Friday, July 31, 2015

Beyond butterflies- What is this "cocooning"?

I love adoption conversations. I love when people feel comfortable enough to approach and ask me questions because they have genuine interest in what is going on in our family, our lives and in our community. It seems like a lot of people know "of" adoption or know someone who was adopted, or has adopted, but the actual internal workings, day to day grind of how someone goes through the process from application to proud parent is a bit of a mind-baffling thing for most of the population. I want to be clear: I love the questions. I love that people can walk away with better insight, and maybe a bit more of an open mind, open heart and understanding. It's fun!
So my favorite thing that always seems to blow people's minds is what is widely known in the adoption community as "cocooning". The question that inevitably starts that conversation is something along the lines of "Oh I bet you can't wait to get him home so you can ______ (have play dates, visit family, church, community events, etc.)"  And yes- absolutely every option is a viable one- I can not WAIT to get my son home and then share him with everyone. We have waited forever! We are so proud, excited, in love! I want to hold him up, a la Rafiki on Pride Rock in the Lion King and shout from the rooftops: This is our son! The one this whole community, state, facebook-web-of-friends-and-beyond has prayed for, messaged me about, loved from afar and held close to their hearts for THREE and a HALF years! 

We are SO excited for those times. Which is why, when I answer that variety of question I get a baffled response when I reply: "After we are done cocooning, I can't wait to take him on adventures!"
What is cocooning? What do you mean?
Well- cocooning is exactly what it sounds like: we will come home, and wrap our newly made family of four into our home like the caterpillar does. Just like a new mother does with her newborn child.

One way to consider it is to always remember: adoption stems from grief and loss. So although we are overjoyed that he is ours to love; we must strive to help him overcome that loss and grief and feel safe and loved. We will be teaching him what family is: what it means and how it works. That's a big job! 

Our son was not afforded the luxury of having every need met instantly and lovingly. Having spent the developmentally formative years in an institution instead of a family, he has learned that adults are caregivers- and this means ANY adult. The nannies at his orphanage are amazingly giving women. They obviously had love for him, and he for them; however, he does not get the concept of being my son and that I am his mother. He may not even get the concept of what a mother is supposed to do.
So when we come home, we will tuck away in our home where I will spend however much time it takes to teach him that he no longer needs to worry about how he will meet his needs for food, love, shelter, safety and care. We will show him that WE will meet those needs continually, perpetually, routinely and lovingly. It will take time for him to develop a healthy attachment to us, and to learn to trust the environment, schedule and faces in his new home and family. We intend to let him take the lead, and follow his cues for when is the "right" time to add new people, faces and places.  That process is known as cocooning, and just like the caterpillar- we will emerge in the amount of time God intends us to and we will be ready to spread our wings and fly. :)
I hope that explanation provides a little insight into why you may not see us around town for a bit, and when you do see us I may be asking you to be sure to redirect any "needs" my son may express back to me so I can meet them. I want to ensure he can express any grief and loss and still be shown love and care, because that's how we learn who our family is. We are not just another two faces in the line of caregivers he has had- we are his parents. We will be learning how to be a family of four.
 I can't wait

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