Dear sweet, sweet friends and family,
I cannot believe we are finally here! In less than a week, Matt and I will be loading into an airplane to go to Korea a second and final time to bring home our sweet boy, Desmond. It has been a rough road to say the least, filled with every emotion possible from utter joy to grief and everything in between. Many of you have been involved in every chapter of the story, and many more of you joined along the way. Know that for every hug, every prayer, every donation, and every word of encouragement, we are forever grateful!
As we prepare to bring home our little guy, we thought it would be helpful to share a glimpse into what our world will look like in the months to come. While we will eventually begin to look and act like a typical family unit, these first few months will look quite different.
When we bring Desi home, you will realize something very quickly. He is gorgeous, and is such a charmer already. His ability to read and impress anybody and everybody is such a joy to see, and from any outsider it will appear very cute and make him seem incredibly well-adjusted. However, to Matt and me, as well as to other adoptive parents, this is something we need to be especially cautious of. You see, there is a term for this called “indiscriminate affection.” It’s a common trait in newly adopted children and babies who have learned that in order to receive love and affection and have their basic needs met, they must appease and earn the attention of the many caregivers who have transitioned in and out of their lives. So when we saw how little he clung to his foster mother and how quickly he gave affection to every person in the adoption agency, it affirmed that this sweet boy learned at a very young age that he had to earn affection from others, and that the hugs and kisses he gave everyone in the agency is actually a sign of anxiety as he is wandering from person to person, unsure of who his primary caretaker may be.
To bring an internationally adopted child home is not just to finish the paperwork and survive the plane trip back. At the sweet age of 18 months, Desi does not know what a mom or dad are. He had a period with a very sweet and caring foster family, but this was after spending quite a bit of time in an orphanage, and after an extended time in a hospital as well. His circle of caregivers has been a revolving door from the start, and so our job now, as his parents, is to teach him what it means to be able to rely on us as his parents, and to assure him that every need he ever has will be met by us. We must be able to promote a deep attachment between the three of us, and only after that attachment has been made will he be able to form lasting and meaningful relationships with grandparents, extended family, and friends. Our ability to make his world very small, controlled, and predictable these next couple of months will really set the tone for a successful transition here in his new home, and his ability to make and maintain relationships in the future.
So with this in mind, how can you help our little family unit become just that? A little family unit? Believe it or not, you have a lot more control over this than you may think. He is beautiful, and precious, and every cell in your body will want to do these things, but we ask that you work hard to refrain as these will actually do much more harm than good during this transitional time:
- Hugging, snuggling, tickling, or holding him or giving too much direct eye contact. Matt and I will be using these to build attachment with Desi us, so this will help him see the relationship he has with his parents as special. This will also help him learn to discern what healthy affections look like within a family, among friends, and between strangers.
- Feeding him, changing him, or meeting any of his most basic needs. It would be so helpful for you to redirect him to us to affirm his needs will be met by his parents.
- Expressing too much excitement or affection. Koreans in our experience are usually much quieter and often more reserved than we are as Americans, so try to be gentle rather than overly excited and he’ll love you!
- Giving him gifts. You are welcome to give anything to us and we will pass it along to him but again, we’re trying to channel needs and affection through his parents and then once his understanding of “family” develops, you’re free to spoil him rotten.
Now for the fun list! These are perfectly okay and we would love to share these moments with you!
- Join us at the Wilmington Airport to meet him on Wednesday, April 12 at 6:20 PM! We can’t wait to show him off, and this will be the perfect opportunity for you to get your fix before we go undercover for a while.
- Many of you have asked if you can bring meals, and this would certainly be a huge blessing! But we will most likely meet you at the front door with a huge hug instead of inviting you in as we usually would. Again, we have to keep his world very small, and the more people he sees coming to the house, and even more so the people he sees leaving and not coming back, the greater his anxieties of how permanent this new living arrangement and these caretakers will be.
- High fives are great! Don’t hold back!
- Got any funny faces to share? Bring them on!
- Snapchat, Facetime, Instagram—stay connected because that may be our only connection to the outside world for a while and therefor my only link to sanity at times.
We cannot wait to share this little guy with the world! We just want to make sure we do so at a pace set by our little man, and not by our selfish desires to just start life as new parents without worry or concern over how well his is adjusting. We thank you so much in advance for your support and for your love during this exciting and transitional stage of our lives. If you want any more information about this transitional period, feel free to let us know and we can send many helpful resources, or you can google “Adoption Cocoon Period” and find plenty of resources there as well.
If you are a member of our family, church, or community group who will be in direct relationship with our little guy, Matt and I beg you to watch the following video and perhaps read the article posted here. Since you have such a special and direct role in our, and therefore Desi’s, lives, a little more insight into the world of an adoptive family will make all the difference in the world as far as how to be in community with families who’s stories are just a little bit different. It’s a little long, but I hope you’ll enjoy!
Thank you and God bless!
Amanda & Matt