As we prepare to leave for China, I’m realizing that I have done little to prepare our friends and family about what to expect when we get home…. Recently, I casually said to one of my best friends that she wouldn’t be able to hold Mei Sims for 6 weeks or so… when she slightly freaked out, I realized I had never mentioned this before…. Oops! So I thought I might take a moment to convey my heart on this subject…
Obviously, bonding with your adopted child looks different than it does with a biological child because she’s already 15 months old and doesn’t know us at all. Mei Sims has faced challenges that God has spared our other children from going through. As part of the adoption process, we had tons of required reading on the issue of attachment and bonding…. Some of which can leave you slightly freaked out if I’m being honest!
Mei Sims has endured trauma in her life by being abandoned by the mother whose heartbeat and voice she knew for 9 months. Since that day, she has lived the first 15 months of her life without consistency from a variety of caretakers. While I am sure they have loved on her, I know there are times she has cried out in hunger and no one has answered where she has fussed over a dirty diaper and no one has changed her… you get the picture and can see how it is vastly different picture than the early lives of my biological children. When my other babies cried as newborns, I ran to meet whatever need they had… so a pattern emerged… they cried and I would take care of them…. over and over which resulted in their attachment to me as their mama. This may sound strange… how can a baby really know? But there are studies about actual connections that are made in your brain as a result of this cycle…
For Mei Sims, this cycle was broken by her birth mother and was repeatedly broken when her cries went unanswered or even when they were answered but by a new stranger…
What does this mean for us? In a sense, we are going to have to “retrain” Mei Sims’ brain…. And convince her that we will meet her needs and we will never leave her. I mentioned in a previous post but we do not expect a happy and excited child on March 5th when we meet her…. We expect a scared little girl whose trust we have to earn…. and whose love we will fight for. We’ve been waiting, praying, preparing (along with all of you) for the arrival of our baby girl…. But she has not been waiting for us and she will need time to adjust.
We don’t know how long it will take for her to attach to us securely… but the reason I’m explaining this to you is because it will affect the way we interact with others for a period of time. We are asking for now that you please not hold her or pick her up. I will have her strapped to me most of the time when I am out in public or picking kids up from school…. It is totally fine to talk to her when you see us out, just try and refrain from touching and loving on her as hard as that may be. I have one friend who is so scared of messing up that she has vowed to not even make eye contact…. I promise we are not going to be that psycho. We just need her to understand the difference between family and strangers…. which is hard for a child who has no concept of a mother or father.
One of the greatest attachment tools is feeding. So for now, we will need to be the ones who give her bottles, meals and snacks. If we are playing at your house and she wants a snack. I ask that you give it to me so that I can give it to her. In a sense, this is replicating what she missed out on as a newborn but it may seem awkward to others because she is older now.
With all that said, we welcome anyone and everyone who wants to, to come to the airport to meet our peanut. We get home on Friday, March 16th at 4:30. If you are dying to see her in person, we ask that you come then because we plan to come home and crash for a while!
I know that we have lost time with Mei Sims…. And some days it grieves my heart to have missed out on so much… but I’m so thankful that I have HOPE in a God who restores. I love the picture in Joel 2:25 where God says “I will restore to you the years the locusts have eaten.” I have confidence that what seemed lost, will be restored in her life…. I know she will flourish into who she was created to be…. And I’m thankful for the front row seat!
I also love the lines from a steven curtis chapman song that say
Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
and we will dance among the ruins
We will see Him with our own eyes
Out of these ashes... beauty will rise
For we know, joy is coming in the morning...
in the morning, beauty will rise
I feel like we are standing on the edge of a cliff about to jump off into the unknown…. Its exciting and terrifying at the same time…so thanks to all of you for being in this with us! I’ll post one more time with some specific prayer requests and then it’ll be off to china! I can hardly believe it! She has no idea what is coming….