Sunday, January 04, 2009

Although I'm not an eloquent writer, I've been wanting to write an open letter to family and friends. The time is right, so here it goes...

Dear Family and Friends,

I would like to thank you all for your support over the past several years. Never in our wildest dreams did we ever imagine it would take this long to get our referral to Lauren. There have been so many ups and downs during this time and your support has meant everything to us.

I would like to take this chance to share a little bit of what I know about attachment and bonding in adoption and our plans for when we bring Lauren home.

To start off you need to understand that Lauren has been in an orphanage since birth and has spent her first 21 months under the care of multiple nannies. At this point, the orphanage is home, her nannies are her "parents" and the other children are her "brothers" and "sisters". She has never known anything different.

One week from today, Lauren will take a long ride with one or two of her nannies to a strange building filled with strange people and babies. The room will be very noisy with babies crying and lots of strange voices. At some point, her nanny will hand her off to Joe and me...two people she's never seen before (unless the nannies showed her the photos we sent). There will be lots of camera flashes and video taping. Then we will take a ride back to the hotel and she will be alone in a room with us...we look strange, sound strange and smell strange. At this point, her little world has been rocked in ways that would scare just about anyone.

We have no idea at this point how she will react to all this. She will be grieving for her home and everything she knows. She may shut down, she may cry inconsolably, she may be silent...whatever it is, we will handle it as best we can.

We are hoping that she will start to slowly trust us once she understands that we are there to care for her and take care of all her needs. A healthy attachment won't start to form until she learns to trust us. This is why once we are home, Joe and I need to continue to be her primary caregivers for all her basic needs. This includes feeding, diapering, bathing, holding, consoling, etc. Slowly, once an attachment starts to develop, you all will be able to help out with these things.

There are also some special things to consider since Lauren is a toddler. Typically as a child approaches the age of two, she starts to show some independence...breaking away a little bit from the parents (the terrible two's). In Lauren's case she may need to regress a little bit since we need to help her form a strong bond with us before she can move forward. It's important for her future well being that she doesn't skip the "attachment" phase before moving on to some independence. Because of this it may seem like we are spoiling her or doting over her.

With all this being said, I'm hoping that it helps you all to understand our goals and why we feel we need to do the things we'll be doing once we get home.

28 comments:

Allie's going to be a Sister said...

Donna,

That was a great letter. It's funny
everything you wrote, is what Kelly
and I have just been studying for
Our Hannah's adoption. With a
toddler this time around things
will be different. I cant believe
only three more sleeps!!!

So happy for you all!!!

Kara said...

Beautiful letter, just beautiful. Congrats on your Lauren Elizabeth!

Karsynn's Mommy...Sammi said...

Well said. I wish for you a safe trip, quick bonding with your sweet girl, and a safe return home as a family! Remember, ENJOY every single moment in China. This is Lauren's homeland. Who knows if you or she will ever return. So, buy what you want, see everything possible, take lots of pictures and journal, if you have time. These things will mean the world to her and you in years to come. Savor every moment. It passes by so quickly. We'll be watching!!!

Anonymous said...

Donna and Joe

First of all congrats! This is so important that family and friends understannd this bonding step. You said it beautifully from one adopted mom to another.

Heres to the best journey you could ever imagine

Kim Evans

Cara said...

Congratulations! I have been following your blog (I don't remember how I found it) and am excited for you all!

We also adopted a 21 month old, a boy from China. Your letter is great! Blessings on your trip and on becoming parents!

PIPO said...

Eloquently said!

I will need to do a letter like this too and I am glad to have had the opportunity to see yours.

Almost there, mama.

Somewhere In The Sun said...

Donna, You have a wonderful grasp on attachment that will serve Lauren well! Everyone should write just such a letter to their friends and family!

~Lynn

Jboo said...

Beautiful letter! Am so excited for you and your journey to your incredible little girl!

Janet

Carol said...

