Below is a letter based on a template from our agency for us to share with family and friends regarding the needed transition for our family after George  (yes, I used his name!) comes home.  Knowing what happens with mail or e-mail for us – we thought posting it here might be the most useful 🙂  If you have any questions – please message or call us – we’d be happy to discuss!  I know it’s a lot longer than our usual update – but we hope you’ll take the time to read and understand, and ask any questions you might have.

Dear Family and Friends,

As we get ready to embark on one of the most exciting events in our lives, we are thinking a lot about the people around us and how much our lives are going to change. Family and friends have always been important to us. We are so fortunate to have such loving, involved family and friends. We appreciate the support and excitement that you have all shown to us as we have made this journey. We’re thrilled about bringing George home! We’ve done a lot of reading, research, and asked a lot of other adoptive parents about this process, and we feel prepared to help him become a well-adapted member of our family.

There are some things about adoptive parenting that are the same as parenting a biological child. There are also quite a few areas that we have learned are different. Through our adoption agency, Bethany Christian Services, books, other adoptive parents, adoption social workers and more, we have learned that George needs a specific type of environment and parenting when he first comes home in order to feel safe and secure and to learn how to live successfully in our family.

While we know that every child is different, we also understand that there are many possible things that will impact our child’s beliefs and behavior when he gets home. These include his health and some of the health issues and examinations he will have on arrival, changes in diet and types, amounts, and schedule of food available, and the shift from living in a group home environment to being part of a family. The result of these things can include behavioral issues, emotional disorders, and a sense of grief and loss from being separated from the only home and caregivers our son has ever known.

Adoption is a traumatic and scary event for any age child whether they are newborn or 10 years old. They’re being removed from all of their routines and familiar surroundings. In order to help George feel safe and learn that we are his parents, we are creating the type of environment that will help promote security during this stressful time.

When George gets home, at the recommendation of experienced adoption professionals, we need to implement specific parenting approaches to help encourage a strong, attached, emotionally healthy family member. He needs to learn that we’re the parents.  He needs to feel nurtured and safe. He will not be used to having parents to love and care for him.

Here are some things we will be doing for our child based on research and experience with other adopted children. We’ll be living a very quiet life with limited trips out and few visitors in for a little while. Social workers and psychologists tell us that when children are first adopted, they may be overwhelmed, scared, and nervous. By keeping our lives very simple at first, we’ll be helping George feel safe. This does not mean that we do not want visitors coming to see our new family member for the first time. We will just have to limit the length of time and amount of people, so it is not overwhelming for him.

We do not want family and friends to stay away from us completely. We just can’t pass our new child around for everyone to hold and play with, and we will have to be mindful of not overloading him with new things and people.

We know you’ll all want to hug, kiss, and help spoil George, but it is recommended that we be the only ones to do that at first to improve his chances of attaching strongly to us. Until we feel he has attached and clearly knows we are his parents, we will need to be the only ones to feed, give him gifts, and meet his needs.  Don’t worry, there will be plenty of time for hugs, gifts and getting treats in the future. High fives and fist bumps are more than ok. =)  

As strange as it may seem, adopted children who act very outgoing and affectionate with strangers is not a healthy thing. It is called “indiscriminate affection” and can mean that they haven’t really attached to anyone. It would not be a good sign that George has attached to us, if during his first months home he will let just anyone take him and hold him or meet his needs without searching for his mom or dad. 

For sure it is going to be a weird and wonderful experience for us. We are so excited and can’t wait to bring George home, so you can all see him and get to know him. Things are just a little different when you are adopting a preschooler rather than having a biological child.  He will be adapting to a lot of new things . . . new parents, new family, new home, new foods, new time zone (totally opposite what he’s used to). That’s a lot to swallow at one time.

We appreciate your understanding in reading this. We’re giving you all this letter, so that you will understand how dedicated and committed we are to helping our new child adjust and adapt during this stressful time in his life.

Thanks so much for your understanding in this incredible journey for our family! We look forward to having you meet George!