As you can see, it was a beautiful day. The weather here is amazing, the sun on our faces felt heavenly. The last 2 times I have visited here, I was counting down the minutes to get back on the air conditioned bus, but I could have spent all day there today. It was that beautiful. I am still trying to learn to shoot in manual, trying to ‘see’ the light, trying to learn about exposure. Just know that these pictures do not even begin capture the day. But, if at first you don’t succeed, blah, blah, blah. That’s my current motto.
Okay, movin’ on…
Tip #5: I am not sure if the best term for this is a ‘tip’ or a ‘rant’… but I am, since it is my blog, calling it a tip. At least for today.
When I was waiting for Isabelle, I did a lot of reading. Preparing. Nesting. By the time we traveled for Isabelle I was like a mother bear… to say I was protective doesn’t even come close. My husband and I had decided way before we first held her that I was going to be the one. The ONE. I would be the primary caregiver, perform all the functions of said primary caregiver and would, ideally, be the person she initially bonded to. This all worked out according to plan. And it was good. I carried her, bathed her, fed her, put her to sleep and okay, let Chris pat her back in the middle of the night every once in a while. I am only human.
But ‘bonding’ is tough. It’s hard to know what to do, what not to do. It’s a natural process we don’t really consider when we have a biological child, but it’s a source of much anxiety and concern when we adopt a child. Sometimes it happens without any effort whatsoever. Sometimes it is much more difficult. My advice begins here: do all you can to make it happen. If it doesn’t happen in fairy-tale fashion, you’ll know you did all you could to foster that attachment from the beginning.
Making attachment a priority holds true especially in China. It is a two week time period of being in a bubble… no work, no cell phone, no cooking, no cleaning. It’s a time to devote to your new child in a way you might never be able to again… life should revolve around that budding relationship. Don’t miss the opportunity during those first two weeks of your relationship to treat that child like your newborn, even if they are most definitely not a newborn. Your relationship is brand new, and taking God’s cues for how we bond naturally with our own mothers, it’s wise to treat your new child in a way that a new mother would: carrying, feeding, rocking/holding to sleep, oodles of eye contact and lots and lots of reassuring words.
I know this all isn’t always the case. Sometimes the child resists. Sometimes the child wants the
husband other parent. I don’t have all the answers. But what bothers me, really bothers me, is when I see a new child, being wheeled around Shamian Island, with eyes as big as saucers, trying to digest this big, new world. And the new mom and dad shopping, eating, chatting to other new parents, while their little one sits, buckled, and is, for all intents and purposes, alone. Exactly the way they have spent their lives up until this point. I know that some circumstances are unavoidable… sometimes you just can’t carry your child everywhere. But based upon the requirements for China adoption, I think most adoptive parents should be completely competent to at least strap on a backpack for a walk around Shamian Island. Or in a crowded CarreFour.
Don’t take this to mean I haven’t made attachment mistakes. I’ve travled alone, and another time without my husband, and I know how hard it can be, believe me. Believe me. But when I see a newly adopted child forced into this new, scary world, without the comforting embrace of a parent, I see a wasted opportunity, one in which the new child loses out. After all the months (and sometimes years) of waiting for a referral, aching to hold this child in your arms, don’t let shopping or eating or anything else take priority over doing everything possible to make your new one feel completely loved. I can promise you, you won’t regret a moment of it.
disclaimer: this is my blog, therefore it is my opinion. I am not a doctor, nor do I play one on TV. If you don’t like my opinion, I am okay with that. Just keep it to yourself. Because I am in China, sleep deprived and currently experiencing some pretty serious PMS.