Monday, April 23, 2007

6 Months Since DTV!

I read the following on an Ethiopia adoption blog, I think we can all identify to some degree.

10 Not so graceful ways to survive the adoption wait:

1.) Put your social worker's phone number on speed dial. Call her every week without fail during the entire process, even when she warns you the wait will still be months. Email her for reassurance on all 'difficult' waiting days, such as those containing the letter S. After all, if she hears from you often, she won't 'forget' about you.

2.) Sign up on every email list that is remotely applicable to your situation. Check for new email at least once per hour all day long. Post on each group at least 3 times a day. For the most pressing questions, use all caps.

3.) Ask often if anyone has news about the next step in your process, whether it be referrals or court dates or travel dates. Complain bitterly if anyone for any reason seems to get 'ahead' of you in the process.

4.) Collect waiting information on every family you have contact with. Use this data to spend hours each day making elaborate time lines, guesstimating:
a. best case scenario
b. most likely scenario, and
c. longest likely wait for each step of the process.

5.) Get very bent out of shape if any stage of your process exceeds the 'best case scenario' timeline. After all, your adoption is special.

6.) Google all Ethiopian holidays, mark them on your calendar and worry about how these holidays might slow your process down. Save your angriest thoughts for judges who take days to get back to court after the Ethiopian New Year. After all, we are Americans. We should not have to wait on Ethiopian holidays.

7.) When you finally get your referral, print out dozens of pictures of your child and give them to anyone and everyone, including that nice checker at the grocery store. Then when you see anyone, talk about nothing but every nuance of your adoption.

8.) Ask every traveling family to get pictures of your child, specifying preferred poses and outfits to be worn. Mark their 'return-home' dates on your calendar so that you can email them demanding news within 5 minutes of their scheduled homecoming.

9.) Leap out of the bushes at your mail carrier every day, desperately hoping he/she is bearing news from your agency. Consider installing an alarm that rings indoors when your mailbox is opened in the unlikely chance that the mail carrier arrives while you are in the restroom.

10.) Go into a depression at the end of every week, because the arrival of Friday means another weekend to survive till Monday when you can once again hover near the phone/computer/mailbox waiting for news.

Doing all these things without fail will ensure that your adoption will feel like the slowest adoption in history.

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Bonding and Attachment


Attachment is the trusting bond that first develops between a mother and child, beginning in infancy. Healthy attachment is formed through repetition of the cycle of needs being expressed and then met. A baby is hungry so she cries. The mother hears the cries, and she immediately responds. The baby is fed while the mother actively works to soothe the baby's agitated state. As the cycle is repeated and reinforced thousands of times, the baby learns to trust that her needs will be met and that the world is a safe and good place. If this cycle is not regularly completed, it can have devastating implications for the emotional health of the baby.

Having a primary emotional bond with an attuned caregiver who predictably meets a baby's emotional needs is foundational for healthy psychic development and the ability to form healthy relationships with others. The ability to process and regulate one's own emotional state effectively, to delay gratification, to problem solve, to have empathy for others, are all critical for a healthy and secure sense of self. These are skills that are developed through the formation of healthy attachment.

In early developmental stages, an agitated or hyperaroused baby must be soothed by her primary caregiver in order to feel calm, safe and secure. The baby actually experiences her own emotional state as an extension of her caregiver. If her emotional needs are consistently met, over time the baby is able to take on some of this emotional regulation herself. Throughout early childhood, skills of self awareness and self regulation are reinforced. From there the child is able to begin to process the emotions of others, to develop a sense of empathy and to form healthy relationships beyond the primary one. These are lessons with clear and lifelong repercussions.

On the other hand, lack of healthy attachment can have devastating emotional repercussions. During the heightened state of arousal that occurs when a baby's cries are not answered, she grows increasingly frustrated, distressed, angry, or hopeless. When her needs are not met, or met unpredictably, the baby does not develop trust. She might shut down emotionally and remain stuck at this stage of emotional development. Stunted emotional development can also negatively affect cognitive development.

If the child moves forward developmentally with unresolved attachment issues, she may develop pervasive feelings of isolation, anger, lack of self worth, or shame. She may have a deeply internalized sense that the world is not a safe place and that she can't fully trust anyone. She may be noticeably emotionally immature, have difficulties with social relationships, suffer from low self-esteem, or develop an inordinate need for control.

