Staying home and sticking together are like peas and carrots. Staying home helps teach your newly adopted ones that home is their safe place and that they belong there. Sticking together teaches your newly adopted kiddos that
you as their parents are their safe people
Adopted children, especially those from the orphanage culture, have learned that people come and go. In Pearl’s situation, she had seen lots of women among the worker pool and with mission groups come and go, come and go, come and go. I did not realize this until later, but it was difficult for Pearl to trust me at first because to her I looked like someone else who would come for a time and then go.
, and we did the sticking together part fairly well. Though we didn’t stay home as much as we should have, we kept Pearl with us at all times. We were at church three days after coming home from Africa, but we didn’t do nursery for several months. When we did do nursery, we alternated weeks so that either her daddy or I stayed with her. When we started the transition to daycare almost five months after coming home, I took her for a few minutes building up to a few hours the weeks prior. I used an Ergo carrier constantly to keep her close to me as well, and that close proximity communicated safety and security to my new girl.
Want to know what we did wrong? We let too many people hold her. When we landed in our home city, after 30+ hours of international travel and nearly two years of an immensely trying adoption process, all we felt was overwhelming relief that it was all over and we were truly, finally, all together home. I was much too eager to share my beautiful princess, and now wince at the memories of thrusting her in the arms of people who had been our biggest cheerleaders. I wanted them to get to hold and squeeze her, to feel her in their arms and to feel how God had answered so many of our specific prayers together for and about her.
Once again, I made the mistake of leaving out the feelings and needs of the very most important person: Pearl. To us, these people were friends.
More than friends
, after all they’d been through with us. To her, though, they were strangers, and through our desire to share her we made the mistake of teaching her that all people (including strangers) are safe. This led to Pearl being friendly, too friendly, with strangers/acquaintances/friends. It led to her reaching an arm out to grab for a stranger at the grocery store, even when she was in the carrier. It led to her being very free with her eye contact and smiles, when her parents and sister were the only people she should have shared those with in those early days.
Once we started seeing these red flags, we were able to undo the damage by spending more time staying home and sticking together. Just avoid all that drama, though, by learning from our missteps.
When you get home, stick close.