We got an email in the wee hours of the morning today from the US Embassy in Addis saying Samuel’s case has cleared and are ready to go get our sweet boy and bring him home! Forever!!! I’m seriously over-the-moon excited that this time has finally come! This morning I booked our flights (we leave in just 5 days!) and the next few days are going to be a bit of a whirlwind, I’m sure. David and I have discussed in depth our plans for the upcoming weeks and months and think that it’s important to make at least parts of it public so that our friends and family can better understand where we are at, why we’re doing the things we’re doing, and what we need. Everything we are doing is based on research and wisdom gleaned from both professionals and families who have walked this path before us. This is technically an attachment plan – a plan intended to bring healthy bonding and attachment with our son. To him, we’re just strange white people who talk in a weird language and smell funny. He doesn’t understand that we’re his mommy and daddy. He doesn’t even know what a mommy and daddy are. When he gets home, he’s going to feel totally overwhelmed and afraid. He’s lived nearly his whole life in basically the same environment and it’s not at all like our home. My heart breaks when I think of what it will be like for him.
So what do we do? First of all, once we are home we will stay. at. home. People who know me well know that I am usually busy and staying on the move. But for the first few weeks, our goal is to keep Samuel completely at home (except for doctor visits). We need this time together without distractions, and he needs to become comfortable here in our home and realize this is his safe place. So, don’t expect to see us out and about right away. Our goal is at least two weeks, but we may extend this if we feel that’s best for Samuel. This is all about him and we will move at his pace until we see clear signs that he is bonding to us and feeling totally comfortable in our home.
We will be holding him. A lot. Like constantly. Either in our arms or in the Ergo carrier. And for those first few weeks, only David or I will hold him. He has to know we are “IT” for him. Only we will feed him. Only we will change him. Only we will bathe him. He has to learn that we are his caregivers. We are the ones who will meet his every need, whether physical or emotional. Because that’s what mommies and daddies do. And he doesn’t know that yet.
We will be making him the priority. Cuddling. Singing. Playing. Doing whatever it takes to make him look us in the eye. So, if my phone or emails don’t get answered right away, or I don’t comment on your Facebook posts, please understand. This is the single most important thing going on in our lives for a while. Everything else can wait. This time of bonding and attachment is of vital importance to the future health and happiness of our son and our family.
For a few months (at least), either David or I will be with Samuel all the time. Yes, a time will come when he will need to learn that we can both leave and we will come back. But we can’t rush that. This kind of security is not learned instantaneously. We won’t be leaving him in the nursery at church, at least for a while. I have nothing against our nursery at church. Our girls were in there every service and we never worried for a minute because we knew they were in good hands. This is different for Samuel. A nursery environment is so much like the environment he’s coming from and could be really hard for him to process. Multiple babies, multiple caregivers, etc. It’s set up so much like the room he’s lived in for these many months. If you look at that from the perspective of an orphan it makes perfect sense. If he’s in there, I will be there with him.
We have such awesome, supporting friends and family and I know some of you will want to know if you can help us through this transition. You can! First of all, please pray for us! We know that this is going to be hard. We’re going to be emotionally spent, mentally and physically exhausted, and on a roller coaster of emotions. We need prayers. Our precious boy needs prayers even more. Please pray for healing for his little heart. There is no way to measure the trauma and pain he has endured. And yes, I firmly believe that even babies know this trauma and pain. And may struggle for a long time to come. The memories may not be vivid as they would for an older child, but I believe that subconsciously they are there. He needs healing. And our Jesus heals.
Our girls need prayer too. They are so excited to bring Samuel home but are also feeling nervous about the unknowns. This is going to shake things up quite a bit and it’s going to be tough for them for a little while. If you feel led to do something special for them it would be welcome!
Meals will be welcomed with open hands and growling bellies. It will be survival mode for a few weeks. Between jet lag, doctor appointments, having an infant adjusting to a new environment (and perhaps not sleeping well), and trying to give him undivided attention while not letting our girls feel neglected. . . Well, I’m sure you can put it together easily enough. Cooking our “normal” meals will be low on the totem pole. I’m sure everyone will get tired of cereal or sandwiches for dinner pretty quick.
I know many people will be anxious to meet this little one they’ve been praying for for so long. And we want you to meet him, too! If you want to visit, that’s fine! Just call first and don’t let me get so chatty that I keep you hostage for the rest of the day. That really could happen since I may well be starved for some social interaction. But seriously, please help us keep visits fairly short through this initial period. Phone calls, cards, and Facebook messages are all welcome — even requested! We’ll be looking for encouragement! Send me every hilarious You Tube video that comes your way. It may come at a moment when I need to laugh so I don’t cry.
Thank you for being a blessing to us. So many of you who will read this have encouraged our family in many ways throughout our long journey. And we are so grateful! We look forward to you being part of our son’s life and showing him what it means to be surrounded by people who love you.
Waiting for His Coming,