Wednesday, July 20, 2011

I'm the Mommy!

See this sweet face? That is my kid. I know it, you know it, practically everyone I've ever met knows it. But she doesn't. She has no clue. This fall her whole world will be turned upside down and there is nothing that I or the wonderful nannies at Starfish and the amazing Amanda can ever do to prepair her for what is to happen to her in a few months. One day (hopefully this November) she will be packed up and taken to a building she has never been to before and handed over to me who she has never seen before. Then the people handing her over to us will leave. And there she will be....scared and confused. Babies at Starfish are so lucky to have volunteers of every race and language to help them grow up, so caucasian people won't be new to her. But I will, and so will my dad, and my mom, and her room, and her clothes, and the sights, sounds, voices, food, and routines. This breaks my heart.
All the training in bonding with a child you have adopted will in no way prepair you for the actual transition. I feel good that I know alot of what I need to know, and know enough to know I don't have a clue as to what this is going to be like. Will she cry for days straight, will she turn into a zombie, will she get sick, will she be okay until bed time and then have fits all night long? Can we just skip this part?
I know my daughter has made strong bonds with her nanny and her husband. That is a good thing. She is also being cared for by people who love her and she has many friends at Starfish - Jack and Mila. Because she has strong bond with them she should have a strong bond with me. But that just doesn't happen the instance she is put into my arms. The bonding takes work and time. She has to go through a period of mourning that can take minutes to months to start and minutes to months to grow through. She has to learn that I am the mommy. Unfortunately for my Dad this is the hard part. He will be traveling with me to China, but really can't hold, feed, or comfort Audrey unless I am unavailable....and neither can anyone else. I have to do all those things.
A lady once wrote about the bonding process this way: "Imagine you were married to a wonderful spouse and was as happy and as in love as you can imagine. One day you came home and all of your stuff was gone except a few possessions and your spouse tells you that you have to go live with a new spouse. He/she takes you to an office where another person is waiting for you. You have never seen them before and can't understand them because you don't speak their language. You also don't know why you have to leave the one and go to the other, and no one can help you understand. The new spouse hugs you and cries when they see you and tells you that they love you. They thrust new possessions at you and then pull out a camera and ask you to smile. They take you with them to a place you've never been and a town you have never been to, and then they wonder why you keep crying or won't smile, or eat, or play." Or, as I said to my friend Ashley about her 11/2 year old son Wyatt, "What if something happened to you and a familiy from China came and took Wyatt back to China with them - away from everyone and everything he knew.?" A little different when you look at it from those perspectives, isn't it?
I can't wait for you all to meet my girl. I know already she is the smartest, most talented, most beautiful little thing I have ever seen. I can't wait to show her off! But this bonding process, this new life - she needs time to adjust. There are some ground rules I need to establish for when we get home:
* Please do not come over. We need time to get used to this whole mom/kid thing.
* If you MUST see her - please call first. Not only will we be jet lagged, but we need the time to get to know each other and for her to get used to our routine and house. If I say no to comming over it is not because I don't love you, or I'm trying to hurt you. We just need this time to bond.
*Do not pick her up or take her from my arms. This will confuse her. If she comes to you and climbs in your lap or reaches or you, that means it is ok for you to take her.
*Do not feed her or give her snacks. Part of her learning that I am the mommy is that I am the provider of food and comfort.
* I will do the diaper much as I'd like to push that job off on someone else.
* Be understanding if she is having a melt down or is shy around new people. It will take some time to get used to all this new she will be two years
* Also understand that the way we do things may not be the typical way most parents operate. I may carry her longer that you may think is necessary. She may also regress a little in her actions because of the trauma she has endured in this transition process. It may take longer to potty train her, for her to walk and talk, and please don't compair her to others her age.

Hopefully with following these guidelines she will transition quickly and then we can all pick her up, feed her, change her, and potty train her! Ok, maybe we all won't need to feed her.... :)
Audrey and her friend Jack!


Audrey and her friend Mila!

Audrey and her nanny's husband!

I've also been trying to upload some video of Jack and Audrey playing but can't get blogger to upload. May do a new post when I get that figured out!


  1. Great post Shannan! All of this is SO true. You just don't know how she'll react. Some kids transition fairly easily, others are completely overstimulated and breakdown (like my Starfish did). It is heartbreaking, but it too shall pass with a lot of one on one love from her mama! Lia's been home 11 mos. now, and people ask me all the time, "doesn't she talk?" and frankly, no, she's doesn't talk much around strangers or in public and I'm OK with that. Yes, I still spoonfeed my 2.5 yr old and no, she doesn't know how to suck from a straw (cause she had a cleft palate for 2 yrs!) So what? As you point out here, I AM THE MOM. :)

  2. Shannan- I would love your permission to repost this to my is right on target and covers so much that OTHERS need to know....
    You will be a super mamma because you have the guts to say these things and live them. Audrey is lucky to have a dedicated---educated mommy waiting for her :)
    Kelly--Jack's mommy who promises to meet you at least half way for a playdate hee hee