Apart from understanding that attachment is important and will not happen immediately, as well as expecting less of your new child, one of the most important things you can do to foster attachment is to stay home.
By the time our plane landed, we had spent nearly six really hard weeks in a foreign country. We loved that place so much, but we were worn slap out from all the inter-governmental drama and from the adoption process itself. We were so glad to be home. Finally. With our whole family together. Happily ever after. The end.
But we live a big life, remember? And The Captain and I were eager to get back to it. We figured we had those six weeks together in Africa and that was enough cocooning for us. We were wrong about that. When we jumped back into the big life with playdates and going out to eat and going to church and going to work and having dinner with friends, we mistakenly communicated to Pearl that she had just joined a family of nomads.
We were selfish, considering only our own needs of getting back to life as usual. We did not consider Pearl's need, even as a 15 month old baby, to have secure ties to her new home. She needed that time of close boundaries to explore and feel safe without having to take in and process too many new things at once. An abundance of new sights, smells, and sounds are overwhelming for anyone...especially for our children coming from different time zones, climates, and cultures.
We thought Pearl would feel safe just because we told her this was her new home.
We failed to
it was her home by spending as much time as possible within our walls, just playing and laughing and being together. We did stay home plenty, and have gobs of fun memories from that time. It just should have been more.
If we could get a do-over, we would stay home. If you are currently in process and eagerly anticipating your own coming-home day, prep now by stocking up on non-perishables. Talk to your church, small group, family, and friends about helping you out with meals when you get home. Prepare your family and closest friends on what to expect and how to support you in this when you return. Work out a deal with a bud or college kid who can help you out by grabbing your grocery list and debit card and picking up what you need so you don't have to leave at all.
Know that you will want to get out. You will want to share your new kid with your world, especially the ones who have cheered you on throughout the immensely difficult journey of adoption. Resist the temptation to do so too quickly.
That timeline, like every other aspect of adopting, is different for every child and every situation. Just be attuned to your kid’s needs and respond to them before you respond to your own desires of escaping or getting back to your very own big life.