This is such a hard and sometimes touchy subject. Please read the letter below that will outline the plan that Steve and I have laid out for life when we first get home.
Dear Family & Friends,
After over two years of waiting, our precious Samuel is finally home! We know that
each of you receiving this letter has, in some way, supported, loved and prayed
for us. Because we know your care for Samuel 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
In many ways, Samuel 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
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. The good news is that we can now, as
Samuel’s parents and forever family, rebuild attachment and help him heal from
these emotional wounds. When Samuel comes home, he will be overwhelmed. 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 learn that parents are safe to trust and
to love deeply. We are, essentially, recreating the newborn/parent connection.
Once Samuel starts to establish this important bond, he will then be able to branch
out to other, healthy relationships.
Samuel will 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 Samuel 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 Samuel. 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! Samuel
should know that the people with whom he interacts are our trusted friends.
Another area is redirecting Samuel’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 Samuel hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you (he’s
totally irresistible and huggable). 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 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 Samuel. Thank you
so much for your love and support over the past two years. If you have any
questions please feel free to ask at any time!
Here are also a few blog posts from a friend that you might find informative.