Our New Life

"Who are these people?!!"

I feel like I’ve spent the majority of the past two days out of breath. Preparing for a trip across the world is never a small affair, but preparing for a trip that will result in the addition of a new family member is even more complicated! 

Ready or Not, Here She Comes!

My whole life is about to change, and I can’t help but wonder, “Am I ready for this?” I’m sure that all of the experienced moms out there would assure me, “Of course you’re not!” :)

But ready or not, Evangelle will be here soon, and Joseph and I will do the best that we can by God’s grace to love and serve her in ways that honor Him. Even though Evangelle is just as much our daughter as she would be if she’d been birthed from my body, the beginning of our life together will look quite a bit different than it would if we were Evangelle’s biological parents.

In this post, I’m going to explain some of those differences for the benefit of our friends and family members as well as for those of you with friends who are also in the process of adoption.

A Different Way of Doing Things

Although Joseph and I already feel completely attached to our little miracle, Evangelle still has almost no earthly clue who we are! When we pick her up from the foster home where she’s spent the last four months, we’ll be turning her little world entirely upside down.

All she’s ever known will effectively vanish when we walk out that door. From that point on, she’ll experience new sights, feelings, foods, clothing, people, organic green smoothies, and everything else under the sun.

One of the wonderful things about the Ethiopian culture is that the people there are more affectionate toward one another than people in many other countries are. This fact is a blessing, because Evangelle has been held, kissed, and loved well by the many nannies who have cared for her throughout her life.

The challenge though, is to help her understand that Mommy and Daddy are her parents, not just a couple of new nannies! She’s never had parents before, so we’ll have to teach her what that means.

Bonding & Attachment

As soon as we take Evangelle into our care, our focus will be on bonding and attachment. We need to help her understand that from now on, she should expect Mommy and Daddy to take care of her and provide for her needs.

So here’s where things will be a bit different and maybe even hard for some to understand…

Once we return from Ethiopia, we’re pretty much going to remain sequestered at home for the first several weeks. In the early days, we’ll limit visitors to close friends and family members, but here’s the tricky part: Joseph and I will be the only ones who hold, hug, kiss, feed, clothe, bathe, or diaper Evangelle.

Of course, I’m sure no one feels inclined to argue over that last point.

In addition, I plan on wearing a wrap to carry Evangelle close to me as much as possible throughout the day. The purpose of all of this is to help Evangelle adjust to her new life as smoothly and securely as possible and to attach to us as her parents instead of equating us with all of the other caretakers she’s had in her life.

As time goes on, we’ll gradually resume our normal activities and will look forward to introducing Evangelle to our life and friends outside the walls of our home.

In Summary

As much as we are able, we hope to create an environment for Evangelle, especially in the beginning, that is loving, stable, secure, and consistent—a home where she can flourish and grow into the person God intends for her to be. Joseph and I feel incredibly honored to play this vital role in God’s plan for our daughter’s life!

16 thoughts on “Our New Life

  1. I am so excited for your family!

    You did a great job of explaining your attachment plan. Being home just over 2 months now, I can absolutely tell you that it’s worth it to do things this way. Even though it’s hard to tell the people who have been so supportive that they can’t hold your baby right away…especially grandparents! It seems like the more cautious you are at the beginning, the quicker the bonding takes place.

    You will be a great mother :)

    • Thank you for the feedback, Rachael. It’s good to hear the perspective of someone who’s been there. I hope everything is going well for your family!

  2. Melissa,
    Congrats on the progress you’ve made recently with your adoption. I’m so happy you get to travel soon to pick up your little girl! I’ve been following your blog for quite a while now and have been praying for your family. My husband and I are also in the process of adopting from Ethiopia right now, but we are a bit further behind you. We are just about ready to send off our dossier. Anyways, I’ve heard a lot lately about the whole “cocooning” process when you get home of sequestering yourselves and I was just wondering where you got your info for it? Did you read any books that were helpful that talked about it? I know it is such an important thing to do and I’d like to read up more on it and I don’t know where to find resources about it. So I thought I’d ask you. Thanks so much!

