There are going to be some BIG changes for our little guy.
A week from now we'll be getting acquainted with our new son (How awesome is that?!) At the same time we are saying hello to him, he will be saying goodbye. A new life for all of us begins.
When I think about that day it's mixed with both longing and excitement, as well as some sadness for my little boy. No parent wants to see their child hurting, or afraid. It makes me ache just thinking about it. In a matter of just a few minutes his life will change drastically.
This time he will have the love and comfort of a Mommy and Daddy to help him through grief and transition, but it will still be hard. Our love may be of little value to him in the beginning.
He has very little concept of all that he is gaining through his adoption into a family, but he will be keenly aware of what he is losing...anything he has known.
His world that he has known for 6 years will change. He will be joined to two people who he has seen in pictures, whom he calls "mama" and "baba"... but who are essentially strangers who speak a strange language, and who do everything different than he is used to.
We will be with him in China for nearly two weeks. That will give us some time to form the beginnings of a bond with him...just Mama, Baba and Elijah. Judging by our itinerary it will also be a busy, hectic, travelling around doing touristy stuff, time. I don't know yet if keeping busy will be a good distraction from his loneliness and will be great fun.. or if it will just be overwhelming for him and us. I guess we'll find out. I suspect it will be exhausting either way...physically and emotionally.
Coming home will be amazing and victorious...as well as the accumulation of two weeks of exhaustion, travel, and jet lag. I should probably apologize to any friends and family who show up at the airport now...I quite possibly will be in an emotional zombie-like state and entirely focused on reuniting with my kids, introducing them to their brother, and possibly comforting an exhausting overwhelmed little boy. If I don't get a chance to greet you...I'm sorry, please know that I do very much appreciate you celebrating with us and I ask for your grace.
Then begins our new life.
Our little boy will need to learn what a forever family is, and that we won't leave him. After 7 major care-giver/ location changes (that we are aware of) in his 6 yr long life.... permanency is a completely foreign concept. It could take years of trust building for him to feel that security.
Building a secure attachment will take some major effort. It will be the focus of most everything we do with him in the months and years to come. He will naturally have some insecure attachment issues, quite possibly even an "attachment disorder" resulting from his past traumas, neglect, and caregiver losses. That can be a major challenge. Of course I'm praying that he will accept our love, and feel secure in that right away ...but that would be nothing short of a miracle.
In order to help him through the things he will need to work through and heal, we will need to parent him differently than we do our biological kids or well attached adopted daughter. There are things that we do as parents that may seem entirely counter-intuitive, backwards, or strange to casual observers...but after much reading, studying, and seeking out the advice of parents who are parenting children with attachment disorders, or pasts that contain trauma we know this will take some effort, and the parenting techniques used may seem odd. I know we will be learning as we go.
I'm not sure how much "cocooning" we will do (the term used for basically hermitting the family for the first little while, to provide a foundation of routine, familiarity, and an understanding of who belongs in the immediate family unit). Our life is pretty slow paced, and home based anyhow so our coming and going might not change all that much. I suspect we'll carrying on with life as usual within a week or so of our return home (we'll play that by ear). I think we'll go raving mad if we're cooped up at home too long.
The important thing is for him to understand who his primary caregivers are...that we are his parents, through the good, bad and ugly. For a kid who has had multiple different foster parents and orphanage 'caregivers' this can be harder concept to grasp than one might think.
Building security is our first priority, that will include not leaving him anywhere (babysitter, family, church class, camp, school) for a little while (or as long as necessary) , he will be our Velcro child, where we go he will go too.
While we will be pushing him forwards physically and advocating for him to get the medical care and physical therapy he needs...it may look like we are "babying him" in other areas as we seek to fill in some gaps and meet his emotional needs.
We will be teaching him one day at a time that we will consistently meet his needs, that he won't go hungry, that we won't forget about him, that we won't leave without him, and that we won't hurt him.
One way that our friends and family can help us with that nurturing is to allow us to be the only ones to take care of any of his physical needs and emotional comfort. As much as I know so many people are waiting to love on our boy...and as much as we LOVE that...we need to establish that trust with him first before we widen our caregiver circle too much. Of course we welcome your love, prayers and support in so many other practical ways as we figure out our new "normal".
Thankyou to everyone, all our family, friends, church, and even a few strangers, who have helped to bring our son home...and prayed for us along the way. This child is such a blessing, and we are so thankful that the Lord has brought him to us.
Please keep Elijah in your prayers this week, that the Holy Spirit would prepare his heart for the upcoming change and for the courage to risk loving again. Also for safety next weekend as he travels about 8 hours on some treacherous mountain highways to come meet us in Guiyang.
Thankyou so much for standing, and kneeling, with us....and for your patience and grace with our family as we navigate all the changes ahead.