1. it is hard work
2. it is tiring work
3. it is extremely humbling
4. it is sin revealing (!)
5. it is worthwhile
6. it is SO REWARDING!
I have not blogged much about our "attachment plan" or what steps we have taken to make sure that Jeb is bonding and adjusting well. As we read/researched before he came home we found that there was not much (relatively) written as compared to information for toddler/ older child adoption. We implemented a few "strategies" that seem to be paying off/ working.
I think the biggest one of these is that we committed that no one except Chase and I would feed/bathe/diaper Jeb for an indefinite period of time. We want him to know that we are his mom and dad. We meet his needs. Maddie has given him the occasional bottle (maybe 4-5 since we have been home in the last 7 weeks). I honestly think this is one of the most important steps we have taken and we are seeing the results in a sweet boy who now prefers mom and dad to any other adult, who will reach out of someone else's arms for us.
The second thing we have done is not let Jeb "cry it out" to sleep. (A big, huge change for us as compared to when our first two kids were infants). I know there are multiple opinions even in the adoption world about this, but it was a not a difficult decision for our hearts to make. Yes, we believe that Jeb was absolutely loved and loved well at Home of Hope. But the sheer worker to child ratio indicated to us that we needed to parent Jeb differently in this area. When we first came home Jeb was a great sleeper- 12 hours straight- no fussing, no waking up. Well...things they are a changing! I would still call him a good sleeper, but he takes longer to go down and wakes up during the night and earlier. We are actually taking these as positive steps. He is learning to let his needs be known. This momma is tired, but I have a sweet boy who KNOWS who his momma is :)
The third thing has been that we are sticking close to home. I think this has been somewhat difficult for our two bigger kids this summer. Not as many days with friends or at the pool, etc. But honestly, what is more important? That my two kids who have been loved and known a "family" since DAY ONE of their lives have the same "summer" experience they always have, or that Jeb make healthy bonds and attachment that will impact the rest of his life? I did not limit enough those first few weeks home. In hindsight, I think Jeb was a bit overwhelmed. I began to notice that on busy days with lots of errands, or lots of people around, or a restaurant, he would not make eye contact as well by the end of the day. We are getting out a little more these days. We go to church on Sundays (Jeb stays with us) and we try to "do something" with friends, etc once a week. Balancing the needs of all three is not easy, but our big kids are learning a great lesson on being selfless!
All of these things have been great for OUR family. That does not mean that they would work for every family. God is big enough to lead each adoptive family on the right path for them! I just wanted to share, because I wish that I had read more opinions/what worked for other people before we came home! And we realize that all of it, every positive step forward in attachment with Jeb is all grace- all a gift from Him!