We have spent hours researching bonding and attachment, we invite friends and family to learn more on the topic. There is a link to A 4 ever family on the right of the blog. It is a valuable resource, and offers a great overview of the importance of healthy attachment.
Please assist us, by educating yourselves on attachment parenting. Gavin & I feel that the key to raising healthy, well adjusted children takes more than just love. We believe that education, and understanding of the issues that our children may/will have can only benefit us as a family. Hopefully after reading more on the topic, friends and family will feel more comfortable in assisting us in the way that we plan to raise our children.

Mom Shares-A Must Read!
Monday, 02 April 2007

Short Circuits;
An Adoptive Mom's Exploration
Of the Neurological Impact
Of Trauma, Neglect, and Sensory Deprivation

One cold early Spring morning a beautiful, healthy baby girl, 3 days old, wakes up to find herself alone on a deserted street, hungry and cold. Her mother does not answer her cries, and in fact no one responds for hours. The baby, increasingly agitated and distressed, screams with primal urgency. Eventually a stranger happens by, picks up the crying baby and delivers her to the police station. Through several more intermediaries, the baby is eventually delivered to the local social welfare institute.

Examined by a doctor and then wrapped in blankets and fed a bottle, she is deposited into a crib and left alone for much of the rest of the day. That night, no one comes to answer her frantic cries. More days go by, more cries unanswered. Feeding and diapering are administered on a rigid schedule, since the caregivers have so many babies to attend to, and there is minimal opportunity to be held, carried, or spoken to. Stimulation is limited to what the baby can see, hear and feel from her crib. Feedings are piping hot bottles of formula, propped for maximum efficiency, delivered through extra large holes in the nipple. Occasionally the baby's mouth loses its place on the nipple and the entire contents of the bottle pours onto her body. When that happens she misses her feeding, and her wet clothes aren't changed for another hour or more.

Eventually the baby stops crying altogether because she has learned that crying rarely draws anyone to her. She is often lonely and scared, especially at night. The sounds of other babies crying and in distress cause her great anxiety, which she learns to tolerate by shutting down and withdrawing deeper inside herself in an attempt to protect herself from the constant stressors in her environment.

One day many months later, the baby is bundled up and brought by bus to a city several hours away. She is handed to a stranger with just the clothes on her back and one bottle of prepared formula. Otherwise, everything of her old life has vanished in an instant. The stranger brings her to a hotel across town, where she is changed into new, peculiar smelling clothes. The stranger shakes a brightly colored rattle in her face. The baby's environment has gone from one of minimal stimulation to one of hyper stimulation; new sounds, new smells, new sights, new sensations, delivered in rapid fire sequence. The stranger tries to feed her a Cheerio, but the baby reflexively gags because she's never had solid food in her mouth. The stranger tries to bathe her in the sink but the sensation is unfamiliar and terrifying. The stressed baby, overwhelmed, sinks deeper and deeper into a state of shock and withdrawal.

And they lived happily ever after.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

I'm Tired

I'm Tired, so very tired. I accepted a permanent NIGHT position at work, 10:30pm to 6:30am. Foolishly I believed that the nights position would make my time go faster, like how I am at work late on monday, all of a sudden it's tuesday get it?.Yeah I was WRONG, in fact the very opposite is happening. For example, I go to work on monday night, most hours are after midnight so really it's tuesday, work tuesday, home tuesday, sleep, get up(yep still tuesday) go back to work late tuesday...& on & on it goes(like this sentence).
In positive night shift news, I should be home when/if I ever receive the referral call from the agency. This was important to me, I wanted to be the one to tell Gavin the good news. Also, by the time we travel to Vietnam I should be on Vietnam time! & so I should be wide awake when everyone else is very sleepy.
In other adoption news, I've got NOTHING. Agency rep is in Vietnam now, hopefully we will hear of some progress in the coming weeks. Gavin & I were talking the other day about the wait, I think he is shocked at how well I've been handling the wait. For some reason I've been at a sense of peace lately. Hopefully that continues & good news is heard soon. I hope that May brings good news to everyone waiting for something, whether it's homestudy completetion,a referral, travel news,...
If I don't post for awhile, don't worry I'm just sleeping.

Sunday, April 01, 2007


Last weekend Gavin & his sister Megan painted the mural for the nursery. It turned out great, I love it. I am so impressed with the finished product & can't wait to bring the baby home. Thanks for helping us Megan, the baby is so lucky to have such a great aunt!