We covered some bonding/adjustment issues that we're expecting to face with the boys in this post, already. I'm doing my best to help educate our friends and family about what to expect when Samuel and Joseph first arrive home. Honestly, it's all just a guess...we've never done this before. We did take a LOT of classes and have done some reading on the subject and want to pass along some of what we've learned.
Next up is Indiscriminate Affection. Sounds scary and it is. A child who has lived their entire life in an orphanage setting with multiple caregivers is likely to seek and give affection to ANYONE who will open their arms. We already know this is going to be a concern with Samuel. He came to me very quickly on the first day and was content to love on me. It was lovely in the moment, but scary to think that he would go with ANYONE! We'll be establishing firm, strong boundaries regarding affection with the boys. The only people who can hug and kiss them are immediate family (and the grandparents may sneak in a love or two) as in Marty, myself, Eli and Julie. Everyone else may give high-fives, fist bumps, handshakes, etc. This will allow the boys to recognize that family is different from the rest of the world. We can let family in and let our guard down with family. Family is for closeness.
Another reason, I want to establish these boundaries is one that a friend pointed out and I agree with 100%. One of the things that makes people uncomfortable around people with down syndrome is they tend to be touchy-feely. I know, this is true with my Uncle Roy. We don't mind it, but it can make others uncomfortable. You may think it's cute for Samuel to hug you every time he sees you, but when would that change? When he's 10 or 17 or 29? Eventually, it's no longer cute, but rather strange. So, let's just all play by the rules and keep our personal space, personal.
Both of our boys are over the age of 4, so think about a "typical" 4 year old and respond appropriately. You wouldn't force yourself into their space, nor would you expect them to be excited about hugging you. Please, help us, help our boys by maintaining these boundaries.
I hope this seems reasonable to everyone and that I did a decent job of explaining why this is necessary. If you have questions, please ask! Is there something you've been wondering how we'll handle when the boys come home? ASK! You'll keep me thinking and I'd love to answer your questions.
I want to say, again, "We've never done this before." We really don't know what to expect, but are trying to be as prepared as possible. Please keep praying. Pray that God will give us wisdom to handle each situation as it arises. Pray that our boys hearts are being prepared for transition into our family. Pray that peace will reign in our home and that we will lean into Jesus on the hard days ahead. There will be hard days. You don't add two new members to a family, without some bumps in the road. Please, pray!
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Hidden in Christ,