Admittedly, I haven't read a single book about bonding with an adopted child. If you know me at all, that may be a bit of a surprise because I am a researcher. It's usually what I do. Maybe I wasn't very concerned about researching because I already felt an overwhelming sense of love for Jordan and somewhere in the back of my mind I didn't feel like I was going to need any help in that department? I don't know. But though Facebook groups and reading adoption blogs I heard others talk about it and was able to piece together what "cocooning" is and why we should do it. I thought I'd eventually read up on it and make a game plan, but the weeks leading up to our trip, packing and planning left me little time to think about reading. About a week before our trip I did purchase one of the experts books on adoptive parenting in hopes of reading it during our "downtime" on the trip, along with my current book club read and, just in case, three other novels I've been wanting to get to. Well, I was so jet lagged and tired on our trip that I avoided reading altogether in fear of falling asleep earlier than I should. I guess I was a little bit over ambitious while packing the reading material.
Anyway, from all of the bits and pieces I've gathered, "Cocooning" is basically taking a step back from the world, clearing our schedule and staying home as much as possible in an effort to help an adoptive child start to understand how a family works, initiate bonding and keep from overstimulating an already overwhelmed child. Ryan and I talked about doing this but didn't really have a plan as to how long we would keep it up. I've heard of families doing it for a week or two and some families who felt the need to keep it up for up for nearly a year. But the most common recommendation is 6-12 weeks. We decided to give it a try and play it by ear. It hasn't been easy. In fact, I was ready to call it quits after being home a week, things seemed to be going fairly well after all, better than I had expected, and I know how eager our family and friends are to meet Jordan, not to mention how good it would feel to get out of the house. Then came the weekend. With all seven of us home, there is more to do, more chaos and less one on one time. I quickly saw much of my perceived progress recede. It was most obvious while feeding him his bottle, he'd occasionally pull away, avoid eye contact, not wanting me to hold him or comfort him. That's such a hard thing as a mom, wanting to comfort, but not be able to. I guess, because for the most part Jordan has fit so well into our family and is overall a very happy child, sometimes I let myself forget how huge of a life change this kid is undergoing. I can't imagine how hard it would be to be taken away from everything I knew and let strangers, even nice strangers, comfort me. Remembering this was enough to recommit me to keep things simple for a while longer and I'm glad we did.
This weekend I feel like we are making major breakthroughs!! The last few times I've put Jordan to sleep, it's been without any tears!! Our old routine was to sing to him, then move closer to the crib, he'd cry, so we'd sing to him until he was calm again, then after a while we'd lay him in the crib and he'd start to cry some more, and we'd comfort him more. Then we'd try to sneak away and he'd cry. If he cried hard, we'd go back and start over, but if it was just tired fussing, we'd wait a minute to see if he'd fall asleep. It was quite the process. But now, now he lets me cuddle him and sing to him... then when he's ready, he'll motion for the crib, I lay him down and he goes right to sleep. It's as easy as that! It's as if he's learning to trust that his crib is a safe place and that we'll still be there when he wakes up. And though I still wish I could get more food into Jordan, especially fruits and veggies, feeding time is starting to improve too. Jordan doesn't seem as anxious while eating. He is starting to trust that even if I won't give him a whole banana at once, if he finishes what he has and asks for more, I will give it to him. Again, I think it's that he is starting to trust us more and more. I'm sure we have a ways to go, but healing and bonding are taking place and it makes my heart so happy.
And now some of the very few pictures we have taken:
More time has been spent playing with old school Little People than anything else. It's the first thing that Jordan pulls out every morning.
With all of the other kids at school, Mason and Jordan have started playing together. It's fun to watch them interact.
Jordan loves to be outside. He like to play on the swing set, chase the cats, point at the chickens and wander around exploring.
Feeling big in a big kid swing.
We love this kid!