    • Hi, Callie. So good to hear from you! You know, I think I picked up most of what I know about attachment through the required training my husband and I had as part of our adoption process.

      Our agency had us take an online training course where we read articles and watched interviews with adoptive families. We had one huge book that we had to read which had some helpful tips, but a lot of it was no good, in my opinion, so I wouldn’t really recommend it.

      We are friends with quite a few adoptive families who have also given us good advice, and I’ve picked things up here and there through the different blogs that I’ve read. I do have one book that I picked up at a Christian bookstore called The Whole Life Adoption Book. It has some helpful information on the adoption process and touches some on issues related to bonding and attachment. Here’s a link: http://amzn.to/Hxm5iM

  3. Praise God! I am so happy for little Evangelle (and for you of course). How blessed she is to be chosen from all the orphans of the world to be brought into your family! The love and special care you will be giving her brings to mind the perfect and personal care that the Lord gives to his elect. He is the most wonderful of fathers, and through him, you will be a wonderful mom. Praying for you guys!

  4. So excited for yall. I have been praying for your family throughout the process. Although still single, I have known I wanted to adopt (hopefully internationally) since I was young. I love how you have honestly shared your process with us. Have a safe trip bringing your baby home!

  5. Hi Melissa

    Although I am sure you do not remember, we attended PCC around the same time frame (I graduated with my BS in commercial art in the fall of 2003). You might know my youngest sister Carrie Fisher (who married Jonah FIsher) via your sister.

    Anyway, I have been following your blog here on Facebook, and I just wanted to say how thrilled and happy I am for you and your husband to finally be able to collect your precious Evangelle. Several times as i read through your words of anguish as you have been waiting and waiting and waiting for this day I have shed tears for you, sharing your distress as a sister in Christ. God bless you as you reunite with your daughter, and I will be praying for your family in the following weeks especially.

    Laura (Opett) Kauffman

  6. Melissa,
    I am so happy for you and Joseph and your sweet girl Evangelle. Your attachment plan doesn’t sound different to me at all. Many of my friends are AP parents. Have you checked out the Attachment Parenting International website and books? I’m sure you have ;) I wore my babies pretty much all the time for the first 6mo and still do on occasion w/my 14mo old. Attachment parenting for any reason is a great thing but yes sometimes hard for others to understand. You are amazing and God is so good!!

  7. Sounds much like Attachment Parenting (AP) to me. Many of my friends practice AP and I commend you on making this choice. It’s an amazing adventure! If you haven’t yet (I’m sure you have) Check out the Attachment Parenting International website. I’m sure you’ve also done a ton of research on wraps – I used a Moby and love it and a Maya or ring sling for hip carry. Many of my friends swear by the Ergo b/c you can back wear the older ones and even hike w/them. Many blessings to you for this time of bonding will be ever so precious. Praying for easy travel for Evangelle and adjustment to time changes.

  8. I’m so excited for you!!! My sister-in-law and her husband just got home last night from S.Korea where they picked up their son! He’s 20 months old. He is doing well and they are having a blast! Enjoy every minute of your trip and I will be praying for you guys!

  9. So excited for you guys – keep writing about everything, i’ll want to know how your trip is and all that happens. Wish it worked out to be there at the same time, so glad you don’t have to wait any longer though. Love you friend!

  10. Congrats on getting it out and upfront on your plans for after bringing sweet Evangelle home. It’s such a chaotic time that you three desperately need that time together to bond and grow as a family. It’s crucial! We are praying for y’all as you travel there and back and as you come together as a new family. So exciting! (Speaking from experience, baby wearing is comforting for baby and mommy.)

  11. So excited to hear that you are taking the attachment/bonding thing serious.I think most people push it off without realizing HOW drastically important it is. So thankful that you have the opportunity to still bond in that way at this young age. Praying for you as you move forward. We didn’t get that bonding time and our “bonding” looked very unpleasant. You both will be great parents!

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