January 30, 2009

Attachment Series: Part I What is Attachment and A Letter to Family & Friends

Now that Mike and I are preparing to travel and bring home Moses we want to take the time to educate our family and friends on attachment. Although this may seem extreme and "overly paranoid" to some of you the importance of attachment parenting in adoption is huge. Over the next week I want to do a variety of posts on this topic and we hope that the people who will be in our daily lives will take the time to read this and respect our attachment parenting style!

What is attachment?

First Year Bonding Cycle (www.a4everfamily.org)

During the first year of life, baby's focus is on one goal: getting his needs met. The bonding cycle begins in utero and continues during infancy when the child experiences unpleasant sensations such as hunger, pain, discomfort, or tiredness. He expresses this feeling by whimpering, crying or raging. When his diaper is changed or he is given a bottle, the need is met, leading him to feel satisfied, creating a sense of trust. During the first year of life, this cycle of discomfort-need-gratification-trust, is created over and over again in a dance between mother and baby. Through this process the child understands that he is safe and loved.

The cycle is disrupted by separation from the birth mother. The situation can be compounded by additional disruptions including hospitalization, foster care, or institutionalization. When the child's needs are not met or the caregivers are inconsistent, the child learns that the world is not safe. He believes that in order to survive, he must take care of himself, controlling everyone and everything in his little world.

A Letter to our family & friends
(adapted from www.a4everfamily.org)

Dear Family and Friends,

As we prepare for the arrival of our son, we have learned that while decorating the nursery and stocking up on baby essentials is important, even more important is the emotional health of our baby. In his short life, our son will have gone through more changes and life altering experiences than most adults could handle. Imagine how much harder the changes will be for him. While he may not consciously remember the events, he will still experience immense loss, including feelings of grief and trauma. He's already experienced the loss of a birthmother and will soon experience the loss of familiar and comforting caretakers as well as the sights, smells, and language of his birth country. His world will turn upside down. He will struggle with feeling safe and secure and he may lack the ability to trust that we will meet his needs. Research shows that there is only a short window in a child's life to effectively build a solid attachment relationship. Therefore, this subject is extremely important to Mike and I.

We have prepared to meet his emotional needs so that he does learn that we will always take care of him and we will always keep him safe. We need your support. In order to form a strong and healthy attachment we will allow him to regress so that he has the opportunity to go through all of the emotional stages with us despite his chronological age (I'll explain this more later!). Although it may appear that we are spoiling him, we have been advised that it is best that we meet every need quickly and consistently. Until he has learned that we are his parents, we will need to be his primary caretakers at all times. It is essential that we always hold him, feed him, and do all of the nurturing. You may wonder how long this will take, but the timeline is different for every child. We will follow his lead and trust our instincts as his parents rather than worry about what society expects. Please wait for our cue to hold Moses.

I know we have all been waiting anxiously for Moses to arrive but the truth is, he has not been waiting for us. He has no idea just how drastically his world is going to change in a matter of weeks. He may show his grief and confusion in many ways or he may simply smile and be the happiest baby ever, but this doesn't mean that he is not grieving and we can suddenly pass him around the room. We are prepared to help him through his grief and prove that we are his forever family and this truly is his last stop. If too many people hold him in the first few weeks that he is home Moses will merely see Mike and I as his new caretakers and will start to internally wait for the day that we will leave too. If you think this might be too extreme, find an adult adoptee and ask them if they have any attachment issues, trust issues, or abandoment issues. You might be surprised what you hear.

All Mike and I are doing are trying to give the best to our child and we believe that attachment is fundamental to a child's sense of self and their overall security as they grow up. I know it won't be easy as you have all been waiting so long to meet him, but we hope and pray that you will support us in this next step of our journey. Of course, this doesn't mean that we don't want to see you at all when we come home... it just means that you need to phone first and not expect to hold him right away!
Thank you for taking the time to read this letter and for all your support and understanding.


Emily & Mike

January 25, 2009

Happy 5 months Mosey!

