hang on you or cling to you.  He might want to sit in your lap, hold your hand, or just lean on you, but he must learn to cling first to Mama and Papa.

- Gifts:  If you have something to share with him, please give it to us first so that we can hand it to him for you...or ask him to "ask your Mama /Papa" if you can give him something.  It's important that the permission always comes from us.

- While he is learning to be a part of a family and follow rules and respect our authority, he will have days he is frustrated with us.  We will be the ones saying "no, you can't do that" or "I know you don't want to go to the store, but we are all going as a family."  In times like these, he may turn to others outside our immediate family as a way of pushing us back.  Please do not allow this.  It might seem mean, but you need to push him back towards us!  For his sake, he cannot bond with people outside of Mama and Papa right now.

- Bearing these things in mind, please do not ask him if he would like to go places, do things or attend events.  You can ask us about these things, but do not be offended if for the next several months we don't attend much -- we will be staying home a lot!  Also, he will not go anywhere without us...not until he has attached to us as his Mama and Papa.  We do look forward to the day that he can attend parties and events just as other children can, but that will have to take a back seat right now.

-He is learning what it means to be part of a family, to trust and obey us as his parents, to rely on us for everything he needs (emotionally and physically), and to bond with us as his Mama and Papa.

-It is imperative that he learns to seek all permission, affection, guidance, attention, provision (for every basic need), affirmation and acceptance from us first.  Only after he has truly bonded with us as his parents will he ever be able to develop healthy relationships in the future.  Right now, think of him as in the "infant" stage -- he has just come home to our family.  Only with him, he NEEDS to LEARN to rely completely on us just as an infant relies on his or her mother.  This is not something that will be instinctual for him.  Our desire is for him to develop into a healthy adult who has healthy relationships with his spouse, children, friends and family.  Thank you for supporting us in this!  It will help us all transition smoothly as we become a family.


  1. Amen! Thanks so much for posting this. It dovetails exactly with what we were taught to do as well. May we reference your well-written post on our blog too? It is really valuable. With much appreciation,
    Ann & Stuart

  2. Thank you for the information Dani. It really does help those of us who have no experience at all with adoptions of any kind. I look forward to seeing you all again soon, and welcome home!