Take pictures of people with their children...that is what someone told me...so I tried to do that and it was great alot of moms loved that I took photos of their children, they were happy to pose for me......and Emily loves looking at them now. Also get a lullaby cd in China this helped us at night because Emily hated night time......the music helped!!! Emily shut down for 3 days...barely ate....day 3 was magic!!.......PS...she did go back to the baby stage (was 26 months at Gotcha)...she wanted to be a baby, and we let her..now she tells me "Mommy I a big girl!"
Ok that's all I can think of!!!!!
OH GERBER PUFFS!!! SHE LOVED THEM!

chicknboy said...

Donna -what a beautifully written letter. it's spot on.

cannot wait to see you holding that precious little girl!

Shauna said...

Great letter and I do hope that your precious little girl will know very quickly that you are there for her forever and always. have a wonderful trip and enjoy each minute. Can't wait to see your blog i will be stalking it hourly.

shauna

Catherine said...

Beautifully written! Someday I will need to write a letter like this to my family and friends too and I'm thankful for what others share.

3 more sleeps!!!!!!!!

Ava Baby said...

Hi Donna,
It is scary not knowing what to expect but know that over time, Lauren will come to love you and you will be amazed at how strong your love for her will grow. It really does just keep getting better. Have a wonderful trip and Ava and I look forward to meeting Lauren when she's ready!
Michele

wellworththewait said...

What a beautiful heartfelt letter! We support your approach 100 percent. We'd love to meet Lauren when you feel she is ready. We wish you all the best as you travel to China and meet your beautiful Lauren. Lauren's love for you and Joe will grow every day!

Yen973 said...

Very well said. I think they will understand. It is so importent.
Dana

Lisa~~ said...

You have me a little teary with your letter remembering what it was like when Maisie first was placed in our arms and trying to understand what was happening to her world. We thankfully had friends and family that were very respectful of our need to attach and bond and I hope that you have the same experience. Good luck on your trip and can't wait to follow along.

Cora said...

Only 2 days now until you leave. Great letter it is sometimes hard to remember that some people out there have not done all the research and reading on attachment that most of us waiting parents have.

Shelley said...

Godspeed, my friend. You have my thoughts and prayers that Lauren's transition will be smooth.

But then I do believe you and Joe are naturals. :)

Safe travels.

xo,

Shell

Doreen said...

Whatever you do when you get home will be the right thing cuz you will be THE MAMA and it'll all feel right. The letter was perfect...you should patent it!!!!!

Doreen in Montreal single mom to Faith-Jiangxi & Mia-Sichuan

Tonya said...

That was a great note I might have to copy and paste (and chnage a few things) for my family. You have a great trip Donna. I am so very happy for y'all and one day your baby girl will know she is y'alls baby gil.

Ash said...

I hope your friends and family will reread your letter; it was for them & it was eloquent. Safe and happy travels.
ash
momma to Hannah~guangdong2008

Alyson and Ford said...

You are as ready as we were at this time! It is so important to keep your new daughter as close as you can (minimize strollers, use a baby carrier). AA did regress and is slowly catching back up; but she still doesn't let her "guard down" often; it takes time. She is so happy most of the time but we can still see when she protects herself. Your letter is perfect!

Alyzabeth's Mommy

amy said...

thank you so much for posting this!!!

Sophia's Mama and Baba said...

Donna and Joe this is so beautiful and shows that you are ready for Lauren. You will meet her needs whatever they might be. Form one mother who was handed a greiving toddler give yourself and her time, take as much time as Lauren needs. Your family will understand and I am sure they will supprt your choices for your daughter. You are ready
God Speed..We love you
Susan,Riz and Sophia

Sharon said...

Great letter, Donna. You and Joe are going to be just fine and Lauren will too. Can't wait to follow your trip "relive" the magic.

Safe journey,
Sharon

Made in China said...

What a fantastic idea!! I wish I had thought of this!

People who are not part of the adoption community do not know theses thing so it's great to set some boundries. I'm positive that the people who love you will respect you wishes as they want the best for all of you.

Looking forward to following your journey in China!!

Laura and Dan said...

You are going to be an AMAZING mother! :)

Sara said...

You'll probably never even see this comment, but your letter was very moving and I'm sitting here in tears. And to think I stumbled upon your blog while I was trying to find out if Lowe's offers paint samples! :) I saw you lived in Chandler (as do we) so I kept on reading!

Congratulations on all you've gained. You're such an inspiration. Sara