I can't believe Moses is turning 5 months tomorrow. I am dying to get an update on him. I want to know if he can roll over, or sit up, or if he has any teeth..... our caseworker should be getting back from Ethiopia sometime soon..... I hope this update is detailed!

In other news, Mike and I spent the weekend working... I painted the bathroom, and we together built the crib. This was an interesting experience. My husband is a journeymen and likes to treat me like his apprentice. Let's just say it can get interesting!!! Anyways, I will post pictures of the room soon. It doesn't look like much right now because they messed up the order and the mattress never came or the dresser. But I do love the crib and seeing it in his room feels much more real.

Even though we got a few big projects done this weekend I still feel stressed. It seems like the moment I check one thing off my to-do list I think of another five. I'm thinking that I may need to take a personal day from work to get things done. We still need to finish the closet organizer, paint the base boards, build the dresser, wash the clothes, talk to a travel agent, etc. etc. One thing that does feel good when you are insanely busy, is ordering things online. I HATE shopping so ordering in things that I need and picking it up at the post office is so satisfying. Last week I picked up some more stuff for our cloth diaper stash, an ergo carrier, and I just ordered a stroller thanks to my dad!

I keep telling myself that all Mosey really needs is us and formula and he will be just fine. But I would really like our house to at least look clean and be child-safe. In other words, we still have a lot of work to do.

By the way, does anyone know when I am supposed to apply for parental leave? I have issues with government websites and I can't seem to find this out.

January 20, 2009

History, Hope, and Baby Steps!

Don't you just feel like you could have this family over for dinner? I would love to hang out with them!

Today history was made. I am so happy to have witnessed this event. I can't wait to tell Moses about what this day means and how only 70 years ago things were very different.

I keep thinking about the book To Kill a Mockingbird today. I think it may just be my favourite novel of all time. Today feels like we have made more than a "baby step". Real change is happening.

"I was sittin' there on the porch last night, waiting. I waited and waited to see you all come down the sidewalk, and as I waited I thought, Atticus Finch won't win, he can't win, but he's the only man in these parts who can keep a jury out so long in a case like that. And I thought to myself, well, we're making a step-it's just a baby-step, but it's a step."
- Mrs. Maudie in To Kill a Mockingbird

January 15, 2009

Passport: check

Woohoo!!! I got the email today with a copy of Moses' passport in it!!!! So exciting.

Except when I opened it up I started freaking out at work because I swore it wasn't him. He looked SO different. We haven't seen a photo since the first week of december and he has really changed. Plus, he has either lost all of his hair or had his head shaved! I actually had to pull up his old picture and hold it next to this new one to prove to myself that it really was him. I wish we had our January update but my CW is going to Ethiopia tomorrow and she said the update won't be done until she gets back in a couple of weeks. But, she is going to try and take extra pictures of him with the care package she is delivering for us. So I can't really complain. Especially since other agencies don't even do monthly photos!

So... for people wondering. This now means that all of our documents are being couriered today to Nairobi so that we can get the visa necessary to bring Moses home. The last step. Wow. The last batch of PRV's came in 10 business days!!!!

I'm now officially in panic mode. We have so much to do. Our bathroom is finally finished being tiled (thanks Ken!) and now we have to clean out the baby's room. Here's a little picture of why I'm feeling stressed right now.

To top my day off, I received a beautiful gift in the mail from my friend shar. I had seen this adoption baby book online a long time ago and wanted to order it but never did. It is AMAZING. I highly recommend it. The wording is perfect.... "Your first birthday with us"...."Coming Home"... "The Match"..... "Our very first meeting"....."Your trip home".... I LOVE IT! Thanks shar.

January 13, 2009

LONO: check

We received a copy of our "Letter of No Objection" today from the B.C. government. So we now know that the B.C. government does not object to mike and I adopting. Yeah! We actually knew this a year ago after we passed our homestudy but our agency waits till after court to issue the letter.

We are still waiting on the passport. Once that happens (still hoping for this week) we will wait for visa. This could take anywhere from 2-8 weeks..... but lately it has been fast. I can't believe we could be traveling so soon. In some ways things are feeling more real (I've started having nightmares of leaving Moses unattended because I forget I have a baby) and in other ways I feel ultra calm. Almost like I don't really believe it yet. I could be holding him very soon? Really? Really?

