“No matter how wonderful international adoption is for a parent, it is a surreal and stressful experience for the child.”
~ Patty Cogen ”Parenting Your Internationally Adopted Child”
When I talk to people about the transition period after Giselle comes home, I get varying responses to our plans. Anywhere from shock, to skepticism and even comments like, “I never thought about the transition from the child’s perspective”.
And that is what so much of my research in the last year or so has been about…seeing this new thing from my child’s perspective. Of course from our perspective, this adoption has been a long and hard, but exciting journey. We have waited, then fought; waited and prayed; waited and gone to visit; waited and kissed her photo and prayed and prayed. We have attached to this little person on many levels. In our hearts, Giselle is truly our daughter.
Yet, we don’t really know her. I know a few things about her. I know that she loves to cuddle and be held. That she likes books, listening to music. She enjoys her baths and I know that when she cries, she cries with all her heart, soul and body. But these things tell me nothing of her reactions to many other parts of her life up until now. I don’t know what kind of strategies she has learned to survive her circumstances. What does she do when she’s hungry but it isn’t time to eat? Does she try to hoard food for later, or does she share? What does she do to self sooth? What does she do when she is faced with situations she doesn’t feel comfortable in – will she shut down? Go to sleep, become charming, or get angry? How does she play with the other children?
Giselle hasn’t had the luxury of knowing what is going to happen to her. She doesn’t get to stare longingly at our photo every day just wishing to come home to this amazing–looking family. She doesn’t spend her days in the little swing just dreaming of the moment I come through those orphanage doors to whisk her away to a fairly-tale land of happy family memories, kisses and hugs! She is just is just living her life – some days I’m sure she is happy, other days are very hard. She is doing life the only way she knows it ~ and it’s all about to change drastically!
Of course, we know it will be for her best in the long run. We know that she will be a happier, healthier person for being plugged into a family who will be there for her for the rest of her life. But it certainly won’t seem that way to her for the first while.
And this is why we are choosing to cocoon after she comes home.
What is cocooning? More on this tomorrow…
Denise and her husband are blessed to be the parents of one son by birth, one daughter by adoption (USA – at birth), and a Haitian daughter they are anxiously waiting to bring home. Denise is a regular contributor at Adoption Magazine and blogs at Pressing In.