Very soon we’ll be bringing Benjamin Lilu home and starting the process of becoming a new and larger family. This is an exciting and scary time for us – and will probably be especially frightening for Benjamin. In his short life, he’s gone through more changes and life-altering experiences than most adults could handle. He’s experienced the loss of a birth mother, experienced the loss of his second “home” in the midst of a health crisis, and will soon experience the loss of familiar caretakers, and the sights, sounds, smells, and language of his birth country. His entire world will be turned upside down; he will be disoriented and confused. He will have no reason to trust us – no way to know that we are safe, that he is secure in our care, and that we will meet his needs.
This process of learning to trust us, to bond and attach with our
family, may take weeks, months, or years. We expect it to get easier
over time, but things are going to be a little strange at first and we
ask that you please understand and support our attachment plan. It is not
our intention to shut anyone out of our lives or offend any friends in
this process. But Benjamin will need us to have certain boundaries in
place to develop a strong and healthy attachment to us.
It will help immensely if adults limit what is typically considered
normal physical contact with our son. For awhile, this includes
things like holding, excessive hugging, and kissing. Children from
orphanages are prone to “attach” to anyone and everyone – which disrupts
his ability to attach to us. Waving, blowing kisses, or high fives are
perfectly appropriate and welcome! We want Benjamin to know our family
and friends – and interact with them!
Benjamin had a mother care for him for several months, and then relied
on a stream of different adults for almost 6 years to meet his needs.
He’s learned to
compete for the attention of every adult for basic things like food,
clothing, comfort… Charming any available adult becomes a survival
technique. While it works in an orphanage, it’s dangerous in our
world. It’s not safe for Benjamin to ask random strangers for a hug; in
order to learn healthy, appropriate boundaries, he needs to begin by
learning that we are the two people responsible for meeting his needs.
For a time, we will be the only ones to give him food, water, comfort
him, take him to the restroom and so on. If he asks you for something –
please ask us. For awhile it may look like we’re spoiling him – but he
needs to understand what role we play in his life and he needs to know
we are dependable and constant.
Also understand that our very busy, very active family – will be
dramatically limiting our activities and events for awhile. Local
friends – you probably won’t see us at every field trip, every club
meeting, every birthday party – at least for a little bit. Large or
small gatherings, parties, events will not be a
priority in the beginning – but it’s not permanent, and it’s not
personal. At this point, we don’t know entirely what degree of medical
treatment and therapy we may be facing with him, too. We will be tired,
busy tending to him and learning about him, forming emotional bonds,
and getting through our days one day at a time. We are eager to
introduce him to everybody – but it may not be for a little while. With one exception! If you would like to be part of our welcoming committee at the airport, we would LOVE to see you!
The lives of each member of our family will be topsy-turvy for
awhile, and we ask for your understanding as we navigate this new
world. We are obviously far from experts in this, but doing what we
believe to be best for Benjamin. We look forward to introducing him in
person to so many of our friends and family, and hope you understand why
some of our parenting decisions will look as they do with him.
Here’s an interesting analogy of what adoption looks like to an internationally adopted child:
And another great illustration of what adopted children go through: