Friday, March 25, 2011

Now That We're Home...

We've been home with Evelyn for four days now, and as Zach put it today, "she just came home and now I can't remember life without her." Evelyn is a real sweetheart - eating well, sleeping well, and always with a beautiful open-mouth smile on her face (usually with a big belly-laugh accompanying it!) We feel so unbelievably blessed.

Though we haven't put up our blog entries about our trip yet (oh, they're coming! lots of pictures too), we wanted to let all of you in on some critical information about what is going to happen now that Evelyn's home.

Just like other significant life-cycle events and experiences, our adoption of Evelyn has been beautiful, meaningful, and overwhelming. All the more so, this process has been very overwhelming for her. Many adoption experts explain that children who are given up for adoption, regardless of age, experience multiple levels of trauma – particularly feelings of loss and abandonment. Evelyn has experienced this significant trauma many times in her one year of life as she has moved from her birth family’s home to an orphanage to a transition home and now to our home. Each move reflects the loss of loving caregivers and familiar surroundings. Although it is clear that Evelyn loves us and Zachary, her world has dramatically changed in the last week – going from a small crib in a dimly-lit room in an orphanage of a third-world country to traveling close to 8,000 miles to her new home, spanning three continents, three countries and five states before ending up in Rockland County. That’s a lot for even the most seasoned traveler, and all the more so challenging for a very loving but scared and confused baby.

Without a doubt, our experience with adoption has been incredible, and we credit much of our success to doing thorough research on this process, listening to much of the advice from others who have taken this journey, and respecting the process outlined by our adoption agency and social worker. We are constantly reminding ourselves to be patient and take things very slowly because it is of paramount importance that Evelyn understands that we are her “forever family” - that she can trust us, that we will never leave her, and that we love her unconditionally. And like all things important and worthwhile, this takes time and must be done correctly with the proper love, attention and dedication. We are confident that over the next few weeks, and certainly in the coming years, we will provide Evelyn with a healthy foundation to grow physically, emotionally and spiritually. We love her so much and just like Zachary, we want her to thrive!

We appreciate everyone’s sincere wishes and desires to meet and interact with Evelyn. She is truly special. However, over the coming weeks it is important that only Morrie, Zachary and I (and a few rare exceptions) hold, feed, hug and kiss her. The experts explain that in these first few weeks or longer, adopted children struggle with the concept of attachment. They feel very overwhelmed, confused and scared from the unexpected change of their surroundings. And as a result, they might try hard to attach themselves to any loving hand that reaches out to them. We know that each of you possess incredibly loving hands and want to reach out to Evelyn. And we are certain that once Evelyn starts to establish this important bond with us, she will then be able to branch out to other healthy relationships with you. But for now, Evelyn will have what may seem like a lot of structure, boundaries, and close proximity to us. Although it may appear at times that we are closing her off to you and others, we have been advised to follow this structure, as we must meet her needs quickly, consistently, and confidently. She may show her grief and confusion in many ways, and we are prepared to help her through it and prove to her that we are without question or reservation her “forever family”.

Please know that our decisions were made with the help and support of trusted adoption mentors. We are doing what we believe is the best to help Evelyn heal from her abandonment trauma and to help her develop healthy relationships and attachments to those who love her.

All of this is important for you to know since in many ways you have taken this journey with us. And of course, you are a vital and important part of Evelyn’s growth and development. Evelyn will need to learn that our lives are filled with many wonderful people who are loving and trusted family members and friends. Please understand that we want nothing more than to have Evelyn hugged, cuddled and cherished by ALL of you. We are confident that will happen – but it will have to happen a pace that she sets and that Morrie and I are comfortable with. Until she has a firm understanding of our family and her primary attachments, we respectfully request your patience and understanding as she makes her debut slowly over the next several weeks.

We thank you so much for all of your support and kindness over the past two-plus years of our adoption journey, and we look forward to the new beginning of our lives as a family of four - as Zach says, the chapter of our lives known as "-ed" (as in "adoptED")!

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