Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Attachment 101

A couple of days ago I mentioned I'd be doing about how Hayes has been doing as far as attachment goes, so here we go...

Hayes was 6 1/2 months old when we brought him home.  He had lived in 2 different orphanages during his young life.  He was passed around among many caregivers.  He had no real attachment to anyone.  When we brought him back to the guest house where we were staying, the other families kept exclaiming what a "good" baby he was.  I knew that this was not normal (and not that he wasn't a "good" baby, but it's not normal for a baby to NEVER cry.  On the flip side, he didn't smile or make cooing noises much either.).  He was just as content to be held by random strangers in Ethiopia (and they WILL just take your baby from you!  haha!) as he was to be held by us.  Hayes did not trust that any one specific person would be there to meet his needs.  So from the time we arrived home, we began "cocooning."

For 2 weeks Hayes and I didn't leave the house.  Most families actually cocoon much longer, but I was going stir crazy!  The hubby and I were the only ones to hold, feed, rock, bathe, change, and comfort him.  When he did cry, we immediately met his needs (usually with a bottle and cuddle time).  After 2 weeks we ventured out a bit, usually just to Target so mommy could get out of the house.  A couple of times (even after being home for a month) we went to a restaurant and it was just too much for him.  After these instances we would stay at home for a few days.  We didn't usually get out but once every 3-4 days.  After 2 weeks we also let immediate family hold him.  Honestly, I was planning on waiting longer, but I didn't feel that people really understood (and I felt like they were upset with us), so I bulked under the pressure.  After we had been home for about a month, we went to church.  Even there we didn't allow anyone to hold him (which is what we did when we went anywhere was there were more than just a few people present).

For us it was a beautiful time of bonding.  It is such a crucial time to Hayes's healing process.  We have seen a huge difference in our son.  He now cries and lets us know when he has a need.  He smiles and laughs and is an all-around happy, confident little guy. He loves to be cuddled and he loves touch-holding hands, putting his hands on our faces, etc.  He will let other people hold him, but still looks for mommy and sometimes wants to come back to me.  When he fusses when someone else is holding him, we still are the ones to comfort him.  He knows that we are mommy and daddy.  The difference in him is truly amazing.  

And still after 4 months at home, we've been the only ones to feed, bathe, change, and rock him to sleep.  We also have only left him in the nursery on 2 occasions and once with a family member (for 1 hour).  This is about to DRASTICALLY change as I go back to work a week from today.  To say that I'm nervous is an understatement, but more on that later as this post is getting lengthy!  We'll continue to watch Hayes, as attachment is an ongoing process.  I've already told the hubby that if we see him regress in the area of attachment, then I'm quitting!  And I mean it!  I'm not going to work the detriment of our bond with Hayes.  We would love to have your prayers during this time of transition for our family.

Here are some things I wished we had done a little differently that maybe can help some of you in the process:
- Prepare friends and family for what cocooning will look like ahead of time.
- Cocoon as long as you feel is necessary.  
- Stick to the rules that you established as far as the time frame for others to hold him.  
- Wear younger children in a wrap/ergo.  I didn't do this (I usually just held him on the couch or rocked him), but I think he would have benefitted from this.

For more info on cocooning and attachment, read here, here or here.

Sorry for the LONG post, but hopefully some of you who have just arrived home with your children or  who will soon be home with your children will benefit from this in some way.  

Here are some pictures of what attachment looked like early on in our house...

Snuggles with mommy.



Snuggles with daddy.



Snuggles in the big bed.



More snuggles with daddy.



Bath time.


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10 comments:

  1. This is very interesting, I didn't know much about this, happy to see Hayes is now home with you! Janell

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    1. Thank you Janell! Were are blessed!

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  2. I can't get over how cute this lil guy is!!! So cute that I had to skip past the post to see the pictures!!! Blessings.

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    1. Haha! Yeah, I had to work in some pictures because he's way too cute. Plus, who wants to read a wordy, boring post with no pics?! :)

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  3. This is a great post to help non adoptive families understand. Thank you for sharing and putting this out there.

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    1. Thank you Annie! I'm glad to help in any small way that I can!

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  4. Thank you for sharing! We are about to go through what you just went through (expecting travel call any day now, ah!) and are thinking about our bonding plan. I actually typed up an e-mail to send to family/friends about cocooning...and was trying to decide if I would actually send it or if it would be too "pushy." After reading this, I think I am going to send it, or I will buckle under the pressure of everyone begging to hold our son ;-) Thanks girl!

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    1. You're welcome! And I'd definitely explain. That was probably my biggest regret. I thought I had, but an email is a great idea! Can't wait to see pictures of your sweet Levi at home with his mommy and daddy!

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  5. So so sweet Jennifer, thanks for sharing. That is one blessed little boy to have such sweet parents watching out for him. I have several close friends/family in the adoption process, so I love reading about your experience. Sounds like yall are really doing so great at this whole parenting thing!!! Maybe someday I'll get to meet your little man:)

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    1. Thank you Sara! You are way too sweet! I can't wait to see pictures of your precious girl when she gets here!!! The next time you're in town we should definitely get together. It's been way too long!

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