We still have tons of things to do to get ready. We just finished tiling our bathroom so now we can remove all the tiling material and the toilet out of the babies room. There is lots to be done! Clothes to be washed, diapers to be washed, and many more things to buy.

January 11, 2009

Ethiopia's new and very repressive law

...that will hurt millions.

I don't understand the full scope of the politics in Ethiopia but this new law sounds politically motivated and also like a very very horrible idea. I can't understand why parliament would pass something like this. Months ago it was only a draft but on January 6th this new law was passed. This new law is going to stop essentially all foreign aid and make almost all NGOs illegal in Ethiopia.

Read more about the human rights that are being violated at Amnesty International:


and the Human Rights Watch website:


I'm so scared and saddened to think what this is going to mean for Ethiopia. I don't even know if this means we will be able to meet our sponsor child in Ethiopia anymore. If the law is enforced it is making all foreign aid a criminal activity!!! I am in shock. I pray that something can be done to stop this. But Ethiopia has just sentenced an opposition leader to life in prison and things don't look so good right now.

January 9, 2009

Birth Certificate and Court Documents: complete!

Well, we've crossed two more things off our list before we can travel. Now we wait on the "letter of no objection" (from the province of B.C.) and his passport. That should happen this week. When that is done we wait for our visa. I still can't believe we're that close to waiting for the visa to bring Moses home.

I got so emotional looking at his birth certificate and court docs today. There was a tiny little picture of him stapled to the birth certificate and we had never seen the picture before. He had on a cute shirt with a ruffle on it!

Seeing his name, Samuel Michael Krabbendam (it is tradition in Ethiopia to take the father's name and put it as the middle name) was so crazy. And then seeing Emily and Michael listed as mother and father!!!! eeek!!!

His court documents refer to him as a "her" and "she". But my caseworker has told me that this is a standard form and they don't usually proof-read it for mistakes. She has also assured me that our son is a son and not a her/she. Few!

Reading the final declaration of the court though is a very sobering thing. It is sad to read about the poor economic situation in Ethiopia that is affecting his young life in such a huge way and that "since there are no other possibilities to raise the child" he will be placed for adoption......and many many other statements that really make the whole adoption process real.

Of course, we are so happy to be adopting him. But it truly is sad to think that his birth mom is unable to. All I know is there probably will never be a day that goes by where I don't think of her. Mike and I are going to do our very best to honour her in a meaningful way with Moses each and every year.

Anyone out there have a "birth mom day" or any other ideas for how we can acknowledge her in our lives? Obviously, we will talk about her and Mosey's adoption whenever it comes up, but I want to do something special each year for her as well.

January 7, 2009

adoption = more waiting?

I am realizing more and more just how fortunate we are that we passed court. I honestly still can't believe it. I'm extremely excited but I also feel so sad that Leah, and Dianne (pictured below) didn't pass and now have to wait till February 12th for their third court date. Jenny fortunately did pass but we both feel like it is very bittersweet when we see our friends so devastated. There were several other families that week that did not pass court and have to wait for another hearing as well.

Then this week our agency sent out an email about how they are learning that Ethiopia is requiring more paperwork and possibly more court dates before people will pass. Basically, that you should expect longer than 1-3 months to get through court.
All of this is done for the right reasons though: to make sure that each adoption is legal and legitimate. And to ensure especially that all family members are unable to care for the child. including the birth father. The people of Ethiopia run a very ethical adoption program and for that all of us are glad. In fact, we wouldn't be a part of it if it wasn't.

But it doesn't make waiting for your child to come home any easier. It is a very long wait.

And as I rejoice that I could be traveling hopefully sometime in February (if visas continue to come in quickly) I am also sad that other families who received their referrals months before us..... are still waiting.

Wherever you are in your adoption process.... obsessively waiting to start the process and reading millions of blogs...... longingly waiting for the phone to ring for your referral.... waiting to get through court.... or waiting for visa.... my prayers are with you.