Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Once Again, Family and Friends

Dear Family and Friends:

We are so close to having Travel Approval and a departure date to bring home Judah! February is going to be a very busy month for our family because of both of our boys keeping us busy, so we thought we'd post this now while we still have a chance. You might remember a similar post prior to our departure to leave to bring Jordan home almost two years ago. We thought we would write something similar, and ask that you read through it once again to understand how you can help us in the coming weeks and months! 

Regarding our homecoming: 

I know a number of people have asked about meeting Derek and Judah at the airport--something that we were unable to do with Jet because of extra special circumstances--and we would love it if you would join us at the PIA. Please follow along on Judah's Facebook page where I will be posting the flight information as well as daily updates while Derek, his dad, and Judah are in China. We hope you'll follow along for the actual journey, and this time I'll be updating the page here in States so you won't have to stay up late or get up early to check for new posts. In fact, this will be the last post here for awhile so you'll have to rely on Facebook/Instagram for any updates.    

Just like last time, we ask that in the airport you please do not touch or show affection to Judah as well as limit direct eye contact and communication with him. This is even more important this time around since Judah is a bit older than Jordan was when we brought him home, plus he'll have had a lot of new experiences in a very short period of time that could cause him to be overstimulated and scared, in addition to being exhausted from traveling. I know some of you are huggers, and please, feel free to hug anyone you want--just not Judah! If you want to bring balloons, signs, or gifts, please check in with me first so Derek and I can decide if we think it would be too much or okay for Judah. Given that the boys will each be around three years old, there's a good chance that both of them will vaguely remember this day and we want to make sure they remember it as a exciting and fun time and not scary and overwhelming. 

In fact, please also understand that even last minute, we may decide to keep our homecoming quiet and private, pending how Judah is doing. Again, the Facebook page will have that information. 

Please keep reading to find out how you can help us in the coming weeks...

Derek and I (and Jet) are very thankful once again for the love and support you have all show us thus far. We are so excited to become an official family of four, as this process has been much, much longer than our first time around and we know how excited you all are for us as well! We also recognize the changes coming our way, for all four of us, and once again we'd appreciate your help and support in the future to make Judah's transition into our family complete. 

While some of the ways we parent will be the same as parenting biological children, both to siblings and new additions, there will also be some differences. We realize these methods may be unfamiliar to you or even strange, but we ask that you respect our decisions. We've discussed this at length with our social worker, due to the boys' similar ages, and it is not our desire to cause any hurt feelings (because there will be feelings hurt) but we can all agree that we want what's best for both boys--boys who are old enough to recognize changes but not mature enough to properly handle them emotionally. 

Our main priorities are two-fold:
  1. We need Judah to feel safe and secure in his new environment and learn to trust us both as his new parents. 
  2. We need to make sure, especially given the closeness in their age, that Jordan does not feel left out or replaced.
Because of these, again as mentioned, many ways we parent may seem strange to you. One big reason for doing things this way is because Judah will trust us only to an extent to meet his basic physical needs. Please remember, however, that just like a newborn and caregiver are starting from the very beginning, we too are starting at the "beginning" with Judah. Adoption is traumatizing regardless of age. Within a fifteen(ish) day time span, Judah will have left the only home he's ever known, where he shared a room with ten to twenty other children and rarely left the facility's grounds, to meeting his dad, staying in a hotel, lots of appointments, lots of flights and train rides both in country and back to the States, new foods, new smells, new clothes, and a different language. Judah needs to know that we, as his parents, are his constant and will be the ones to meet his needs, whatever they may be.

We are firm believers that attachment begins the minute your son or daughter is handed to you. Even in China, Derek will be the one to see to Judah's needs while Derek's dad will be, as we like to tease him, a glorified baggage handler with no tips. Once they are home, we will be limiting visitors and Judah's interactions with new people and experiences. In fact, for the first few weeks that he's home he won't be leaving the house. If you do plan to help us in any way or visit, as some of you have already volunteered (thank you!) please text or call us first so we can decide how to proceed. After those first few weeks or more if he needs them are up, we will slowly start to introduce him to new experiences and people. For example, we may attempt church on a Sunday, and if that goes well maybe get groceries on Monday. If not, then we'll stay put for a few days and try again when we feel he's ready. There is no timeline or agenda.

Another way things might seem strange to you is that at times, it may seem like we don't discipline the boys. I promise you, that is not and will not be the case. However, unless Judah (or Jordan) is a danger to himself or others, we will not be enforcing typical rules that you may have in place for your kids who have always lived with you and have trusted you since birth. Things that typically we would even call Jordan out on we may let slide for a short while. In Judah's case, he is only just learning how to live in a family--so how can we expect certain behaviors and rules to be obeyed if he's never experienced them before? We also ask that you do not discipline or correct either of our kids (again, unless they are a danger to themselves or others around them) so that we can establish a trust relationship between all four of us with no resentment. If you do see a questionable behavior, please bring it to Derek's or my attention to handle. 

Judah may seem like a friendly, outgoing, affectionate, and extroverted kid. This is very common for kids who are raised in an institution, but in addition, if his file is indeed correct, both he and Jordan have that special extrovert gene. This is why it's especially important for you to please remember that when you do come into contact with Judah, he may ask you for a snack or to be picked up or read to or any number of things, and--here is the hard part--please do not do what he asks and redirect him to us, his parents.

That's right.

Go against everything that you know to be true and right in this world and do not help the cute little boy with dimples. This rule applies to everyone, no matter your relationship to us and/or him. We know what we are asking, and how hard it will be for some of you, but there is no way for us to know what is Judah's personality vs. what could be a display of typical orphanage behavior. Children in orphanages are used to going to an adult, any adult, and asking for what they need. Not only does Judah need to learn who his parents are and more importantly, what parents do, Derek and I also need to learn about and bond with our son as well.

Before Judah accepts anything--food, affection, toys or gifts--from others, he needs to accept them from both of us. If you do have something you wish to give him, we ask that you wait or that you give it to one of us to screen when an appropriate time would be to give it, no matter how small or large the item. Thank you to those of you who have already done so. He has lived with very little to call his own, and the last thing we want is for him to be overwhelmed with toys and gifts. On the other hand, and this might be the only time we'll say this because it goes against everything we've ever said, this would be an excellent time to affirm Jordan and his place in the family should you still feel the need to shower anyone with gifts.

We realize what we are asking, and that it might seem crazy to you. Again, we have no timeline or agenda. Some children can be well-adjusted within a few months and some may take a year or more--regardless of age! However extreme, all we want is to do whatever is best for Judah and Jordan to make sure they both feel secure in their place in our family. If you're not sure about something, just ask us. Derek or I won't be far away from either of them, or easily reachable, so we'll be happy to answer any of your questions. Some things we might relax right away, and others not, but we have no way of knowing until we are reunited and living together as a family of four. It's a gradual process, full of two steps forward and one step back, but our hope is that it will be so gradual that no one will even notice the tiny changes, and that on Judah's timeline, he will be a happy and well-adjusted little boy who knows he has family and friends who love him, just as Jordan is.

By no means are we implying that we are experts on the subject of attachment. I'm pretty positive that there will be times we mess up, but--in addition to everything else we are already asking you--please show us some grace? We'd like to think we've learned a few things from last time, but every child is different, no matter how they join your family and adjustments always need to be made. If you want to read further about our crazy ways, I'm happy to suggest a number of resources that have been written by psychologists, social workers, and adoptive parents.

Thank you all very much for your understanding and help while we get used to our new normal as a family of four!