Thursday, May 17, 2012

"What to Expect?"

If you're a Mom, you're probably familiar with the book, "What to Expect in Baby's First Year." For many first time (and second, third, fourth time parents) this book is a life-saver. Full of information about baby's growth and development. A real must have. Followed up by "What to Expect in the Toddler Years." The list just keeps growing and there really is a resource for nearly every question concerning the raising of your child.

I haven't been able to locate the book entitled, "What to Expect during your Internationally, Adopted Child's First Year At Home..." They'd need a catchier title than that anyway. I'd need the Special Addition that covers children who also have special needs. Well, you get the point. The resources are limited, so in this community of Special Needs Adoption, we lean on each other for support. One Mom's experience becomes the next Mom's saving grace. We also lean into Jesus, as He strengthens, equips and sustains us.

I have a lot of questions being asked about what life will be like when the boys come home. I simply assume people know what I have learned throughout this journey about adopting and children with special needs. The fact is you don't and why would you, unless you're preparing for your own journey. I'm going to attempt to cover some of the most asked questions I receive. I'm hoping that in the busy days that come after we bring the boys home, that these posts will help you understand some of the why in how we're parenting.

Question 1: (This is currently the most asked) Will you be bringing Samuel and Joseph here to gymnastics or soccer (or whatever event we're currently attending)?

Answer: I love this question, because it reminds me that our friends love our boys already and are so anxious to see them and interact with them. Of course, our boys will attend these events sometime in the future. We're not going to put them in hiding when they come home. However, we do expect that it will be quite sometime before you see our boys out and about unnecessarily. We must do what is best for them and that means forming a secure bond, before we take them out.

Children coming from an institutional setting have no concept of family. Our boys don't understand Mom and Dad. They like us. They know we're kind to them, but they don't understand that we are their's FOREVER. We took classes on this very subject and we've been told the following things in regards to bonding.

1. For the first 6 months, the only people who feed our boys should be Marty and I. Am I going to feel like a failure if Eli or Julie shares a snack with their brothers. Certainly not. Are we going to do our best to follow this guideline? Absolutely. Wouldn't you? If it meant a strong bond between you and your child.

Maybe, you're not sure why they'd (the experts) recommend this? It's because children associate the source of their food as highly important. Think about how quickly an infant attaches the idea of eating with his MOM! Our boys have been fed by many hands and we want them to be dependent on us for their food, so they'll come to us to meet this need.

2. For at least the first six weeks (possibly longer) we should keep our boys world as small as possible. This means, as few outings as possible, so we'll be avoiding trips to gymnastics, soccer, church, the grocery store, etc. Why? It's simple, our boys have not been exposed to much in their short lives and they can be very easily over-stimulated. Which will cause regression and delay bonding. You need to feel safe, before you can feel loved.

We'll also be asking that friends limit their visits to our home during these first six weeks. We love you, but we love our boys more. I think, you'll all understand. We have a need to find a "new normal" as a family. We need to learn each other and find a routine that works for everyone.

I hope these are a good start to answering your questions. I'm going to cover Indiscriminate Affection and physical contact tomorrow. If you have a question, you'd like me to answer regarding what we expect when the boys come home. Please, ask. I'd love to hear from you and answer your questions. You may help me think of something new.

We're so thankful for each of you, who has come alongside and supported us on this journey. We're so close to beginning the best part. We'd not be here without you and we'll be forever grateful.  Thank you for loving us and loving our children.

Pray, Adopt, Advocate, Support...Do Something!

Hidden in Christ,


  1. SOOOO glad to see that you are informed and educated. Too many people choose not to be or decide that it doesn't apply to them and they (and their children) pay the price. Of course each situation should be adjusted to best meet the needs of the specific child(dren) but with a map like you've laid out in the post, it's a great place to start. You guys are going to do great!!

  2. It is so wise of you to not only be preparing for these things now but also educating those around you. It can be hard for many people to understand why things must be this way for the safety and emotional health of you boys. The very first line in "What to Expect During Your Internationally Adopted Child's First Year Home" would be "Be ready for ANYTHING!" All the things I thought would happen didn't and all the things I never even considered happened! And that was just with one. The second one will be totally and completely different, I'm sure!

  3. Mandy, An outstanding more!! Our well-meaning friends and family need to know the "why's" of our seemingly strange behavior when we first bring our kids home! Great post!

  4. I am eagerly awaiting the next post... I too have wanted a "What to Expect for Internationly Adopted Special-Needs Kids" book and this is great! That reminds me... we need to get our education stuff started...